When it’s beautiful outside, the last thing you want to do is be stuck indoors cooking for hours. That said, there’s nothing like a delicious summer dinner done right, one that’s light and refreshing but still tasty and filling. Still, you don’t need to slave away in the kitchen to enjoy one—and no, Seamless is not your only other option. What you need are some quick summer meals that are fast and satisfying (and healthy!) in your back pocket. Cue the below 15 meals guaranteed to become your summer staples.
Of course, your summer night treat depends on what kind of mood you’re in, what you’re craving and what plans you have for the night ahead. Maybe you’re hosting a low-key dinner party and want to wow your guests with a one-skillet Mediterranean chicken or baked Thai salmon. Or, maybe you’re whipping up a quick meal before a night out with friends, in which case you might prefer the Asian chicken lettuce wraps or the spinach and prosciutto flatbread. Maybe you’re bored with your go-to pasta salads and want to try out some new noods, courtesy of the creamy avocado pasta or the Thai chicken zucchini noodles. When I say there’s a recipe on this list for you, I really mean it!
You wouldn’t settle for a boring summer, so don’t settle for a boring summer dinner. And don’t waste your afternoon in the kitchen making one! Read on for 15 recipes you can whip up in 15 minutes or less.
1. Thai Chicken Zucchini Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Skip the takeout and whip up these Thai Chicken Zucchini Noodles at home for a healthy alternative that’s just as tasty. Zucchini noodles are a great healthy alternative, and you won’t feel guilty about dousing them in delicious peanut sauce.
2. Cauliflower Fried Rice
This Cauliflower Fried Rice is a great meal on its own, but you can also serve it as a side to accompany a meat or salad! Feel free to add eggs or tofu to your veggie/rice blend for a little extra protein, too.
3. One Skillet Mediterranean Chicken
One-skillet meals are the ultimate summer breeze (hello, easy kitchen cleanup!), and this Mediterranean Chicken already has my mouth watering. Granted, I’m also a sucker for fresh tomatoes and green olives, so this really is the perfect meal.
4. 15-Minute Ramen Veggie Stir Fry
Looking to upcycle your 99-cent ramen packets? This Veggie Stir-Fry is calling your name! Ditch the flavor packets and go for broccoli, shredded carrots, shiitake mushrooms and a tasty Asian sauce. Voila!
5. Easy Chicken Parm Wraps
I’m a huge chicken parm fan, but I admit it can be a little heavy for a hot summer night. Cue these tasty, easy Chicken Parmesan Wraps—same great taste, but way easier to eat. Plus, you can make them in bulk and freeze some for later.
6. Creamy Avocado Pasta
I think we can all agree that (especially in summer) avocado makes every meal better. Am I right? Exhibit A: This Creamy Avocado Pasta. Wow. Avo cream sauce is way healthier than regular cream sauce, but the taste is just as rich.
7. Spinach Pesto Quinoa Bowl
Quinoa is a summer staple for me, and as someone who’s always trying to get my greens in, I feel like this Spinach Pesto Quinoa Bowl is the perfect summer lunch or dinner. Easy to assemble, tasty AF and very Instagrammable. Just saying!
8. Lime Cilantro Chicken with Rice and Black Beans
If you’re entertaining this summer, your guests will go wild over this Lime Cilantro Chicken. It’s refreshing and filling, and when served with rice and black beans, it will convince your dinner guests you spent all day slaving over it in the kitchen. As if!
9. Honey Garlic Shrimp
Ah, shrimp. A summer must! But this year, why not up the ante with these Honey Garlic Shrimp for some super-boosted flavor? Personally, I’d put these babies on a skewer and make as many as I possibly could.
10. 15-Minute Spinach and Prosciutto Flatbread Pizza
There’s nothing better than a lazy summer day that ends with pizza, but this Spinach and Proscuitto Flatbread beats your local pizza shop’s best pie any day. It’s so good, I doubt you’ll have leftovers, but in the event that you do, you won’t be sorry about having to eat this dinner twice.
11. Baked Thai Salmon
It’s summer, of course we’re eating fish! This Baked Thai Salmon is the kind of meal I’d normally order while out to eat, but it turns out you can totally make it at home without too much effort. Could’ve fooled me!
12. Easy Gluten-Free Peanut Noodles
Here’s a gluten-free, grain-free, paleo option for ya: mouth-watering Peanut Noodles! You can even substitute peanut butter for almond butter, and still end up with a meal that tastes like takeout gone gourmet.
13. 15-Minute Greek Cucumber Salad
Sometimes, all you want for dinner on a humid summer night is a refreshing, revitalizing salad. Cue this Greek Cucumber Salad you can whip up in 15 minutes or less! Feta, olives, cherry tomatoes…I think I’ll make this one tonight.
14. Healthy Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Whoever decided to use lettuce cups in place of bready wraps is the kind of innovator I want to be our next president. Pure genius! These Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps are dangerously good, and you won’t be able to eat just one!
15. 15-Minute Mediterranean Pasta
Last but not least, a Mediterranean Pasta to make you drool. Olives, sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts are pretty much all the things I want on my plate for a tasty summer meal. Yes, please.
A version of this article appeared in 2016.