15 Yummy Make-Ahead Summer Dinner Recipes

Collage of 6 dinner pictures: top row left: Glazed scallops in pan, Right: steak kabobs, Middle Row left: Creamy Corn and Blackened chicken in pan, Right: Plate of Thai Peanut Tofu Noodles, Bottom left: Beef Taco Quinoa bowl, Right, Korean beef Rice bowl

The weather is warmer, the days are longer, and there is no school.  Kids are running around all day playing and you are running around all day too, probably playing a little, and working (in some form or another) a lot.  That means it’s time for Easy Summer Dinners!  More specifically…delicious, healthy, MAKE-AHEAD Summer Dinner Recipes.

What these Dinners have in Common

  1. PREPPED OR COOKED AHEAD – Summers days are longer and packed with outdoor activities, camps, work, and more.  So, when dinner time rolls around, you need easy dinners that come together fast!  That’s where prepping or even cooking the meal entirely ahead comes to the rescue.  
  2. IN SEASON – Each recipe includes bright and fresh summer flavors and ingredients that are in season.  This means that you should be able to find all ingredients easily and even at a discount.  Produce will be fresher as it can come in from local farms vs. far away places.
  3. HEALTHY, BUT DELICIOUS – The word ‘healthy’ often scares off kids and many adults too.  However, healthy can be yummy.  It doesn’t have to be boring or bland food, it just means eating balanced meals that provide you with the vitamins and nutrients to give you energy for your Summer days! 

Here are 15 Easy Make-Ahead Summer Dinner Ideas that you can prepare ahead and finish fast at the end of long summer days!

15 Easy Make-Ahead Summer Dinner Recipes

1.  Sweet & Sour Chicken Kabobs with Green Rice

Spoon drizzling Sweet and Sour sauce over Chicken Kabobs with pineapple, onion, and red pepper over Green Rice with basil, chives, and spinach.

Get ready for a symphony of flavors and textures because this recipe has got it all! The first in the line up of Summer Dinner Recipes is my Sweet and Sour Chicken Kabobs with pineapple, onion, and red pepper.  They are sweet, savory, tangy, and salty. The chicken is marinated in a simple Sweet and Sour marinade so that they get the most amazing sweet and savory grill flavor. The pineapple when grilled, intensifies into this deep flavor, that is still sweet, but somehow also savory from the grill and the caramelization of the natural sugars. The onion and red pepper round out the flavors and textures. The remaining sweet and sour sauce is drizzled over top for the final glazed touch. It’s party time for your taste buds!

Serve these Chicken Kabobs on top of the most flavorful herb-i-licious Green Rice Recipe. Make sure to check out this recipe which comes together in minutes. Basil, chives, and spinach are blended with a touch of sour cream and mixed with fluffy white rice. The herbs pair perfectly with the kabobs.

2.  Glazed Scallops with Velvety Barley and Bacon

Glazed Pan Seared Scallops with Garlic and Honey sitting on Creamy Barley with Bacon bits and chives.

These Glazed Pan Seared Scallops with Garlic and Honey take only 10 minutes to make and taste AMAZING! Scallops are seared for a crispy, caramelized crust on the outside and then glazed with a sweet and succulent thick sauce. Garlic, lemon, and honey are added to the pan to create this easy glaze that pairs perfectly with the sweet scallops with their salty sear. Try these with my Velvety Barley Recipe with Bacon and Gruyere and you have a delicious family dinner!

3.  Taco Chicken Burger Recipe

Taco Chicken Burger cut in half on wood plate. The burger has smokey taco seasonings, cilantro, and scallions. Then on top are melty cheese, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, and chipotle mayonnaise!

Of course there would be a burger on a list of Summer Dinner Recipes!  This Taco Chicken Burger recipe was a successful experiment in how tacos can transform into the most incredible burger. They are easy to make ahead, flavorful, moist, and all together taco-licious. It is chock full of smokey taco seasonings, cilantro, and scallions. Then on top you’ve got all the taco fixings you need… melty cheese, creamy guacamole, tomato, lettuce, and chipotle mayonnaise!  You can make a double batch and freeze them raw individually. Once frozen, you can combine them in an airtight container and store for up to 4 months in the freezer.

4.  Grilled Flank Steak Salad w Basil Dressing

Sliced Grilled Flank Steak Salad Recipe on plate with grilled romaine, halved grape tomatoes, and creamy basil yogurt dressing.

