46 Light Summer Desserts That are Kind to Your Waistline

Updated: Jul. 24, 2024

A delicious, summery dessert for less than 350 calories per serving? You bet! These light summer desserts offer big taste and no guilt.

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Old-Fashioned Whoopie Pies

Who can resist soft chocolate sandwich cookies filled with a layer of fluffy white frosting? Mom has made these light summer desserts for years. They never last very long with me and my two brothers around. —Maria Costello, Monroe, North Carolina

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Star-Spangled Parfaits

The best time for this dessert is midsummer, when the blueberries are thick in our northern woods. Red raspberries can be added to the mixed berries, too, to brighten the patriotic colors. —Anne Theriault, Wellesley, Massachusetts

Try some of our favorite Memorial Day desserts!

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Summer Squash Pound Cake

This golden brown, tender pound cake is the perfect light summer dessert to make when you have an abundance of summer squash in your garden. It’s not overly sweet, so it appeals to everyone. —Lisa Brockwell, Necedah, Wisconsin. Eating healthier doesn’t have to mean giving up sweets entirely. Try these delicious skinny desserts.
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Peach Melba Trifle

This light summer dessert tastes extra good on a busy day, because you can make it ahead of time! If you don’t have fresh peaches handy, subbing three cups of the canned ones works, too. —Christina Moore, Casar, North Carolina
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Quick Mango Sorbet

Last summer, I decided to try my hand at making a passion fruit and mango sorbet. But fresh fruits require more prep and are difficult to find ripened at the same time. So I experimented using frozen fruit and juice, and voila! Both are readily available and inexpensive too. —Carol Klein, Franklin Square, New York
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Blueberry Pie with Graham Cracker Crust

We live in blueberry country and this pie is a perfect way to showcase the luscious berries. A neighbor made this pie for us when we had a death in the family several years ago. Our whole family enjoys it. —R. Ricks, Kalamazoo, Michigan
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Yogurt-Ricotta Cheesecake

I have always liked Italian ricotta cheesecakes, but they have too much sugar for me. I made a light version, and my family couldn’t even tell the difference! I serve mine with sugar-free strawberry ice cream topping and fresh strawberries. —Diane Shipley, Mentor, Ohio
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Very Blueberry Clafoutis

This blueberry clafouti is somewhere between a fruit-filled pancake and a fruity egg custard. Wrong season for fresh berries? Use frozen berries thawed in a colander and discard the juice. —Ken Hulme, Venice, Florida
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Roasted Grape and Sweet Cheese Phyllo Galette

Faced with an abundant grape crop, I created this easy, impressive-looking dessert. I like to add a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of coarse sugar to finish it off. —Kallee Krong-McCreery, Escondido, California
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Healthy Blackberry Cobbler

This tasty treat has helped my family stay healthy, lose weight and still be able to enjoy dessert! Other kinds of berries or even fresh peaches are just as delicious in this cobbler. —Leslie Browning of Lebanon, Kentucky
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Strawberry Lemon Trifle

This refreshingly fruity dessert is one of our favorites. It looks so beautiful layered in a glass bowl that people will think it took ages to make. The secret is starting with a purchased angel food cake. —Lynn Marie Frucci, Pullman, Washington
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Spiced Peach Cobbler

When you tuck into this warm and comforting fresh peach cobbler, you won’t miss the extra fat and calories a bit! —Mary E. Relyea, Canastota, New York
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Lemonade Icebox Pie

You will detect a definite lemonade flavor in this refreshing lemon icebox pie. High and fluffy, this dessert has a creamy smooth consistency that we really appreciate. It’s the dessert that came to mind immediately when I put together my favorite summer meal. —Cheryl Wilt, Eglon, West Virginia
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Makeover Peach Upside-Down Cake

This peachy delight has charmed folks for years. Our lightened version is even better with less fat and calories than other similar recipes.—Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Mocha-Hazelnut Glazed Angel Food Cake

I love this recipe because it combines three of my favorite flavors: coffee, hazelnuts and cherries. It’s the perfect light summer dessert! —Joan Pecsek, Chesapeake, Virginia
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Banana Pudding

I didn’t see my son, Lance Corporal Eric Harris, for more than two years after he enlisted in the Marines after high school. And when I saw him arrive at the airport, I just grabbed hold of him and burst out crying. When we got home, the first thing he ate was two bowls of my easy banana pudding recipe. He’s a true southern boy! It’s a light dessert, but you can have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. —Stephanie Harris, Montpelier, Virginia
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Fudge Sundae Pie

My son always asks for this guilt-free frozen yogurt pie for his birthday. Complete with peanut butter, fudge topping and nuts, it tastes ice cream parlor–good … but it's healthier. —Margaret Hanson-Maddox, Montpelier, Indiana
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Bread Pudding Pie

This unique dessert is a bread pudding-pie combo. It was created by my paternal grandmother’s family. They had a farm and made their own bread, which made this a low-cost dessert. — Kelly Barnes, Lexington, Indiana
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Fluffy Key Lime Pie

For a taste of paradise, try this no-bake Key lime pie recipe. It’s low in fat, sugar and fuss. It truly is the best light summer dessert! —Frances VanFossan, Warren, Michigan
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Cherry Plum Slab Pie with Walnut Streusel

I love to make desserts with fruit all summer! You can use store-bought crusts or make your own. I recommend stacking your two pie crusts on top of each other and then rolling them to the correct size. —Elisabeth Larsen, Pleasant Grove, Utah
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Buttermilk Peach Ice Cream

My mother's family owned peach orchards in Missouri. I currently live in Tennessee, a top consumer of buttermilk. This summery ice cream combines my past and present. —Kim Higginbotham, Knoxville, Tennessee
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Almond Cherry Cobbler

