This collection of Summer Dinner Ideas includes all the best grilled dishes, sandwiches, and fresh salads that are so enjoyable during the warm summer months.

More Collections: Summer Slow Cooker Recipes, Summer Drink Recipes, Summer Dessert Recipes, Summer Salads

Collage of summer dinner ideas.

dinner ideas for hot summer nights

Do you feel like you’re MORE or LESS busy in the summertime??

Generally, I feel less busy because school is out and the kids’ sports and activities aren’t really in season. Although, I will say we spend a lot more time playing, doing day trips, and getting together with people!

That’s one thing I love about summer—having a little extra time to plan meals, and especially all of our favorite Summer Dinner Recipes. We make a lot of grilled meats and fresh salads, and sometimes if we’re in the mood for a picnic, we’ll do sandwiches and wraps.

Here’s a collection of some of our most popular dinner recipes that we make in the summer!

Summer dinner ideas - zucchini boats filled with meat, veggies, and cheese.

Tips for Summer Dinners

How to make summer dinner easy: Not only does the heat of the day keep me from wanting to slave away in a hot kitchen, so do all my children who are all home from school and clamoring for attention and to go to fun activities.

With all of the chaos I’m always looking for easy summer dinner ideas. All of my best tips stem from one main idea: make a weekly menu.

  • Make a menu and fill out breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snacks. Don’t forget to add what sides you like to make with the different meals.
  • Base your grocery shopping list off of what ingredients you’ll be needing for the week.  This way you know you have everything you need in the pantry and fridge for delicious meals without extra trips to the grocery store. 
  • Meal Prep: Refer to your menu and decide if there is anything you can make ahead of time. At the end of each day look to see what you plan to serve the next day. Pull items from the freezer, chop and mix up anything you can to make cooking go more smoothly the next day. Many people like to have one large meal prepping day and keep items in the fridge or freezer until they’re needed.

Summer Produce: Whether you want to create a delicious side dish, whip up a summer salsa, or serve a cool summer salad you can’t go wrong using the fresh ingredients that are in season.  

  • Fruit: apples, avocado, lime, strawberries, grapes, pineapple, papaya, mango,  blueberries, cherries, peaches, plums, raspberries, tomatoes, watermelon, fig, pear, etc…
  • Vegetables: broccoli, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, radish, squash, lettuce, leafy greens, peppers, zucchini, beets, carrots, onions, and so on.
  • Fresh herbs: basil, garlic, fennel, rosemary, parsley, bay, chives, dill,  mint, oregano and more.
Summer dinner ideas - a rack of ribs being grilled.

cooking + serving tips

Some recipes are worth turning on the oven for, but for the most part cooking in the summer means utilizing the grill and my crock pot. Here are a few quicks tips when using either.

Grill:

  • Avoid putting cold food on the grill. Let food sit at room temp for 30 min before grilling. 
  • Don’t flip the food too much. If meat is sticking to the grill, just wait. It will release when it is ready to be flipped. 
  • Don’t squeeze or flatten the meat
  • Use a meat thermometer
    • Chicken internal temp 165°F
    • Pork internal temp 145°F 
    • Beef: rare 125°F, medium 145°F,  well done 160°F
  • Avoid burning thicker slices of meat by cooking in the oven for about 15 minutes before grilling.
  • Always allow the meat to rest for 10-15 minutes after cooking.

Keeping food warm outdoors

  • Keep warm food in an insulated carrier
  • Use chafing dishes
  • Cover pans with aluminum foil
  • If there is an outlet, use a crock pot
  • Don’t let food sit out for more than 2 hours

Best summer dinner recipes

From classic summer hot dogs to Kalua pork these summer recipes will not disappoint. Best of all? They’re all easy! Sliders, sandwiches, and wraps are all perfect to take on a picnic, or just for a simple summer dinner at home.