When it comes to Summer dinner recipes, salads might be an obvious one.  But this is no ordinary salad.  This Grilled Flank Steak Salad Recipe with Creamy Basil Dressing is such a hearty, healthy, fresh, and vibrant Steak Salad Recipe! It has tender strips of garlic-rubbed grilled flank steak over grilled romaine, bright tomatoes, and fresh cool basil yogurt dressing. The romaine lettuce is grilled so it gets this slightly charred, slightly nutty, deep new amazing flavor that is nothing like the boring lettuce you know. So few ingredients, but so much flavor!!

For this recipe, you can make the Creamy Basil Chive Yogurt Dressing up to 5 days in advance.   All ingredients go into the blender and it takes only minutes!   You can also make the marinade and marinate the flank steak 2 days in advance. 

5 . Grilled Chicken and Zippy Pineapple Salsa with Avocado

Fresh, bright, sweet, creamy, crunchy, and bursting with flavor, this Zippy Pineapple Salsa has red pepper, jalapeño, cilantro, scallion, lime, and avocado. It's the perfect topping for just about anything grilled. It's also just perfect for eating with chips or as a salad on it's own!

Zippy Pineapple Salsa with Avocado is no ordinary salsa, it’s not even an ordinary Pineapple Salsa. Fresh, bright, sweet, creamy, crunchy, and bursting with flavor, this Zippy Pineapple Salsa has pineapple, red pepper, jalapeño, cilantro, scallion, lime, and avocado. It’s the perfect topping for grilled chicken. It’s also just perfect for eating with chips or as a salad on it’s own!  The salsa can be made in advance, with the exception of adding the avocado.  Just grill your chicken, then dice and add the avocado and dinner is served!

6.  Chicken Greek Meatballs  & Greek Orzo Salad

Ground Chicken Greek Meatballs on a plate with Tzatziki sauce over rice. Baked meatballs in back. These meatballs have garlic, feta, parsley, and oregano. 

Greek Orzo Salad with Kalamata Olives, Cucumbers, and Feta Cheese in a bowl with lemon on side. It's mixed with a creamy lemon dressing that's bright and light!

Ground Chicken Greek Meatballs are so moist and bursting with big flavors from garlic, feta, parsley, and oregano.  You can make them ahead and freeze for months (make a double recipe!).  Then simply bake for 25-30 minutes and enjoy!  Paired with a tangy and bright Tzatziki sauce and served with a Greek Orzo Salad with Kalamata Olives, Cucumbers, and Feta Cheese.  It’s creamy, tangy, crunchy, salty, fresh, bright, and irresistibly delicious. The base here is Orzo, which is the perfect size and texture. Cucumber brings a cool refreshing crunch. The kalamata olives and feta bring the saltiness and tang that keep you coming back for more…and more…and more. All of this goodness is combined with a creamy lemon dressing that’s bright and light!  The meatballs and the salad are completely make-ahead for such an easy-breezy Greek dinner.

7.  Quick Garlic Steak Kabobs with Creamy Cilantro Sauce

Garlic Steak Kabobs with red pepper and onion on platter with a Creamy Cilantro Sauce! #beefkabobs #steakkabobs

Nothin’ says Summer dinner recipes to me more than grilling a good kabob!  These Garlic Steak Kabobs with a Creamy Cilantro Sauce are my favorite Summer family dinner. Beef filet is cut into chunks and then marinated with a delicious garlicy sauce. Skewered and grilled with onion and red pepper, they are tender, flavorful, and utterly mouthwatering. Then, drizzle with or dip into a cool and bright Creamy Cilantro Sauce for the perfect bite!  Kabobs are also such an easy Meal Prep idea because you can prep them entirely ahead and then simply grill them when you’re ready to eat! You can also make a double recipe to have leftovers of this delicious meat and then slice for steak sandwiches, a quick stir fry, or add to a mushroom sauce over pasta!

8.  Stuffed Tomatoes with Chorizo & Quinoa

Stuffed Tomatoes on sheet pan on counter with chorizo, quinoa, parmesan cheese, chives, garlic, and oregano are simply divine! 

These Stuffed Tomatoes are little treasures with chorizo, quinoa, parmesan cheese, mozzarella, chives, garlic, and oregano are simply divine! Juicy tomatoes are hollowed out and the insides are mixed with these amazing ingredients and then stuffed back in. You get the warm juicy tomato with a salty and hearty center. Each bite is salty, peppery, creamy, and incredibly flavorful! These can be stuffed ahead and then baked right before serving. Have as a side or a main for the perfect Summer treat!!

