20 of Our Best and Brightest Summer Appetizers

tomatoes with lightly whipped cream

Celebrate the arrival of warm weather, longer days, and vacation time with these summer appetizer recipes. They're easy to make, full of fresh flavor, and are perfect for open-air dining. Take a peek at your local farmers' market to see what seasonal produce looks best. You'll probably find bright green zucchini, plump tomatoes, sweet and firm peaches, berries galore, and big ears of corn on the cob. Make good use of all those in-season fruits and vegetables and make these bright, tasty summertime appetizers.

Perhaps one of the most stunning summer appetizer recipes is Tomatoes with Lightly Whipped Cream, pictured here. All you need are high-quality heirloom tomatoes, fruity olive oil, flaky salt, fresh basil, and heavy cream. The tomatoes feature a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream as a garnish—it's one of the simples yet most delicious summer bites you could put together.

Another one of our favorite ways to highlight fresh produce is with tartines. These open-faced sandwiches use thick slices of rustic bread as a bed for seasonal ingredients to be stacked upon. Our bright green Zucchini, Avocado, and Jalapeño Tartine combines crisp and creamy textures with mild and spicy flavors, and it's ready in just 25 minutes. Another option is our sweet riff on a Caprese salad. Instead of the usual tomato-mozzarella-basil combination, we piled tomatoes, peaches, buffalo mozzarella, and bresaola atop ciabatta bread.

No-Knead Tomato Focaccia showcases juicy tomatoes on top of the crowd-friendly bread. It's the perfect summer recipe to make over the course of a couple of busy days because it only requires 15 minutes of prep work, but it needs at least 12 hours to rise. Once the process is complete, the salted, savory dish is simply delicious. Enjoy this collection of summer appetizer recipes that you can make all season long.

01 of 19

Zucchini, Avocado, and Jalapeño Tartine

zucchini avocado jalapeno tartine
Dana Gallagher

It's easy being green with this bevy of flavorful toppings—crisp zucchini, creamy avocado, spicy jalapeño, and fresh cilantro. It's the perfect starter to show off seasonal produce.

02 of 19

Hearts of Palm Dip

hearts of palm dip
Ren Fuller

This vegan dip gets all of its creaminess from canned hearts of palm, which are pulsed in a food processor along with chopped chives, cilantro leaves, the juice and zest of a lime, and extra-virgin olive oil.

03 of 19

Citrus and Green Olives with Goat Cheese

Citrus and Green Olives with Goat Cheese recipe
Lennart Weibull

Serve this rich platter of green olives, mixed oranges and tangerines, goat cheese, and rustic Italian bread to kick off an extra-special dinner al fresco. Mix the cheese with good-quality olive oil for tangy, fruity spread.

04 of 19

Blistered Shishito-Pepper Salad with Chive Vinaigrette

blistered shishito-pepper salad
Lennart Weibull

Shishito peppers, which are mild in heat, become super crispy when grilled or sautéed. Here, we've dry-fried them in a hot cast iron pan to achieve a blistered exterior. They're then layered with bite-sized pieces of melon, cucumbers, and small tomatoes, plus fresh mint and a zesty lime dressing.

05 of 19

Spanish Gazpacho

spanish gazpacho
Dana Gallagher

No matter when or how you serve it, tomato and bell pepper gazpacho is one of the best no-cook summer dishes. This chilled soup recipe makes about five cups, so you can dish out small individual servings for a crowd.

06 of 19

Boozy Melon Three Ways

boozy melon fruit in glass bowls
Bryan Gardner

Get the party started with this spirited fruit appetizer for summer. We have three boozy iterations for you to try—tequila-soaked watermelon, gin-soaked honeydew, and vodka-soaked cantaloupe.

07 of 19

Corn, Tomato, and Zucchini Galette

corn tomato and zucchini galette
Dana Gallagher

This rich, vegetarian tart is a seriously spectacular appetizer. Parmigiano-Reggiano and Gruyère cheese are mixed into the dough for the galette crust for an even richer bite, then seasonal corn kernels, zucchini, and roasted tomatoes are scattered over the top.

08 of 19

Grilled-Vegetable Agrodolce

grilled vegetable agrodolce
Ryan Liebe

Arrange a stunning antipasto for summer with grilled zucchini, squash, and eggplants, plus assorted cured meats, burrata, goat cheese, and crusty bread.

09 of 19

Tomato, Peach, Buffalo Mozzarella, and Bresaola Tartine

tomato peach mozzarella bresaola tartine
Dana Gallagher

One of our favorite combinations is that of juicy tomatoes, sweet peaches, and creamy mozzarella—which is why we've arranged them on slices of toasted ciabatta bread with bresaola (cured beef) for the perfect summer appetizer.

10 of 19

Chesapeake Blue Crab Cakes with Fried Oysters

chesapeake blue crab cake with fried oysters
Mikkel Vang

Enjoy the ultimate seaside appetizer at home. Crab cakes are formed and pan-fried until crisp, then are topped with freshly fried oysters and served with a briny tomato-cucumber relish.

11 of 19

Greek Layer Dip

greek layer dip
Pernille Loof

Whip up a creamy bean spread with canned cannellini beans, garlic, Greek yogurt, and lemon juice. It's spread onto a platter and topped with juicy cherry tomatoes, cool cucumbers, olives, feta cheese, and herbs.

12 of 19

Grilled Bread and Chiles with Burrata

grilled bread and chiles with burrata placed on an outdoor picnic table
Elizabeth Cecil

Build your own bite with this super simple and incredibly satisfying summer appetizer. Dip grilled chilled peppers into burrata, spread the cheese on the toast, or layer all three ingredients together.

13 of 19

Creamless Creamy Corn Soup

cream of corn soup
Dana Gallagher

Save this recipe for when corn on the cob is at its peak in mid to late summer. A ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric enhances the bright yellow color and a dash of cayenne pepper is the color and heat contrast you've been craving.

14 of 19

Greek-Taverna Salad

Greek-Taverna Salad
Petrina Tinslay

Every color and flavor of summer shines on this platter appetizer—cocktail tomatoes, mini cucumbers, bell peppers, feta cheese, and pepperoncini peppers.

15 of 19

Creamy Artichoke Ranch

Creamy Artichoke Ranch
Petrina Tinslay

Wondering how to cook with anchovies? Try them in this fresh and inspired recipe, which combines marinated artichoke hearts, anchovy fillets, parsley, Greek yogurt, and extra-virgin olive oil into one creamy dip.

16 of 19

Chilled Sour-Cherry Soup

chilled sour-cherry soup flecked with dill and cilantro
Mikkel Vang

Sour and savory flavors marry in this seasonal soup that uses fresh sour cherries, cucumbers, and scallions, plus plenty of fresh herbs like cilantro and dill.

17 of 19

Oysters on the Half Shell with Vinegar Sauce

oysters on the half shell with vinegar sauce
Mikkel Vang

Dress up freshly shucked oysters with an acidic sauce made with a spicy Scotch bonnet pepper, peeled carrots, white onion, sugar, and allspice berries.

18 of 19

No-Knead Tomato Focaccia

tomato focaccia bread
Marcus Nilsson

Fresh, juicy cherry tomatoes shine on top of our easy-to-make focaccia bread. While it only requires 15 minutes of prep work, the dough should rise for at least 12 hours so plan ahead if you want to make this scrumptious summer bite.

19 of 19

Creamy Edamame Dip

edamame dip

This healthy dip is deceivingly indulgent thanks to light and creamy cottage cheese. It's whipped with boiled edamame, cilantro, a serrano chile pepper, and lime juice. Serve drizzled with olive oil and alongside pita or crudité.

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