Hot Dogs In Crock Pot – The easiest way to make hot dogs for a crowd! Cook hot dogs in the crock pot for all of your summer potluck needs.

Best Steak Marinade – This is Our All-Time Favorite Steak marinade! It requires only four ingredients, and makes our steak taste SO amazing! Everyone always asks for this Easy Steak Marinade recipe because it’s just that good!!

Crock Pot Pork Roast – Prepare to be amazed by this ultra tender, fall off the bone crock pot pork roast. It only takes a handful of ingredients to make, including the complimentary gravy.

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork – This Slow Cooker Kalua Pork is a classic Hawaiian favorite made easily in your slow cooker with just a few ingredients. Eat it on it’s own, or in tacos or sliders.

Ranch Burgers – These Ranch Burgers make the BEST homemade hamburgers!! This easy burger recipe is complete with the most delicious secret sauce that compliments the ranch burger perfectly!

BBQ Pork Chops – These Baked BBQ Pork Chops Are Simple, Delicious And Smothered In A Homemade BBQ Sauce. They’re The Perfect Easy Meal For The Pork Loin Lover.

Pulled Pork – This Delicious and Easy Pulled Pork Recipe is one that is made in the slow cooker and takes just minutes to prep!

Crock Pot Brisket – Juicy and delicious meat, easily made in your slow cooker! This crock pot brisket is so tender it just falls apart.

Disney Copycat Corn Dogs – A Copycat Version Of The Famous Hand-Dipped Corn Dogs That You Can Find At Disneyland! This Recipe Is Beyond Simple And Makes A Delicious Corn Dog Making You Never Want To Buy Store Bought Again!

Taco Casserole – This Delicious Taco Casserole Is Like A Taco Salad In Casserole Form! With A Ground Beef And Biscuit Base, Layers Of Sour Cream, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cheese, And Olives, This Taco Bake Is Perfect For Dinner Or Your Next Potluck.

Huli Huli Chicken – This Grilled Huli Huli Chicken Is The Juiciest And Most Delicious Hawaiian Chicken You’ll Ever Try! Great Alone Or Served On Rice Or Noodles!!

Chicken Parmesan Sliders – Marinated And Grilled Chicken Breast, Melty Cheese, Marinara Sauce, And Lettuce All Sandwiched Between A Ciabatta Bun. These Chicken Parmesan Sliders Make For The Perfect Appetizer, But Can Hold Their Own As A Main Dish Too!

Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Sandwiches – Loaded With Juicy Grilled Pineapple, Red Onion And Crisp Lettuce, This Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Sandwich Is Perfect For Summer Entertaining!

Chicken Souvlaki – Chicken Souvlaki Is A Savory Kabob Infused With Greek Flavors. With Marinated Chicken, Onions, And Peppers, It’s Hearty And Delicious.

Crescent Roll Chicken Bundles – Shredded Chicken Mixed With Cream Cheese, Italian Dressing Mix, And Cream Of Chicken Rolled Into Buttery Crescent Dough! These Flavorful Chicken Crescent Roll Bundles Have Become A Family Fave.

Monte Cristo Sliders – Sweet And Salty Monte Cristo Sliders Are The Ultimate Party Food!! Just Like Their Name-Sake, But As An Appetizer.

Sloppy Joes – Saucy And Savory Homemade Sloppy Joes Are A Delicious Meat Loaded Sandwich. They Are Quick And Easy, Perfect For Feeding A Crowd!

Steak and Tortellini Salad – A family favorite – Steak and Tortellini Salad is hearty and refreshing. Tortellini, sirloin & romaine in a creamy pesto dressing is a must-have!

Easy Summer Dinner Ideas

Baked, slow cooked, or grilled chicken dishes are always a hit with my family and make a delicious summer dinner. This collection of no brainer easy Summer inner Ideas will let you spend less time cooking and more time playing!

