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62 Summer Appetizers to Whip Up for Every BBQ and Picnic This Season

BBQ season will be here before you know it. The steaks and burgers are definitely important, but let’s face it: Everyone gets most excited for the starters. Whether you’re playing host or just entertaining your roommates, here are 62 impressive summer appetizers that are a cinch to whip up, from homemade potato chips to mini lobster rolls. Go ahead and bookmark this for every backyard party, picnic or cookout you attend. You can thank us later.

30 Sides for Hot Dogs to Serve at a Summer Cookout


1. Easy Homemade Potato Chips

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, vegan, kid-friendly

If you’ve got an hour to spare and four russet potatoes on hand, this snack is within reach. They’ll blow the store-bought kind way out of the water.

2. Deviled Eggs Three Ways

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: special occasion-worthy, beginner-friendly, high protein

Party appetizers don’t get more iconic than deviled eggs. But we’ve given them a modern makeover with roasted garlic, crispy capers and sriracha.

3. Grilled Watermelon-feta Skewers

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, vegetarian, beginner-friendly

Come summer, watermelon and feta > tomato and mozzarella. Don’t @ us.

4. Mexican Street Corn Dip

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy

Think of this layered masterpiece as a giant elote. The tortilla chips are buried in fresh corn, cotija cheese, homemade queso, sour cream, fresh cilantro and all the lime juice.

5. Mango Guacamole

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, no cook, vegan

It turns out that this tropical fruit and buttery avocado have been soulmates for a long time. The mango’s sweetness is just the thing to balance spicy serrano chiles and acidic lime juice, too.

6. Chilled Cucumber Salad

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegan, <10 ingredients, no cook

Lettuce? We don’t know her. Try a salad starring cucumber, the most refreshing vegetable around. They’re quick-pickled in rice vinegar with onion, garlic and fresh dill.

7. Blt Pasta Salad

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly

It’s crunchy, creamy and savory, just like the sandwich it was inspired by. Instead of simply using traditional mayonnaise, we spruce up the dressing with Dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar.

8. Camarones Al Mojo De Ajo

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, pescatarian, high protein

Behold, the quickest, most flavorful shrimp recipe you’ll ever make. Serve it with sliced baguette for soaking up all the leftover lemon-garlic butter.

9. Mini Lobster Rolls

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, special occasion-worthy, pescatarian

Few sandwiches scream summer as loudly as a lobster roll. Bonus: Using tiny buns means that every bite has the perfect ratio of claw meat to bread.

10. Carrot Pigs In A Blanket

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, vegetarian, <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly

Small hot dogs are the way to go in the winter (or for the Super Bowl). Once the weather’s warm, we lean on this baked carrot alternative instead—odds are you’re grilling plenty of meat for the main course anyway.

11. Everything Chicken Wings

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes
  • Why We Love It: keto, <10 ingredients, low carb, high protein

Nope we’re *not* over everything bagel seasoning…and we’re pretty sure we never will be. Try it on buttery baked chicken wings instead of Buffalo sauce.

12. Caprese Salad With Zucchini

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, vegetarian, <10 ingredients

Who else has been counting the minutes until they can hit the farmers market again? Pick the ripest zucchini, the fattest tomatoes and the freshest basil you can find and you’re halfway there.

13. 15-minute Gazpacho With Cucumber, Red Pepper And Basil

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: no cook, vegan, <30 minutes, beginner-friendly

This cold tomato soup is so chic and impressive that no one would believe how little effort it took to make. All you need is a blender or food processor.

14. Chopped Italian Salad Pizza

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, crowd-pleaser

It’s as simple to put together as a kale Caesar salad—but it’s also a million times more exciting. Picture dressed Bibb lettuce and microgreens on a layer of ricotta, all topped with pepperoncini, mozzarella and more fixings.

15. Coconut Shrimp

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser

Even self-proclaimed seafood haters can get behind this mind-blowingly crunchy appetizer. Each batch of shrimp only takes about four minutes to turn golden brown.

