The Easiest-Ever Summer Dinner Party Menu

What’s cooler than a backyard summer party? A whole menu that you can pull together without switching on the oven. Use our heat-beating strategies at your next cookout!
By Rachael Ray Every Day ,

Photography by Christopher Testani

Get the menu!

Cherry-Tomato Bruschetta

Photography by Christopher Testani

For a super-easy app, rub toasted baguette slices with raw garlic cloves, then top with chopped cherry tomatoes, basil, and a drizzle of EVOO.

Recipe: Try our Cherry-Tomato Bruschetta

Smoky Zucchini-Tahini Dip with Pine Nuts

Photography by Christopher Testani

You can grill your zucchini the day before, then pop it in the refrigerator. When it's go-time, puree it with tahini, garlic, lemon zest and juice and top it with pine nuts.

Recipe: Try our Smoky Zucchini-Tahini Dip with Pine Nuts

Coriander-Fennel Grilled Lamb with Herby Sauce

Photography by Christopher Testani

Recipe: Try our Coriander-Fennel Grilled Lamb with Herby Sauce

Photography by Christopher Testani

Grilling can be tedious (and hot!), so get that out of the way before the party. You can grill the lamb and the zucchini for the dip a day ahead. An hour or two before guests arrive, puree the zucchini and the other dip ingredients in the food processor. Let the lamb sit for about 30 minutes at room temperature, then slice and arrange on a platter with the herby sauce.

Raw Beet Slaw with Lemon-Dill Ricotta

Photography by Christopher Testani

Beets are often served cooked, but did you know that if you cut them thinly, they’re delicious raw? Stir a few ingredients into some ricotta, artfully spread it on a platter, top with those beets—and you’re done!

Recipe: Try our Raw Beet Slaw with Lemon-Dill Ricotta

Marinated Cannellini Bean Salad

Photography by Christopher Testani

Marinades add flavor and also buy you time. While the beans soak in the delicious dressing, you can grab a glass of wine (or put on your party dress).

Recipe: Try our Marinated Cannellini Bean Salad

Aperol Slushie Spritzers

Photography by Christopher Testani

Nothing says “party” like a blender drink. But instead of using ice, freeze your mixed drink in ice cube trays. Then when it’s go time, toss the spiked cubes in the blender, whiz ’em up, and top them with sparkling wine. Cool, right?

Recipe: Try our Aperol Slushie Spritzers

Arnold Palmers

Photography by Christopher Testani

It’s always nice to offer a nonalcoholic drink at a party, and the Arnold Palmer, that classic mixture of iced tea and lemonade, is the perfect summer sipper. Make it easier for you (and more fun for your guests) by setting up a make-your-own bar. Here’s what you need.

What you'll need:

Iced tea, lemonade, ice, and glasses

The ratio:

Arnold Palmer, the legendary golfer who invented the drink, preferred about a quarter to a third of lemonade in his drink. But there truly is no wrong way to make an Arnold Palmer!

Bonus items: Choose one…or all!

  • Lime and orange wedges, cuz it doesn’t have to be lemon
  • Berries for color and flavor
  • A small plate of sugar for rimming glasses
  • Fresh herbs—mint is a natural, but rosemary and thyme would be tasty, too.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream with Blackberry Swirl

Photography by Christopher Testani

Sometimes you should let the professionals do the heavy lifting. Take ice cream, for example. Start with a basic flavor, then make it your own by stirring in jam, toasted nuts, hot fudge or caramel sauce, sprinkles, crumbled cookies…or whatever else you like! (That’s our butter pecan–blackberry jam combo above.) This recipe is so easy, the kids can make it!

Recipe: Try our Butter Pecan Ice Cream with Blackberry Swirl

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