Weeknight Cooking

60 Impossibly Easy, Slightly Lazy, 100% Reliable Summer Dinner Recipes

Fresh produce + your pantry = a summer love story.

May 21, 2021
Photo by James Ransom

Dragging open a can of anchovies. Cubing cold, snappy vegetables to toss in a mustard jar vinaigrette. Spooning anything at all onto toast, with pepper and cheese and salt. There's something wonderfully languid about making summer dinners, the kind that come half-prepped right from the produce bag (or, okay, pasta box).

The best are not just easy, but also quick—even unnervingly so. "Didn't I just open the fridge?" you'll say to yourself, sitting down to Brie-cloaked noodles and tomatoes. Or skillet-grilled fish tacos. Or the undeniable genius of a salad made from cornbread.

Here are 60 impossibly easy, quick-to-prep dinners for the summer, depending on just what kind of cooking you feel like doing.

Simple Summer Salads

1. Grilled Peach & Apricot Salad

Hot-off-the-grill peaches and apricots get tossed with fresh kale, crumbled feta cheese, and thin slices of prosciutto for a light and easy dinner that was made for the warm weather months.

2. Dilled, Crunchy Sweet-Corn Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Sweet and crunchy raw corn might be the star of this hearty summer salad, but that doesn't stop a tangy, creamy buttermilk and yogurt dressing from making quite the entrance.

3. Summer Farro Salad

Nutritious and wholesome, farro (an ancient whole grain) brings a nutty texture to this breezy salad, which calls on punchy red onion, garlic, bright parsley, ripe tomatoes, and precious hunks of mozzarella to keep all the flavors perfectly balanced.

4. Vietnamese-ish Rice Noodle Salad With Shrimp, Peas, & Corn

Our favorite part about this Vietnamese rice noodle salad—aside from its crunchy peanut topping and tangy homemade dressing—is just how easy it is to riff on: You can add grilled steak or chicken, or make it entirely vegetarian without skipping a beat.

5. Chopped Kitchen Sink Salad with Yogurt Dressing & Bottarga

Bottarga, a type of salted, cured fish roe, is the secret ingredient to this crunchy green salad; the bottarga brings a brininess that plays off the creamy yogurt dressing in the dreamiest way.

6. Heirloom Tomato & Cornbread Panzanella

Bread for dinner? We'll never say no to that. Especially when this panzanella of day-old cornbread (so easy!) and farmers market heirloom tomatoes is on the table.

7. Forbidden Rice Salad With Thai Coconut-Lime Dressing

Vibrant and refreshing, you can't keep us away from this "forbidden" rice salad with an addictive coconut milk-based dressing that doubles as an excellent dip for spring rolls, chicken skewers, and more.

8. Roasted Cauliflower & Avocado Salad for New Parents

You don't have to be a parent to enjoy this salad—but if you are, today's your lucky day. Roast cauliflower once, feed your baby and yourself (or yourself x 2). Peak summer laziness efficiency.

Quick Seafood Dinners

9. Skillet-Grilled Fish Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Crema

These one pan (a cast iron pan, that is) fish tacos couldn't be easier—a light and flaky fish gets seared in just a few minutes, and the tortillas get warmed up in the same hot skillet.

10. Spicy Salmon with Israeli Couscous & Chickpeas

This dish might sound fancy-schmancy, but it's actually oh so simple: fatty, bright pink salmon bakes in the oven for just 15 minutes while you cook up the spiced couscous and chickpeas.

11. Drunken Clams with Sausage

According to recipe author, community member QueenSashy, the key to this ethereal, brothy dish is to clean the clams properly—otherwise, you might end up with gritty bits in the end result.

12. Grilled Swordfish with Lemon & Caper Sauce

A fresh, high-quality catch shouldn't need much more in the way of cooking besides a quick flash on the grill and a simple dressing of lemon juice, capers, and butter.

13. Poached Tuna with Warm Squash, Corn & Potato Salad

This seemingly unlikely combination—herb and oil-poached tuna, roasted corn, potatoes, and zucchini—actually makes a very delicious and satisfying dinner.

