When you think of summer food, imagine days at the pool or cookouts with friends. And while the pandemic may be preventing some of these traditional gatherings (or at least making them smaller), you can still enjoy food in the summer at home.
After spending so many cold months spoiled with heavy stews and roasts, we itch to dig into fresh fruits, vegetables and light meals this summer. And even with some time-tested favorite recipes in your back pocket, updating your summer menu keeps everyone waiting for any meal.
If it feels like you have your summer menu on repeat, you can take some inspiration from classic recipes yesterday to rediscover childhood favorites and find your new favorite flavor combinations. If you don’t have time to dig through old cookbooks to search for your new favorite meals, don’t worry! We have completed the ultimate collection of vintage summer favorites that is sure to please everyone. And if you love to cook, sign up for our newsletter to get daily recipes and food news in your inbox!
Nothing says “summer” like a live plate succotash! This blend of red pepper, fresh corn, scallions and bacon makes good use of all the fresh produce we can finally get in the summer, and it will delight even the most beautiful eater. With a short preparation time and tasty ingredients, this throwback favorite deserves a place in your meal rotation.
Get our recipe for Succotash.
Who doesn’t love this summer? Whether you are with family members or you just want a nostalgic classic for yourself, this takeover of the traditional potato salad will leave you alone. If you’ve only ever bought ready-made potato salad, treat yourself to the home-made real deal and see what caused the dish to become so popular in the first place.
Get our recipe for potato salad.
When you want to evoke summer, this crispy, juicy side holds its own against kebabs, hot dogs, ribs, or any other summer classic. With a homemade bandage and finely chopped cabbage, this ubiquitous side has stuck to one reason. Just make sure to leave space for seconds!
Get our recipe for Coleslaw.
When you just want an easy meal to cool off, gazpacho can do it. This chilled Italian tomato soup takes no time at all to whip up and easily impresses anyone who takes a sip. With such a classic dish at your fingertips, dreams of Italian summers can be yours, even if you never set foot in Europe!
Get our recipe for Gazpacho soup.
Nothing throws you back to childhood like a plate of fried chicken. If you thought that preparing this dish falls outside your skill area, just wait until you try this easy recipe, anyone can whip up at home. When it comes to celebrating summer, it’s nothing like a steaming plate of crispy, falling bone marrow chicken.
Get our recipe for Fried Chicken.
When you think of an American picnic, someone in the scene probably enjoys egg salad. This juicy joy debuted generations ago and has been kept on for good reason. With a hint of curry, every bite of this sandwich sends you back to the 50s and keeps you in the summer spirit.
Get our recipe for Curried Egg Salad.
Why should meat get all the attention when it’s time for barbecue? Grilled corn completes any meal, and with so many vegetables available this time of year, it would be ridiculous not to indulge with this favorite in the summer. For a fun twist on the classic Mexican grilled corn seasoning thing a notch. This recipe is time-tested throughout the American Southwest for ages – if you’ve never tried it, there’s no better time to start.
Get our recipe for grilled corn.
Summer means pulling out all the stops when it comes to sharing desserts with friends and family. No recipe does better than this classic Southern recipe with no frills. Even if you haven’t delved deep into making puddings, this foolproof recipe guarantees that you remember why this recipe has been so loved.
Get our recipe for Southern style banana pudding.
If you live in an area where you can take a day trip to get some fruit from a local farm, why not use the fresh picks for good use? This time-tested cobbler hits everyone’s sweet tooth and you also get pampered with some seasonal fruits.
Get our recipe for the Blueberry Peach Cobbler.
The legacy of crab cakes goes back for years. These rough, juicy favorites are a great meal after having some (socially distant) fun in the sun. And when they’re so easy to make at home, nothing can stop you from taking on these East Coast classics. The recipe for the crab gets a shake with a mango-avocado salsa that leaves your mouth watering, but you can always choose to serve the meal with a traditional tart if you want to evoke the classic vibe.
Get our recipe for Crab Cakes.
When was the last time you whipped a little rhubarb for your family? If you haven’t ever prepared this summer staple, this shortcake recipe allows you to try something fun and new that everyone loves. In an age when everyone expects the same old chocolate and vanilla treats, this explosion of the past is definitely an instant classic in your house!
On hot days and cool nights, nothing sounds better than a sweet peach crumble to evoke the best memories of summer. Even if you don’t consider yourself an expert baker, this take on the Georgia classic is not too hard to whip up. Make some new memories while sticking to your favorite flavor from yesterday with this retro classic.
Summer means lemon season, so it’s time to make extra use of this bright fruit. And what better way to use lemons than to make a lemon sheet cake? Tempt your loved ones with this sweet and sweet summer staple – there’s a reason it’s been the test of time.
You’ve probably had scalloped potatoes before, but if you never tempted your taste buds with this summer classic all the time, you won’t know what you miss! Fresh sweet corn and broccoli are baked with cheese to form a side dish that fits well with any rich meat. For a recipe to present summer products with a flair that your grandparents could love, this dish deserves a regular place in your weekly family meal plan.
