75 Perfect Desserts for Summer
Summer is all about finding bliss in downtime; and as we all know, bliss so often starts with dessert. Embrace the laid-back, sunny vibes of the season by making—and enjoying—a dessert that’s rich in flavor, yet doesnt feel quite as heavy as the sweets we reach for at cooler points in the year. Now is the moment for fluffy sheet cakes, bright cobblers, and refreshingly cold scoops of ice cream and other frozen treats. It’s also time to relish in the best seasonal bounty—we’re talking blueberries, watermelon, strawberries, cherries, peaches, blackberries, rhubarb, and yes, even tomatoes and zucchini. These summer-friendly cakes, pies, cobblers, icebox treats, and grilled desserts will suit any warm-weather occasion, even if it’s just being in the mood for something sweet.
Thyme-Scented Blueberry Pie
Flavored with thyme and lemon and packed with juicy whole berries, this pie earned rave reviews in our Test Kitchen, especially when made with in-season fruit. Our secret? Quick-cooking tapioca, which makes the filling firm but not gelatinous. Mixing the tapioca with a cup of mashed blueberries ensures that the thickener will distribute evenly and not form clumps in the filling.
Confetti Flower Cake
It may be hard to believe that this stunning layer cake could taste as delightful as it looks, but trust us on this one… it’s well worth cutting into. We create an all-natural “fun-fetti” look for this Confetti Flower Cake with edible flower petals flecked throughout the moist and delicate vanilla layers. Covered in a light, fluffy strawberry frosting (and a few more garnishing edible flowers for good measure), this wow-worthy confetti cake is the perfect centerpiece for your next special occasion—be it a birthday party or a wedding shower.
Peach Ice Cream
Stone Fruit Eton Mess
This fruit-filled yogurt dessert topped with cookie crumbs is a tasty and healthy treat.
Grilled Banana Split
This is a fun mashup between banana pudding and a sundae. You could even get the kids involved with this. Grilling the banana adds a little flavor, while charring the vanilla wafers makes for an interesting texture—together, it’s delicious. Banana pudding ice cream pulls everything together, so it’s definitely worth buying.
Watermelon Chiffon Pie
Yes, you can make a pie out of watermelon! The filling of this charmingly retro chilled dessert is made with fresh watermelon (not watermelon-flavored gelatin), so it has all of the fruit’s natural sweetness. The topping, a mixture of heavy cream and mascarpone cheese, is thick and rich and won’t melt as easily in the summer heat.
Sparkling Ice Cream Floats with Berries
Who knew the ultimate summer dessert would be the simplest you’ve ever made? These delightfully sweet and boozy floats take only a few ingredients and about two seconds to whip up, but trust us—they are always sure to impress. Rossini is a sparkling wine beverage, usually Prosecco-based, that is mixed with strawberries and raspberries. It is sweeter and fruitier than a rosé or other sparkling wine so it makes a delicious combination with rich vanilla ice cream (we especially love Häagen-Dazs brand here). We found a great one at Trader Joe’s for just about $6, but if you have a hard time finding rossini, you can definitely use your favorite rosé.
Puff Pastry Summer Fruit Shortcakes
These easy and impressive dessert stacks utilize the same almond-flavored marscarpone cream and macerated stone fruit that we use in this simple Puff Pastry Summer Fruit Slab Pie. However, rather than spreading the mixtures over a slab of baked puff pastry, you’ll be sandwiching them between cut, baked squares that stand in as an airy alternative to a traditional shortcake biscuits. You’ll want to wait until right before serving time to assemble your dessert. All of those glorious summer fruit juices are going to start seeping into your puff pastry and will lead to sogginess if prepared too far in advance.
Carrot-Zucchini Cake with Coconut-Cream Cheese Frosting
Zucchini makes a brilliant addition to carrot cake, adding a verdant note to the sweet carrot.
This show-stopping layered dessert will be a hit at your next luncheon or shower.