14. Warm Bread Salad with Smoked Salmon, Roasted Vegetables & Creamy Dill Dressing

Bread as dinner for the win yet again, only this time things get a bit more balance with smoked salmon, colorful roasted dressing, and an herby dressing of crème fraîche (or Greek yogurt) and champagne vinegar.

15. Spicy Shrimp

Five ingredients and a handful of skewers? Of all the recipes, we'd wager this spicy shrimp has the the biggest payoff in terms of flavor with the absolute least effort.

16. Salmon Burgers with Avocado Aioli

Flipping patties is a breeze when you're working with salmon burgers you can make a few days ahead and store, covered, in the fridge. We recommend making the creamy avocado aioli fresh, though, especially since you can just whiz it up in a food processor.

17. Miso-Ginger Noodles With Tuna & Spicy Sesame Crumbs

The tuna noodle casserole you know and love—reimagined. This dish comes together in under 20 minutes, thanks to canned tuna and a host of "wham-pow" ingredients (sesame oil, ginger, miso, chile flakes all make an appearance).

18. Garlic Grilled Shrimp

You’re just five ingredients away from a fresh, finger-licking good summer dinner. These garlicky shrimp prove that sometimes simple is best.

Hearty Meat Dishes

19. Slow-Cooker Carolina Pulled Pork Barbecue

There are few things easier than a set-it-and-forget-it slow-cooker meal in the summertime. And for me, Pulled Pork Sandwiches just scream summertime, BBQs, and picnics. This slow-cooker recipe is extremely simple in technique and ingredient list, yet yields a Carolina-style pulled pork that tastes nuanced and complex.

20. Scallion & Coconut Rice with Pork

Make this satisfying and simple rice dish just once, and we bet it'll quickly work its way into your weekly dinner rotation before you can say, "Seconds, please."

21. Coconut-Lime Pork Tacos with Black Beans & Avocado

Would you believe these zesty pork tacos with creamy black beans and avocado can go from the kitchen table to the dinner table in just 20 minutes? If you don't, well, we suggest trying 'em for yourself and washing everything down with a margarita.

22. Alabama-Style Chicken Kebabs

Over 100 reviews of this recipe confirm what we already knew to be true: These are the most flavorful and moist chicken kebabs you will probably ever feast your eyes on.

23. Greek Chicken Sheet-Pan Dinner with Green Beans & Feta

We're a sucker for a sheet-pan dinner's ease and convenience, but even more so when the flavors are spot on, like they are in this Greek-inspired chicken winner with lots of spices, crunchy green beans, and tangy feta cheese.

24. Skillet-Roasted Chicken Thighs

This recipe's description delivers on everything it promises, and then some: "An honest dinner, cooked simply, from only four ingredients that took up space in the refrigerator."

25. Roofeeo's Simple Grilled Chimichurri Marinated Skirt Steak

This easy chimichurri sauce is happiest when used to marinate a juicy skirt steak. But really, any cut of steak will do.

26. Lamb Biftekia with Anchovy, Sun-Dried Tomato & Mint

When you're feeling stuck in a grilling rut (and you simply can't eat another burger or hot dog), make these spiced lamb skewers with a pantry-friendly dipping sauce wonderfully salty and herby.

27. Greek Chicken Meatballs

An updated riff on a party meatball (you know, the kind with a toothpick for easy snacking), these never-dry meatballs with yogurt dipping sauce actually make the perfect no-fuss dinner.

28. Chicken Florentine by Joanna Gaines

What's speedy, succulent, and dirties but one skillet? This chicken Florentine by Fixer Upper star, Joanna Gaines. All it needs is a crusty loaf of bread to mop up all the sauce.

29. Sweet & Spicy BBQ Chicken Sandwich With Pickles

The spicy quick pickles in this recipe are the most time-intensive component of this recipe, and luckily it can be made ahead. Chicken thighs are flavored in a super-flavorful marinade that’s sweet, spicy, tangy, and acidic, like a more nuanced barbecue sauce.

All About the Pasta

30. Creamy Asparagus, Lemon & Walnut Pasta

Make the most of seasonal asparagus with this creamy, six-ingredient pasta. A handful of lemon zest gives these noodles a hit of bright summer flavor, while the chopped walnuts bring a very welcome crunch.

