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25 Easy Summer Dinner Recipes When You’re Short On Time But Big On Flavor

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Looking to spice up your summer dinners without spending hours in the kitchen? Me too! Which is why I’ve gathered 25 quick and easy summer dinner recipes that will satisfy your cravings, and make use of all the tasty seasonal produce this year.

From fresh summer salads to grilled meats, light pasta dishes and tasty tacos, these dishes are perfect for busy weeknights or lazy weekends.

Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue, relaxing at your vacation cottage or enjoying a quiet night in with family, these recipes will have you covered all season long.

Ready to dive in?

TIPS FOR SUMMER MEAL PLANNING

Woman serving chicken skewer form a grill with corn on the cob and sausages.
Grilling is the ultimate in summer dinners | Photo: Authorphotographee.eu via Depositphotos

To me, summertime is synonymous with BBQing and light and refreshing meals. Preferably one’s that take less than 30 minutes and don’t heat up the house too much. Here are a few of our top tips for summer meal planning:

  1. Plan Ahead: Schedule your weekly family dinners ahead of time, to avoid last-minute stress. You can also save money by doing this, as you’ll know what to grab at the grocery store. Use our editable MEAL PLANNER
  1. Prep in Advance: Chop veggies, marinate meats, and prepare sauces ahead of time to streamline cooking. We like to meal prep for the week, & put everything into these glass storage containers, to make our weeknights easier.
  1. Keep it Simple: Choose quick and easy recipes like the one’s below to save time and effort. So you and your family can spend more time outdoors doing what you love.
  1. Use Seasonal Produce: Take advantage of fresh fruits and veggies available in the summer. I love visiting farmer’s markets & supporting local businesses while getting the tastiest seasonal foods. We use resusable mesh produce bags to reduce our plastic use. They’re surprisingly handy.
  1. Consider Preferences: Take into account dietary restrictions and preferences of family members & guests. But also don’t be afraid to try new things. Hey we only live once.
  1. Mix it Up: Include a variety of proteins, grains, and vegetables to keep meals interesting & nutritious. Things that are easy to grill are also favourites in our family.
  1. Outdoor Dining & Cooking: Take advantage of the warm weather by having picnics or BBQs in the backyard. Grill & BBQ to keep the heat out of the kitchen. These are our favorite inexpensive grilling tongs for our BBQ.
  1. Make enough for leftovers: The value of leftovers is sorely underrated. Make enough for lunch or dinner the next day, so you only have to cook once.
  1. Stay Hydrated: It’s easy to forget to drink enough during busy family days. We’ve found offering refreshing beverages like lemonade or infused water (lemon, berries, cucumbers etc.) helps keep everyone interested in drinking enough throughout hot days.

QUICK & EASY SUMMER DINNER RECIPES

1. No-Fuss Italian Pasta Salad

Bowl of tri-colored pasta salad with cheery tomatoes, mozarella balls, salami cubes and black olives.
Photo & recipe: Packed for Life

Our no-fuss Italian Pasta Salad is a family favourite, and one we pull out at BBQ’s, picnics, and when we’re in the mood for a light dinner meal. Prep ahead, so you have a cool summer dinner.

2. Grilled BBQ Chicken Breasts

Photo & recipe by The Short Order Cook

Is it really summer time if the BBQ isn’t pulled out?

These grilled BBQ chicken breasts are just the thing when you’re looking for a zesty, saucy, & flavorful meal. We like to roast up some veggies at the same time for a complete meal.

KEEP TRACK OF YOUR MEAL PLANS THE EASY WAY

Two Weekly Meal Planner Sheets and one Grocery List printable.

3. Mediterranean Lentil Salad

Bowl of lentil greek salad with cherry tomatoes, vegan feta cheese, Arugla , kalamata olives and cucumbers
Photo & recipe by Spabettie

We love a good Greek summer salad in our household, but often it’s not filling enough for a full meal. Which is where this tasty Mediterranean Greek Lentil Salad comes in. Lentils add that extra protein & fibre to make it extra filling.

While this recipe is vegan itself, we like to add goat feta, as that’s our preference. The recipe is super versatile for your dietary preferences & needs.

4. Satay Chicken Noodle Bowl

Bowl filled with rice noodles, chicken pieces, carrots, broccoli and red peppers in peanut sauce.
Photo & recipe by Little Nomads Recipes

Satay Chicken Noodles is just the thing for a summer meal out on the deck. Made with thick rice noodles tossed in satay peanut sauce, and added red pepper, broccoli, carrots

We eat a lot of Asian inspired dishes in our household, as we love the lightness of the meals, and more varied textures and flavours. Plus anything with peanut sauce is a hit with our kids.

