30 Essential Summer Foods

Here are 30 essential foods that just scream summer — from fresh in-season produce to juicy burgers on the grill.

Related To:

Photo By: Maris Zemgalietis

Photo By: Christopher Jones

Photo By: Vincent Go

Photo By: Elena Elisseeva

Photo By: Lew Robertson

Photo By: Lilyana Vinogradova

Photo By: Matka Wariatka

Photo By: Top Photo Corporation / ThinkStock

Photo By: Li Ding

Photo By: Emiko Taki

Photo By: Anna Quaglia

Photo By: Zoonar RF

Photo By: 4Nadia / ThinkStock

Photo By: Ryan McVay ©Ryan McVay

Photo By: Viktor Pravdica

Photo By: Elena Gaak

Photo By: Rafa Irusta

Photo By: Alexander Demyanenko

Photo By: Barbara Helgason

Photo By: Travelling Light / ThinkStock

Photo By: Bochkarev Photography

Photo By: Florence Natale

Photo By: Margaret Edwards

Photo By: Chris Parypa

Photo By: Pushenok / iStock

Photo By: Wiktory / ThinkStock

Photo By: David Smith

Photo By: Maris Zemgalietis


Blueberries burst with a sweet-tart flavor that's classic in summer pies, jams and fruit salads. July is National Blueberry Month, but we like to celebrate this beloved berry all summer long.

Get the Recipe: Blueberry Fools


These purple-black clusters are the perfect berries to add sweet flavor and lush texture to warm-weather breakfasts and desserts.

Get the Recipe: Fruit Pizza


This sweet and fragrant melon is a superstar in everything from fruit salad when left plain to savory starters when wrapped in salty prosciutto.

Get the Recipe: Prosciutto and Melon Panino


Leave the dried figs on the shelf — fresh summer figs are plump and juicy with a sticky-sweet center and honeylike flavor that's delicious raw or cooked. Figs make perfect partners to savory items like cheese, cured meats and balsamic vinegar, and range in color from deep purple to brown to green, each with their own distinct flavor.

Get the Recipe: Flatbread with Fresh Figs, Monterey Jack, Blue Cheese and Red Wine Reduced Vinaigrette

Key Limes

Smaller than standard limes, these golf ball-size key limes pack a powerful sour punch. They're vital to flavoring Key lime pie, the quintessential beachside dessert, but are also excellent for adding bright acidity to marinades and vinaigrettes and perking up iced limeade.

Get the Recipe: Frozen Key Lime Pie


Summer is prime peach-picking season, when these fuzzy stone fruits are fully ripe with sweet golden flesh and a floral scent. Slice and serve them fresh in spiral fruit tarts and sangria or simmer them down into a juicy cobbler filling.

Get the Recipe: Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce


Ruby red raspberries are a summer staple, with a distinctive tart tang that mixes well with other berries and citrus zest. They brighten up all types of yogurt, cheesecake, trifles and any other creamy dish that benefits from a boost of vibrant color and flavor.

Get the Recipe: Raspberry Buttermilk Sherbet


The strawberry is a summer celebrity with its bright red, glossy sheen and sweet interior that's usable in savory dishes, desserts and beyond. Strawberries also freeze well and blend beautifully into icy summer smoothies.

Get the Recipe: Strawberry Meringue Cake (Mostachon)


Like a slice of summer, watermelon is one of the most refreshing fruits around, not to mention portable. The cool and crisp sugary-sweet flesh quenches your thirst in the summer heat and can be mixed into salsas, salads and cocktails, although it doesn't get much better than a simple wedge of watermelon eaten straight.

Get the Recipe: Grilled Watermelon Salad


It's officially summer when the first vine-ripe tomatoes arrive, bursting with tangy juices. With varieties ranging from cherry tomatoes to Romas to misshapen multicolored heirlooms, summer tomatoes adapt to any dish and are especially satisfying in fresh caprese salads or chilled gazpacho.

Get the Recipe: Marinated Tomato Salad with Herbs


An avocado's creamy, silky texture makes it a mainstay for summer dishes like guacamole and a cool topping for soups, salads and wraps. Don't underestimate the possibilities of this nutrient-dense favorite; it's also swell in smoothies and decadent desserts, adding rich flavor and body to just about any dish.

Get the Recipe: Guacamole

Shelling Beans

As summer rolls around, so does a wealth of fresh bean varieties for shelling on the porch. Whether you prefer lima beans, cranberry beans, black-eyed peas or fava beans, these plump legumes make flavorful additions to salads and pasta sautes and add smooth texture to soups and dips.

Get the Recipe: Fava Bean and Pecorino Salad


The cool and crunchy cucumber is a canvas for summery flavors, prone to pickling or providing crisp texture to gazpacho and salads and refreshing relief from hot and spicy dishes. Add a few slices to ice water for a clean fresh flavor that keeps you cool inside and out.

Get the Recipe: Creamy Cucumber Salad

Summer Squash

Summer squash comes in a bright range of hues, and both green zucchini and yellow squash make perfect partners with other warm-weather staples like tomatoes and certain onions. They're prime produce for grilling and are stunning when arranged in a colorful ratatouille or breakfast frittata.