9.  Creamy Corn & Blackened Chicken

Creamy Corn and Blackened Chicken with feta and cilantro on top in a pan.

In my opinion, corn should be in just about every Summer dinner recipe!  So, here we have a Creamy Corn and Blackened Chicken skillet dinner that’s easy to make and scrumptious to eat. The creamy corn is rich, creamy, savory, slightly sweet, and slightly smokey. The blackened chicken is coated with warm spices like chili powder, paprika, and cumin that bring huge flavor, but not a lot of heat. It finishes with a delicious salty bite from cotija cheese. Best part is that it all cooks in one large pan, can be made entirely ahead and reheats beautifully when you are ready to eat – truly a perfect dinner!

10. Garlic Lime Shrimp & Tzatziki Sauce

Garlic and Lime Shrimp with Tzatziki Sauce over Quinoa on plate. The Shrimp is simply sauteed with minced garlic, olive oil, and lemon for big bold flavors. The Tzatziki Sauce is bright and cool with creamy yogurt with fresh cucumber, lime, garlic, and scallion. #shrimp #easydinner #dinner #seafoodrecipes #shrimprecipes

I love to combine big bold flavors with cool, refreshing flavors. Enter THIS flavorful Garlic and Lime Shrimp Recipe with a bright and delicious Tzatziki Sauce. The Tzatziki Sauce has cool and creamy yogurt with fresh cucumber, lime zest, garlic, and scallion. Serve with Cilantro Lime Quinoa and you have a complete and delicious meal!  The Quinoa and Tzatziki can be made entirely ahead, then just take a few minutes to cook the shrimp when you’re ready to eat!  It’s a great Summer dinner.

11.  Lentil & Zucchini Cakes Recipe

Lentil and Zucchini Cakes stacked on wood cutting board. They have a crispy outside and soft inside and are perfect for an easy dinner!  The flavors are simple but perfect with parmesan, oregano, scallions, lentils, and zucchini.

Crispy outside, soft and warm inside, these Lentil and Zucchini Cakes are so satisfying! The flavors are simple but perfect with parmesan bringing a salty and nutty backdrop and oregano adding an herbaceous note. The scallion gives a mild onion flavor. But of course, the stars here are the meaty and earthy lentils and the fresh zucchini. Formed into a perfect cake and pan fried in just a bit of olive oil.  You can either make the raw patties ahead and then cook them right before you want to eat or make them ahead and reheat!

12.  30-Min Korean Ground Beef Rice Bowls

Korean Ground Beef and Rice Bowl with sliced radishes fanned out on top and scallion garnish.

30-Minute Korean Ground Beef and Rice Bowls are the perfect weeknight family dinner! The mouthwatering sauce comes together in just minutes and gets added to the ground beef in the pan for the most intensely perfect flavor. The Soy sauce brings salt, the sesame gives nuttiness, the vinegar gives acidity, the brown sugar brings sweetness, and the ginger and garlic bring loads of spice and flavor! Served over rice with with a simple cool and crunchy radish garnish, it’s a hearty and delicious dinner!  You can make each component of this dish ahead, reheat the beef and rice, then top with garnishes.

13.  Easy Thai Peanut Sauce Noodles & Tofu

Thai Peanut Sauce Noodles with seared tofu and veggies on a plate with chopsticks.

Get ready for a flavor explosion with these Thai Peanut Sauce Noodles with seared tofu and veggies! The sauce is nutty, tangy, salty, slightly sweet, and spicy with peanut butter, teriyaki, Thai red curry paste, sesame oil, and garlic! The tofu is seared for a perfect outside and creamy inside. The zucchini, peppers, and peanuts on top add crunch and texture. The noodles, well they let you slurp everything up perfectly! It’s irresistible!

This is perfect for a prep-ahead and last-minute-weeknight-cook dinner. The cooking only takes about 15 minutes, so most of the work is the prep for the tofu and the veggies.

14.  Asparagus & Tomato Quinoa Risotto

Asparagus and Tomato Quinoa Risotto with parmesan on top on a plate with fork.

During the Summer, no one wants to stand in front of the stove inside adding broth to risotto every 5 minutes, so I have a quickie version for you! Asparagus and Tomato Quinoa Risotto is such a hearty, delicious, and healthy dinner. This is yet another way to incorporate that fantastic superfood, Quinoa, into your dinner rotation! The Quinoa beautifully absorbs and plumps up with all of the flavor from the broth, onions, garlic, tomato paste and oregano. Then cut asparagus is mixed in along with nutty and creamy parmesan cheese for a perfect finish.  Make this entire dish ahead and simply reheat it for dinner with grilled steak or chicken or fish!

