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The Most Underrated Summer Recipes You Need to Try

Make the most of this season's produce.
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Summertime is here, and the livin' is easy—and the cooking should be, too. Too often, though, you might come across recipes that require a ton of effort. When it comes to enjoying summer's bounty, the work should be minimal, and recipes should let ingredients shine. Here are 33 underrated summer foods that do just that.

These dishes deserve more love on your table in the summertime (and, frankly, all year round). From watermelon juice to fried green tomatoes, these recipes make the most of summer produce. And if you love cooking, sign up for our newsletter to get daily recipes and food news in your inbox!

Zucchini Rounds

zucchini rounds with parmesan
Courtesy of Five Heart Home

Zucchini in the summer is abundant. What better way to use it than in a two-ingredient recipe? Cheese and zucchini are all you need for this recipe. These rounds would make a perfect late afternoon snack!

Get the recipe from Five Heart Home. 

Zucchini Salad with Grilled Corn

zucchini and grilled corn salad in bowl with salsa
Courtesy of Minimalist Baker

Another great way to use zucchini: in a salad with corn. A sun-dried tomato vinaigrette adds a tangy burst of flavor. This recipe is simple, fresh, and delicious.

Get the recipe from Minimalist Baker. 

Zucchini and Noodles

zucchini pasta with tomatoes and avocado sauce
Courtesy of Pinch of Yum

Zucchini noodles, or "zoodles," are never that satisfying on their own. Mix them with some actual pasta, though, and you have a well-balanced dish that has both the nutritional benefits of the zucchini and body from the pasta. An avocado sauce adds a creamy boost!

Get the recipe from Pinch of Yum. 

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Berry Smoothie

simple berry smoothies topped with blueberries and coconut chips
Courtesy of A Beautiful Plate

Smoothies don't have to be so complicated, as this simple berry smoothie demonstrates. Simple smoothies are truly an underrated joy of summertime.

Get the recipe from A Beautiful Plate. 

Simple Fruit Compote

berry compote in jar
Courtesy of Minimalist Baker

Wondering what to do with all your summer berries? Make a big batch of compote and put it on everything from waffles to yogurt to ice cream. It's versatile, too, as you can change out which berries you want to include.

Get the recipe from Minimalist Baker. 

Watermelon Juice

watermelon juice in a cup
Courtesy of Cookie and Kate

Who knew that making watermelon juice was so easy? All you need is watermelon, limes, and a blender. It's such a great way to cool off poolside (or in your living room).

Get the recipe from Cookie and Kate. 

Watermelon Caprese Salad

watermelon caprese salad in bowls with forks
Courtesy of How Sweet Eats

Caprese salad, made with just tomatoes, is a classic, but it's overdone. Why not put a cool twist on it by adding watermelon grilled with honey? This new take on the salad is a refreshing appetizer or side (maybe even a main if you just can't deal with this heat).

Get the recipe from How Sweet Eats. 

Watermelon Salsa

watermelon salsa in glass bowl
Courtesy of Gimme Some Oven

Fruit salsas deserve more love. They're great with tortilla chips as a snack or as a topping for cooked protein like chicken or fish. And they're so simple to make! Try serving this salsa with fish tacos for an updated take on Taco Tuesday.

Get the recipe from Gimme Some Oven. 

Chili Lime Watermelon

cubes of watermelon seasoned with chili and lime
Courtesy of How Sweet Eats

Sometimes, the simplest treats are the easiest to overlook. This chili lime watermelon dish requires minimal ingredients and effort—a win for the summertime.

Get the recipe from How Sweet Eats. 

Cucumber Tomato Salad

cucumber tomato salad in blue bowl
Courtesy of Eating Bird Food

Tomatoes and cucumbers: Name a more refreshing duo. It's hard to beat this pair in a delicious salad together.

Get the recipe from Eating Bird Food. 

BLT Grilled Cheese

blt sandwich
Courtesy of Well Plated

Bacon, lettuce, and tomato are a classic team. Add some melty cheese and you have a filling summer meal without much fuss.

Get the recipe from Well Plated. 

Shrimp Corn Chowder

shrimp corn chowder in bowl with spoon
Courtesy of Well Plated

Corn chowder on its own is kind of meh. But add some shrimp to the creamy pot, and you've got a delicious winner that's loaded with flavor and texture.

Get the recipe from Well Plated. 

Strawberry Crisp

strawberry crisp in ramekins
Courtesy of Whats Gaby Cooking

In the spirit of keeping things uncomplicated, especially in the stifling heat of summer, a crisp can be great. It also makes for fantastic leftovers, if you want a dessert that you can stretch for a week.

Get the recipe from What's Gaby Cooking. 

Mayo-less Potato Salad

herbed potato salad in bowl
Courtesy of Cookie and Kate

The last thing we want at a summer picnic is goopy potato salad. Enter: mayo-less potato salad! The one is deliciously tangy and fresh with herbs.

Get the recipe from Cookie and Kate. 

Loaded Pasta Salads

street corn pasta salad in bowl
Courtesy of Ambitious Kitchen

Remember tri-color pasta salads from the potlucks of yore? Snooze. A pasta salad loaded with goodies like corn and avocado, zipped up with cilantro pesto, is a much more exciting version of the dish.

Get the recipe from Ambitious Kitchen. 

Grilled Ribeye

grilled ribeye steaks topped with butter
Courtesy of Whats Gaby Cooking

You don't need to do much to make a steak that's delicious. Simply grill it and top it with herb butter.