16. Mini Skillet Pizzas With Mushrooms And Roasted Tomatoes

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly, vegetarian

Sure, we could tackle these tiny pies in our trusty cast iron skillet year-round. But we’ll be popping them on the grill come summer, thank you very much.

17. Julia Turshen’s Skillet Cornbread With Cheddar And Scallions

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly

Sharp cheddar cheese, tangy buttermilk and fresh scallions—need we say more? It’d taste divine as a side for homemade chili, but we wouldn’t blame you for noshing on it straight out of the skillet.

18. Mini Peach Tarts With Goat Cheese And Honey

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: special occasion-worthy, vegetarian, <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly

Who knew store-bought frozen puff pastry could do all this? These posh starters have alfresco dinner party written all over them.

19. Italian Bruschetta Bar

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy, beginner-friendly

Turn your backyard get-together into a Sicilian picnic with this epic charcuterie board. It’s loaded with herbed cheese, salami, prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, olives and more.

20. Keto Guacamole Burger Bites

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: keto, low-carb, high protein, crowd-pleaser

OK, if everyone has full-sized burgers coming their way, choose another app. But if you’re making fish or chicken as the main, these are sure to scratch your guests’ itch for beef.

21. Grilled Peach, Chicken And Ricotta Pizza

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, high protein

Before you bake the pie in the oven, take the time to grill the peaches and red onion on the barbecue. The char will give them that smoky flavor you crave.

22. Grilled Mango Salsa

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, vegan, crowd-pleaser

Speaking of grilled produce, you’ll never look at jarred salsa the same way again after trying this tropical rendition, featuring charred mangos, tomatoes, red onions, jalapeños and limes.

23. Salami, Artichoke And Ricotta Pasta Salad

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, crowd-pleaser

This 20-minute gem couldn’t be simpler, but salty salami, punchy artichoke hearts and a zingy balsamic vinaigrette make it beyond flavorful.

24. Brussels Sprout Sliders

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, crowd-pleaser

The cheeseburgers are shaking in their boots. These skewered sammies are loaded with cherry tomatoes, prosciutto and pearl mozzarella.

25. Rainbow Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: no cook, vegetarian, special occasion-worthy

There’s truly no better way to show off your farmers market haul than this vibrant centerpiece. Think sliced baguette topped with seasoned ricotta and balsamic pesto, finished with fresh tomatoes.

26. Cauliflower ‘potato’ Salad

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: low carb, crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly, vegetarian

Proof that the cruciferous veggie can do just about anything. Not only does this side skimp on the spuds, but it’s dressed in a tangy mix of Greek yogurt, sour cream and Dijon mustard instead of mayonnaise.

27. 15-minute Mezze Plate With Toasted Za’atar Pita Bread

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, special occasion-worthy

Go ahead, have a pile of hors d’oeuvres for dinner. We won’t tell.

28. 20-minute Burrata Salad With Stone Fruit And Asparagus

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, vegetarian, special occasion-worthy

Any salad topped with that much cheese is our kind of salad. Even better, it’s practically no cook, minus blanching the asparagus and sugar snap peas.

29. Italian Deli Pinwheel Sandwiches

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: no cook, kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser, <30 minutes

You can throw some deli meat between two slices of bread, or you can spend a few extra minutes rolling them into pinwheels on flour tortillas. Up to you.

30. Skillet Blueberry Cornbread

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly

We’re most definitely whipping this up for the first alfresco Sunday brunch of the season. The brown sugar streusel puts it firmly between breakfast and dessert territories.

31. Fruicuterie Board

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: no cook, vegetarian, <30 minutes, crowd-pleaser

Hot weather puts us more in the mood for fresh produce than it does salty meats. Pair a few of your favorite cheeses with all the seasonal fruit you can get your hands on, from kiwis to cherries to cantaloupe.