15.  Ground Beef Taco Quinoa Bowls

Taco Quinoa Bowl with Ground Beef, corn, cotija cheese, tomatoes, fresh cilantro, and cilantro lime crema drizzled on top. Bowl of crema, bowl of cotija cheese, tomatoes and cilantro on the table.

Making a Ground Beef Taco Quinoa Bowl is so darn tasty and perfect for busy Summer nights! Everything can me prepped and cooked ahead, so you only need to reheat and enjoy. The base of these bowls is the Quinoa, which is lightly seasoned and is a perfect fluffy backdrop. It’s topped with saucy ground beef that’s loaded with savory and smoky Mexican flavors from the chili powder, cumin, garlic, and scallions. Corn that is slightly seared brings a pop of sweetness. The Cotija cheese brings tang and creaminess and the tomato a burst of freshness. The avocado adds rich creaminess and the cool cilantro lime crema brings that final bright finishing touch.  Overall, this is one harmonious dinner filled with bright, creamy, savory, smokey, and delectable flavors and textures!

 

What are YOUR favorite Summer dinners?  Please share in the comments!

😍 Carrie

Teriyaki Chicken Salad with Green Pepper & Tomatoes

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Salad in a bowl on black background with chicken, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, black sesame seeds, and cilantro.
Jump to Recipe
Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Salad in a bowl on black background with chicken, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, black sesame seeds, and cilantro.

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Salad is such a delicious summer lunch or dinner that you can make ahead and enjoy quickly at the end of a long day.  This unconventional chicken salad is sweet, savory, tangy, and filled with flavor and texture.  The slightly charred teriyaki chicken is smoky, tangy, and hearty.  The onions, peppers, and tomatoes add sweet and peppery flavors plus crunchy and tender textures.  And the easy mayonnaise-based dressing brings in delicious creaminess.  Make tons, then enjoy straight off the grill with rice and again then later in this salad.

Make Once, Eat Twice…or More!

What a time and stress save to cook a dinner once and then eat it several nights!  The only thing is that after the first night, you may not want to eat the same exact thing.  That’s where versatile recipes like this one come in!  You cook everything once and then repurpose it into something different.  You can do this with a lot of proteins, grains, and veggies.  For example, my Chicken and Zucchini Rice Skillet is great with leftover chicken.  My Korean Ground Beef Rice Bowls are great for leftover hamburgers or ground beef.  Or shred up whatever you have an put it in a taco!

Click here to get 30 Leftover Protein Dinner Ideas like this one!

Quick note!  This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase from them.  This commission is what helps me keep this blog afloat :).  I also share these links because I have used the products, genuinely love them, and want you to know exactly what I used. 

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

For kabobs, you do need skewers. I like metal ones vs. wood so that you don’t have to worry about them burning up. You also can wash and reuse metal ones. Flat skewers are also great so that the food doesn’t spin around. You can grill it on one side, then flip the skewer and the food flips too vs. rolls. Finally, LONG skewers are best. Look for 14″ or longer so that whether you want to grill a little or a lot of food, you have the space on the skewer. Here are some skewers that I really like!

large sheet pan (I use a 17×11) is helpful to place the skewers as you build them.

Finally, cutting raw chicken is super easy with kitchen shears, but you can also just cut with a knife.

PREP-AHEAD STEPS

We are all extremely busy and making dinner during the week can be overwhelming. Here are steps you can prepare ahead to save time on busy nights! (See the full recipe below)

Cut the chicken breasts into 2-inch cubes. Place them into a storage bag or container. Pour the teriyaki sauce over the chicken and mix in the sauce. Seal the bag or container and marinate for at least 1 hour up to 24 hours in advance of cooking.

Raw chicken breast chunks on a plate on counter for Teriyaki Chicken Salad..

Cut the onion, the green pepper, and tomato into chunks that can be skewered.

Skewer the tomatoes on one skewer by themselves. Skewer the Onion, Green Pepper, and Chicken on the other skewers alternating (chicken, pepper, onion, chicken, pepper, onion). Store in the fridge covered until ready to grill (up to 3 days in advance).

Can I use any other veggies in this recipe?

Of course, there are loads of veggies that you can grill or even add in raw for more fresh crunch.  For grilling, you can add or swap in zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, cauliflower, corn, red peppers, asparagus, scallions, squash, bok choy, and cabbage.  For chopping and adding in raw, you could use carrots, celery, scallions, cucumber, red pepper, onion, radishes, cabbage, and other herbs, such as basil or parsley.