Get the recipe from What's Gaby Cooking. 

Agua Fresca

blueberry agua fresca
Courtesy of Diethood

Agua frescas are truly underrated beverages. They're super easy to make, and they make cooling off a whole lot easier. Blueberries are especially great for agua frescas in the summer.

Get the recipe from Diethood. 

Blueberry Oatmeal Bars

blueberry oatmeal bars
Courtesy of Well Plated

If you're looking for an easy way to use up your berry supply, try oatmeal bars. These breakfast treats don't get enough love, but they should, because they're easy to make and make life easier in the morning.

Get the recipe from Well Plated. 

Artichoke Pesto

artichoke lemon pesto
Courtesy of The View from Great Island

Plain, regular pesto is a classic. But lemon artichoke pesto is exciting. Use it on pasta or as a way to jazz up protein.

Get the recipe from The View from Great Island. 

Seared Scallops

scallops seared
Courtesy of How Sweet Eats

Scallops may seem fussy, but they're actually incredibly easy to prepare. They're done cooking in about five minutes and taste especially great with mango slaw.

Get the recipe from How Sweet Eats. 

Cajun Salmon

cajun salmon on grill pan
Courtesy of Creme de la Crumb

Salmon deserves to be dressed up! Adding Cajun flavors, with a little bit of honey, is a great way to do it.

Get the recipe from Creme de la Crumb. 

Peach Pizza

balsamic and peach pizza
Courtesy of Love and Olive Oil

It's summer—let's have a little bit of fun with our pizza! Peaches are excellent pizza toppings, and a little bit of balsamic vinegar gives it a nice tangy punch. Don't forget the gooey cheese!

Get the recipe from Love & Olive Oil. 


mexican street corn elote cobs with cheese
Courtesy of Diethood

Elote is a popular type of Mexican street food, but it doesn't get enough attention in the U.S. It's easy to make and super flavorful thanks to garlic and ancho chile powder. Try serving it at your next cookout.

Get the recipe from Diethood. 

Sheet Pan Low Country Boil

corn and shrimp in low country boil
Courtesy of The Seasoned Mom

Low country boils are delicious, but cooking them can be a lot of work. Making a low country boil on a sheet pan is a great way to simplify the process, allowing you to enjoy the seafood and potatoes that a boil is known for.

Get the recipe from The Seasoned Mom. 

Fruit Kabobs

fruit kabob on stick
Courtesy of Lil Luna

A no-cook, low-prep summertime dish? Sign us up. Fruit kabobs are super easy to put together and make ideal treats for snacking on around the house or as party food. They're also great for kids to snack on.

Get the recipe from Lil' Luna.

Frozen Bananas

frozen bananas with chocolate dip
Courtesy of Diethood

Frozen bananas dipped in chocolate don't get enough love. But they're so easy (and relatively healthy)! You just need a banana, some melted dark chocolate, and toppings of your choice (if any). Just dip, freeze, and eat. That's it!

Get the recipe from Diethood. 

Strawberry Lemon Blondies

stack of strawberry blondies
Courtesy of The View from Great Island

Regular blondies can run dry if you're not careful. And really, they aren't all that interesting. Blondies loaded with strawberries are moist and way more interesting than the run-of-the-mill blondie.

Get the recipe from The View from Great Island. 

Cilantro Vinaigrette

cilantro vinaigrette in jar
Courtesy of Pinch of Yum

Forget about balsamic and red wine vinaigrette. In the summer, it's all about cilantro vinaigrette, to drizzle on salads loaded with corn and avocado or to be used as a shrimp marinade. There are so many possibilities, and it's super easy to make.

Get the recipe from Pinch of Yum. 

Cheeseburger Salad

cheeseburger salad in bowl
Courtesy of How Sweet Eats

Cheeseburgers are staples of the backyard grill out, but sometimes that bun can be just too much. If you want to lighten things up a bit, try making a cheeseburger salad. There's lots of great texture, and a zingy dill pickle dressing adds plenty of flavor.

Get the recipe from How Sweet Eats. 

Peach Shortcakes

peach thyme shortcake
Courtesy of Half Baked Harvest

Peaches shine in the summer, and while cobblers are great, shortcakes don't get enough attention. Take this recipe for a spin the next time you come home with a large peach haul.

Get the recipe from Half Baked Harvest. 

Tomato Tart

heirloom tomato tart pieces
Courtesy of What's Gaby Cooking

Tomato tarts don't get enough love. But they're easy-to-make and so vibrant—we think they deserve more attention. Add some goat or feta cheese for a hint of tangy creaminess.

Get the recipe from What's Gaby Cooking. 

Fried Green Tomatoes

plate of fried green tomatoes with dipping sauce
Courtesy of Foodie Crush

Fried green tomatoes are a Southern classic, and we all should be making them more often. Fried green tomatoes typically rely on unripe tomatoes, which are firmer. For this recipe, you'll make a cornmeal batter, which gives them a crispy exterior.

Get the recipe from Foodie Crush. 

Eggplant Steaks

eggplant steaks topped with tomatoes
Courtesy of Feasting at Home

When it comes to vegetarian dishes, mushrooms usually get all the attention. But what about eggplants? They grill up beautifully and taste even better when topped with a simple tomato relish.

Get the recipe from Feasting at Home. 

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Lia Picard
Lia Picard lives in Atlanta where she writes about all things lifestyle. Read more about Lia
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