This is my absolute favorite time of year. We had a really cold, rainy spring, but all of a sudden, summer is here! We’re seeing the sun, the days are heating up, and gorgeous summer produce is popping up at the farmers markets. We’re getting tomatoes, soft, sweet greens, strawberries, and fresh herbs, and corn is just around the corner.
At this time of year, produce is so good on its own that you don’t need to do much to it to make it into a delicious meal. On beautiful days when I’d rather be outside than in the kitchen, summer salads are the perfect solution: they’re simple to toss together, but they’re totally delicious nonetheless. Here are some of my favorite summer salad recipes to pass at potlucks, to enjoy as dinner sides, or to eat as full meals on their own.
Slaws are some of the best make-ahead summer salad recipes out there. Typically made with hearty vegetables like cabbage, kale, or broccoli, they’re sturdy enough to be dressed ahead of time. I like to accent the veggie base with a punchy dressing, herbs, and even fruit for maximum flavor.
Make this salad for your next picnic, and it’ll be a guaranteed hit. A tahini miso dressing gives it a creamy umami coating, while peaches add juicy pops of sweetness. I finish it with toasted pepitas for crunch.
You won’t miss the bacon in this lightened-up take on classic broccoli salad. Smoky roasted nuts take its place, adding those delectable savory bites. A lightly creamy, sweet & tangy dressing takes the whole thing over the top.
You couldn’t make a list of summer salads without including this category! Pasta salads are the ultimate summer picnic food – they’re great to make ahead, they can double as a side and a main dish, and they’re a hearty showcase for the season’s best produce.
As its name suggests, this one is a breeze to make. Just whisk together the zippy lemon dressing at the bottom of a big bowl, add the other ingredients, and toss to create a heavenly tangy/creamy/crunchy/fresh summer combo.
Diced mango adds a surprising sweet twist to this colorful orzo, red onion, bell pepper, herb, and cucumber salad.
My veggie-packed take on a deli-style pasta salad! I swap spiralized summer squash for half the noodles and a creamy tahini dressing for a mayo-based one. It’s a healthier version of the grocery counter classic, but it’s just as good.
Sun-dried tomatoes add delicious umami bites to this super green combination of summer veggies, basil, pasta, and pine nuts.
A mix of jammy roasted cherry tomatoes and juicy fresh ones makes this guy one of my favorite summer salads. With spiced roasted chickpeas, tangy feta, and big pearls of couscous, it’s hearty enough to be a meal on its own.
Not your average pasta salad! Tossed in a tangy sesame-ginger dressing and piled with green veggies and avocado, this soba noodle salad is a light, refreshing summer meal.
Green Summer Salads
I eat more green salads in the summer than at any other time of year. The lettuces I find at the farmers market are so soft & sweet that a big green summer salad is really a treat. I’ll often make these recipes for lunch, but you could also toss them together to serve as a side dish at your next cookout.
Savory shiitake walnut taco “meat” is the star of this salad, and zippy cilantro lime dressing gives it a fresh finishing touch. Enjoy this salad as a meal on its own, or serve it as a starter with fajitas or tacos.
This plant-based riff on a classic Cobb salad swaps baked tofu for chicken breast and smoky toasted coconut for bacon. A creamy, tangy dressing ties it all together.
11. Grilled Romaine Vegan Caesar Wedges
One of my favorite green salads of all time! Crisp romaine gets lightly charred, then drizzled with an irresistibly tangy cashew vegan caesar dressing. This one is on page 111 of our new cookbook, Love & Lemons Every Day.
If there’s one veggie (or fruit, if you’re looking to get technical) that’s the star of summer, the tomato is definitely it. Here are some of my favorite summer salad recipes that put tomatoes front & center.
Fresh chiles add some heat to the sweet, juicy mix of tomatoes & watermelon in this recipe.
Roasting cherry tomatoes gives them an intense sweet & savory flavor that’s fantastic alongside eggplant, arugula, and nutty farro.
14. Heirloom Tomato Fattoush
Once you start bringing home those juicy farmers market heirloom tomatoes, make this salad! It’s my non-traditional take on fattoush, a bread salad made with toasted pita. This one has a layer of lemony yogurt and is topped with crispy chickpeas, and lots of fresh herbs. Find it on on page 125 of Love & Lemons Every Day.
The secret to this salad is marinating the tomatoes in a splash of olive oil & sherry vinegar. They become rich & tangy – the perfect contrast for fresh basil, avocado, and a little orzo pasta.
I use mint pesto in place of basil in this riff on a classic caprese salad. Of course, fresh basil or basil pesto is equally delicious.
Corn Summer Salad Recipes
This fresh corn salad features all my summer favorites: grilled sweet corn, juicy peaches, and lots of fresh basil! To highlight the crisp, fresh ingredients, I toss it with a zesty chile lime dressing.
