21 Chicken Recipes That Were Made for Summer

From spicy chicken lettuce wraps to herby chicken burgers.

May 26, 2020
Photo by Julia Gartland

There are no hard and fast rules about what makes food wintry versus summery, but if you ask me, it’s all about brightness—fresh flavors, raw anything, and bonus points if you can prepare or eat the recipe outside.

These 21 summer-ready chicken recipes—from herby chicken burgers with a spicy condiment kick to a balsamic-marinated chicken sandwich with peach jam —fit the bill just right. Keep them on tab from now until fall.


1. Two-Pea Pesto Chicken Salad

This super-green riff on chicken salad (thanks, basil pesto, frozen peas, and sugar snap peas) is as versatile as it gets—dollop a big scoop onto some crunchy greens, stuff it in a toasty pita, or spread it on a sandwich, you name it.

2. Sheet-Pan Za’atar Chicken With Carrot & Avocado Salad

Chicken thighs, carrots, and sliced red onion get dressed up in a bright, bold combo of za'atar, lemon zest, honey, and olive oil before going into a hot oven, where'll they'll crisp and cooked through. Then, creamy avocado, crumbled feta, your choice of greens, and crunchy pistachios get added to the mix to make it a salad.

3. Chicken & Salad Milanese-Style

Award-winning cookbook author Dorie Greenspan is known for her desserts (hi, chocolate chip cookies), but we can’t get enough of her dinner recipes either. Case in point: this crispy chicken with an herby, lemony salad alongside.

4. Spicy, Braised Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Because salad is more fun if you can eat it with your hands. Each lettuce cup gets filled with spicy, tomato-y braised chicken, then topped with an avocado vinaigrette you’re going to want to put on everything.

5. Warm Garam Masala Chicken Salad With Naan Croutons

If you have leftover chicken, shred it up and turn it into this salad, with spinach, cilantro, chickpeas, grapes, and croutons worth fighting over. So says our contributor EmilyC, “We have to count out the crispy naan croutons in my house to make sure everyone gets an equal share.”

6. Sesame Chicken With Radicchio & Orange Salad

Sesame chicken in two ingredients? It’s possible. Just pound chicken breasts until thin, then “bread” them in lots of sesame seeds. This is great served with a juicy radicchio and orange salad—but feel free to swap in your favorite greens, vegetables, and dressing.

7. Sumac Chicken With Yogurty Cucumber Salad

For never-dry chicken breasts, marinate them in Greek yogurt first. Then, cook them in cast iron and serve them next to this refreshing cucumber salad with red onion, sumac, olive oil, and (you guessed it) Greek yogurt.


8. Balsamic Chicken Sandwich With Peach Jam & Brandied Onions

Balsamic-marinated chicken, sandwiched between bread with mayo and lettuce, sounds like an A+ lunch to me. But this recipe adds in a quickie peach jam and brandied onions and—be right back, gotta go buy some peaches.

9. Spicier Curry Chicken Salad

Ho-hum curried chicken salad? No more. “My curried chicken salad is much spicier,” writes Senior Editor Eric Kim, “thanks to a heaping tablespoon of curry powder and a pinch of cayenne pepper.” Mayo, celery, and grapes keep the spice in check.

10. Green Goddess Chicken Sandwiches

Green goddess is as summery as a creamy dressing gets. In this case, the green comes from avocado and fresh herbs, which are brightened up by tangy Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and garlic.

11. Chicken-Amba Sandwiches With Lime Mayonnaise

Why put one condiment on your chicken sandwich when you could put two? Here, a spicy, sour, and sweet amba (mango) sauce teams up with a lime mayonnaise to make chicken feel as special as can be.

12. Parmesan-Crusted Chicken, Caponata & Pesto Sandwich

We'll never say not to parmesan-crusted anything, but especially not this chicken sandwich with pesto-slathered bread and veggie-filled caponata.


13. Chicken Kebabs With Garlic Sauce

You might think the best part of these kebabs is the crisp-charred chicken, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, and halloumi (yes, cheese!). But what’s even better is the toum, a lighter-than-mayo garlic sauce, for dipping.

14. Halfsies Chicken

Why is it called halfsies? Because every ingredient is half of something. All you need for this rub-on marinade is sugar, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne. If you like things hot, you can increase the cayenne from ½ teaspoon to ½ tablespoon.

15. Grilled Chicken Caesar Lettuce Wraps

This is your classic chicken Caesar salad—except, you get to ditch the fork and knife. Plus, using mayo as the base for the Caesar dressing means there’s no egg yolk–emulsifying required.

16. Twice-Cooked Javanese Grilled Chicken

Though this spice paste is traditionally made for chicken, it’s so flavorful you’ll want to slather it on every grilled protein (pork, beef, tofu you name it) this summer. Garlic, turmeric, galangal, and ginger are just a few of the ingredients that make it shine.

17. Grilled Chicken Thighs With Lemongrass Glaze

These sticky grilled chicken thighs are all about the glaze: citrusy lemongrass, fish sauce, zingy ginger, garlic, and fresh red chili.


18. Jerk Chicken Burgers

Jerk chicken, meet chicken burgers. Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list. Just about everything—from Scotch bonnets and brown sugar to ginger and garlic—comes together in a food processor.

19. Buffalo Chicken Burgers

Oh, Buffalo chicken, just when I didn’t think I could love you more. In this recipe, hot sauce and blue cheese get mixed right into the ground chicken, making for a big-personality burger that can’t wait to hop inside a fluffy bun.

20. Chicken Parsi Burgers

Dry chicken burgers keep getting you down? Genius to the rescue! “There is a greater proportion of raw vegetable matter here than you might have thought wise to mix into a burger,” Kristen Miglore writes. “But every last bit has just enough time to soften and release its bright, herby, spicy vapors and juices into the burgers as they sizzle, fixing both of the problems meat lacking in fat tends to have.”

21. Herbed Chicken Burgers With Spicy Aioli

Parsley and basil keep this burger extra herby, extra fresh. Don’t be shy with the vinegary, garlicky aioli on the buns; it’s got a strong kick from cayenne, but feel free to lower the amount to taste if that’s not your thing.

Bonus Chicken!

What’s your favorite chicken recipe to cook in the summer? Tell us in the comments!
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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

1 Comment

Helen M. July 24, 2020
My summer classic chicken are various riffs on beer can chicken. Different liquids in the can to different spice rubs. Always delicious.