Here are the summer salads you need now! From watermelon salad to classic potato salad, they’re perfect for cookouts and barbecues all season long.
Once the weather is finally warm, summer salads are where it’s at! Salads are a beautiful way to highlight the fresh produce of season: and they’re perfect side dishes for cookouts and barbecues that fill the summer evenings. Alex and I absolutely love outdoor entertaining, so we’re always look for great summer salads to accompany our grilled meals and frozen margaritas.
We have loads of salad recipes on this site, which makes it hard to choose. So here are 10 of our very favorite summer salads for all your summery occasion. For this list, we chose to include all side salads: perfect for pairing with burgers or to round out the pitch in table. But if you’re looking for main dish salads, check the section at the bottom of this post. We’ve got something for everyone!
Looking for a main dish salad? This Nicoise Salad Recipe is perfect for summer.
First up in our summer salads: watermelon salad! What could be more summer? This one takes only 10 minutes to throw together and is the perfect accessory to any barbecue or cookout. It features juicy sweet watermelon, salty feta cheese, and cool cucumber, topped with lemon zest and a bit of chopped basil. If you haven't had watermelon and feta before, it's a classic combination that's begging to be part of your summer traditions! Starting now.
Are you ready for the best summer salad to hit your plate? Because man is this Grilled Caesar Salad tasty! It sounds a little strange, but grilling romaine lettuce infuses it with an incredible smoky flavor that is irresistible. Think about how good Caesar salad is, for a moment. OK, now imagine it GRILLED: it takes it to a whole new level! This salad combines grilled romaine lettuce with grilled avocados and our creamy homemade Caesar dressing for an over the top good summer salad.
Here's another classic summer salad that's dying for you to try it: this orzo salad! Though it looks a little like rice, orzo is actually a small pasta in the shape of rice. It’s often used in Mediterranean-style recipes like Italian and Greek cuisine. Here, we’ve harnessed all the flavors of Greece for this orzo salad: salty feta cheese, red peppers, chickpeas, tangy Kalamata olives, zesty lemon, and of course, powerhouse herbs like mint and dill!
Next up in our summer salads: this no mayo potato salad is truly the best potato salad we’ve had. It tastes like your favorite deli counter potato salad, but more vibrant and delicious because it’s made from all real food ingredients. It's tangy and crunchy, filled with minced dill pickle, green onion, yellow mustard, and...no mayo? That's right: head to the post to find all our secrets! A few other potato salad options: Favorite Potato Salad and French Potato Salad.
What's a list of summer salads without a great bean salad recipe? This one is the most delicious, simplest one we’ve ever had. It’s based on a bean salad that my mom makes, but I made it even simpler. The secret to the flavor is the salad dressing: it’s made with a bit of tomato paste and ketchup, so it has an unexpected earthy undertone. And adding feta cheese brings in a savory flair! Finally, the combination of green onions and chives adds just the right amount of complexity. You've gotta taste this one!
Coleslaw is one of the most classic summer salads there is: and here's our best recipe for a creamy coleslaw! For Alex and I, while we enjoy the vinaigrette style coleslaws, our favorite are the creamy coleslaw recipes we remember growing up. This one features our Best Coleslaw Dressing. This recipe is totally balanced in sweet and savory flavors, and it has a healthy spin: there’s no refined sugar and less mayo than most coleslaw recipes. When we make this one, we find ourselves going back to the fridge for seconds and thirds!
Speaking of classic summer salads…this cucumber salad with vinegar is everything summer! Did you grow up with the tradition of eating it? It’s perfect for everything from summer potlucks to patio barbecues to picnics. And it accessorizes perfectly with everything from salmon to a grilled veggie burger. The thinly sliced cucumbers and onions are salty, tangy, and lightly sweet all at once, and totally addicting. This one is vegan, plant-based, and gluten-free, so it works for lots of diets too.
This black bean salad is seriously tangy and delicious, and when we make it we can’t stop eating it! It’s perfectly seasoned with cumin, garlic, and apple cider vinegar, and mixed with colored bell peppers, green onions and rice. This summer salad is a perfect easy potluck recipe to take to a barbecue or a cookout, and it doubles as a healthy lunch idea too. It’s totally plant based, vegan and gluten free, so it works for a variety of diets!
Of course, no list of summer salads is complete without a good old pasta salad! This vegan pasta salad is full of flavor, but with no meat or dairy, the Italian ingredients have to carry the weight. This pasta with Kalamata olive and capers is dressed simply with olive oil, so there’s no overwhelming dressing flavor: it’s just perfectly seasoned with a tangy dressing. It’s all about the Italian ingredients here! The crunchy romaine and savory sauteed zucchini make it perfectly refreshing.
And to round out our summer salads: this strawberry spinach salad! Oh yes. This salad accessorizes with just about every meal, and tastes incredible. It starts with a tangy and lightly sweet strawberry vinaigrette salad dressing (yum!), then spinach, strawberries, and thin sliced red onion. Top it off with a few crunchies: chopped pecans and a bit of salty feta, and you’ve got one extremely delicious side salad. Alex and I like it with pizza, with salmon, with pasta: ok it goes with just about everything!
Want more summer salads?
Don’t worry: we have lots more salads where those came from! Here are a few more summer salads we enjoy:
- Nicoise Salad Recipe (main dish salad)
- Vegetarian Cobb Salad (main dish salad)
- Raw Falafel Buddha Bowl (main dish salad)
- Chickpea Couscous Bowl with Tahini Sauce (main dish salad)
- Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Burrata Salad with Arugula and Tomatoes
- Incredible Chopped Salad
- Radish Chopped Salad Recipe
- French Potato Salad
- Little Wedge Salad with Sour Cream Dressing
- Best Tossed Salad Recipe
- Vegan Potato Salad with Cashew Mayo
- Thai Cucumber Salad
- Wedge Salad with Potato Chips
- Mexican Quinoa Recipe
- German Cucumber Salad
Want a drink with that?
And here are a few of our favorite summery beverages to pair with these salads. Cheers!
- Best Frose Recipe (Frozen Rosé)
- Easy Frozen Sangria
- Best Frozen Margarita Recipe
- Daiquiri Recipe
- Lemon Herb Cucumber Water Recipe
- Strawberry Margarita with Lime Ice
- Lemonade Slushie Recipe
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.