Summer Dinner Recipes to Eat Al Fresco

What’s better than dining on the patio on a lazy summer evening? Here are our best summer dinner recipes to eat al fresco.

Greek Grilled Veggie Skewers & Summer Grilling | A Couple Cooks

Cheers to patio season! There’s not much better than dining on the patio al fresco. A handful of good friends, a cold brew or a glass of rosé, and some grilled foods are just about the perfect combination when it comes to outdoor dining. But what to make for your backyard barbecue? Here we’ve got the most delicious summer dinner recipes to eat al fresco, with ideas for sides and of course, drinks! (Hint: you can’t go wrong with frosé!)

Related: Easy Family Dinner Recipes

And now, our best summer dinner recipes…

Summer dinner recipes are all about the grill, right? One of our top picks for summer is this beautiful, barbecue sauce painted veggie burger. Not only does it taste incredible, it’s a veggie burger that doesn’t fall apart on the grill. Many veggie burgers have texture issues that prevents them from grilling, but this one holds together beautifully on the grill, giving it a subtly smoky flavor. It’s one of our favorites for summer, hands down!

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This grilled vegetable pasta has double the grilled veggies: both for the pasta AND blended into a grilled romesco sauce. Romesco is sauce made of roasted peppers and almonds that originates from Spain. Usually when we make it we use jarred red peppers, but here we’ve used grilled peppers instead. It makes a creamy bright red sauce for the lightly smoky and addicting grilled vegetable pasta. Top it with feta crumbles, or leave it off for a vegan vegetable pasta. It’s grill-centric summer dinner recipe that’s perfect for long evenings on the patio.

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Grilling can transform humble vegetables into something brilliant. Such is the case with this grilled veggie fajitas. Bell peppers, portobello mushrooms, and onions transform into the most delicious meld of savory flavors you could fit into a taco! It’s one of our favorite crowd pleasing summer dinner recipes.

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Now if you’re like us, a big plate of nachos counts as dinner. Grilled nachos are a perfect grilled recipe to wow a crowd for summer entertaining! Making nachos on the grill brings a smoky, charred flavor to the nachos and they look stunning in a cast iron skillet. They’re a fun summer recipe to share with guests on the patio. You can eat them as a main dish with a side salad, or as an appetizer for a summer happy hour. Our grilled nachos feature our best nacho toppings to make them out-of-this-world good.

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This stacked sandwich features ripe, juicy tomatoes alongside smoky grilled eggplant, creamy fresh mozzarella, basil pesto, and our secret ingredient: olive spread. A stacked sandwich looks impressive without the fuss, which makes it a great option for concerts in the park and beach blanket picnics. It’s one of our favorite summer dinner recipes because it’s so versatile: you can make it up in advance and transport it to the picnic spot.

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The best way to cook salmon? Cedar plank salmon. Grilling fish on a plank of wood infuses a smoky flavor that is to die for. If you’re into grilling, cedar planks are where it’s at. We love using our grill to whip up BBQ cauliflowergrilled shrimp, and grilled avocado. So we were thrilled to have another grilling tool to test out! This cedar plank method is easy and {almost} no fail. 

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This grilled veggie skewers recipe is one of our new favorite summer dinner recipes, featuring colorful skewers of vegetables served over pesto quinoa. The star here is halloumi, a Greek cheese that you can grill along with vegetables. It adds a super savory, filling element to these skewers that’s irresistible! Serving the skewers over pesto-scented quinoa also makes it a filling main dish, and the bright green bed of grains looks beautiful for serving.

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Here’s one of our simple summer dinner recipes for a laid back evening on the patio: tomato basil grilled cheese! This one isn’t just any old grilled cheese. The tomatoes are roasted just long enough until they’re starting to burst. Then you’ll take them out of the oven and mash them to extract the juice. You’ll use that juice from the roasted tomatoes to mix in with a bit of mayo for a killer sauce. It becomes a sort of roasted tomato mayonnaise and totally makes the sandwich! The peppery bite of fresh basil tops it off.

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This grilled shrimp skewers recipe and it is stand-out delicious! Tender grilled shrimp are threaded with veggies onto skewers and grilled until charred and smoky. Here we’ve served it over pesto quinoa, but you could also serve with creamy polenta as a sort of take on shrimp and grits. If you’ve got fresh basil on hand, try the quinoa with our basil walnut pesto recipe.

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Packed with delicate herbs, pungent garlic, crisp zucchini, and juicy tomatoes, this pasta with zucchini literally screams SUMMER! It’s one for those beautiful patio meals with a glass of frose in hand, to pair with a carefree summer salad. Oh and it takes only about 20 minutes to make! In the time that you boil the water for the pasta, you can chop up the veggies and herbs. And there’s no sauteing involved. Just raw, beautiful vegetables.

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And our final summer dinner recipe: a take on the portobello burger, with Greek-style fixings! It’s grilled and marinated, then serve on focaccia bread with the Greek cucumber dill tzatziki sauce. Topped with a bit of feta and red onion, it turned out incredibly satisfying and has been one of our favorite sandwiches ever since.

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Side dishes to pair with summer dinner recipes

To serve with these summer dinner recipes, you’ll need some side dishes! Here are some of our summery faves:

A few summer desserts to finish the meal

And of course, you can’t have a summer dinner without dessert! Here are some of our best fruit-centric summer desserts:

Don’t forget summer drinks!

And, a couple of our favorite summer drinks to accessorize your meal:

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

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

Cookbook Author and photographer

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.

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