31. Linguine with Sardines, Fennel & Tomato

A true pantry pasta in every sense of the word (even the tomatoes here are canned!), the only fresh ingredients you'll need to whip up this linguine is lemon, fennel, and garlic (which lasts forever anyway).

32. Cold Sesame Noodle Salad

Vermicelli or thin rice noodles are preferred in this refreshing sesame salad, but if you're in a pinch, plain old spaghetti will work just as well.

33. Weeknight Broken Lasagna with Lots of Greens

Meet a lighter, more laid-back way to enjoy a cozy classic: In this broken lasagna, you'll toss the cooked, wide noodles with a lemony ricotta mixture and top the whole thing with sautéed asparagus and peas.

34. Linguine with Blistered Sungold Tomatoes, Smoked Sausage & Basil

Make this smoky, herby tomato sauce while your pasta boils, and you'll find that dinner's ready in just over 20 minutes.

35. Sesame Noodle Salad with Seared Mushroom "Scallops"

This chilled noodle-y number might say "scallops," but really it's just seared king oyster mushrooms, meaning this recipe is vegetarian-friendly. But if you'd like to mix things up with some grilled chicken, pork, or even real scallops, this salad will make them feel right at home.

36. Zucchini & Green Coriander Pasta

Green coriander, which is the seed of a cilantro plant before it dries and becomes regular old coriander, adds a unique burst of flavor—somewhere between cilantro and lime—to this pasta.

37. Pasta with Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil & Brie

If you think Brie should just be reserved for a cheese board, give this wonderfully gooey pasta a shot. The combination of the extra-creamy cheese and tart tomatoes tastes sublimely of summer.

38. Summer Squash Sauce with Pasta

Whether you're doing a CSA box this summer or are a farmers market regular, it's likely you're going to find yourself with a lot of squash on your hands throughout the season. The best way to use it up: this light and fresh 30-minute pasta that's all about squash.

39. Summer Weekend Pasta

This extremely riff-able pasta has been a once-a-weeknight summer affair for our co-founder Amanda Hesser for years. It always changes depending on what's in season, meaning it'll probably be a little different each time you make it, though reliably delicious.

40. Swiss Chard Stalk Pesto with Pepitas

The next time you buy a big, beautiful bunch of Swiss chard, don't toss the stalks! Save and blanch 'em for this tasty pesto that you can not only toss with pasta, but also spread on sandwiches or use as a dip.

41. Our Best Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is the definition of "summer unfussiness"—toss some pickled and cured odds and ends with noodly curlicues, some greenery, and a zingy dressing, then let it sit until you're ready to tuck in. This one tastes good warm, cold, and at room temperature.

42. No-Mayo Peperonata Pasta Salad

I was an adamant hater of pasta salad until I came across this recipe. Rather than getting bogged down by a heavy binder like mayo, this pasta salad starts with the extremely concentrated acidity and sweetness from peperonata, a classic Southern Italian side dish of sweet peppers, onions, and tomatoes melted in olive oil. The result is light enough for a warm summer evening, but still extremely satisfying.

Dinner-Worthy Sandwiches

43. The Food Lab's Ultra-Smashed Cheeseburgers

This Genius-approved cheeseburger requires just five simple ingredients—a soft hamburger roll, good-quality ground beef chuck, American cheese, and salt and pepper—and as many condiments as your heart desires.

44. Steak & Bean Torta

If you've never heard of a torta (a type of Mexican sandwich), you're going to want to bookmark this one. In this version, marinated steak, quick-pickled onions and jalapeño, mashed beans, and a crema drizzle get layered on a fluffy roll—basically, heaven between buns.

45. A Tomato Sandwich Worthy of a Little Bacon

You know it's officially summer when you can start eating sandwiches with nothing but toasted bread, mayonnaise, and high-season tomatoes. And we certainly wouldn't say no to bringing a little bit of crispy bacon and avocado aioli into the mix.

46. Bagna Cauda Toasts with Radicchio, Egg & Avocado

Bagna cauda, a traditionally hot Italian dish made from garlic and anchovies, anchors this dinner-worthy toast with its bold flavors. The smattering of crisp, fresh greens and hard-boiled eggs are just a bonus.

