30 Fresh and Light Summer Meals

Summer is just about here and with it comes warm (or HOT!) weather, longer days, outdoor cooking and dining. No one wants to be a slave to the stove on days like this, so salads, easy pastas and sandwiches are my go-tos during the warm summer months. These family friendly recipes will have everyone excited about summer dinners, and they’re perfect for dining al fresco, too. Add these light summer meals to your weekly menu this season.

These family friendly recipes will have everyone excited about summer dinners, and they're perfect for dining al fresco, too!

What to Cook for Dinner on a Hot Summer Day

Beat the heat with these simple simple summer dinners. I’ve collected a bunch of easy options from salads and sandwiches to full meal pasta salads. These light, fresh summer dinners will leaving you feeling full and satisfied without weighing you down.

Light Summer Meals

Summer is finally here! And with is comes the need for some simple, quick and light summer meal ideas to feed your family so you can spend less time slaving in the kitchen and more time soaking up the summer sun with them.

Enjoy all that summer has to offer by indulging in these simple dinners, filled with the best grilled recipes like Grilled Chicken Kabobs and Grilled Peaches, delicious full meal salads and even a few summer desserts. These are some of our favorite family friendly dinners that are super simple, quick and most of them pull double duty and make great leftovers, too. Finish off the meal with a few of our best summer cocktails that are perfect for back porch sipping!

Fresh Meal Salads and Lettuce Wraps

Teriyaki Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

Teriyaki Chicken Salad – a unique copycat of my favorite Red Robin Salad with tons of flavor!

a large bowl of caesar salad, a small bowl ow casear salad with slices of chicken, a blue and white napkin and lemon slices.

Lemon Kale Caesar Salad – Toss in some grilled chicken and this delicious and healthy salad is a complete meal!

a white platter with lettuce, tortilla strips, olives, corn, chicken, tomatoes and black beans

Ranch Chicken Taco Salad – This is my all-time favorite summer meal! It’s super versatile, using the same meat form the tacos above, or any leftover chicken you have on hand. Tossed with a spicy, creamy dressing and all your favorite taco toppings, this salad is a sure winner!

Teriyaki Turkey Lettuce Wraps with chopsticks on a wood background

Teriyaki Turkey Lettuce Wraps – this Teriyaki Turkey is super versatile, and wrapped in crunchy lettuce leaves this dish is perfect for al fresco dining.

teriyaki sauce in a small dish with sesame seeds on top, a wood cutting board, 3 romaine lettuce leaves with chicken and a slice of pineapple in each.

Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps – Quick and easy, these lettuce wraps come together in about 20 minutes! Grill your chicken and use a bottled teriyaki sauce to make it even easier!

5 iceberg lettuce cups with tuna salad, lemon wedges and parsley on a wood background

Tuna Salad with Lemon, Dill and Black Pepper Mayo – This crazy easy recipe takes old school tuna salad to the next level with tons of fresh flavor.

a white bowl with chicken, grapes, and sliced almonds in a creamy sauce, romaine lettuce leaves, sliced lemon.

Creamy Chicken, Apple & Grape Salad – A super crunchy and flavorful step up from your typical chicken salad, this salad is delicious on it’s own or wrapped in lettuce leaves.

Tropical Chicken Slaw with Creamy Pineapple Vinegairette, Toasted Almonds & Sesame Seeds on a white platter

Tropical Chicken Slaw Salad – Tons of fresh ingredients coated with a creamy pineapple vinaigrette.

lettuce cups with balsamic chicken and strawberries, and a small dish of feta cheese.

Orange & Balsamic Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps – Gas up the BBQ for this incredible marinade!

romaine lettuce cups with chicken, bacon, tomatoes and dressing.

Chicken Club Lettuce Wraps – We ditched the bread for a healthier version of the classic sandwich.

classic cobb salad drizzled with dressing on a white platter with lettuce, tomatoes, eggs, and bacon

Cobb Salad – a classic salad recipe with chicken, avocado, bacon and hard boiled eggs.

a small white plate with lettuce, onions, asparagus and sliced steak. A glass with tea and a piece of bread.

