Quick and Easy Recipes for Summer Entertaining

We typically don’t plan elaborate summer parties—we prefer impromptu get-togethers with friends. Although I love to be in the kitchen, it’s not the most social place to be when your guests are hanging out on the deck. Plus, this girl doesn’t really relish the flushed sunburn glow that comes from kitchen heat in the summer, if you get me.

When it comes to these get-togethers, I like to leave the main courses to the men and the grill. But I love to make easy, fresh side dish recipes that don’t require the use of an oven (or any other heat source, for that matter!).

When faced with last minute entertaining, I always take a simple approach to food—dips, salads and no-bake desserts full of fresh summer produce.

My go-to appetizer is homemade dill dip served with carrot and celery sticks and cherry tomatoes. Serving them up in individual shot glasses offers a little visual interest, and its grab-and-go portability makes them perfect for mingling.

When it’s hot outside, there’s nothing better than a crisp, cool salad. One of my favorites is an arugula salad with strawberries, goat cheese and almonds topped with a homemade poppyseed dressing. The beauty of this salad is that you can make it your own by interchanging the salad toppings. We also love this with spinach, feta and candied pecans—just use what you have on hand; I promise it’ll be amazing.

Finally, no party in this household is is complete without dessert. Last week, I had pineapple on hand, and I decided it would be absolutely divine folded into a simple no-bake bake dessert. A crunchy graham crust is layered with a cloud-like, pineapple-infused sweet cream cheese filling and finished with a dollop of fluffy whipped topping to create a five-star dessert in less than 10 minutes!

Summer Entertaining Recipes


Fresh Dill Dip

  • 1 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped Vidalia onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped dill weed
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

For the Dressing
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated Vidalia onion
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
For the Salad
  • 5 ounces (about 4 cups) baby arugula
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

No-Bake Pineapple Cheesecake

For the Crust:
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (see note below)
  • 12 ounces canned pineapple, pureed
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 (8 ounce) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed
For the Garnish
  • whipped topping, optional
  • fresh pineapple, optional


For the Fresh Dill Dip

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Refrigerate until well chilled.

For the Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, poppy seeds, onion, vinegars and oil. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine arugula, strawberries, goat cheese and almonds. Toss with desired amount of dressing to coat and serve immediately.

For the No-Bake Pineapple Cheesecake

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Evenly divide the crumbs between your individual serving dishes and press into the bottoms of the dishes to form a crust layer.
  2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add in pineapple and vanilla and mix to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped topping until well combined.
  3. Evenly pipe or spoon the filling into prepared individual serving dishes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.
  4. If desired, garnish with additional whipped topping and fresh pineapple.


Fresh Dill Dip Notes:

  • Serve with a variety of fresh vegetables or pumpernickel bread.

No-Bake Pineapple Cheesecake Notes:

  • I have not tried this recipe using fresh whipped cream, so I cannot attest to the results.
  • The amount of sugar you need will depend on the sweetness of your pineapple. I recommend tasting and adjusting the level of sweetness before filling your serving dishes.
  • This recipe was modified on 5/15/16 to included only canned pineapple.

This post is part of the BlogHer Summer Entertaining series, which includes 100 percent editorial content presented by a participating sponsor. Our advertisers do not produce editorial content. This post is made possible by Home Depot and BlogHer.

What are your favorite easy, no-cook side dishes for parties at your house? Share your ideas in the comments below.

83 Responses to “Quick and Easy Recipes for Summer Entertaining”

  1. Urban Wife — June 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Oooo, that fluffy cloud of pineapple is calling my name!


  2. Kara — June 27, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Such cute and fun ideas! Makes me want to rush out and pick up a bunch of shot glasses before our 4th of July gathering!! Thanks for sharing, your tips are great!


    • susanne — June 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm

      I was thinking of those clear plastic cups that are short and wide. You could even put star sticker on them for fourth of july.