47. "Moroccan Guacamole" Toasts with Fried Egg

When you're in the mood for dinner for breakfast, make this fried egg-topped toast with a Moroccan-inspired avocado mash that's sprinkled with Aleppo pepper or harissa (whichever you have on hand).

48. Pan Bagnat: Le French Tuna Salad Sandwich

In this Nicoise salad-turned-sandwich, tangy olives, fresh herbs, and vinaigrette mingle with olive oil-packed canned tuna to make what one reviewer called "a glorious riot of colors, flavors, and textures."

49. Green Goddess Chicken Sandwiches

Take your passion for green goddess dressing beyond salad with this grilled chicken sandwich, which makes the perfect vehicle for this creamy, herby sauce.

50. The Fabulous, Legendary Fried Provolone & Tomato Sandwich

Who could ignore something both fabulous and legendary? Not us. And this pan-fried provolone and salted tomato sandwich (with mayo-slathered bread, of course) is without a doubt both of those things.

51. Chickpea "Tuna" Salad

"If you're looking for tuna salad, turn back now," recipe developer Sarah Jampel writes. And she's right. This healthy, wholesome salad celebrates the versatility of chickpeas by treating them like tuna salad and combining them with Greek yogurt, tahini, herbs, and alliums.

52. Marinated Tofu Steak Sandwiches

This one takes a bit of pre-planning, but once you pop frozen-and-defrosted tofu into a zesty marinade, your prep work is pretty much done. You'll soon be rewarded with a chewy, meaty, super-satisfying sandwich that's entirely vegetarian.

53. Grilled Corn & Summer Squash Quesadillas

These cheesy vegetable quesadillas are perfect for a summer evening, perhaps after a few drinks al fresco. Filled with smoky grilled corn and sweet summer squash, plus goat cheese for tangy flavor and pepper jack for a melty kick, these quesadillas are as lazy and tasty as it gets.

Just Add Eggs

54. Scrambled Egg Tacos with Avocado

Keep these 10-minute scrambled egg tacos in your back pocket for when you've had a very long day or come home late from a night on the town. They're tasty, fast, and you can eat them with your hands, which means one less thing to clean when you're done.

55. Skillet Strata with Bacon, Cheddar & Greens

This one-skillet strata (it's kind of like a frittata, but with the addition of bread) is by all accounts totally delicious and very easy to make. Plus, it has bacon, so...we're sold.

56. Chipotle Tomato Egg Skillet

For something a little saucier, make this chipotle-spiced tomato stew with eggs that get poached right in the skillet. The brown rice gives it plenty of heft, but we always like to keep a few slices of bread nearby for dipping.

57. Scallion Egg Noodles

When we say egg noodles here, we actually mean a flat, scrambled egg pancake with scallions, cilantro, soy sauce, and mirin, that gets sliced into strips—just like fresh pasta.

58. Zucchini Frittata with Caramelized Red Onion & Goat Cheese

In the reviews describing this zucchini frittata you'll notice the word "delicious" pop up more than a few times, which makes this easy, eggy dish more than worthy of being a summer dinner.

59. Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce

These tomato-poached eggs are as simple of a dinner as you'll ever find, but don't let the tiny ingredients list fool you into thinking it's bland or boring.

60. Eggs in Purgatory with Capers & Parsley

This eggy stew with a healthy sprinkle of chile flakes might be spicy enough for purgatory, but you'll be in heaven every time you make it for dinner.

And for Dessert...

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Amanda Sims

Written by: Amanda Sims

Professional trespasser.


peebeejays29 June 1, 2021
I have read your article its very informative and attractive. Thanks for sharing this post.
Rochelle July 21, 2019
EmilyC's Bagna Cauda Toast is too good a dish to limit to summer. It's an awesome recipe that should be enjoyed All. Year. Long. I know I do.
Lune June 20, 2019
This smells like a summer challenge to do all these recipes!
shy August 16, 2016
looks awesome
HalfPint June 27, 2016
Made Merrill's Pasta Tomato Basil & Brie last night. Still fantastic even with hothouse tomatoes (I didn't get a chance to get to the farmer's market).