Grilled Steak and Asparagus with Pineapple Vinaigrette – a lovely grilled salad from Foodtastic Mom.

Pasta Salads

a large clear glass bowl with macaroni salad with black beans, taco meat, tomatoes, avocado and limes.

Creamy Taco Pasta Salad – Pasta Salads are a favorite for summer, because they’re light and easy and full of fresh ingredients!

bacon, chicken, tomatoes, pasta and peas in a large glass bowl. a few scattered tomatoes and a red and white napkin

Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta Salad – We love this pasta salad because of the fresh Ranch flavor, but it’s got lots of other goodies in it too!

orzo, tomatoes, black beans and parsley in a small white dish with a fork.

Confetti Lime Orzo Salad – One of our favorites from The Fed Up Foodie!

tortellini, chicken, carrots and asparagus in a small white bowl held by someone's hand and in a large skillet

Balsamic Tortellini Salad – Quick, easy and cheesy!

 

a large wood bowl with rotini pasta, strawberries, spinach nuts and cheese.

Balsamic Strawberry Pasta Salad – Just add chicken to make this delicious pasta salad a meal!

macaroni, peas, onions and tuna in a large glass bowl with a wooden spoon

Tuna Macaroni Salad – this classic potluck dish is the perfect light summer meal on a hot summer night.

 

Light Summer Meals for the Grill

a grilled pizza with cheese and pepperoni, sliced, on a parchment paper.

Grilled Pizza – easy to make, totally customizable and ready in minutes.

foil with pieces of salmon, lemon slices, dill and asparagus.

Salmon and Asparagus Foil Packets – Great for the grill or the oven!

3 wooden skewers with salmon and sliced lemons

Grilled Lemon and Salmon Skewers – These salmon skewers from Yummy Healthy Easy would be delicious paired with a salad!

Foil packets with pineapple, chicken and peppers in them. A silver sheet pan and wire rack.

Grilled Barbecue Chicken Foil Packets – Everything you need for a delicious summer meal wrapped in foil and grilled outdoors! From Life in the Lofthouse.

Light Summer Meals on the Stovetop

While these meals are still light, they do require minimal cooking using your stovetop, slow cooker and air fryer.

Honey Lemon Chicken and Green Beans in a black skillet

Honey Lemon Chicken and Green Beans – When you’rein a hurry, this stir fry dish is an easy weeknight meal.

 

Tacos with chicken, lettuce and tomatoes and ranch dressing drizzle in a white dish

Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken Tacos – Slow Cooker food is the best come summer. Flavorful chicken in crunchy shells filled with lettuce, cheese and all your favorite taco toppings.

two halves of a blt sandwich stacked on top of each other with blue cheese sprinkles around the wood cutting board

Blue Cheese BLT Sandwich with Lemon Dill Mayo – Your favorite, classic sandwich enhanced with sophisticated flavors, making this a sandwich you’ll want to take your time with.

a white plate with pasta and shrimp, an orange skillet with pasta and shrimp. An orange and white napkin.

Garlic Shrimp and Tomato Pasta – Super light and fresh, this is a pasta dish you’ll be making all summer long!

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders on serving plate

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders – skip the drive thru and make some crispy chicken tenders at home without turning on your oven…in your air fryer!

a black background with tostada shells, refried beans, lettuce, cheese.

Crunchy Baked Tostadas – The tortillas could even be cooked on the grill for a no-oven tostada!

a wood bowl with tortellini, black beans, corn and tomatoes

Southwest Tortellini Pasta Salad from Tastes Better From Scratch – I’m loving this incredible flavor combination!

a white bowl with ground chicken, cucumbers, lettuce and carrots and a spoon. A small jar of dressing. A wood background

PF Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wrap Salad – We love this copycat version from Five Heart Home.

a white plate with sliced chicken and an iceber wedge salad with cheese and tomatoes and dressing. Ripe tomatoes on a stack of 2 plates.

This Chicken Fajita Wedge Salad from Diary of a Recipe Collector has got my name written all over it!

Be sure to pin this to your favorite dinner boards for safe keeping!

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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