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42 Summer Lunch Ideas That’ll Brighten Your Day

The best summer lunch ideas are colorful, flavorful and nutritious! You'll enjoy these cheery dishes all season long.

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Pesto Corn Salad with Shrimp

This recipe showcases the beautiful bounty of summer with its fresh corn, tomatoes and delicious basil. Prevent browning by placing plastic wrap directly on the salad or spritzing with lemon juice. —Deena Bowen, Chico, California

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Slow Cooked Chicken Caesar Wraps Exps Scm2bz20 191086 E01 22 7b 13

Slow-Cooked Chicken Caesar Wraps

I first made these slow-cooker chicken Caesar wraps for our daughter, who loves Caesar salads, then later for our extended family on vacation. It's such an easy meal—perfect for days when you'd rather be outside than inside cooking all day. —Christine Hadden, Whitman, Massachusetts
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Grilled Brats With Sriracha Mayo Exps Sdjj17 166036 D02 14 2b 3

Grilled Brats with Sriracha Mayo

I am a Sriracha fanatic, so that’s what inspired this dish. You can boil the brats in your favorite beer to reduce the fat and give them flavor before grilling, or spread garlic butter on lightly toasted buns. —Quincie Ball, Olympia, Washington
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Chicken Parmesan Burgers

A restaurant-quality burger that's topped with marinara and loaded with cheese—what's not to love? Fresh basil adds even more flavor. —Brooke Petras, Alpine, California
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Garden Fresh Grilled Veggie Pizza Exps Sdjj18 215090 B02 13 3b 5

Garden-Fresh Grilled Veggie Pizza

I have four gardens, including one just for herbs, so I always have a pretty good spread of produce. I created this loaded-up pizza as a fun summer appetizer using some of my best garden goodies. —Dianna Wara, Washington, Illinois
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Shrimp Po'Boys with Pineapple Slaw

Shrimp Po'Boys with Pineapple Slaw

This twist on the traditional po'boy sandwich adds flavor and veggies while reducing fat and calories. For a smoked flavor, grill the shrimp. For a lower-carb option, serve the po'boy open-faced on a baguette half. —Melissa Pelkey Hass, Waleska, Georgia
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Chicken Nectarine And Avocado Salad Exps Bfbz19 200496 B01 16 1b 1

Chicken, Nectarine and Avocado Salad

This salad is really summery and comes together very quickly. Using granola adds crunch and makes it different. I've tried using a various types of granola, and our favorites have been those that aren't overly sweet but have lots of nuts. —Elisabeth Larsen, Pleasant Grove, Utah
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Coconut Chicken And Shrimp Exps Thfm18 203587 C09 15 7b 6

Coconut Chicken and Shrimp

I was looking for a fun, easy weeknight dinner based on our favorite shrimp dish that was healthier than fast food. This has become a favorite! —Susan Seymour, Valatie, New York
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Tangy Cilantro Lime Confetti Salad Exps Tohas19 175298 E04 19 4b 9

Tangy Cilantro Lime Confetti Salad

I love standout salads that burst with flavor—the kind that make you feel as if you're splurging without having to eat that piece of chocolate cake. This is one of my very favorites, and everyone I serve it to loves it as well. —Jasey McBurnett, Rock Springs, Wyoming
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Wisconsin Butter Basted Burgers Exps Thsum18 205850 D02 02 5b Wo Beer 120

Wisconsin Butter-Basted Burgers

It’s no secret that Wisconsinites love their dairy—so much that they sometimes top their burgers with a generous pat of butter. My recipe is a lot like the butter burgers you’ll find in popular restaurants all over the state. —Becky Carver, North Royalton, Ohio
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Tequila Lime Shrimp Zoodles Exps Hck19 207696 C09 21 1b 7

Tequila Lime Shrimp Zoodles

This tangy shrimp is a smart way to cut carbs without sacrificing flavor. If you don't have a spiralizer, use thinly julienned zucchini to get a similar effect. —Brigette Schroeder, Yorkville, Illinois
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Jim S Secret Family Recipe Ribs Exps Thjj17 200278 C02 08 1b 6

Jim's Secret Family Recipe Ribs

For more than 30 years, my brother-in-law Jim kept his famous rib recipe a secret. When he finally shared it, we just had to pass it along because we loved it so much. This one's for you, Jim! —Vicki Young, Brighton, Colorado
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Southern Fried BLT

I’m really not big on tomatoes—but I do like them green and fried, so I decided to try them in a sandwich. It was a smash! If you’ve gotta have cheese, add sharp cheddar to this indulgent twist on the traditional BLT. —Stacy King, Rome, Georgia
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Garden Stuffed Zucchini Boats Exps Thsum18 194344 D02 01 10b 8