When you ask for a cool salad to fill you, you may not immediately think of this staple that your great-grandparents may have had on hot days. But this cool blend of apples, grilled chicken, pistachios and grapes, tossed in a mayonnaise dressing, feels refreshing on any summer day. For a classic dish that doesn’t weigh you down, don’t give a Waldorf salad.
Fresh asparagus tastes like nothing else, and when you can get bushels with fresh skewers of the vegetable, use them well. What better way to try new recipes with fresh ingredients than this retro classic that the whole family will love? Roasting asparagus with brie cheese in a quiche brings a menagerie of flavors that few other recipes do, and it guarantees you will find another reason to love the quiche.
Green beans are cheap, healthy, and tasty. Best of all, they are in season in the summer and there are a lot of vintage recipes that include this vegetable. If you’ve never heard of almond before, this old-school favorite used to serve restaurant menus nationwide for a reason. The French classic raises simple green beans by cooking them with shallots, garlic and almonds to create a light side dish that was once the height of luxury. Just make sure you use fresh green beans and not canned!
When you whip up a cool three-bean salad for a summer meal, life couldn’t be easier. This blend of chickpeas, kidney, wax and green beans traces its lineage back decades. And with such minimal preparation time, this recipe is super easy to throw together. With so much flavor and nutrients packed in, it might just become your new favorite side dish.
Summer means combating heat with light takes on classic ingredients. With cucumbers in season, the time has come to indulge in some extra moisturizing staples. These fresh, crispy cucumber slices are paired with a balsamic vinegar marinade that makes them the perfect complement to any rich food. If you’ve never tasted this old standard, be ready to find your new favorite recipe.
Feet seem daunting to do, but they don’t have to be! When you have fresh seasonal lemons, no one can resist this classic take on a chess pie. It is put in the fridge, making it a perfect way to cool off after a hot day outside, giving you even more reason to give it a try.
When wedge salads began appearing on steakhouse menus in the 1950s, Americans loved this new way of making salads fun. The wedges of iceberg lettuce are topped with a homemade bleu cheese dressing, seasonal vegetables and bacon bits, all of which add a delicious meal, promoted with fresh ingredients.
If you had never had an ambrosia salad, now is the time to give this vintage standard another try. Pineapple, cherries, oranges and more are combined with marshmallows and coconut, creating a dessert that can delight the child in any of us. For a classic take on fresh fruit, nothing else compares.
Who doesn’t love the classic combination of seasonal fruits mixed together? Even if you have a fruit salad recipe that you usually use, be ready for your socks to be worn off with this take on an age-old classic. This recipe packs nutrients and keeps you cool on sunny days.
Everyone knows that fresh tomatoes can do wonders for any recipe, but if you’ve never made green tomatoes, you don’t know what you’re missing out on. Utilize unripe tomatoes by coating them in a light, crispy dough and roasting them until golden brown. If you have never fried vegetables at home before, this is a perfect starting point. With seasonal products, you can’t go wrong.
Summer is squash season and if you can get your hands on fresh summer squash and zucchini, this recipe brings out the best in both vegetables. If you haven’t used these ingredients in a while, be ready to get your mind blown by the taste of fresh, seasonal produce.
If you’re starting to run out of culinary ideas, why not take a page from your grandparents’ cookbooks and roast those summer staples in the oven, filled with all your favorite stuffs? This recipe is wrapped in fresh, sweet corn and basil along with rice and cheese to make the perfect all-in-one dish that sends your taste buds on a journey to the past. Just make sure you save space in seconds!
Nothing evokes the spirit of Southern cooking like a good old-fashioned squash stew. The creamy consistency of the squash pairs is excellent with the crispy topping, providing a quick and tasty stew that you’ve never had before. year.
With pineapple prices at their best in the summer, be ready to pick up the juiciest pineapple for your local farmers market and make the best pineapple reversed cake you’ve ever had. The sour juice of the pineapple cuts through the sweetness of the cake, and not even canned fruits can compare. If you’ve only heard rumors about this vintage dessert, now is the time to give it a try.
Pies once dominated weekly cooking, and tasty pies are used to table as often as dessert cakes. Why not take advantage of this tradition by whipping up a tomato and cheese pie? With flavors that induce pizza, this cheesecake will please even delicate eaters. If you find yourself with excess tomatoes, this circle can hold its own on any table.
When you host a garden party or just want to serve some light hor d’oeuvres, crab salad packages in a refinement like no other summer dish, and by serving them on toasts, you can take advantage of a tradition that dates back a century. These delicious and creamy crab meats taste even and full against crunchy toasts, creating excellent finger foods on your next soiree.
If you like grits, you will love this polenta recipe that traces its roots back to Italy. A soft bed with creamy polenta gets topped with sweet sautéed peas and field corn straight from the cup and tastes like nothing else you’ve had before. With this great way to eat your seasonal vegetables, you’re in for a treat the next time you sit down to dinner with this one.
