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, a grilled meal, 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!
First up in our summer salads: this strawberry summer 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. We like it with pizza, with salmon, with pasta: ok it goes with just about everything!
Next 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.
This spin on the traditional summer salad will absolutely blow your mind. The smoky flavor in each bite makes it impossible not to take another bite! The flavors here are reminiscent of Mexican street corn: a creamy sauce flavored with mayo, lime, chili powder and cumin. Mix in a few colorful veggies and a bit of feta cheese if you’d like, and you’ve got a sweet savory salad that’s bursting with summer flavor.
This creamy cucumber salad is so refreshing, it’s hard to stop eating! Adding a bit of sour cream to a tangy cucumber salad makes an irresistibly creamy sauce. The silky sauce also features dill and shallots. While it has a summery vibe, this tasty salad works any time of the year. Also try: Cucumber Salad with Vinegar
Here’s a salad recipe that’s full of big Italian flavors: antipasto salad! This combo between a pasta salad and Italian antipasti is loaded with zingy flavor: briny olives, tangy artichokes, and roasted peppers, contrasted with crunchy veggies and chewy pasta. Load it with fresh basil and there’s so much going on, you might not be able to stop eating it! Also try: Italian Vegan Pasta Salad
Here’s a fresh spin on the classic broccoli slaw! And who knew it could be so irresistibly tasty? This recipe you can make with store-bought broccoli slaw bags or fresh broccoli and carrots. It’s got a creamy dressing that’s equal parts savory, tangy, and a little sweet. Try this stunner of a broccoli recipe…you won’t be disappointed.
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!
Here’s a surprisingly delicious summer salad recipe that deserves a spot on your plate: celery salad! The name doesn’t have quite the ring of say, potato salad. But this unique salad is so refreshing, you’ll become a convert from the first bite. Crunchy celery pairs perfectly with sweet apple, Parmesan shavings and a tangy vinaigrette. It’s bright, it’s crunchy, and it’s hydrating.
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.
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.
Serve this carrot salad recipe to your friends and family, and they’ll be singing your praises! We know because after we made this at our house, it disappeared within minutes. It’s simple and refreshing, featuring strings of carrots doused in a a tangy Mediterranean-style vinaigrette.
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! This one features our Best Coleslaw Dressing: perfectly 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! Also try: Easy Cabbage Salad or Red Cabbage Slaw
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.
Prepare the salad ingredients: Slice off the tops of the strawberries, then slice them long-wise. Thinly slice the red onion (see the video for this method). If necessary, wash the spinach and mixed greens. Chop the pecans.
To serve, place the greens on plates and top with all ingredients, then drizzle with the strawberry vinaigrette salad dressing (about 2 tablespoons per serving). Refrigerate the remaining dressing for up to 1 week.
Keywords: Summer Salads, Summer Salad Recipes
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:
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.