    • Jamie — July 1, 2012 at 11:06 am

      Really great and festive idea, thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Elaine Kandeler — June 27, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Careful if you click on the print out for the Pineapple No-Bake Cheesecake, it prints out the recipe for Biscoff No Bake Cheesecake, instead.


    • Jamie — June 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Elaine. We are working now to resolve the issue.


    • Carol Roch — April 23, 2013 at 12:48 pm

      Where did you purchase the containers the pineapple pudding is served in? Thank you.

    • Jamie — May 18, 2013 at 9:07 am

      The glass dishes are from Pier 1 Imports – they are part of their Tasting Collection. Thanks for stopping by.

    • R.Smallacombe — June 29, 2012 at 10:52 am

      I tried to save the no bake cheesecake and it kept saving the Dill Dip recipe

    • Jamie — June 29, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      We are currently looking into the issue. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  4. Pineapple no bake cheesecake yum! I have fresh pineapple on hand, I think this needs to happen!


  5. Averie @ Averie Cooks — June 27, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    love the roundup & I do a spinach and artichoke dip in a similar way to your dill dip, which I now must try!


  6. Terri — June 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Almost every event I host has to include (as request by my guests) a super easy Chinese Chicken Salad (greens, cooked chicken, green onions, rice noodles and a homemade vinaigrette). The only cooking involved is heating the sugar and vinegar for the vinaigrette since I usually just use rotisserie chicken from the super market. Your salad/dressing looks yummy so I am going to try it one of these times for something different.


  7. These look so yummy and give me great ideas for our BBQ this coming weekend. I love the dill dip/shot glass idea. I must go find more shot glasses asap!


  8. Diane — June 27, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Oh that pineapple dessert is mouthwatering !
    Thanks for sharing I will try it and share it as well!


  9. what fun recipes for summer! i love the dill dip shooters!


  10. Lynn J — June 27, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Oh these all sound like perfect food for these hot, hot days.


  11. Julia — June 27, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Everything here looks just perfect and amazing for and kind of party!


  12. marla — June 27, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Great ideas Jamie and those salads are so cute!


  13. Ali @ Gimme Some Oven — June 27, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Your styling is always so cute!!! Love the little veggie and dip cups!


  14. Carla @ Carlas Confections — June 27, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    I am in love with the way you put the veggies in the shot glasses. So clever and absolutely adorable! Mmm, I cant wait to make that dill dip and of course the no bake cheesecake! So Yum!!!


  15. Ann P. — June 27, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Such pretty presentation! i have to remember to get little dishes like that somewhere :)


  16. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes — June 28, 2012 at 2:12 am

    I love all these ideas! Especially the salad with the strawberries…


  17. maria — June 28, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Hi Jamie – love your no-bake treats, but will whipped cream work in place of the topping (sorry, I just hate that stuff?!!)?


    • Jamie — June 28, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      Some people have had success using freshly whipped cream in place of the Cool Whip, but I have not tried it out yet – it’s on my list though and I’ll certainly post about it once I give it a whirl.

    • Kayla — June 29, 2012 at 12:01 am

      You could also use Truwhip, which doesn’t use high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils, if that makes a difference to you. I tried it recently in a no-bake pie and it’s much better than coolwhip imo. :)

    • Jamie — June 29, 2012 at 9:56 am

      Thanks for the tip, Kayla!

  18. Diane M — June 28, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    When I save this to my recipe box, it is a dill dip recipe. Please help.


    • Jamie — June 28, 2012 at 7:28 pm

      There may be an issue with Ziplist because we have entered three separate print codes. I’ll be sure to follow up with them to see if there is a way to rectify the issue. Thanks.

  19. luv what you do — June 28, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    I love summer get togethers!!!
    These recipes look as good as I”m sure they taste!


  20. carmen — June 29, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Looks adorable!! Where can I find miniature bowls?


    • Jamie — June 29, 2012 at 9:56 am

      Thanks so much for visiting. The bowls and glasses are from Pier 1 – have a great summer.

  21. Tanya — June 29, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Thank you for the great ideas! I’m curious where you found your mini glass bowls and shot glasses. The shot glasses seem wider than most I’ve seen. Thanks!