Tangy Lemon Cheesecake Bars
Classic lemon squares can contain 36g sugar per piece. We put a puckery cheesecake spin on ours--cutting sugar to just 6g per bar--which allows the bright citrus to shine.
Caprese Ice Cream Sundaes
This super-sophisticated, wow-worthy dessert is a great twist on two separate dishes. It takes some time, but it’s worth it, especially for a special occasion. Poaching tomatoes in simple syrup brings out their fruitier side. Paired with buttery and salty ice cream, you’ve got a smart and different winner. Here, it’s crucial to be gentle with the tomatoes: You’re turning them from a vegetable into a fruit culinary. If you’ve got an overgrown basil plant, use those leaves for the basil syrup; thyme sprigs would also work well here, if you’re looking for something a little different.
Deep Eddy Blueberry Lemon Drop Pop
These adult ice pops are the perfect refreshing summer treat. We made ours using Deep Eddy vodka as we find it to be exceptionally vibrant in flavor, but feel free to use your own favorite brand of flavored vodka. Raspberries would also be a delicious fruit to highlight in these bright and boozy pops.
Roasted Strawberry-Rhubarb Muffins with Pistachio Streusel
Featuring roasted strawberries and rhubarb, a delicate hint of cardamom, and a crisp pistachio streusel, these tender muffins say “spring” like no other. You can use frozen rhubarb when making these brunch-worthy muffins, just be sure to thaw fully and press out excess water with paper towels before roasting. Starting the oven at a higher temperature helps the muffins to brown and rise into a nice dome, and lowering it after 8 to 10 minutes allows them to finish cooking through.
Peach Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel
A spiked caramel sauce makes this bread pudding truly spectacular. Resist the urge to stir the caramel as it cooks, and watch it closely. Once it starts to brown, it can easily turn too dark and become bitter.
Strawberry Shortcake Shake
This minimal ingredient milkshake is a show-stopping, drool-inducing tall glass of strawberry shortcake heaven. When topped with a cake and strawberry skewer and drizzled with a luscious syrup, this gorgeous dessert might just be better than the real thing.
Nectarine-Blueberry Frozen Yogurt Pie Bites
These mini fro-yo pies get their sweetness from fruit and just a touch of honey.
Strawberry Poke Pound Cake with Strawberry Glaze
Poke cake meets pound cake in this must-make spring dessert. A perfectly moist, dense vanilla pound cake (with a delightful hint of almond) is filled with a fresh strawberry filling—adding to the cake's tender crumb and providing the perfect fruity sweet-tart flavor balance. Finish the whole thing off with an eye-catching fresh strawberry glaze, and you have a supremely awesome cake on your hands. Be warned, if you share this pound cake with friends, you'll need to be ready to share the recipe as well.
Raspberry-Lime Tart with Pistachio Crust
This tart is pleasantly limey, with a delightful pistachio-forward shortbread crust. It requires minimal baking, but has a beautiful presentation, with fresh raspberries adding a nice touch. You can find shelled, raw pistachios at the grocery store, but roasted, salted shelled pistachios will work just fine. Look for limes with smooth skin: They have thiner skins, and will yield more juice. Garnish with chopped pistachios and whipped cream to offset the tartness from the curd and the raspberries.
Grilled Pound Cake with Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup
Pound cake chars up really nicely on the grill and gets even grill marks. Don’t skip the syrup, because it’s packed with flavor. If you can’t find Meyer lemons, regular lemons will work just fine. The simple syrup will hold up for two weeks, so you can definitely make it ahead of time—or make extra and save it for later.
Blueberry Pound Cake Muffins
What’s better than blueberry muffins? Blueberry pound cake muffins. These are sweet, fluffy, and rich, with a crispy caramelized top. The blueberries add color and flavor, and the lemon zest adds just enough tartness.
Mini Rhubarb Ginger Crostatas
The filling in these pies is on the tart side, so they're especially good with vanilla ice cream. Semolina flour in the dough is optional but adds complexity and crunch.
