Fresh Summer Appetizer Ideas

Get great summer appetizer ideas featuring summer’s best ingredients to serve at warm-weather cookouts and poolside parties.

  • Roasted Roma Tomatoes on Toast
    James Carrier

    Roasted Roma Tomatoes on Toast

    Roasting, an easy technique, leaves tomatoes juicy while intensifying their flavor. Add lemon cheese and place atop olive-oil toast for an elegant starter.
  • <p>Roasted Tricolored Peppers and Goat Cheese</p>

    Roasted Tricolored Peppers and Goat Cheese

    When making this height-of-summer appetizer, reader Elizabeth Sfatcu suggests roasting extra peppers and saving them in the freezer. "They come in handy for a quick salad," she says. "I'm happy I can skip the roasting and peeling part the second time."
  • Grilled Okra and Tomato Skewers
    Howard L. Puckett

    Grilled Okra and Tomato Skewers

    Feature two summer produce stars—fresh okra and tomatoes—together in this colorful grilled appetizer. This is a great appetizer for entertaining because you can assemble the skewers the night before and brush the oil mixture on just before grilling.
  • Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños
    Photo: Raymond Hom; Styling: Pamela Duncan Silver

    Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños

    The rich and creamy combination of bacon, cream cheese, and cheddar is a nice foil for the muted spice of grilled jalapeño peppers. This recipe is a healthy, fresh alternative to the popular breaded and fried version.
  • Summer Fruit Salad
    Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Buffy Hargett

    Summer Fruit Salad

    Turn fruit salad into a first course appetizer by combining fresh fruit with avocado, cilantro and arugula, and serving in small glasses or cups as a portable salad.
  • <p>Blackberry Brie Pizzettas</p>

    Blackberry-Brie Pizzettas

    At happy hour, pair these appetizer-size pizzas with a chilly glass of rosé. For an entrée, simply roll dough into larger rounds.

  • Eggplant Crostini
    Photo: John Autry; Styling: Mindi Shapiro

    Eggplant Crostini

    Top toasted baguette slices with fresh grilled and chopped eggplant, arugula, tomato and fresh mint for a fresh-from-the-garden appetizer.
  • Late-Summer Vegetables with Aioli
    Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Emma Star Jensen

    Late-Summer Vegetables with Aioli

    Make use of summer's bounty of vegetables with this stunning salad. Designed to focus on the colors, textures, and flavors of late summer produce, this dish combines raw and cooked veggies for variety.
  • Pickled Grapes With Rosemary and Chiles
    Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Styling: Missie Neville Crawford

    Pickled Grapes With Rosemary and Chiles

    Add these gorgeous spicy-tart grapes to an antipasto platter or cheese plate or stir them into a summer salad. Prep is only 10 minutes and the “pickling” happens in the refrigerator in just a few hours.
  • Fire-Seared Antipasto Platter
    Photo: Randy Mayor; Stylist: Leigh Ann Ross

    Fire-Seared Antipasto Platter

    Arrange garden-fresh grilled veggies—eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, and onion—on a platter alongside an assortment of thinly sliced cheese and meats for an easy, colorful appetizer tray.
  • Melon, Mozzarella, and Prosciutto Skewers
    Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Lisa Powell Bailey

    Melon, Mozzarella, and Prosciutto Skewers

    Keep entertaining simple with this 4-ingredient appetizer featuring fresh melon, prosciutto, and fresh mozzarella balls.
  • Shrimp-and-Blue Cheese Spread
    Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Styling: Lisa Powell Bailey

    Shrimp-and-Blue Cheese Spread

    Make a creamy dip by adding a mixture of blue cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, and cream cheese to chopped fresh shrimp. Serve with an assortment of fresh veggies and baguette slices.
  • Roasted Corn Salsa

    Roasted Corn Salsa

    Fresh corn, tomatoes, onions, and parsley are tossed with a sweet-hot vinaigrette to make this favorite summertime salsa. Pair with tortilla chips for a colorful appetizer or serve alongside grilled burgers, chicken, or ribs.
  • <p>Asian Slaw with Egg Roll Crackers</p>

    Asian Slaw with Egg Roll Crackers

    A gorgeous presentation of shredded crunchy veggies makes for one special summer appetizer. Crisped egg roll wrappers form the base for this Asian slaw.
  • Corn and Sun-Dried Tomato Quesadilla with Smoked Mozzarella
    Becky Luigart-Stayner; Cindy Barr

    Corn and Sun-Dried Tomato Quesadilla with Smoked Mozzarella

    These richly flavored quesadillas are a tasty twist on the Mexican favorite. Though delicious when served by themselves, try them on top of a tossed salad, as shown here.
  • Chunky Tomato-Fruit Gazpacho

    Chunky Tomato-Fruit Gazpacho

    This delicious, chunky gazpacho features chopped tomatoes, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, mango, cucumber, and nectarines. It’s a light and flavorful starter for heavier summertime meals, like grilled steak or chicken.
  • Stuffed Squash Blossom Bruschetta
    Randy Mayor

    Stuffed Squash Blossom Bruschetta

    You'll find squash blossoms, which have a subtle squash flavor, from late spring to early fall at gourmet grocery stores, farmers' markets, or Latin food markets. Here, we've served them as an appetizer atop grilled bread.
  • Lemon-Macerated Okra and Olives
    Randy Mayor; Melanie J. Clarke

    Lemon-Macerated Okra and Olives

    Instead of filling up dinner guests on peanuts or pretzels, try this colorful blend of okra, olives, and garlic, seasoned with lemon juice, olive oil, and herbs. Serve alongside a selection of bread, cheese, artichokes, and chilled shrimp or cold cuts for an antipasto platter.
  • Marinated Tomatoes With Basil and Balsamic Vinegar

    Marinated Tomatoes with Basil and Balsamic Vinegar

    Marinating the tomatoes gives them a tangy flavor that pairs perfectly with the onion topping. For a heartier version, serve tomatoes on top of sliced French bread and garnish with Parmesan cheese curls.
  • Fresh Corn Blinis with Smoked Salmon and Chive Cream

    Fresh Corn Blinis with Smoked Salmon and Chive Cream

    Traditional blinis consist of flour pancakes topped with sour cream and caviar, but our version features sweet corn pancakes topped with cold-smoked salmon and homemade chive cream. These easy apps are a great way to use up extra corn-on-the-cob you might have picked up at the market.
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