Labor Day is the last big get-together of the summer, so celebrate in style—but don’t sweat it. These easy recipes to bring to the party (or picnic) will wow any crowd while keeping you stress-free in the kitchen.
Summer is the season for festive get-togethers, graduation parties, showers, neighborhood barbecues, and a couple major holidays. It’s the perfect time to work on your roster of easy-going recipes that are simple to put together. Summer food is light and full of abundant healthful ingredients that showcase produce and fresh fruit. Get ready to impress your friends and family at the next special occasion with these 13 delicious and simple recipes, from sides and starters to dessert. And you can bring them on repeat all season—next year, too.
Healthy, simple, and bright. After making this rendition, you may always want to add peaches to your future caprese salads. The sweetness of the peach rounds out the richness of the mozzarella, and a drizzle of white balsamic adds a touch of acidity. This is the perfect salad to make from your stockpile of fresh, ripe, and sweet summer peaches. Get Joanna Gaines’s Peach Caprese Salad recipe.
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This Middle Eastern-inspired salad is quite nutritious and filled with healthy eats such as zucchini, yellow squash, and red peppers, which are abundant in the summer months. The grapes add a sweet touch and the preserved lemon in the vinaigrette boosts the acidity, while the spices add a bit of heat. This balanced dish will certainly please your vegan and vegetarian companions—and everyone else. Get our Moroccan Zucchini, Grape, and Bell Pepper Salad recipe.
Save time making this healthful salad by buying shredded Brussels sprouts and a package of pomegranate seeds. Guests will love the caramelized cooked sprouts coupled with the raw, crunchy sprouts, sharpness of the Pecorino-Romano cheese, and the sweet-tartness of the pomegranate seeds. Get our Roasted Raw Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pecorino and Pomegranate recipe.
While you will need to accommodate appropriate chilling time, this cabbage slaw is a cinch to make. This slaw skips the mayonnaise, replacing it with tangy lime. Latin-inspired flavors of chili powder, cumin, and cayenne add heat and coarsely chopped cilantro adds freshness. A light and zesty side dish to accompany all of summer’s grilled BBQ dishes. Get our Tangy Cabbage Slaw recipe.
This shrimp salad is light and refreshing. Despite being simple to prepare, its flavor profile is diverse; it’s made up of a mayonnaise and Dijon mustard base, sweet mango, which adds brightness, crunchy cucumber, and aromatic fresh dill. Serve this salad over Little Gem or butter lettuce. Your gluten-free friends will love you. Get our Easy Shrimp Salad with Mango and Cucumber recipe.
If mayonnaise isn’t your favorite condiment, then this potato salad is for you. It’s chock-full of fresh parsley, tarragon, and dill, and obtains its acidity from fragrant champagne vinegar and Dijon mustard. This potato salad works well served warm or at room temperature. Get our Herbed Potato Salad recipe.
This Asian-inspired salad will be a hit at your next summer gathering. Save time and skip turning on the oven by buying rotisserie chicken and toasted almonds. A vinaigrette composed of Asian flavors like hoisin, soy, ginger, and sesame oil goes well with shredded chicken and tons of cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, cucumbers, and peppers—and crunchy, nutty almonds too. Get our Chinese-y Chicken Salad recipe.
Stock up on your tortilla chips, because guests will swoon over this flavorful guacamole rendition, which combines sweet pineapples, crunchy cucumbers, and rich avocado. Easy to make and simply finished with cilantro, lime juice, red onion, and jalapenos, this take on guacamole may become your next favorite Mexican-inspired dip. Get our Pineapple and Cucumber Guacamole recipe.
Piggybacking on guacamole and abundant tortilla chips, salsa is another surefire way to please your friends and family. While store-bought salsa is easy to purchase, making your own only takes about 15 minutes. This tomatillo recipe features just a few ingredients and assembly is merely chopping and mixing in a large bowl. Super refreshing and perfect for summer get togethers. Get our Tomatillo Salsa recipe.
Read More: What Are Tomatillos?
Pasta salads are a smart way to feed large groups of people and tend to be filling and simple to prepare. This rendition features fresh, summer vegetables such as corn, zucchini, and tomatoes, and salty, rich feta. Simply cook your pasta of choice and grill the vegetables. Finish with olive oil, lemon juice, feta, and cilantro. A delicious and healthful summer recipe. Get our Grilled Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad recipe.
This butter cake is a “piece of cake to make” and a delicious take on a shortcake. The filling is made with mascarpone cheese, but cream cheese can be used as a substitution. Top the cake with fresh berries and you have a summery, light dessert. Get our Easy Berry Butter Cake recipe.
Key lime pie is always fun to bring to a gathering. It’s tart, sweet, and a graham cracker crumb crust is buttery and decadent without being too rich. Key limes are traditionally harvested in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Florida, but you don’t need to live in a warm climate to source these tart gems. You can now purchase key limes from Amazon! Get our Key Lime Pie recipe.
Who doesn’t love an oatmeal cookie? And this recipe saves you from turning on your oven. Filled with oatmeal, semisweet chocolate chips, and peanut butter, these cookies are dense and chewy, and come together by chilling in the fridge or freezer. Elevate your cookies by adding ice cream and making your own ice cream sandwiches. Once assembled, roll the ice cream filling in fun toppings such as mini M&Ms or mini chocolate chips for an extra bonus. You will be the most popular person at the party.Get our No-Bake Oatmeal Cookies recipe.
S’mores are a classic summer dessert, but if you’re looking for a make-ahead option that doesn’t require live fire (or a bunch of sticks) and isn’t quite as messy, our s’mores bars are just what you need. We combine graham crackers, marshmallow, semisweet chocolate, caramel, and toasted pecans for a mash-up of s’mores and Christmas crack. The recipe makes 40 pieces, so you’ll have enough for everyone. Get our S’mores Bar recipe.
If you need more gluten-free, nut-free, and vegan options, though, check out our Crowd-Friendly Desserts Everyone Can Enjoy.
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