Aperol Spritz Cake
The delicate blance of sweet, bitter and citrus that makes the cocktail so refreshing also makes for an unusual citrus cake.
Blueberry Sorbet “Cupcakes”
These sweet “cupcakes” made of fresh blueberry sorbet are a delightful, cooling lemon-berry treat with a cookie crunch on the bottom and fluffy whipped cream on top. They’re the perfect dessert for any summer gathering. The cupcakes can be made well in advance, simply top with fresh whipped cream right before serving.
Nicole Rucker's cookbook Dappled is all about baking with fruit. The genius behind this particular recipe is that no baking is required—just overripe summer fruit and sandwich bread. As Rucker writes, "I challenge you to find a more dramatic, striking dish than a classic summer pudding. The saturated slices of white bread encasing the fruit, soaked in the vivid juices of ripe berries, have always reminded me of a can of pure magenta paint tipping over onto a white drop cloth. It’s also another way to turn leftover bread and bruised ripe fruit into an impressive dessert."
Oreo Icebox Cake
This decadent Oreo icebox cake is incredibly easy to make and requires only six ingredients. It’s a perfect dessert for kids birthday parties that doesn’t require heating up the kitchen. As is, this cooling cake offers a delightful cookies-n-cream flavor profile, but feel free to switch things up by using your favorite Oreo cookie flavor.
Mixed Berry Cream Pie with Double Chocolate Crust
Brushing red currant jelly onto the berries makes them shine, like those fruit tarts you see in bakeries. If you can't find red currant jelly, use strawberry jelly (don't subsitute jam or preserves).
When we set out to create the best basic blueberry scone recipe, we knew it needed to be buttery and tender, but not cakey or overtly sweet—dense for sure, but not dry. These deliver on every front. While these blueberry scones are divine as-is, you can customize the recipe with whatever flavor add-ins you like. Try mixing in some spices—we found that ground ginger and ground cardamom (about 1/4 teaspoon each) to be great aromatic flavor compliments to the blueberries—or you could add a little fresh citrus zest to the dough. If you like your scones on the sweeter side, we’ve also included a simple citrus glaze recipe to drizzle over top. You can use fresh lemon or orange here; we actually used a combination of both with very tasty results. In order to prevent soggy blueberry scones, wait to glaze them until you’re ready to serve.
Texas Sheet Cake with Fudge Icing
Somehow, Texas claimed the sheet cake as its own in the mid-20th century, perhaps because of the pecans, an ingredient that grows in abundance throughout the Lone Star State. The defining element is its shape--and, of course, the icing, which has to be heated and poured on the warm, just-out-of-the-oven cake. The result is a rich, chocolaty treat that's iconic in Texas.
Served hot or at room temperature, nothing says summer like a fresh fruit cobbler. When the dish first comes out of the oven, the fruit juice will be a little thin, but it will thicken as the cobbler sets and cools down. Peaches and blackberries come together in this easy to assemble recipe, but feel free to substitute your favorite berries or stone fruits. You can make the crumble topping mix ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator.
Strawberry-Banana Pudding Icebox Cake
Strawberries add brightness to this fun take on banana pudding. Instead of the usual vanilla wafers, use graham crackers, which make neater slices. An instant hit with your family and guests, this recipe makes delicious use of the fresh strawberries you pick up at the local farmers’ market.
Green Tea-Ginger Ice Cream
Creating the coolest scoops is as easy as 1, 2, 3.
Pistachio Raspberry Cake
"Baking and icing a cake from scratch can be daunting. But you don't have to do it all in one day," says Rosie Daykin, the cheerful and talented owner of Butter Baked Goods, in Vancouver. Bake the cakes first and let them cool; the next day, make the frosting and assemble the cake. To frost more evenly and efficiently, use a sturdy rotating cake stand. Also very helpful: a round cardboard cake board to build the cake on--"it makes frosting, moving, and slicing the cake so much easier"--and a large offset spatula. You can find all these in kitchenware shops and online.