This bubbling cherry cobbler is one of my favorite dishes. Serve the light summer dessert warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. —Melissa Wagner, Eden Prairie, Minnesota
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Glazed Chocolate Angel Food Cake

A drizzling of rich chocolate glaze lends an elegant touch and will keep guests wanting more. With only 3g of fat per slice, this is one treat you'll want to see year after year! —Mary Relyea, Canastota, New York
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Patriotic Frozen Delight

My husband and I pick lots of fruit at berry farms in the area and freeze it to enjoy all year long. This light summer dessert showcases both blueberries and strawberries and has a refreshing lemon flavor. —Bernice Russ, Bladenboro, North Carolina
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Lemon-Berry Shortcake

This simple lemon shortcake is tender and not overly sweet. Enjoy this summertime classic with a generous layer of whipped topping and berries. —Meryl Herr, Overland Park, Kansas
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Coconut Orange Slice Cookies

This is a family recipe that was handed down to me. The coconut and orange combination gives them a distinctive taste unlike any other cookie I’ve had. They’re perfect for summer! —Patricia Ann Stickler, Durand, Michigan
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Lemon Berry Dump Cake

This sweet-tart cake recipe is so much fun to make with my grandkids. They love just “dumping it all in” and watching it magically become a pretty, delicious dessert. —Nancy Heishman, Las Vegas, Nevada
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Streuseled Zucchini Bundt Cake

Inspired by an abundance of zucchini, I found a new way to use it up in this spiced and lightly sweet summer dessert. It even won a blue ribbon at our county fair! —Regina Stock, Topeka, Kansas
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Lemon Raspberry Buckle

I've given a fresh summery twist to the classic blueberry buckle everyone loves by replacing the blueberries for raspberries (my favorite) and adding sweet and tart lemon curd. This berry buckle cake recipe tastes great with vanilla ice cream! —Jenna Fleming, Lowville, New York

Spice up your summer BBQ with some of our best recipes!

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Coconut Nutella Brownies

My parents were coming over for dinner, and I wanted to create a fast go-to brownie. My mom loves coconut and chocolate, so I thought these Nutella brownies would be the perfect treat. —Danielle Lee, West Palm Beach, Florida
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Tropical Crisp

One bite of this sweet, juicy, crunchy crisp, and you just might hear the crash of the ocean and feel warm sand under your toes! —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake

Angel food cake is everyone’s favorite blank slate for making awesome desserts. Serve it with a simple glaze or pile on fresh fruit, chocolate sauce or nutty sprinkles. —Leah Rekau, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Skillet Blueberry Slump

My mother-in-law made a slump of wild blueberries with dumplings and served it warm with a pitcher of farm cream. We’ve been enjoying slump desserts for 60 years. —Eleanore Ebeling, Brewster, Minnesota
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Makeover Lemon Pound Cake

For this lovely golden cake, I use fat-free yogurt to trim the calories. It’s a light summer dessert for days when you can dine outside. —Lauren Gilmore, Pennington, New Jersey
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Sea Salt Mint White Mocha Cookies

This recipe came from my mom’s Grandma Alice, who taught her how to bake. Grandma Alice always had a fresh plate of warm cookies on her counter. I learned some of her recipes by heart as a child, and I’ve been making these since high school. They taste like summer. —Kristin Bowers, Rancho Palos Verdes, California
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Raspberry Sorbet

With an abundant crop of fresh raspberries from the backyard, it's no wonder why I rely on this dessert for a tasty, no-fuss frozen dessert. —Karen Bailey, Golden, Colorado
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S’mores Brownies

My family simply adores my daughter’s fudgy s’mores brownies. The cinnamon graham cracker crust and the dark chocolate brownies bring our passion for s’mores to a whole new level! —Jennifer Gilbert, Brighton, Michigan
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Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes

My granddaughter Sydney has acquired a love of baking. While I was visiting her in Tampa, we made these light summer desserts. She’s a natural—they turned out fantastic! —Lonnie Hartstack, Clarinda, Iowa
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Watermelon Vodka Sorbet

This icy granita is a cooling delight on a hot summer day. This is an adults only goody. You can use watermelon vodka for plain vodka if you like. —Rebekah Beyer, Sabetha, Kansas
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Rhubarb Mandarin Crisp

An attractive dessert, this crisp is also a popular breakfast dish at our house, served with a glass of milk rather than topped with ice cream. Because it calls for lots of rhubarb, it’s a great use for the bounty you harvest. —Rachael Vandendool, Barry’s Bay, Ontario
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Pineapple Pretzel Fluff

I often bring this light summer dessert salad to potlucks, and everyone goes crazy for the sweet and crunchy combination. Be sure to add the pretzel mixture right before serving to keep it crispy. —Beth Olby, Ashland, Wisconsin

Check out some of our other summer side dishes!

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake

Years ago, I added some zucchini to a peanut butter bar I had created, and this time I wanted to try adding it to a cake. The zucchini makes the cake super moist but doesn’t get in the way of the chocolate and peanut butter goodness. —Marilyn Blankschien, Clintonville, Wisconsin
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Pineapple Cherry Cake

When our granddaughter visits on weekends, I try to find something fun for her to do. This light summer dessert is super simple for her to fix. —Melissa Defauw, Auburn Hills, Michigan
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Cookies ‘n’ Cream Berry Desserts

This light dessert makes an especially pretty final course in the summer. With berries, a creamy topping and a sprinkle of meringue cookies, it always earns praise. —Lily Julow, Lawrenceville, Georgia
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Orange Dream Angel Food Cake

A basic angel food cake becomes a heavenly indulgence, thanks to a hint of orange flavor swirled into every bite. The orange color makes slices of the cake look so pretty when arranged on individual dessert plates.—Lauren Osborne, Holtwood, Pennsylvania