10 Coolest Summer Foods

summer eating
Summer foods should keep you cool, be easy to eat and put a smile on your face. See more pictures of cool drinks and foods.
Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock

Every season brings its unique tastes and traditional recipes. When the mercury starts to approach the red line, these hot season favorites will be a hit around the pool, out on the patio or under a beach umbrella. A couple of these great dishes and a cool breeze is all you need to make a hot, lazy day just about perfect. Here are our picks for the coolest foods to enjoy during the dog days of summer.


10: Snow Cones

Shaved ice
Shaved ice can be sophisticated, too.

Snow cones are brimming with cool flavors and a satisfying crunch. You don't have to be a kid to love them, either. Head to any fair or recreational food court, and you'll see plenty of grown-ups standing in line for a snow cone or Hawaiian ice of their very own. In fact, these summer sweets are so popular that you can pick up crushed or shaved ice makers and syrup through most food supply outlets and make your own at home.


9: Gazpacho

Chilled summer soup is a refreshing option with a sandwich. You eat salad vegetables right out of the fridge; why not go for a flavor-packed refrigerated soup, too? With a few fresh veggies and a food processor, you can create a memorable meal with Latin flare that doesn't contain fat or a lot of sodium. Gazpacho thickened with bread crumbs (the Portuguese way) has a nice broth, and the tomatoes and cucumbers give it just-picked goodness. It's full of nutrients, easy to make and low in calories. What's not to like?


8: Ice Cream

Ice cream
The cone makes this summer treat easy to eat and portable.

Summer wouldn't be nearly as nice without ice cream, and your favorite brand will taste even better when you use it in these fun and interesting ice cream-based desserts. If you have a weekend afternoon to spare, try making your own ice cream concoctions. You'll be a superhero -- cape optional.

  • Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches
  • Honey Ice Cream


7: Grilled Burgers, Brats and Ribs

There's nothing like meat on the grill to make mealtime a summer recreational activity. The griller at your house may not think he's into performance art, but stand back and you're likely to see real showmanship at work.

Be the envy of your neighborhood by expanding your grilling repertoire. Beyond burgers and brats, try grilling your veggies like corn on the cob and even using the warm grill for a few dessert options this year. We love outdoor cooking, not just because al fresco food seems to taste better, but because it keeps the heat and mess out of the kitchen, too.


  • The All-American Burger
  • Barbecued Ribs
  • Mixed Grill

6: Green Salad

green salad
Green salad is the perfect start to any meal -- and it's also perfect as the meal itself.

Summer is the best time to luxuriate in a big, beautiful green salad. All the ingredients will be fresh, and most of them will probably be available locally. This season, add more variety to your basic dinner salad recipe by using spinach, bitter greens and a variety of colored peppers. The more colors and textures you add, the more interesting and flavorful your simple salad will be.

  • Market Salad
  • Cobb Salad


5: Chicken

When the temperatures soar, a light entree is the best way to beat the heat. Grilled or fried chicken served cold is a perfect choice, especially if your family is on an unpredictable schedule. To spice it up a bit, try a mustard and tarragon marinade, or go for a citrus-based marinade with lime and cilantro. Keeping it cool on warm, humid summer evenings doesn't mean sacrificing flavor.

  • Tarragon Chicken Salad Sandwiches
  • Citrus Roasted Chicken
  • Cilantro Lime Chicken


4: Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwiches (BLTs)

Dress up your BLT with avocado or some cheese for more flavor.

We love BLT sandwiches. They're a celebration of salty, smoky and garden fresh flavors all rolled into one. The classic summer BLT relies on very flavorful ingredients, so make sure you have quality bacon and a great tomato going in.

Seriously, this summer sandwich is even worth growing your own tomatoes for. Another hint: Use thick sliced bacon and potato bread. Delish.


3: Fresh Fruit

Feasting on sun-kissed fruits served at their peak of freshness is one of the perks of summer dining. You may love chilled half crescents of watermelon, chocolate dipped strawberries, fresh picked blackberries or those first-of-the-season cherries. Whatever your fruit fix of choice happens to be, wash it thoroughly in cold water before you indulge.

Why not try a pick-your-own fruit outing this year? Your family will come away with plenty of fruit and a better appreciation for local farming and agriculture.


2: Fair Food

cotton candy
It's not like you eat fair food every day, so enjoy yourself!
Digital Vision/Thinkstock

Come on now, we all have at least one guilty summer food pleasure. An informal poll around here revealed that county fair food takes the prize for bad-for-you options that are worth the occasional lapse in judgment.

Maybe you have a soft spot in your heart for elephant ears, funnel cakes, pulled pork sandwiches, corn dogs or cheese fries. Does something more exotic stir your taste buds? How about deep-fried Twinkies, or battered and fried butter -- yes, butter. If you must, you must. We won't tell.


1: Corn on the Cob

Glistening, sweet and fresh, corn on the cob is a side dish worthy of its place on a paper plate. Save a spot for it on your grill this season. Or, be daring and cook it nestled in the coals with the husks still on. Whatever cooking method you choose, corn on the cob slathered in butter is as close as you'll ever get to tasting sunshine in its own convenient carrying case.

Lots More Information

Related Articles


  • All Recipe. "Cold Summer Soups." Undated. 3/16/10.http://allrecipes.com/HowTo/Cold-Summer-Soups/detail.aspx
  • Bittman, Mark. "101 20-Minute Dishes for Inspired Picnics." New York Times. 7/2/08. 3/16/10.http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/02/dining/02mini.html
  • Bryant, Charles W. "Top 5 Most Popular Desserts in America." Undated. 3/16/10.https://recipes.howstuffworks.com/5-most-popular-desserts-in-america.htm
  • Davidson, Alan. "The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. 1999.
  • Family Fun. "Sizzling Summer Recipes." Undated. 3/16/10.http://familyfun.go.com/summer/summer-recipes/
  • Kaboose. "Summer Recipes." Undated. 3/15/10.http://recipes.kaboose.com/seasonal/summer-recipes/summer-recipes.html
  • Kennedy, Kimberly. "The Art and Craft of Entertaining." Atria Books. 2005.
  • Mealtime. "Sweet and Savory Summer Fare." Undated. 3/16/10.http://www.mealtime.org/content.aspx?id=80