Garden-Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Not only are these boats a delightful way to get your veggies, they're basically a one-dish meal that covers all the bases—just grab your favorite garden goodies and add any spices or mix-ins you like. —Janie Zirbser, Mullica Hill, New Jersey
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Grandma S Baked Ham Sandwiches Exps Ft20 243213 F 0211 1 2

Grandma's Baked Ham Salad Sandwiches

This is another tried-and-true recipe I found in my grandma's recipe box. I love seeing her handwriting on faded notecards. — Crystal Jo Bruns, Iliff, Colorado
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Grilled Watermelon Gazpacho Exps Thjj17 200465 C02 08 2b

Grilled Watermelon Gazpacho

This is the perfect starter for a summer dinner or a lunch meal. It's cool and tangy with a whole lot of great grilled flavor. If you like a little more spice, just add more jalapenos. —George Levinthal, Goleta, California
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Dilly Chickpea Salad Sandwiches Exps Tohjj20 190103 B02 06 10b 14

Dilly Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

These chickpea salad sandwiches are super flavorful and contain less fat and cholesterol than chicken salad. They make delightful picnic sandwiches. —Deanna McDonald, Muskegon, Michigan
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Fabulous Fajitas Exps Toh2018 208035 B10 24 5b 3

Pressure-Cooker Fabulous Fajitas

When friends call to ask for new recipes to try, suggest these tasty fajitas. Top as you like to add healthy color and extra flavor. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Jalapeno Popper Corn Salad Exps Thjj18 212318 C01 31  2b 125

Jalapeno Popper Corn Salad

I created this recipe for a wedding I was catering, and it's a good thing I made buckets of it, because I couldn't stop eating it! This chilled creamy salad combines all the best flavors of jalapeno poppers with the delicate sweetness of fresh corn. —Amanda Miller, Hutchinson, Kansas
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Hasselback Tomato Clubs

This no-fuss, no-bread riff on a classic is perfect during tomato season. Make it for lunch or pair with pasta salad for a light dinner. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Classic Cobb Salad Exps Thfm17 4728 D09 27 4b 2

Classic Cobb Salad

Making this salad is a lot like putting in a garden. I “plant” everything in nice, neat sections, just as I do with seedlings. —Patricia Kile, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
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Key Lime Coconut Smoothie Bowl Exps Tohjj20 242694 E02 06 3b 4

Lime Coconut Smoothie Bowl

This Key lime and coconut smoothie bowl is the most refreshing thing on the planet! —Madeline Butler, Denver, Colorado
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Pressure Cooker Carolina Style Vinegar Bbq Chicken Exps206286 Esc143234b04 15 2b Rms 3

Pressure-Cooker Carolina-Style Vinegar BBQ Chicken

I live in Georgia but I appreciate the tangy, sweet and slightly spicy taste of Carolina vinegar chicken. —Ramona Parris, Acworth, Georgia
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Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches

Grill this eggplant, tomato and goat cheese sandwich to perfection...it makes a delicious meatless meal. —Jennifer Jaras, Corona, California
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Denver Omelet Salad Exps Tham18 205824 D11 07 14b 5

Denver Omelet Salad

I love this recipe. It may not be your typical breakfast, but it has all the right elements. Plus, it’s easy, healthy and fast. Just turn your favorite omelet ingredients into a morning salad! —Pauline Custer, Duluth, Minnesota
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Kimchi Cauliflower Fried Rice Exps Tohescodr20 246006 E03 17 2b 13

Kimchi Cauliflower Fried Rice

This healthier take on kimchi fried rice is one of my favorite recipes because it's customizable. If there's a vegetarian in the family, leave out the bacon and add your favorite veggies. —Stefanie Schaldenbrand, Los Angeles, California
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Baked Chicken With Bacon Tomato Relish Exps Sdas18 206099 C03 28  6b 9

Baked Chicken with Bacon-Tomato Relish

We eat a lot of chicken for dinner, so I'm always trying to do something a little different with it. My children love the crispiness of this chicken, and my husband and I love the flavorful relish—you can't go wrong with bacon! —Elisabeth Larsen, Pleasant Grove, Utah
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Strawberry Feta Tossed Salad Exps Sdam18 24185 B11 30 11b

Strawberry Feta Tossed Salad

A neighbor served this wonderful salad at a summer barbecue. I’ve since experimented with many ingredient combinations, but this one draws the most compliments. I took it to a baby shower, and not a seed was left in the bowl. —Lisa Lesinski-Topp, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
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Broccoli Cheeseburgers with Spicy Sweet Potatoes

These faux burgers are so packed with flavor that nobody notices they're also packed with protein, fiber and vitamins. —Pamela Vachon, Astoria, New York
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Fresh Corn Tomato Fettuccine Exps62740 Th2847295b03 06 1bc Rms 3