Dr. Pepper Ribs – Pork Ribs Cooked In Dr. Pepper, Grilled To Perfection, And Smothered In BBQ Sauce. These Dr. Pepper Ribs Are Fall Off The Bone Delicious!

Hawaiian Haystacks – A pile of fluffy rice stacked with chicken, gravy, and all your favorite toppings! Totally customizable, and great for feeding a crowd!

BBQ Chicken Pizza – Switch Up Pizza Night With This Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza Recipe! With Barbecue Sauce, Mozzarella Cheese, Chicken, Bacon, And Cilantro, This Barbecue Chicken Pizza Will Be A New Family Favorite. Best Of All, It’s Made In Less Than 20 Minutes!

Pork Tacos – Pork Tacos Made Simple Using Slow Cooker Pork And All Of Your Favorite Taco Toppings! These Tacos Are Flavorful, Easy To Make, And A Big Crowd Pleaser.

Easy Pizza Casserole – Quick and delicious Easy Pizza Casserole – prepped in 5 minutes and only requires 5 ingredients. We call that a dinner win!

Egg Salad – Egg Salad Is Classic, Simple, And Only Requires A Handful Of Ingredients! Serve It As A Side, Or Make It Into An Egg Salad Sandwich. Either Way, It’s Perfect For Feeding A Crowd!

Buffalo Chicken Sliders – Simple + Savory Buffalo Chicken Sliders Pack Just The Right Amount Of Heat. They Are Great Served As A Dinner Or Appetizer!!

Lemon Pepper Chicken – Flavorful And Tender Lemon Pepper Chicken Is Simple And Requires Just A Few Ingredients. Served On Its Own Or Over Rice, This Buttery Chicken Dish Is Perfect Any Night Of The Week For A Simple, Quick Dinner Idea.

Teriyaki Chicken Burgers – Marinated Teriyaki Chicken Burgers Are Quick, Easy And Full Of Sweet, Tangy Flavor! Grilled Pineapple Makes These Burgers Perfection.

Tuna Salad – Chopped Tuna Salad Is The Perfect Summer Side Dish. Filled With Fresh Crisp Veggies The Color Of The Rainbow, Protein Packed Tuna, And Tossed In A Light And Refreshing Lemon Vinaigrette.

Ham and Cheese Sliders – Everyone Loves These Hot Ham And Cheese Sliders Because They’re Easy, Cheesy And Addicting! They Don’t Take Long To Make, And Are Perfect For Any Get Together—Always A Crowd Pleaser!

Chicken Caesar Salad – This Chicken Caesar Salad Is Jam Packed With Grilled Chicken, Croutons, Tomatoes, Bacon, Hard-Boiled Eggs, Parmesan Cheese And Tomatoes. It’s So Flavorful, You Won’t Believe How Simple It Is To Make!

healthy summer dinner recipes

Whether you’re making a delicious green salad or a wrap, use the freshest fruits and vegetables. Summer veggies, zucchini noodles, lettuce wraps, or turkey burgers. There are plenty of tasty recipes to keep your summer delicious and healthy!

Zucchini Boats – Stuffed Zucchini Boats are filled with Italian sausage and tomatoes. They are a delish go-to healthy dinner idea.

Baked Chicken Fingers – A Healthy Way To Eat Chicken That Kids Absolutely Love – Baked Chicken Fingers! Chicken Dipped In Flour, Egg, And Panko, Then Baked To A Crispy Perfection! Not To Mention They’re SO Easy To Make!

Asian Pasta Salad – Easy & Delicious Asian Pasta Salad Topped With A Sweet And Tangy Dressing Is Packed With Veggies And Flavor!

Chicken Taco Salad – Crunchy And Fresh Chicken Taco Salad Is A Weeknight Dinner Dream! Easy, Flavorful, And A Recipe That Everyone Will Enjoy.