Classic Blueberry Cobbler
If the peak of summer had a flavor, we’re willing to bet it’d taste a lot like this classic blueberry cobbler. Using ripe, juicy blueberries gives this summertime favorite the perfect level of sweetness, while vanilla extract contributes a floral depth and a little bit of aromatic lemon zest lends a lovely balance of brightness. Be sure to let the lattice crust hang a little over the sides of your baking dish and press the dough firmly into the sides to adhere. The baking dish will be very full, but the volume of the berries will shrink as the cobbler cooks, so slightly overfilling will leave you with a flat top instead of a sunken one.
Vegan Mini Peanut Butter Pies
Love peanut butter cups? This is the treat for you. With a rich, chocolatey crust and a deep, nutty, creamy inside, this dessert is for all the peanut butter and chocolate lovers, whether you're vegan or not. Silken tofu acts as a smooth, thickening component for the filling, as well as canned coconut cream. This easy, no-bake dessert packs all the indulgent flavors of your favorite candy bar, yet it's still dairy-free, gluten-free, and made with natural sweeteners.
Rhubarb Jam Cheesecakes
Pull a cake out when you start making dinner, and it'll be ready for dessert. Now that's sweet!
Easiest Peach Cobbler Ever
Peach cobbler is already easy, but with only three ingredients, this one takes the cake (mix). If these items aren’t already in your pantry or fridge, you can pick everything up at the store for well under $10. The end result is super sweet, but not in a way that makes you cringe, and offers plenty of juicy peaches and cobbler topping to go around. If you prefer to use fresh peaches, just macerate them in sugar so they’ll be nice and juicy before you stick them in the oven. Add cinnamon or sliced almonds to the topping for an extra touch, and don’t forget the scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Strawberry-Basil Ice Cream
Fresh strawberries and basil become a refreshing treat in this summertime ice cream recipe.
Tahini-Blueberry Sheet Cake With Strawberry Buttercream
Perfect for a graduation party or summer cookout, this impressive dessert offers the ease and crowd-friendly factor that we associate with a sheet cake, as well as a delightful twist of creativity and surprising vibrancy with the incorporation of tahini and fresh berries. If you have a jar of the trendy sesame seed paste hanging out in your pantry, trust us—it’s high time to go beyond hummus and welcome it into your dessert life. Tahini lends a delicious toasty quality to the tender cake while fresh blueberries dotted throughout the batter balance this nutty depth with their bright, juicy sweetness. A simple strawberry buttercream ties everything together and makes for a low-effort, eye-catching presentation.
Mini Strawberry Tarts
These mini tarts are not only beautiful, but tasty as well. Top strawberry tarts with a variety of several other fresh berries like raspberries, blueberries, blackberries for a sensational summer treat.
Lemon Meringue Ice-Cream Pie
Blueberry-Peach Upside Down Cake
This stunning upside-down cake is the perfect, easy dessert to showcase your bounty of summer fruit. The cake is tender and moist, with just enough of a delightful toothy texture from the incorporation of cornmeal into the batter. You’ll want to use juicy, ripe blueberries and peaches for best results; however, you could use frozen fruit in a pinch—just be sure to thaw and dry throughly. A few more tips to ensure upside-down cake success: Finish incorporating the ingredients by hand, this will prevent over-mixing your way to a tough cake. Also, aim to arrange the fruit as tightly as you can in the cake pan; fruit shrinks as it cooks and you don’t want too much unadorned cake poking through. Finally, if you want to skip the cornmeal, simply swap it 1:1 with all-purpose flour (for a total of 1 1/3 cups).