Check out our Easy Breakfast Ideas & Recipes too!

5. Summer Strawberry Goat Cheese Arugula Salad

Fork full of arugula, goat cheese, strawberry salad.
Photo & recipe by Packed for Life

Summer Strawberry and Arugula Goat Cheese Salad is a vibrant and light dish perfect for hot summer nights.

The peppery bite of arugula, fresh strawberries and creamy tang of goat cheese is a delight.

Just add protein for a complete meal. We love using chicken, smoked tofu or smoked salmon.

Get the recipe: Strawberry Goat Cheese Arugula Salad

6. Lemony Olive Oil Tortellini

Fork in a plate of lemony olive oil tortillini, with fresh basil sprinkled on top.
Photo & recipe by Masala Herb

Lemony Olive Oil Tortellini is a fresh & delightful summer meal you can whip up in under 30 minutes. So simple to make, but doesn’t skimp on the flavour.

7. Easy Kabobs With Sausage & Zucchini

Decorative metal skewers with grilled sausage, zucchini and red pepper.
Photo & recipe by Kalyn’s Kitchen

Easy grilling recipes are our go-to on Friday nights, after a long week. These sausage & zucchini kabobs are just about the easiest thing to cook up on your grill.

8. Fish Tacos

Plate with two fish tacos with creamy coleslaw.
Photo & recipe by Simply Stacie

Up your Taco Tuesday game with these delicious fish tacos. Grilled fajita spiced white fish, creamy coleslaw and your favourite toppings in a corn tortilla. More easy dinner ideas here.

9. Freaking Fast Sautéed Shrimp with Zucchini

Bowl full of sauteed shrimp and zucchini
Photo & recipe by Delightful Plate

Sauteed shrimp and zucchini is a super fast one pot meal, that’s perfect over a bowl of rice.

10. Chicken Parmesan Burgers

Chicken burger with marinera sauce, mozzarella cheese in a ciabatta bun.
Photo & recipe by Pumpkin N’ Spice

Burgers are such a quintessential summer food. Why not spice it up a little with a chicken patty, fresh mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce for your next burger night.

11. Pineapple Chicken Fried Rice

Bowl of pineapple chicken fried rice topped with peanuts and cilantro.

We almost always have leftover rice, as my partner is Chinese-Canadian and rice is a meal staple for us. Which is why this pineapple chicken fried rice is so exciting.

Such a great combo of savoury and sweet flavors. It also happens to be dairy & gluten free if that’s important to you.

Check out our tasty foil packet recipes for easy summer meals.

12. Cheesy Beef Taco Quesadillas

Stack of 5 beef taco quesadilla pieces.
Photo & recipe by Finding Time to Fly

Combining two of my favourite quick family dinners into one – a taco & a quesadilla. Is it a tacadilla or a quesaco? I don’t know, but you need to add it to your summer dinner recipe rotation.

13. Healthy Buffalo Chicken Salad

Oval plate with layers of buffalo chicken, julienned  carrots, slices of cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes and blue cheese crumbles.
Photo & recipe by Style and Grace

Buffalo Chicken Salad is the perfect mix of seasonal fresh vegetables with flavourful chicken and options for homemade ranch or blue cheese dressings.

It’s also a great summer meal with kids, as you can just put out all the different salad toppings, and they can pick and choose their favourites.

PRO PARENT MEAL TIP: When the adults want salad for dinner, we find having tortillas or rice paper rolls on hand so the kids can make wraps often entices them to actually eat more veggies, than just a plain salad would.

14. Prosciutto Ricotta Pizza

Cut squares of homemade proscuitto, ricotta and arugula pizza/
Photo & recipe by The Heirloom Pantry

My mouth is watering at how absolutely delicious this prosciutto, ricotta and arugula pizza looks.

Ok, this may not be a kid favourite, but just swap out the toppings on the kid’s pizza for some pepperoni & cheese, and you’ll have gourmet pizzas the whole family will love.

If you’re short on time, our top trick is to use premade dough.

15. Sesame Soba Noodle Salad

Chopsticks holding up some soba noodle salad with edamame, and slices of purple cabbage and red peppers.
Photo & recipe Served from Scratch

I first had cold Sesame Noodle Salad in a restuarant in my early 20’s and thought to myself, why hadn’t I had this delicious salad sooner.

Slighty salty & sweet, with a tangy sesame oil dressing, it’s oh so satisfying. The perfect cold summer dinner when it’s just too hot cook anything complicated.

Plus it’s ready in only 15 minutes, and you can make it ahead, for a cold salad packed with veggies and protein.