Strawberry Harvest Salad – Strawberry Harvest Salad – Tastes Just Like The Salad At Zupa’s! It’s Topped With Apples, Strawberries, Chicken, Candied Pecans, Cheese And A Homemade Strawberry Vinaigrette Dressing.

Baked BBQ Chicken – Easy And Healthy Baked BBQ Chicken – You Can Whip Up The Sauce, Pour It Over Some Chicken Breasts, Pop It In The Oven And You’re Done!

Applebees Oriental Chicken Salad – This delicious Copycat Oriental Chicken Salad from Applebees is made with breaded chicken, cabbage, romaine, sliced almonds, and more tossed in a flavorful asian dressing! 

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad – Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad is filled with spicy buffalo wings and topped with a tangy blue cheese dressing. It is easy and delish!

Cobb Salad – This simple Cobb salad is so full of tasty ingredients it’s a meal all on it’s own. It is quick to make and utterly delicious. 

Southwest Salad – Our favorite Southwest Salad recipe filled with chicken, peppers, beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado and topped with a homemade cilantro ranch dressing.

Veggie Panini – Even Without Meat, This Veggie Panini Is A Delicious Hot Sandwich Filled With Cheese, Tomato, Avocado, Spinach And More.

Chicken Caesar Wraps – Fresh Chicken Caesar Wraps are a simple, delicious variation of a Caesar Salad. It’s perfect for a lunch or picnic.

Baked Spaghetti Squash – Learn How To Perfectly Cook Spaghetti Squash Every Time With This Fabulous Recipe! Tender Strands Of Spaghetti Squash Mixed With Cheese, Tomatoes, And A Little Bit Of Basil, Both Healthy And Delicious!


the complete list

Here are the picture cards for all of the wonderful Summer Dinner Ideas listed above.

With so many easy and delicious choices you’ll find some new favorites to make for your family this summer!

Main Course
BBQ Pork Chops recipe

These baked pork chops are simple, delicious and smothered in a homemade BBQ sauce. They’re the perfect easy meal for the pork loin lover.

Total Time: 45 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Baked Spaghetti Squash Recipe

Learn how to perfectly cook spaghetti squash every time with this fabulous recipe! Tender strands of spaghetti squash mixed with cheese, tomatoes, and a little bit of basil, both healthy and delicious!

Total Time: 40 minutes


Check out this recipe

Salad
Asian Pasta Salad recipe

Easy & Delicious Asian Pasta Salad topped with a sweet and tangy dressing is packed with veggies and flavor!

Total Time: 15 minutes


Check out this recipe

Salad
Chicken Taco Salad Recipe

Crunchy and fresh chicken taco salad is a weeknight dinner dream! Easy, flavorful, and a recipe that everyone will enjoy.

Total Time: 25 minutes


Check out this recipe

Salad
Strawberry Harvest Salad Recipe

Strawberry Harvest Salad tastes just like the salad at Zupa’s! It’s topped with a homemade Strawberry Vinaigrette dressing.

Total Time: 10 minutes


Check out this recipe

Salad
Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad Recipe

This delicious Copycat Oriental Chicken Salad from Applebees is made with breaded chicken, cabbage, romaine, sliced almonds, and more tossed in a flavorful asian dressing!

Total Time: 15 minutes


Check out this recipe

Salad
Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad Recipe

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad is filled with spicy buffalo wings and topped with a tangy blue cheese dressing. It is easy and delish!

Total Time: 40 minutes


Check out this recipe

Salad
Cobb Salad Recipe

This simple cobb salad is so full of tasty ingredients it’s a meal all on it’s own. It is quick to make and utterly delicious.

Total Time: 15 minutes


Check out this recipe

Salad
Southwest Salad Recipe

Simple and delicious Southwestern Chopped Salad filled with chicken, peppers, beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado and topped with a homemade cilantro ranch dressing.

Total Time: 15 minutes


Check out this recipe

Salad
Steak and Tortellini Salad Recipe

Delish Steak and Tortellini Salad is hearty and refreshing. Tortellini, sirloin & romaine in a creamy pesto dressing is a must-have!