Ice Cream-Only Ice Cream Cake
For some, a typical ice cream cake is a wonderful, frozen amalgamation of two of life’s great desserts: ice cream and cake (obviously). However, for others—those who truly prefer ice cream over cake—the fact that most ice cream cakes still contain layers of frozen cake is… a disappointment. And it is for these ice cream loving people that we created this “cake,” made purely of frozen dairy goodness. We use fresh whipped cream fortified with gelatin to “frost” the cake, holding the layered scoops together and coating the exterior, because a stabilized whipped cream holds its texture incredibly well (without becoming rock-hard) in the freezer. You can use any number and variety of flavors/colors to create your own take on this ice cream-only cake; we opted to go with a rainbow of colors to achieve a festive feel in every slice. Use any custom combination to create the perfect frozen cake for a birthday party, gender reveal party, college game day event, etc. You can even dress the concept up to create an adorable Ice Cream Princess Cake.
Key Lime Pie Milkshake
Chick-fil-A’s Frosted Key Lime has nothing on this. This summery dessert is refreshingly tart and creamy, and the crunch and aroma from the graham cracker makes it taste just like Key lime pie. In other words, it’ll wow all your guests and is the perfect “light” way to round out barbecue or a backyard cookout. Look for Key lime juice in the juice aisle. If it’s not there, regular limes will do the trick.
Blueberry Pie Sundaes
Hot days call for quick, effortless treats. Go beyond the ice cream scoop with easy yet elegant desserts that take just a few minutes to make. We cook the blueberry mixture down until almost jammy, then fold in fresh berries for a bit of juicy pop in every bite. You can make the sauce ahead, and then microwave in a microwave-safe bowl at HIGH for 90 seconds or until warm, stirring every 30 seconds.
Mango Cream Pie
All-Time Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
When it comes to making cookies from scratch, these crispy-chewy chocolate chip cookies represent the best of the best. Simple ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions make this a recipe you'll come back to again and again. Whip up a batch of these all-time favorite cookies and they won't last long. Pro tip: Bake 10 minutes for a softer cookie or up to 14 minutes for a crispier cookie.
After you've made these craveworthy cookies, don't forget to try our fun variations. All sorts of goodies—from crushed white-chocolate pretzels to toffee candy—can be added to the batter to create other signature cookies.
Vegan Coconut Cream Tart with White Peaches and Blueberries
This nutrient-rich twist on coconut cream pie is lusciously smooth and decadent… it’s also vegan, paleo, gluten-fee, and raw. In other words, you’re looking at a tart with a stacked resume. Perfect for a special occasion, especially if you’re looking to clean up your diet a bit, this show-stopping vegan dessert offers rich, toasty flavor and sweet tooth satisfaction—without adding refined sugar. And since there’s no need to crank up the oven to make it, this treat especially ideal for summer. Keep in mind, whipping coconut cream can sometimes be tricky. If you forget to refrigerate your cans overnight or if too much of the liquid gets mixed in, it will most likely separate. But not to worry—mixing in a bit of tapioca flour (arrowroot would also work) can bring the mixture back together in a snap. To save yourself time, go ahead and place your mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the fridge to chill as soon as you are ready to start prepping your tart.
Cookies-and-Cream Ice Cream
Blackberry Jam Cake
Bisquick Topped Blueberry Cobbler
This biscuit topped blueberry cobbler recipe couldn’t be easier. Breaking out your trusty Bisquick baking mix keeps the recipe effortless, but you could also top the vibrant berry filling with a simple homemade drop biscuit dough as well. Using ripe, juicy blueberries gives this summertime favorite the perfect level of sweetness, while vanilla extract contributes a floral depth and a little bit of aromatic lemon zest lends a lovely balance of brightness. Served warm with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, this easy cobbler can’t be beat.
Lemon-Poppy Seed Roulade
This lovely rolled take on the classic lemon-poppy seed combo is an ideal sweet finish to any springtime meal. Airier than a typical lemon poppyseed cakes, which tend to be quite dense, this roulade with a light and creamy lemon filling. This is a good recipe for first time roulade makers, as we found that this sponge cake rolls very easily with no cracking. And once chilled, the roulade cuts cleanly with no problem. If you want to go beyond a light dusting of powdered sugar to finish, you could also top this dessert off with a simple lemon glaze and toasted, sliced almonds.
