Light Summer Dinners

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When it’s too hot to cook and you don’t know what to eat, these 70 Light Summer Dinners will become your new go-to’s. You’ll find some new grilling favorites and flavorful dinner salads. From my simple chicken marinades with 10 flavors to the super popular Grilled Caprese Chicken, there’s a little something for everyone. These light dinners are satisfying right through the heat waves of summer days.

Sliced balsamic chicken topped with caprese salad and zucchini on the side on a pottery plate.

Summer is fantastic for the abundance of fresh fruits and veggies. However, nothing like a heat wave leaves you uninspired in the kitchen.

And there seems to be something about hot summer nights that leaves you wondering what to eat for dinner. Luckily you’ll find plenty of inspiration here that won’t heat the house, and leave your tummy satisfied as well.

Light but filling and simple ingredients are my main qualifications for the perfect summer dinner. So I hope you find some new favorites, and you’ll find my personal favorite listed below as well.

Fish taco bowls drizzled with chipotle aioli and topped with a lime wedge.

Before we dive into the specific recipes for light summer dinners, I wanted to give you my super simple summer dinner formula.

This way you can mix and match according to what you have on hand. And once you get the hang of it, you barely need recipes to cook this way.

Summer Dinner Formula

Protein + 1-2 Veggies + 1 Sauce = endless yummy dinners!

The way this works for us is to choose a protein we want to grill. From there I pick out whatever veggies I have on hand. Often I’ll slice a couple of potatoes to grill as one of my veggies. From there I love to add a sauce to drizzle over everything.

You don’t need much in the way of recipes to cook like this, really just a sauce recipe will do. But I’m including my grill platters below, and some basics to get you started. Once you get the hang of what you like grill, you’ll have endless yummy dinners to come.

Easy Summer Dinner Ideas

Ten different chicken marinades in bags on a white background.
Best Chicken Marinades + 10 Flavors

Try pairing any of my 10 Best Chicken Marinades with veggies and skip making a sauce. You’ll find 10 dinner ideas listed in that blog post as well for how to use these marinades.

Pair them with my Grilled Vegetables and Sliced Grilled Potatoes which are mainstays in the summer and will give you lots of inspiration to get started.

If you grill up plain protein and veggies, choose a sauce recipe over on my sauce category page that best suits what you’re craving.

Our 5 Favorite Summer Sauce Recipes

Finished Honey Mustard Sauce in a glass jar.
  1. Basil Aioli – perfect for an abundance of fresh basil. This is our favorite sauce to pair together with grilled veggies, potatoes, and grilled protein.
  2. Cilantro Chimichurri – is great paired with any fish, seafood, steak, pork, or chicken along with veggies. We also love drizzling this over grilled potatoes.
  3. Garlic Butter Sauce – this sauce can be drizzled over just about anything you can think of!
  4. Sriracha Mayo – we love making this as a change of pace from the Basil aioli. Make it as spicy, (or not) as you like.
  5. Honey Mustard Sauce – is extra tasty with grilled chicken, pork, and veggies.

Grill Platters & Sheet Pan Dinners

Lemon Chicken and asparagus on a sheet pan with a wood spatula scooping some out.
  1. Italian Sausage Grill Platter – sausage and veggies grilled up and served with balsamic basil dressing over the top. This is gorgeous for entertaining but easy for weeknights.
  2. Greek Grill Platter – halloumi cheese and veggies grilled together and flavored with a grilled lemon garlic dressing.
  3. Lemon Chicken Grill Platter – chicken and veggies grilled together and topped with a lemon basil dressing.
  4. Teriyaki Salmon Sheet Pan – both easy and light with takeout flavors.
  5. Lemon Chicken & Asparagus – one of our most popular recipes, this one is sure to please.
  6. Healthy Chicken Sheet Pan Fajitas – everything you love about fajitas made easily on a sheet pan.
  7. Garlic Butter Chicken & Potatoes – garlic butter flavors make the classic chicken, potatoes, and green beans a treat made on a sheet pan.
  8. Honey Garlic Chicken & Veggie Sheet Pan Stir Fry – stir fry flavors without any mess, all cooked together on a sheet pan.
  9. Italian Chicken and Veggies Sheet Pan – Summer veggies paired together with chicken and Italian dressing cooked on one sheet pan.

Dinner Worthy Summer Salads

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Salad in a white bowl with an avocado and ranch dressing on the side.
  • Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Salad – grilled pineapple combined with teriyaki chicken and fresh veggies make this one a crowd-pleaser.
  • Turkey Taco Salad a little lighter with ground turkey, this salad is the perfect combination of fresh & filling.
  • Italian Chopped Salad – serve this one as is or add more protein by grilling some steak, chicken, pork chops, or seafood to serve with it.
  • Salmon Chopped Salad this one is the perfect way to use up any leftover grilled salmon you might have. You can also add grilled chicken instead.
  • Crispy Buffalo Chicken Saladfresh and crunchy with all the favorite buffalo flavors. Skip the crispy chicken if you don’t want to cook inside and grill the chicken instead.
  • Cheeseburger Salad with secret sauce dressing is one recipe we make every single week in the summer. We simply can’t get enough of this fresh way to enjoy burger flavors.
  • Guacamole Chipotle Chicken Saladgrilled chipotle chicken over crunchy romaine with all the guacamole flavors, what’s not to love?!
  • Caprese Chicken Saladwith pesto dressing is stunning and perfect for easy entertaining.
  • Chicken Shawarma Saladwith tahini dressing checks the box for all the shawarma flavors with plenty of fresh veggies.
  • Vietnamese Chicken Saladthink bun noodle bowl flavors but lighter and packed with more veggies.
  • Grilled Chicken BLAT Salad – with avocado ranch has those classic sandwich components in a satisfying dinner salad.
  • Sweet Chili Chicken Mango Salad sweet juicy mango paired with slightly spicy chili paired with fresh veggies make this a salad you never get tired of.
  • Chipotle Chicken Street Corn Salad – all our favorite Mexican summertime flavors piled into a salad with a cilantro dressing.