32. 7-layer Dip

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: no cook, crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly, beginner-friendly

Your pantry is in for a treat, considering that this recipe includes canned refried beans, green chiles and taco seasoning. (It also calls for store-bought guacamole and salsa.)

33. Rainbow Collard Wraps With Peanut Butter Dipping Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: no cook, vegan, beginner-friendly

Portable? Check. Easy to assemble? Check. Can be made two days ahead of serving? You bet. Pass the peanut butter dipping sauce, please.

34. Jalapeño-avocado Mac And Cheese

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, high protein, special occasion-worthy

It’d be simply cruel to serve barbecue without a side of creamy mac. We’ve upgraded this one with briny pickled jalapeños, crisp green onions and mild avocado.

35. Yellow Tomato Gazpacho

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegan, dairy free, special occasion-worthy

As if gazpacho wasn’t summery enough, this take calls on mild yellow tomatoes, fresh peaches and bell peppers instead of just tomatoes, cucumbers and onion.

36. Grilled Cheese Crostini

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy

You might not think strawberries, balsamic vinegar and Brie belong together, but you’ll change your tune at first bite. The strawberries are macerated in a mix of balsamic, olive oil, sugar and salt before crowning the crostini.

37. Spring Crudités With Romesco Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: special occasion-worthy, vegan

Trade store-bought ranch dressing for a wow-worthy, robust romesco sauce made with roasted bell peppers, sweet-hot dried peppers, almonds, garlic and breadcrumbs.

38. Avocado Deviled Eggs

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly

Aren’t they adorable? Make these green gems once and you’ll have to whip them up for every future barbecue you ever host.

39. Serena Wolf’s Boss Bean Dip

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, vegetarian

Hi, 20-minute miracle. Each serving has 13 grams of protein and only 213 calories, so it’s cool if we devour the whole skillet for dinner…right?

40. Sweet-and-sour Pork Skewers With Pineapple

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: high protein, crowd-pleaser

The more char marks, the better. The grill will mellow the acidity of the pineapple, while also giving the pork a solid outer crust.

41. Mexican Street Corn Deviled Eggs

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy, vegetarian

Presenting your new go-to potluck dish. Show up with these handhelds (complete with corn, red onion, cotija and cilantro) and prepare to be hounded for the recipe.

42. 15-minute Cucumber-avocado Blender Soup

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, beginner-friendly, vegetarian

Two summer staples, one bowl. It comes together in minutes with creamy Greek yogurt, lime juice and lots of fresh mint and parsley.

43. Grilled Corn With Spicy Aioli

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly

Sure, corn on the cob is a side…if it’s plain. When it’s topped with four-ingredient sriracha aioli, it deserves your undivided attention.

44. Baked Mac And Cheese Bites

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, vegetarian, crowd-pleaser

They’re crispy on top, chewy on the inside and oh so cheesy. One batch makes a whopping 48 bites, but we have a feeling you’ll go through them quicker than you think.

45. Spicy Shrimp Tacos With Mango Salsa

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, high protein, pescatarian

Whether you’re making steak, chicken or hot dogs, one truth remains: Everyone always has room for a taco (or three) on their plate.

46. 15-minute Buffalo Chicken Sliders

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, <30 minutes, high protein

How do they come together in a flash yet look so gourmet, you ask? By starting with the oldest cheat in the book: a store-bought rotisserie chicken.

47. Grilled Peach And Halloumi Salad With Lemon-pesto Dressing

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: special occasion-worthy, vegetarian

Place it in the center of the picnic table on a big platter and let the oohs and aahs commence.

48. Roasted Poblano And Corn Guacamole

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, <30 minutes, crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients

Roasted summer corn not only adds texture, but it also offers a pop of sweetness to this otherwise zesty dip.

49. Cuban Sliders

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly

Sliders are an easy crowd-pleaser, but they’re even easier if you can make them all in one shot. Just halve a pack of buns, nestle them into a pan, assemble the sliders and bake them to buttery perfection.