Fresh corn should find its way to any menu in the summer and this salad by taking advantage of it. Radishes, onions, jalapeños and more come together to serve as the basis for this fresh vegetable mix that goes back for years. When you want to take your taste buds on a crisp journey, this one is for you.
As the afternoon temperature rises, nothing soothes a piece of icebox pie. This retro recipe takes the best that lemons have to offer, letting you whip up a classic dessert perfectly for an afternoon on the porch or a night out. The only thing easier than cooking this pie is eating it!
Putting vegetables in pies goes way back and this zucchini dish is the best that flavorful pies have to offer. This buttery, flaky masterpiece taps into the sweet notes of zucchini and pairs them with parmesan and onions to form the basis of a meal your family will enjoy. Even if pies scare you away, you can make the crust with a store-bought frozen crust to save some time and mental energy.
Summer means barbecue season and nothing compares to the smoked, sweet taste of baby-back ribs. For those of us who do not own outdoor smokers, this will take the ribs in the oven going fine and have the pedigree to prove it. Try it and you will leave the table to a believer.
If you never had a deep-fried jam dipped in your favorite sauce, you don’t know what you’re missing. As long as we’ve had fried food at home, we’ve served these fried delights. When you serve them with fish or meat, the sharpness of the pickers cuts through the richness of your main course, leaving you with a side dish that leaves you hooked. You can make your own pickles or use store-bought varieties.
This scandalously light pie serves as the perfect complement to any dinner, and by using some fresh lemon peel, you take the recipe to a whole new level. You can make variations of this recipe other times this year, but when you have fresh lemons to work with, why wait for this southern classic?
Fish fries and catfish go hand in hand. Honor this longstanding tradition with your very own take on the Southern Roasted Catfish. This rich and flaky fish spruces up any meal, and it is versatile enough where you can serve it as a sandwich or a standalone meal. For a good summer fish that won’t let you down, stop yourself from trying this vintage favorite.
Grape tomatoes come in season during the summer, and there is no better way to take advantage of their tart and juicy flavors by then pairing them with buttery, flaky pastry. These pies serve as the perfect finger food to snack on during a day. When you want to pamper yourself, these easy-to-make vintage staples take you anywhere you want.
Even if you don’t live along the Gulf Coast, you can still get a taste of the summer tradition with a seafood forest. Using shrimp instead of crawfish or crab can reduce costs. And by wrapping all your goodies in a foil pack, you know that each serving contains the perfect balance between vegetables and shrimp. When you can grab seafood like this, you can take full advantage of it with this recipe that has become a classic.
Strawberry lemonade makes any sunny day better, and the same goes for this iced pie. This dessert hits just the right level of sweetness and keeps the heat away from yourself on the toughest days. With such an easy recipe to follow, even the circuit judges have no difficulty getting behind this one.
Macaroni salad goes hand in hand with summer. If you’ve only tasted pre-made versions of this favorite recipe, now is the time to try your hand at an American staple.
Baked beans can save any meal when you need to find a quick and easy side dish that everyone will love. This classic roof adds dish with the age-old taste of hickory and pairs against the toughest meat you can throw at it. With such a good dish, eating any other version is a crime.
Million dollar pie has been served as a dessert for ages for a reason. This light and fluffy pie relies on cherry, pineapple and tons of whipped cream to make the fluffiest dessert experience perfect for any summer day. This recipe featured tables through the ’50s, and now it’s time to revive it and remember what made it a hit in the first place.
Summer means barbecue season, and this super-light BBQ chicken can’t be beat when you have to serve your family dinner with flavors that your grandparents loved. You can never ask for a juicier bird and you will love the minimal cooking and preparation time even more than the meal itself.
Key lime comes into season in the summer, and if you can get your hands on these smaller, more acidic limes, nothing compares to a key lime pie. With the added warmth over us, each slice can help you stay cool at any time. You are asking for the second (or fourth!) Slice.
Spoonbread is a variation on cornbread, and with fresh corn in season, now is the time to start experimenting with this recipe. If you’ve never tasted this standard before, be ready to discover the large selection of main course parties to which the spoon bread fits well. When you need a quick summer side for a family meal, this bread is the ultimate option for comfort food.
If you love gardening and have extra tomatoes available but run out of recipe ideas, what could be better than marinating them and enjoying them right off the vine? This century-old recipe has stopped for a reason – the rich juicy taste of fresh tomatoes is compared to nothing else. You hit yourself if you don’t enjoy their signature flavor at least once in the upcoming season.
When you can get fresh peas and asparagus, you can make a classic flavor pairing that goes back generations. This asparagus and pea soup provides the perfect balance between the two and makes you return in seconds.
Fried okra is a staple in the South for a reason. This crunchy take on the vegetable makes the products taste like fried green beans, and with a fun texture you can make the most beautiful eats to love this seasonal staple. Even if you hate okra, this recipe can win you in an instant.