16. Pesto Chicken & Vegetables

Plate od saireed chicken breast pieces with whole green beans and cheery tomoates in pesto with parmesan sprinkled on top.
Photo & recipe by Wholesome Made Easy

Add cheese to any dish, and I’ve found it’s almost always guaranteed to woo over the sceptical kids (or adults) in the family.

An easy one pot meal that combines pesto & parmesan with juicy chicken, green beans and cheery tomatoes. The colors (& taste) are so delightful.

17. Grilled Shrimp Tacos

Three shrimp tacos surrounded by avocado & lime halves
Photo & recipe by Busy Day Dinners

Grilled Shrimp Tacos are both quick and easy to make in under 15 minutes, using simple ingredients. Just switch up the toppings for a versatile family summer dinner meal.

18. Caprese Gnocchi Sheet Pan Recipe

Sheet pan with gnocchi, cherry tomatoes and mozarella balls, topped with freash basil.
Photo & recipe by The Savory Cipolla

Summer season means an abundance of cherry tomatoes and fresh basil at the market. So this Caprese Gnocchi Sheet Pan recipe is just the thing.

My youngest is on a gnocchi kick, and has requested these multiple times over the last while. It’s also a simple way to feed a big family or get together, with minimal effort. Score for the cook!

19. Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Peach BBQ pork tenderloin slices on a plate.
Photo & recipe by Chew Out Loud

Bring out grilled pork tenderloin for your next cookout. Made with a sweet and spicy peach BBQ marinade it’s perfect for grilling all summer long.

20. Easy Pan Fried Fish

Fork holding a pieced of pan fried white fish over a bed of white rice.
Photo & recipe by A Cedar Spoon

For a seafood dinner in under 25 minutes, Easy Pan Fried Fish is the ticket. Juicy, flaky inside with a nice crust on the outside.

Serve with couscous, rice or a mediterranean type salad for a complete meal.

A way better version of fish sticks kids will love to eat too.

21. Black Bean Dorito Taco Salad

Bowl of green leaf lettuce sald with dirot chips, shredded cheddar cheese and black beans.
Photo & recipe by Shutter and Mint

Black Bean Dorito Taco Salad has all the taco flavors, but without the cooking!

Super easy to prep, the sauce really makes this stand out. We’ll often add pieces of BBQ chicken we grab pre-cooked from the store.

22. California Club Wraps

Three California Club Wraps piled on a cutitng board, with an avocado in the background.
Photo & Recipe by From Valerie’s Kitchen

California Club Wrap is a west coast twist on the classic club sandwich. Loaded with smashed avocado, crispy bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, and rotisserie chicken &

PRO PARENT MEAL TIPS: Rotisserie chicken is our family’s top hack for summer dinners when we don’t want to use the oven. We also get the kids to wrap them themselves, that way they can choose what they’d like to put in. Less complaining that way too.

23. Grilled Bacon Wrapped Scallops

Skewers of bacon wrapped scallops, yellow tomatoes and zucchini.
Photo & recipe by Binky’s Culinary Carnival

Add bacon to anything and I’m sold. Ok, well almost anything.

Bacon wrapped scallops are such a treat, and when grilled their sweetness really shines through.

24. BBQ Chicken Flatbreads

Flatbread with roasted chicken, cheese and onions.
Photo & recipe by Living Chirpy

For an easy & fun take on pizza dinners, try these BBQ chicken flatbreads. Using premade flatbreads & rotisserie or leftover shredded chicken guarantees you can have this on the table in under 30 minutes.

25. Texas Toast Sloppy Joes

Fork holding up a piece of toast with sloppy joe mix and melted cheese.
Photo & recipe by Homeschool & Happiness

Texas Toast Sloppy Joes are a budget friendly, and easy weekday meal.

Made with only 4 ingredients, it will be ready in no time at all. Leaving lots of time to relax and enjoy summer activities with your family.

26. Greek Chicken Skewers

Wooden skewers with grilled chicken and greek sauce on a pita.
Photo & recipe by Cook Dinner Tonight

Enjoy these delicious Greek chicken skewers, marinated in yogurt in only 10-15 minutes. You can prep the and tzatziki ahead of time, making this a simple weeknight dining.

Perfect family dinner idea for busy nights, bursting with Mediterranean goodness.

FINAL THOUGHTS: 25 SIMPLE SUMMER DINNER RECIPES

Summer time meals don’t have to be complicated to feed your body and taste buds.

With these 25 simple summer dinner recipes you’ll be able to prep any dinner meal occasion summer throws your way. Whether it’s a backyard BBQ, weekday dinner with family, or vacation rental dinner, everyone will be happy & full.

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