Total Time: 25 minutes


Check out this recipe

Salad
Chicken Caesar Salad Recipe

Ultimate Caesar Salad with grilled chicken, croutons, tomatoes, bacon, hard-boiled eggs, Parmesan cheese and tomatoes.

Total Time: 10 minutes


Check out this recipe

Side Dish
Tuna Salad Recipe

Chopped Tuna Salad is the perfect summer side dish. Filled with fresh crisp veggies the color of the rainbow, protein packed tuna, and tossed in a light and refreshing lemon vinaigrette.

Total Time: 25 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Easy Steak Marinade Recipe

This is Our All-Time Favorite Steak marinade! It requires only four ingredients, and makes our steak taste SO amazing! Everyone always asks for this Easy Steak Marinade recipe because it’s just that good!!

Total Time: 5 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
How to Cook Hot Dogs in Crock Pot

The easiest way to make hot dogs for a crowd! Cook hot dogs in the crock pot for all of your summer potluck needs.

Total Time: 2 hours 2 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Ranch Burger Recipe

These Ranch Burgers make the BEST homemade hamburgers!! This easy burger recipe is complete with the most delicious secret sauce that compliments the ranch burger perfectly!

Total Time: 20 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Crock Pot Pork Roast Recipe

Prepare to be amazed by this ultra tender, fall off the bone crock pot pork roast. It only takes a handful of ingredients to make, including the complimentary gravy.

Total Time: 8 hours 5 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Kalua Pork Recipe

This Slow Cooker Kalua Pork is a classic Hawaiian favorite made easily in your slow cooker with just a few ingredients. Eat it on it’s own, or in tacos or sliders.

Total Time: 9 hours 5 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Zucchini Boats Recipe

Stuffed Zucchini Boats are filled with Italian sausage and tomatoes. They are a delish go-to healthy dinner idea.

Total Time: 35 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Dr. Pepper Ribs Recipe

Pork ribs cooked in Dr. Pepper, grilled to perfection, and smothered in BBQ Sauce. These Dr. Pepper ribs are fall off the bone delicious!

Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Pulled Pork Recipe

This Delicious and Easy Pulled Pork Recipe is one that is made in the slow cooker and takes just minutes to prep. Use the pork for any recipe, including Pulled Pork sandwiches, and you’ll love just how simple and tasty it is.

Total Time: 8 hours 5 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Hawaiian Haystacks Recipe

A pile of fluffy rice stacked with chicken, gravy, and all your favorite toppings! Totally customizable, and great for feeding a crowd!

Total Time: 35 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Crock Pot Brisket Recipe

Juicy and delicious meat, easily made in your slow cooker! This crock pot brisket is so tender it just falls apart.

Total Time: 8 hours 5 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Homemade Corn Dogs Recipe

Hand-Dipped Corn Dogs recipe – copycat Disneyland’s! Hot dogs dipped in a honey cornmeal batter and fried until crispy!! So good!! 

Total Time: 17 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Taco Casserole Recipe

This delicious Taco Casserole is like a taco salad in casserole form! With a ground beef and biscuit base, plus layers of sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and olives, this casserole is the perfect way to switch up your dinner routine.

Total Time: 40 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Pork Tacos Recipe

Pork tacos made simple using slow cooker pork and all of your favorite taco toppings! These tacos are flavorful, easy to make, and a big crowd pleaser.

Total Time: 6 hours 5 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Pizza Casserole Recipe

A quick, easy and delicious dinner idea that the whole family will love. Prepped in 5 minutes and made in under 30 minutes!


Check out this recipe

Main Course
BBQ Chicken Pizza Recipe

With barbecue sauce, mozzarella cheese, chicken, bacon, and cilantro, this Barbecue Chicken Pizza will be a new family favorite. Best of all, it’s made in less than 20 minutes!