    • Jamie — June 29, 2012 at 9:55 am

      Thanks for stopping by. The bowls/glasses are from Pier 1. Hope this helps.

  22. Debbie @The Hip Hostess — June 30, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Caught my attention with each and every one! Especially loving the individual Dill Dip Dippers! So simply chic! Consider it pinned,Jamie!!


  23. Vicky V. — June 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Where can I find those cute picks you skewered with for the dill dip? They are fabulous!


  24. Stephanie — July 1, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    How fun! You are quite the hostess! May I ask where the white circular tray (under salads) and appetizer forks are from? Pier 1 as well?


    • Jamie — July 6, 2012 at 10:22 am

      The tray is also from Pier 1. Have a great day.

  25. Aimee @ Simple Bites — July 3, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    We just recently entertained with a DIY sandwich bar; very simple way to feed a gang!


  26. Elly — July 5, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    These look great – I love the presentations… can’t wait to try the pineapple
    Where can I get those picks you used for the veggie dip?
    Thank you for sharing!


    • Jamie — July 6, 2012 at 10:09 am

      I purchased the picks from Cost Plus World Market. Hope this helps.

  27. Tickled Red — July 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Love all of these but what a cute idea with the salad! I can’t wait to try that for one of our summer parties :D xoxo


  28. Debra — July 9, 2012 at 9:09 am

    refreshingly yummy


  29. I love everything here, it’s too hard to pick a favorite but that strawberry salad with poppyseed dressing looks so good! I love your presentation too. :)


  30. Felia — July 24, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Wonderful recipes, I prefer the arugula sald with strawberries with grated parmesan… wonderful dish!


  31. I am loving all of your photos and the salads. The tomatoes, carrot sticks with home-made dip are presented so beautifully!


  32. Cheryl Merritt — September 27, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    I made these cheescakes for a party…they were delicious! Used plastic wine glasses (made about 8). I used real whipped creme …I have one of those whipped creme makers with the C02 cartridges, used 250 mls or 1 cup of whipped creme. Will definitely make again, maybe will try different fruit.


    • Jamie — October 1, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      I am so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe – thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback! Have a great day!

  33. Pam — January 2, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    My mom has made this since I was a child and it is WAY better with whip cream! :)


  34. Carol — January 26, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    5 ounces (about 4 cups) baby arugula

    Are you sure this is right? How can 5 oz. be 4 cups? This is from the strawberry salad.


  35. Kelly — February 4, 2013 at 6:44 am

    That cheesecake looks delicious! Just pinned it. :-)


  36. Kelly — February 4, 2013 at 6:45 am

    That cheesecake looks delicious! Just pinned it. :-)


  37. Tracy Wilcox — March 24, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Where did u get those little dishes the ones the salad is in?


    • MBA — April 11, 2013 at 5:57 pm

      I got those dishes at Pier One. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

  38. Kate — April 30, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    Can I use canned pineapple or does it really have to be fresh? Would another fruit (like strawberries) work in it’s place?


    • Jamie — May 18, 2013 at 8:57 am

      I have never attempted this recipe with canned pineapple. I definitely think other fruits would work, in face I have a raspberry lemon version here on MBA. I hope this helps.

    • Diane — May 27, 2013 at 1:19 am

      I made these little cheesecakes today using canned crushed pineapple because I had such a craving after seeing the pics, and that’s all I had on hand! I thought it might be too ‘wet’ to just drain and add to the filling, so I cooked it down with a little sugar til all the liquid was gone. Cooled it completely, then added it to the cream cheese filling. Delicious, and the little dishes are so cute! Maybe, next time I’ll have fresh pineapple.

  39. Niccole — June 14, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Can you make the Pineapple no bake cheesecake a day in advance


    • Jamie — September 13, 2013 at 7:46 pm

      Hi Niccole,
      Yes, that should be fine.
      – Jamie

  40. Hennie — June 16, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    Not sure what happened but I followed this recipe exactly with a VERY ripe pineapple and it was so bitter and awful my whole family couldn’t finish it. The mix going into the prepared cups was quite tasty but something changed while it cooled and it was a bad mix of acid and dairy and made us gag. Presentation was beautiful.