COOK & MIX THE TERIYAKI CHICKEN SALAD

Preheat the grill to high heat. Place the kabobs on the grill and cook, flipping halfway through cooking time. The Tomatoes need only 2 minutes per side. The chicken needs about 6 minutes per side to cook completely through to 165 F degrees internal temp. When each skewer is done, place on a large sheet pan to cool.

While the kabobs are cooking, mix the dressing ingredients, leaving a teaspoon or so of the sesame seeds for garnish.

Mayonnaise, teriyaki sauce, sesame seeds, salt, and pepper in a bowl unmixed for Teriyaki Chicken Salad..

Once the skewers have cooled enough to handle, remove the ingredients. Cut the chicken into small bite-size pieces. If needed, you can also cut the veggies into smaller pieces. Please everything into a large mixing bowl.

Grilled chicken, green peppers, tomatoes, and onions cut into pieces on a cutting board for Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Salad..

Add the dressing and toss to combine. Serve and garnish with the remaining sesame seeds and cilantro leaves.

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Salad in a mixing bowl with spoon and cilantro cut on cutting board on the side with knife.

Can I cook the Chicken and Veggies another way?

If you are not able to grill, you can cook these under the broiler in the oven on high for about 6-8 minutes per side, just enough to get a nice char on the outside, then move the pan down to the venter rack and roast 400 F degrees for another 5-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  Note: the tomatoes will be done after the broiling step.

ENJOY!  😍 Carrie

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Salad in 2 bowls on black background with chicken, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, black sesame seeds, and cilantro.

Have you tried this recipe? If so, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star rating in the recipe below! I love to hear your feedback and your rating helps others to find this recipe. Thanks so much!

Teriyaki Chicken Salad

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Salad is such a delicious summer lunch or dinner that you can make ahead and enjoy quickly at the end of a long day.  It's sweet, savory, tangy, and filled with flavor and texture.  The slightly charred teriyaki chicken is smoky, tangy, and hearty.  The onions, peppers, and tomatoes add sweet and peppery flavors plus crunchy and tender textures.  And the delicious mayonnaise-based dressing brings in delicious creaminess.  Make tons, then enjoy straight off the grill and then later in this salad.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Japanese
Keyword chicken recipes, Chicken Salad, salad, teriyaki
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

For Grilling

  • 1 pound Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless
  • 1/2 cup Teriyaki Sauce
  • 1 Yellow Onion, medium
  • 1 Green Pepper
  • 2 Tomatoes, medium
  • 3-4 tablespoons Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Black Pepper

Dressing & Garnish

  • 3/4 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Teriyaki Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Toasted Sesame Seeds, Black or White
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Cilantro leaves

Instructions

Prep Ahead Steps

  1. Cut the chicken breasts into 2-inch cubes. Place them into a storage bag or container. Pour the teriyaki sauce over the chicken and mix in the sauce. Seal the bag or container and marinate for at least 1 hour up to 24 hours in advance of cooking.

    Raw chicken breast chunks on a plate on counter for Teriyaki Chicken Salad..
  2. Cut the onion, the green pepper, and tomato into chunks that can be skewered.

  3. Skewer the tomatoes on one skewer by themselves. Skewer the Onion, Green Pepper, and Chicken on the other skewers alternating (chicken, pepper, onion, chicken, pepper, onion). Store in the fridge covered until ready to grill (up to 3 days in advance).

Cooking Steps

  1. Preheat the grill to high heat. Place the kabobs on the grill and cook, flipping halfway through cooking time. The Tomatoes need only 2 minutes per side. The chicken needs about 6 minutes per side to cook completely through to 165 F degrees internal temp. When each skewer is done, place on a large sheet pan to cool.

  2. While the kabobs are cooking, mix the dressing ingredients, leaving a teaspoon or so of the sesame seeds for garnish.

Make Salad

  1. Once the skewers have cooled enough to handle, remove the ingredients. Cut the chicken into small bite-size pieces. If needed, you can also cut the veggies into smaller pieces. Please everything into a large mixing bowl.

    Grilled chicken, green peppers, tomatoes, and onions cut into pieces on a cutting board for Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Salad..
  2. Add the dressing and toss to combine. Serve and garnish with the remaining sesame seeds and cilantro leaves. Enjoy!

    Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Salad in a mixing bowl with spoon and cilantro cut on cutting board on the side with knife.