50. Smoky Barbecued Corn

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, vegetarian, crowd-pleaser

With a seasoning blend this flavorful, people will *almost* forget all about the main course. We’re talking lime-chili mayonnaise, smoked paprika and Parmesan cheese.

51. Shrimp Boil Skewers With Corn, Sausage And Potatoes

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love it: special occasion-worthy, crowd-pleaser, high protein

Two words: Cajun. Butter. Your spice rack has its work cut out for it.

52. Cheater’s Prosciutto Hawaiian Pizza

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, <10 ingredients, crowd-pleaser

Let this pie finally convert you to Team Pineapple on Pizza. Grilling the pineapple rings brings out their sweetness, making them just the match for salty prosciutto.

summer appetizers sweet potato biscuit rolls recipe
Renée Kohlman/Vegetables: A Love Story

53. Sweet Potato Biscuit Rolls With Honey Butter Glaze

  • Time Commitment: 2 hours and 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser

These handhelds are light as a feather and impossibly tender. Might we suggest using them as slider buns?

summer appetizers rodney scott pimento cheese recipe
Jerrelle Guy/Rodney Scott's World of BBQ

54. Rodney Scott’s Pimento Cheese

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: no cook, <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, crowd-pleaser

The key to this Southern staple's texture is shredding the cheese yourself, since pre-shredded cheeses contain added ingredients to prevent clumping.

summer appetizers blueberry streusel corn muffins recipe
Photo/Styling: Katherine Gillen

55. Blueberry Streusel Corn Muffins

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser

Behold: a cross between cornbread, blueberry muffins and coffee cake. They pair beautifully with barbecue ribs.

summer appetizers vietnamese style summer rolls recipe
Infraordinario Studio for Dalcò Edizioni S.R.L.

56. Vietnamese-style Summer Rolls

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes
  • Why We Love It: special occasion-worthy, pescatarian

Light, refreshing and served with a sweet-and-spicy dipping sauce. In other words, they're prime for kicking off an alfresco meal.

summer appetizers whipped feta dip with roasted cherry tomatoes recipe
Photo/Styling: Katherine Gillen

57. Whipped Feta Dip With Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly, vegetarian

Show off your farmers market tomato haul with this simple dish that's equal parts creamy, crunchy and tangy.

summer appetizers aloo tikka arancini recipe
Iain Bagwell/Mumbai Modern

58. Aloo Tikki Arancini With Saffron Aioli

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes (plus chilling time)
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy

No one at your backyard dinner party will see this Indian-inspired twist on Italian arancini coming.

summer appetizers salted honey focaccia bread recipe
Jonathan Meter/The Sweet Side of Sourdough

59. Salted Honey Focaccia

  • Time Commitment: 15 hours and 40 minutes (includes resting time)
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, crowd-pleaser

Psst: We found your weekend baking project. Dip it into pesto, add it to a charcuterie board or drag it through quality olive oil spiked with salt and pepper.

summer appetizers bacon apple cheddar waffles recipe
Jennifer Davis/The Southern Baking Cookbook

60. Bacon, Apple And Cheddar Waffles

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, beginner-friendly, crowd-pleaser

Sure, you can serve them sliced with syrup and hot sauce for dipping...or you can use them in place of rolls for pulled pork sandwiches. The choice is yours.

summer appetizers vegan chop salad recipe
Erin Kunkel/Malibu Farm Sunrise to Sunset

61. Malibu Farm’s Vegan Chop Salad

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegan, dairy free, special occasion-worthy

Substitute sweet potato for butternut squash in the off season—just don't skip the marinated beets.

summer appetizers charcuterie board flatbread recipe
Photo/Styling: Katherine Gillen

62. Charcuterie-board Flatbread

  • Time Commitment: 5 minutes
  • Why We Love It: no cook, beginner-friendly, kid-friendly, <30 minutes

Instead of fussing over assembling a Pinterest-worthy charcuterie board, opt for these burrata-topped cuties instead.


For even more great recipes, check out our first cookbook, Only the Good Stuff.