Easy Peach Cobbler
What could be a more perfect ending to a summertime meal than easy peach cobbler? Savor the flavors of summer with sliced fresh peaches cooking away with butter and spices. The topping can made from pantry ingredients you have on hand and peaches can easily be substituted with any fruit you have depending on the time of year. The tang of the lemon juice paired with the sweetness of the peaches is perfectly balanced with the crisp topping. Want to make dessert even better? A dollop of fresh whipped cream or cold vanilla ice cream truly makes it the perfect way to end a summer night.
Sweet Summer Strawberry Tart
After finding a fly in her bottle of Mouton Cadet Rouge, chef and cookbook author Joanne Weir, then 24, had the gumption to mail the insect to the wine's maker, Château Mouton Rothschild, one of the top wineries in the world. In response to her complaint, she received an invitation to lunch at the château. She booked a flight immediately. This recipe is her re-creation of the day's finale--a tart "topped with a silky smooth kirsch pastry cream and crowned with perfectly glazed, ripe red strawberries."
Blueberry-Lemon Crunch Bars
Consider yourself warned: A crunch may look like a bar cookie, but you’ll need a fork to eat it. Similar to a crisp with baked fruit and a crumbly topping, a crunch sandwiches a layer of jammy fruit between two buttery layers. While other fruit desserts are on the syrupy side, this fruit is cooked down into a flavor-packed, thick preserve. The bottom layer should be firm enough not to crumble when a piece is cut from the pan, so adding toasted pecans to the mix improves the taste as well as the texture. The top layer can duplicate the bottom, or it can be a simple streusel topping made with flour, sugar, and butter.
Lemon-Buttermilk Icebox Pie
When life gives you lemons, use it to make this pie! The filling is pure heaven, not too sweet, and full of tartness from lemon juice and zest. If you like, you can speed things up with a premade graham cracker crust, but don't compromise when it comes to using fresh lemons.
Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake
A hint of fresh thyme gives this rustic cake a faint herbaceous quality that complements the warmth of cardamom and ginger and the tang of rhubarb. Be patient when turning the cake out of the pan; it may take several minutes for it to fully release. The surprise ingredient in the batter (mayonnaise) is an old-school trick for creating a supermoist cake. A dollop of Greek yogurt cuts through the richness of the cake—but you can omit it if you’d like.
Mason Jar Cherry Pies
These adorable personal-sized cherry pies will be the star of your summer gathering.
Nectarine Tarts with Honey
Your guests don't have to know these impressive tarts require just four ingredients.
You know how some cocktails are so good they're basically dessert? This mudslide cake takes that even further, making the classic dessert cocktail into an actual dessert. The inclusion of both Irish and coffee liqueurs give the cake depth of flavor, and the chocolate glaze and cherries give a nod to the traditional mudslide garnishes. Eat it with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream. No straw required.
Peach Melba Ice-Cream Pie
This summer pie looks difficult, but thanks to store-bought ice cream and a press-in cookie crust, it's a cinch to assemble. All you need is enough time for it to freeze so the layers look nice and neat.
A toasty twist on the traditional Millionaire’s Shortbread, these decadent layered cookie bars feature toasted sesame seeds in the shortbread, a luscious tahini caramel, and more sesame seeds sprinkled over top for good measure.
Strawberries-and-Cream Sheet Cake
Trust us: This simple and swoon-worthy sheet cake will be a keeper in your recipe box. File it under "Springtime Crowd-pleaser."
Miso Walnut Sticky Buns
Incorporating instant mashed potato flakes into this foolproof sticky bun dough is the secret behind their incredibly moist, tender texture. Meanwhile, using a bit of bread flour, in addition to all-purpose, helps provide structure and height. White miso paste, also known as sweet miso, adds a dynamic element of salt-sweet depth to both the filling and caramel topping—making these a most impressive addition to any brunch spread. Pro-tip: Don’t let the buns rest in the pan for too long after baking as the sticky topping will begin to solidify as it cools, making it difficult to turn them out.