Fresh Corn and Tomato Fettuccine

This recipe combines delicious whole wheat pasta with the best of fresh garden produce. It's tossed with heart-healthy olive oil, and a little feta cheese gives it bite. —Angela Spengler, Tampa, Florida
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Comforting Tuna Patties Exps Toham20 243811 E11 08 6b 21

Comforting Tuna Patties

My grandmother and mother made these tuna patties on Fridays during Lent. I'm not the biggest fan of tuna, but it's perfect in this dish. These patties are even good cold the next day, if there are any leftovers. —Ann Marie Eberhart, Gig Harbor, Washington
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Easy Citrus Seafood Salad Exps Tohjj20 242786 E02 05 1b 6

Easy Seafood Salad

This easy seafood salad was inspired by a dish I had in the Bahamas that featured conch. I substituted crab and shrimp and like it even more! —Cindy Heyd, Edmond, Oklahoma
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Pressure Cooker Tequila Salsa Chicken Exps Ft20 251253 F 0306 1 1

Pressure-Cooker Tequila Salsa Chicken

I had this dish at a local Mexican restaurant when celebrating a friend's birthday. I fell in love with the spicy, smoky flavor from the tequila and decided to try Instant Pot salsa chicken at home. Boy, was it a success! It's also great stuffed into flour tortillas or for making nachos. —Trisha Kruse, Eagle, Idaho
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Cuban Sandwich Burgers Exps Ft20 228593 F 0114 1 2

Cuban Sandwich Burgers

My mom would make these Cuban burgers when we would visit her in Florida. They are a take on the real Cuban sandwich. My kids love them. My boys could eat two of these monsters in one sitting. —Marina Castle Kelley, Canyon Country, California
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Grilled Garden Veggie Pizza

Pile on the veggies—this crisp, grilled crust can take it! This colorful, healthy pizza looks as fresh as it tastes. —Diane Halferty, Corpus Christi, Texas
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Sesame Beef Asparagus Salad Exps Thfm17 2708 D09 27 7b 6

Sesame Beef & Asparagus Salad

Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies—especially when it comes to experimenting with fresh ingredients like these. This meaty salad is wonderful at the start of asparagus season. —Tamara Steeb, Issaquah, Washington
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Pressure Cooker Taco Pasta Exps Ft20 212738 F 0305 1 1

Instant Pot Taco Pasta

This Instant Pot taco pasta is a welcome change from boring meals. I've taken all the flavors of tacos and created an easy pasta dish. Kids love the taste, and Mom loves how quick and easy it comes together. To lighten things up, use ground turkey. —Christine Hadden, Whitman, Massachusetts
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Sourdough Bread Bowl Sandwich Exps Hca19 203706 C08 01 5b 3

Sourdough Bread Bowl Sandwich

I created this recipe for when my husband and I go to the lake. I don’t like to spend a lot of time hovering over a stove or grill, especially in the hot Oklahoma summer months, and this filling sourdough bread bowl sandwich is ready in minutes. For extra flavor, brush melted garlic and herb butter over the top prior to cooking. —Shawna Welsh-Garrison, Owasso, Oklahoma
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Golden Beet and Peach Soup with Tarragon

One summer we had a bumper crop of peaches from our two trees, so I had fun experimenting with different recipes. After seeing a beet soup recipe in a cookbook, I changed it a bit to include our homegrown golden beets and sweet peaches. —Sue Gronholz, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
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Peach Mango Caprese Salad Exps Sdjj19 234712 B02 05 6b 2

Peach Mango Caprese Salad

Summer in the Midwest offers a bounty of fresh produce. I wanted to come up with something new from the harvest, and this bright, flavorful salad is the refreshing end result. —Richard A Robinson, Park Forest, Illinois
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Pressure Cooker Smoked Salmon And Dill Penne Exps Ft20 245065 F 0228 1 13

Pressure-Cooker Smoked Salmon Pasta

I love making one-pot pastas in my pressure cooker. Every noodle soaks up the flavors of the delicious ingredients. I tried a version with some leftover smoked fish and fresh dill, and boom—this smoked salmon pasta was born. It's now a staple in our house because the dish is on the table in a half hour and the kids love it! —Shannon Dobos, Calgary, Alberta
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All American Hamburgers Exps Thjj17 29321 D02 03 5b

All-American Hamburgers

We do a lot of camping and outdoor cooking. This all-American, homemade hamburger recipe is on our menu more than any other food. —Diane Hixon, Niceville, Florida

Christina Herbst
Christina is an Assistant Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in content creation and SEO optimization. She enjoys trying out local foodie restaurants and coffeehouses and adding copious amounts of garlic and cheese to any recipe she can get her hands on.
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