And there are so many more! So if you’re looking for more inspiration, head on over to the salad recipe category.

Light Summer Dinners for the Grill

A grilled tortilla pizza cut into wedges on a white background.
  1. Grilled Tortilla Pizza – super easy and you can customize this one with your favorite pizza toppings.
  2. Fish Taco Bowlsso easy and packed with flavor, this is one of our most popular recipes that we also enjoy often.
  3. Grilled Greek Salmonsalmon grilled on a cedar plank and topped with fresh Greek Salad and tangy feta is the easiest showstopper I’ve ever made!
  4. Tuscan Steak – so easy to make and perfect for entertaining. My latest menu for entertaining was to pair this one with my Italian Chopped Salad listed above.
  5. Balsamic Grilled Chickentopped with Caprese salad and a side of zucchini is one of our favorite weekday dinners a

Gluten-Free Burger Flavors on the Grill

Burger Lettuce Wraps in a rectangular container with burger sauce and caramelized onions on the side.
  1. In and Out Lettuce Burgers – a lettuce wrap burger with In and Out flavor, but you can chop it up as a burger bowl too.
  2. Aloha Teriyaki Burger Bowls – grilled pineapple together with classic burger ingredients and teriyaki sauce.
  3. Banh Mi Burger Bowls – all our favorite Banh Mi flavors combined into a veggie-packed burger bowl.
  4. Caprese Turkey Burgers – classic Caprese flavors turned into a burger on a mushroom bun. Use lettuce buns or anything you like if you don’t like mushrooms.
  5. Meatlovers Pizza Burgers – Italian sausage burgers combined with pizza flavors make this mushroom burger a crowd-pleaser. You can also use lettuce buns here.
  6. Gyro Lettuce Burgers – with tzatziki sauce is so fresh and flavorful! All the classic gyro flavors in a simple lettuce burger.
  7. Pesto Turkey Burgers – on sweet potato buns and fresh tomatoes, so much flavor!
  8. Mexican Avocado Burgers – with corn salsa and lots of Mexican-inspired flavors.
  9. Jalapeno Turkey Burgers – with creamy slaw are on repeat in our house during the summer.
  10. Buffalo Burgers – with blue cheese slaw on sweet potato buns. We make these as sliders and we can’t get enough of them!


What is good food for hot weather?

Keep it simple when it feels too hot to eat with lots of fresh veggies and with just enough protein and carbs to feel satisfied. You’ll find over 70 awesome recipes for the hot summer days to choose from here from dinner salads, to sheet pan dinners, and all things grilled!

What is the best dinner in the summer?

Any of these 70 recipes are perfect dinners for the summer. Be sure to pick something to make with fresh veggies and fresh fruit in mind, but with plenty of protein and carbs to keep it satisfying.

Honey Sriracha Grilled Chicken on a black plate.
Honey Sriracha Grilled Chicken

Easy Summer Dinner Recipes

  1. Jalapeno Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken – serve this as is or with my strawberry mango salsa for a showstopper.
  2. California Sushi Bowls – sushi rice topped with the usual California roll fixings and a Japanese togarashi mayo – so good.
  3. Smoked Chicken Breasts – can be served with your favorite veggies and sauce. Or make large batches to use in Adult Lunchables or in any chicken salad.
  4. Honey Sriracha Grilled Chicken – sweet spicy flavors this one is so easy and crowd-pleasing.
  5. Chicken Zucchini Stir Fry – an easy dish to put together and it uses up so much zucchini too.
  6. Korean Ground Beef Bowls – easy to make with no special ingredients requires we make this one all the time.
  7. Sausage Broccoli Pasta – perfect for fresh summertime broccoli, this easy pasta dish is perfect for weeknights or entertaining.
  8. Shrimp Fajitas – classic fajita flavors made with shrimp. Add all the toppings you’d like!
  9. Instant Pot BBQ Chicken – bbq flavors made easily in the Instant Pot. We like to serve this with baked potatoes and creamy slaw.
  10. Ground Beef Stir Fry – super easy to make with any veggies you have on hand in the summer months.
Straight down view of Healthy Tuna Salad in meal prep containers with apples on the side.

Light Summer Dinners Meal Prep Options

Light Summer Date Night Recipes

Summer Antipasto Platter sitting on a truck tailgate with trees and a river in the background.
Summer Antipasto Platter on our tailgate makes a wonderful date night with no cooking required!
Classic Chicken Salad in a speckled pottery bowl.
Classic Chicken Salad

I really hope you find some new light summer dinner inspiration today! If you do get a chance to make these recipes, be sure to let me know.

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