    • Jamie — September 13, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      Hi Hennie,
      This can sometimes happen if your pineapple has a very high amount of acid. 9 times out of 10, it’s fine, but that 10th time, the acid from the pineapple can sort of.. curdle milk products. I’m really sorry that happened. I didn’t know it was a possibility until long after I posted the recipe, and most people haven’t had a problem, so I left it up.
      – Jamie

  41. francoise24 — June 28, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    oh, comment faire pour le traduire !! ces recettes sont si appétissantes !!! donnez moi la marche à suivre SVP !!
    Un bonjour de France !!!!!!!


  42. Trifa — July 6, 2013 at 5:22 am

    Hi i was just wondering, where have you bought the glass pitcher that contains the dressing?


    • Jamie — September 13, 2013 at 7:26 pm

      Hi Trifa,
      Unfortunately, I purchased that pitcher at a flea market. I’m not sure where you’d find it again.
      – Jamie

    • Jamie — September 13, 2013 at 7:30 pm

      Forgive me! I just realized that pitcher is from Pier 1. I have a similar one from a flea market too.
      – Jamie

  43. Donna — August 30, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    Where did you purchase the cute little glass serving dishes with the salad and cheesecake in them?


    • Jamie — September 13, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      Hi Donna,
      Those are from Pier 1. Thanks for stopping by!

  44. Yvette — September 5, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    I was wondering do you have to use fresh pineapple or can I use canned crushed pineapple?


    • Jamie — September 13, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      I haven’t tried it with canned pineapple, but I’m sure it would work. Canned pineapple tends to be sweeter, so you might want to dial back the quantity of puree you add to the cheesecake layer, and just taste it. If it’s not sweet enough, go ahead and add the whole amount.

  45. Ashley — May 30, 2014 at 10:04 am

    How big are the veggie shot glasses. I don’t know if I should buy 1 oz, 1.5 oz or 2 oz (because a bit of width is needed for the cherry tomatos


    • Jamie — July 3, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      I no longer have the box, but I think they are 2 ounce glasses.

  46. Yasmin — June 22, 2014 at 12:07 am

    Can you use canned pineapple?


    • Jamie — June 26, 2014 at 11:04 pm

      Yasmin, I’m sure that would be fine.
      – Jamie

  47. deb — November 20, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    This looks really wonderful! Can’t wait until summertime.

    Thank you


    • Jamie — November 20, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Deb!

  48. Colleen McClelland — February 20, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    I don’t know where my friend got the idea but she is making the carrot, celery & tomato with a ranch dip tomorrow for a bridal shower along with other food. She is using the small quilted jelly jars for containers. She makes jelly & jam so after another shower she is hosting (maybe there are other showers, too) she will use them for her jams and jellies, I assume. Another idea for containers.


    • Jamie — February 24, 2015 at 9:48 am

      The jars would be perfect for dips. Thanks so much for visiting.


  49. Maureen — June 9, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    I have tried other recipes substituting real whipped cream and although the taste was there, they didn’t set as well. I’ll be making these for my next turn to host. Thank you!!


    • Jamie — June 14, 2015 at 5:45 pm

      I hope you get the chance to try them. Thanks for visiting.


  50. Rita — June 13, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    I’ve made your pineapple dessert, 3 times now, always a hit. I didn’t have bowls/ramikens the correct size so, I purchased plastic champagne flutes from our local dollar store. I made two layers in each flute, separating the layers, with slices of fresh strawberries, topped the top layer with a dollop of the cool whip, and immediately before serving I sprinkled just a wee pinch of cinnamon. Delicious!!! Making them for Fathers Day, again, next week. Thanks, I must try the dip and salad, too.


    • Jamie — June 14, 2016 at 12:17 pm

      That’s great, Rita! I love the champagne flute idea!

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