If you’ve ever had Mexican street corn, you know that the combination of charred corn, crumbly Cotija, creamy mayo, and cilantro is a hard one to beat. I like to spice mine up with sriracha or adobo sauce, too!
Panzanellas are hands down my favorite summer salads. You just can’t beat big cubes of bread tossed with juicy summer produce and a good tangy vinaigrette. You can always serve these salads as a side, but they’re great main dish options as well.
Panzanellas may be Italian bread salads, but this recipe’s not all about the bread. Crisp, juicy sweet corn is front and center, playing perfectly off a tangy dressing and bitter greens. I use the corn raw, so this panzanella is super simple to toss together.
Grilled peppers add a lovely sweetness to this veggie-packed summer salad. Along with the veggies, creamy fresh mozzarella makes it extra yummy.
I like to call this one an “everything summer salad.” It’s bursting with juicy peaches, tomatoes, crisp corn, and fresh basil – the best that summer has to offer.
When you’ve made zucchini bread, zucchini cake, baked zucchini, and zucchini pizza, and you STILL have zucchini, make this panzanella. The grilled squash is a great jammy contrast to crisp cucumbers and bursty cherry tomatoes.
Potato Summer Salads
It’s taken me a while to get on board with potato salads, but over the last few years of experimenting with bold dressings and different mix-ins, I’ve become totally hooked. Here are a few of my favorites.
This lightened-up rendition of classic potato salad has a luscious Greek yogurt dressing with just a bit of mayo mixed in. It’s the perfect make-ahead summer salad, as the flavor deepens as it sits in the fridge.
If you’re grilling veggie burgers, make this summer salad right along with them. Not only are the potatoes grilled here, but the blueberries are too! A yummy grilled scallion vinaigrette, fresh herbs, and pickled onions accent this fun sweet/charred pairing.
25. Chimichurri Potato Salad
I toss this potato salad in a tangy, herbaceous chimichurri instead of a creamy dressing. It’s a fan favorite from Love & Lemons Every Day – find it on page 119.
This summery bean salad is incredibly versatile. Dress it up with a soft-boiled egg or chickpeas to make it a meal, or serve the mix of potatoes, green beans, and lemony dressing as a simple grilling side.
Fruity Summer Salads
Of course, your summer salads should feature the wonderful fresh vegetables we have at this time of year, but it’d be remiss not to take advantage of the fantastic fruits that abound too! Stone fruits, berries, and melon are all delicious sweet additions to summer salad recipes.
Skip the tomatoes the next time you’re making tabbouleh, and use dried tart cherries instead! They add great chewy texture and sweet/tart flavor to this fresh dish.
Or…use strawberries! Like tomatoes, they’re juicy & sweet. Another nontraditional ingredient – feta – adds a great salty contrast to the berries in this recipe.
This poke-inspired summer salad features juicy cubes of watermelon and crunchy macadamia nuts along with conventional poke fixings like cucumber, ginger & avocado. I toss it all in a tangy tamari-lime dressing to make a super fresh, fun summer dish.
Sure, we all love tomatoes & basil, but peaches & basil are just as good.
Another fruity caprese combo! This time, I use strawberries as well as cherry tomatoes, and I gussy it up with a balsamic reduction, avocado, and toasted pecans for a sweet, nutty crunch.
Fruit salads are a summer essential, and we absolutely love this fresh lemon-ginger one. I like to use a star cookie cutter to cut the melon for festive summer flare!
Make this ultra-refreshing salad on hot summer days! Creamy avocado, tangy feta, and bright lime wonderfully accent cool, juicy melon and cucumber. A handful of fresh herbs is the perfect finishing touch.
Let me know what your favorite summer salads are!
- 3 ears of grilled corn on the cob
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- ½ small cucumber, diced
- 2 ripe peaches, pitted and diced
- 1 small avocado, pitted and diced
- 8 basil leaves, thinly sliced
- juice of 1 lime, plus lime wedges for serving
- 3 tablespoons Chile Lime Dressing, plus more to taste
- sea salt
- ¼ cup mayo or vegan mayo
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro, including stems, plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus extra slices for serving
- ⅓ serrano, plus more to taste
- pinch of garlic powder
- pinch of onion powder
- sea salt
- Make the dressing: In a small food processor, combine the avocado mayonnaise, olive oil, cilantro, lime, serrano, garlic powder, onion powder and a few generous pinches of salt. Pulse until combined. Chill until ready to use.
- Slice the kernels off of the grilled corn and place in a large bowl. Add the red pepper, green pepper, cucumber, peaches, avocado, basil, lime juice, a few pinches of salt, and toss. Add a few tablespoons of dressing, toss again, then taste and add more dressing and/or salt to taste. Serve with extra dressing and lime slices on the side.