Keep cool and feed your family with our pick of peak summer meals.

By Laura Rege
June 16, 2021

When it's extremely hot outside, you probably don't want to use multiple burners on the stovetop to prepare dinner (in fact, you might not want to turn on the stove on at all!). The best summer meals are simple to prepare, fresh, and flavorful. This is the time of year to lean on easy going grilling recipes, embrace one-pot meals, or prepare make-ahead dishes so that dinner is ready in a flash. Read on for our favorite summer dinner recipes to make when it's almost too hot to cook.

greek shrimp skewers with chopped zucchini salad at place settings
Credit: Chris Simpson

Greek Shrimp Skewers with Chopped Zucchini Salad

One quick and easy route to summer dinner is grilled kabobs. Skewering bite-sized pieces of protein or vegetables speeds up cooking time, keeps food intact so it doesn't fall through the grates, and are just fun to eat. Inspired by summer dinners on the Greek isles, these Greek Shrimp Skewers are served over a grilled zucchini, onion, and feta couscous. It's a complete meal that takes just about 30 minutes to prepare. Make it once and then adapt it by swapping out the shrimp for pieces of chicken, salmon, or steak. Whatever you do, don't forget to grill the lemon and squeeze it over the shrimp right off the grill for a zesty finish.

Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Mozzarella, and Chickpeas
Credit: Ren Fuller

Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Mozzarella, and Chickpeas

Elevate pasta salad from picnic side to an enticing dinner by mixing up the noodles and using fancier shapes like gemelli; another great idea is to put fresh summer tomatoes front and center. Of course, tomatoes and pasta alone don't make dinner. Creamy mozzarella, nutty chickpeas, and a zippy vinaigrette bring it all together and make this Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Mozzarella, and Chickpeas all the more enticing. Another reason to love pasta salad in the summer? It can be made ahead of time. Put this dinner together the night before, then refrigerate. You'll be thankful when dinner is ready to go the following day. Furthermore, this versatile meal can be served cold or at room temperature, either at the dining table or a picnic table.

Grilled Skirt Steak and Hearts of Palm Salad
Credit: Con Poulos

Grilled Skirt Steak Salad

Dinner salads are a must in the hot summer months; there's something undeniably appealing about the crispness of fresh lettuces and vegetables, but you'll want to be sure your salad is hearty enough to serve as a standalone meal. What takes a salad from a side to main course is the addition of protein and adding in cooked elements. For this Grilled Skirt Steak Salad, we grill tender skirt steak and corn, then layer them into what might have otherwise been an ordinary salad. Another key to an enjoyable dinner salad is homemade dressing, so try making a tangy vinaigrette like we do in this recipe or swap in your favorite creamy dressing.

summer smoked salmon chowder
Credit: Ren Fuller

Summer Smoked Salmon Chowder

Stick with us here: Chowder might not seem like a quintessential summer dinner at first, but if you've ever spent time on the eastern seashore in July or August, you'd know it's a standard. This Smoked Salmon Chowder melds simple ingredients (potatoes, carrots, celery, and broth) into a sophisticated soup with hints of smokiness from hot smoked salmon and sweet little bites of summer fresh corn and zucchini. And it's all made in one pot, leaving you less to clean and more time to enjoy the evening.

Bistro Burgers
Credit: Con Poulos

Bistro Burgers

When possible, we like to keep summer cooking out of the kitchen and take advantage of the grill. Burgers are a classic for summer dining since they don't require much prep and cook up fast over an open flame. Of course, when we make burgers, we always give then out-of-the-ordinary spin. These Bistro Burgers are inspired by the burger you'd get at a steakhouse; the juicy patties are sandwiched with grilled onions, white cheddar, and Dijon mustard in a buttery brioche bun. Follow this recipe verbatim or use it be a your guide for cooking burgers; swap in any meltable cheese, adjust the toppings as you please. And we won't judge you if you choose to serve them with ketchup, too.

Comments (1)

July 6, 2021
These meals look delicious, but here in Texas going out into the above 90 degree heat to light up the grill for these grilled entrees is the worst possible thing you would want to do. Maybe more suggestions without having to grill, please.