Get the Recipe: Grilled Zucchini Rolls with Herbs and Cheese


Corn is a true summertime treat, with sweet, candylike kernels that are best enjoyed on the cob with a simple spread of butter. Corn also plays well on the grill and makes an appetizing addition to salsas and salads. Try making creamed corn or give it a Mexican twist: grilled on a stick and served with a creamy mix of butter, mayo, Cotija cheese and spices.

Get the Recipe: Mexican Grilled Corn


This plentiful summer herb thrives in hot temperatures and sunlight and boasts a robust flavor that's classic in green pestos and caprese salads.

Get the Recipe: Sausage-and-Basil-Stuffed Tomatoes


Fend off the hot weather with this invigorating herb. Mint's fresh flavor pairs well with vegetables in salads and salsas, adds a bright note to marinades and curries and serves as a summery green garnish on cocktails and desserts.

Get the Recipe: Grilled Vegetable Salad with Feta and Mint


Soup gets a summertime makeover in the form of gazpacho, a chilled, Spanish-style vegetable soup that's most often tomato-based. Gazpacho is a great way to utilize peak summer produce like tomatoes, cucumbers and avocados, as well as juicy watermelon, grapes and fresh herbs. Whirl it all together in a blender and you've got a summer food showcase in one simple dish.

Get the Recipe: Charred Tomato Gazpacho

Ice Cream

The classic treat to beat the heat, ice cream represents the cool side of comfort food. So whether you fancy a creamy old-fashioned scoop, an icy snow cone, a fruity Popsicle or a soda float, chances are you'll turn to this soothing sweet at the beach, a picnic in the park or a backyard barbecue when temperatures soar.

Get the Recipe: Strawberry-Soda Ice Cream

Iced Tea

This traditional porchside brew provides icy relief from the heat, but best of all, you can harness the sunlight to make it for you. Just set a pitcher of water out in the sun with a few tea bags and let the heat infuse the tea naturally for a while. Use your favorite type of tea and savor the sun-brewed flavor.

Get the Recipe: Peach-Ginger Iced Tea


Iced tea's sweet-and-sour cousin, lemonade, is like a cool glass of sunshine, especially when made with freshly squeezed lemon juice. It's a go-to beverage at outdoor festivals and picnics, and forms the ultimate drinkable duo when mixed with iced tea for a classic Arnold Palmer.

Get the Recipe: Honey-Vanilla Lemonade

Cold Salads

Summer calls for the simpler side of salads, especially those that highlight cool summer produce like crisp cabbage and peppers. Coleslaw, potato salad and pasta salad can all serve as chilled standalone sides, or put coleslaw to work topping grilled burgers and pulled pork sandwiches for a creamy, crunchy texture. Summer potato salad keeps it simple with new potatoes that need no peeling and pair with garden herbs for a fresh yet hearty outdoor dish.

Get the Recipe: Texas Coleslaw


Served in a pitcher or punch bowl, this summery libation is as pretty as it is refreshing. Just choose your favorite chilled wine and infuse it with the season's bounty of ripe fresh fruit, from sliced peaches to cantaloupe cubes, then perk it up with citrus and a splash of club soda and enjoy. It's an easy yet impressive way to put your best fruit forward in drinkable fashion.

Get the Recipe: Peach, Raspberry and Lime Sangria

Grilled Burgers

Nothing screams summer like the smell of juicy burgers being charred on a hot grill. Select your ground meat of choice and change up the toppings and buns for a completely personalized hand-held feast.

Get the Recipe: Perfect Burger

Lobster Rolls

Boiled, steamed, grilled or sauteed, there's no wrong way to eat lobster. There is an easy way to eat it though, and that's as a lobster roll, composed of chunks of rich claw meat with a briny flavor from the ocean and lightly dressed with lemon and mayo, then served on a buttery toasted bun. This is beachy fare at its very best, served simply to showcase the lobster's natural flavor.

Get the Recipe: Lobster Roll


Set the scene for a spectacular summer crab boil with a bushel of hard-shell crabs steamed in seafood seasoning and spread on a newspaper-covered picnic table. The feast won't be complete without wooden hammers for cracking the crustacean claws and the indispensible sides of corn and potatoes.

Get the Recipe: Spiced Crabs and Shrimp With Potatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes

This quintessential Southern treat celebrates the last of summer's great tomato harvest. End the season with a bang by enjoying thick slices of unripe, firm, green tomatoes covered in golden cornmeal batter and fried until crisp. It's surely the tastiest way to bid farewell to summer's bounty, with a fried crunchy coating to soften the blow.

Get the Recipe: Fried Green Tomatoes


The trick to a perky pesto is using herbs at their peak, like the traditional basil or other summer herbs like parsley or thyme. Blend these green goods into a paste with garlic, cheese, pine nuts and olive oil and you've got a supremely flavorful spread for use in pasta dishes, potato salads or on crostini for a garden-fresh starter.

Get the Recipe: Grilled Tuna With Basil Pesto

Blueberry Pie

In this warm-weather pie, peak-season blueberries housed inside a buttery, flaky crust are transformed into a thick and gooey purple filling that stains fingers and surrounding surfaces with sweet flavor. It's no wonder that this is the official state dessert of Maine.

Get the Recipe: Blueberry Crumb Pie


Escape the heat sip by sip with a host of soothing summer cocktails. Muddle fresh mint in mojitos and mint juleps or jazz up margaritas with ripe fruits like watermelon, raspberries and the season's boldest limes.

Get the Recipe: Mojito Slushy