Total Time: 20 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Huli Huli Chicken Recipe

This Grilled Huli Huli Chicken is the juiciest and most delicious Hawaiian chicken you’ll ever try! Great alone or served on rice or noodles!!

Total Time: 21 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Sandwiches Recipe

Loaded with juicy grilled pineapple, red onion and crisp lettuce, this Hawaiian BBQ Chicken sandwich is perfect for summer entertaining!

Total Time: 25 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Chicken Fingers Recipe

A healthy way to eat chicken that kids absolutely love – Baked Chicken Fingers! Chicken dipped in flour, egg, and panko, then baked to a crispy perfection! Not to mention they’re SO easy to make!

Total Time: 35 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Lemon Pepper Chicken Recipe

Flavorful and tender Lemon Pepper Chicken is simple and requires just a few ingredients. Served on its own or over rice, this buttery chicken dish is perfect any night of the week for a simple, quick dinner idea.

Total Time: 15 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Chicken Souvlaki Recipe

Chicken Souvlaki is a savory kabob infused with Greek flavors. With marinated chicken, onions, and peppers, it’s hearty and delicious.

Total Time: 41 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Teriyaki Chicken Burgers Recipe

Marinated Teriyaki Chicken Burgers are quick, easy and full of sweet, tangy flavor! Grilled pineapple makes these burgers perfection.

Total Time: 1 day 20 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Baked BBQ Chicken Recipe

Easy and healthy Baked BBQ Chicken – You can whip up the sauce, pour it over some chicken breasts, pop it in the oven and you’re done! 

Total Time: 25 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Ham and Cheese Sliders Recipe

Everyone loves these Hot Ham and Cheese Sliders because they’re easy, cheesy and addicting! They don’t take long to make, and are perfect for any get together—always a crowd pleaser!

Total Time: 30 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Veggie Panini Recipe

Delicious Veggie Panini – one of our favorite sandwich recipes filled with cheese, tomatoes, avocado and spinach.

Total Time: 11 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Chicken Stuffed Crescent Rolls Recipe

Shredded chicken mixed with cream cheese, Italian dressing mix, and cream of chicken rolled into buttery crescent dough! These flavorful Chicken Crescent Roll Bundles have become a family fave.

Total Time: 34 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Chicken Caesar Wrap Recipe

Fresh Chicken Caesar Wraps are a simple, delicious variation of a Caesar Salad. It’s perfect for a lunch or picnic.

Total Time: 5 minutes


Check out this recipe

Appetizer
Monte Cristo Sliders Recipe

Sweet and Salty Monte Cristo Sliders are the ultimate party food!! Just like their name-sake, but as an appetizer.

Total Time: 40 minutes


Check out this recipe

Main Course, Side Dish
Egg Salad Recipe

Egg salad is classic, simple, and only requires a handful of ingredients! Serve it as a side, or make it into an egg salad sandwich. Either way, it’s perfect for feeding a crowd!


Check out this recipe

Main Course
Sloppy Joes Recipe

Saucy and savory homemade Sloppy Joes are a delicious meat loaded sandwich. They are quick and easy, perfect for feeding a crowd!

Total Time: 30 minutes


Check out this recipe

chicken parmesan slider with lettuce on red plate
Appetizer
Chicken Parmesan Sliders Recipe

Marinated and grilled chicken breast, melty cheese, marinara sauce, and lettuce all sandwiched between a ciabatta bun. These chicken parmesan sliders make for the perfect appetizer, but can hold their own as a main dish too!

Total Time: 15 minutes


Check out this recipe

Appetizer
Buffalo Chicken Sliders Recipe

Simple + Savory Buffalo Chicken Sliders pack just the right amount of heat. They are great served as a dinner or appetizer!!

Total Time: 35 minutes


Check out this recipe


More Collections: Summer Soups, Summer Appetizers, Summer Side Dishes



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