If you’re planning a summer party, you know one of the toughest parts is planning for summer party food. That’s because you have to come up with a mix of traditional offerings, light food that won’t be too much to eat in the high heat, and items that aren’t too messy. Christmas, this isn’t.
You must have summer party food on hand, though, even if most people arrive thinking that it’s too hot to eat. Everyone, adults and kids, get famished by the time they cool down from spending a few hours in the pool or on a water slide.
So, it’s good to have some summer party food tips. We’ve come up with 17 of them. They should give you a good place to start on finding the right food for your summer party.
Summer Party Food Ideas
In putting together this list, we’ve drawn mostly on the classics. Summer parties are not known for haute cuisine. People want solid, dependable choices. That’s why this list leans toward easy to make, easy to serve main items and plenty of finger foods.
You’ll want plenty of water and other drinks, of course. Whatever amount of water you think you need for your summer party, double it. At the very worst you’ll have some extra water on hand around the house after the party is over.
A grilled, juicy hamburger (meat or plant based) served with or without cheese is a summer party classic. People will expect it. Don’t let them down.
The other summer party food classic for those who don’t like hamburgers.
You must have fruit at a summer party, it’s like an unwritten law. Put some berries, watermelon or the fruit of your choice on a wooden skewer, along with a bit of cheese.
Crackers and Cheese
Don’t buy the ready-made plate, but instead get good crackers (with some whole wheat options) and a variety of cheeses, cut into small slices.
You want vegetable options, and an arugula salad is a great summertime choice that’s easy to make and serve. It typically comes with other foods such as tomatoes, couscous, corn and avocado, but you can add whatever meets your personal taste.
A tad messy, maybe, but it’s tacos and tacos are never a bad idea. You can make everything beforehand, then let people stuff their own taco shell with ground beef (or chicken, fajita beef or fish), cheese, lettuce, tomato, jalapeno slices, sour cream and whatever else you like on your tacos.
A simple classic. Serve them with soft butter.
You can rent machines that make popcorn, snow cones, cotton candy and even frosted cookies!
Bread and Olive Oil
A European classic. Get good bread of your choice, slice it into pieces and serve with a plate of olive oil for dipping.
Use the grill to make chicken, cut it into slices and offer it with cheese, lettuce and whatever else you like on sandwiches. You can also offer prepared deli ham, turkey or beef as an alternative.
These go perfectly with sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs. Make them in advance inside. You can buy regular potato fries or sweet potato fries or whatever kind of fries your guests like. Serve them with an assortment of sauces for dipping.
Muhammara is a roasted red pepper dip that is perfect with a tray of fresh cut vegetables, pita bread or pita chips. It’s gluten-free, as well.
You can’t have too much fruit at a summer party. Put together a fruit salad that includes melon, berries, nectarines – again, the choices are vast. For extra zing, include mint and basil and a sweet vinaigrette.
Bowl of Grapes
You may laugh at the simplicity of this, but put fresh, washed grapes into an attractive bowl and see if any are left by the time the summer party is over. There’s always a handful of people who will eat these like popcorn.
Cookies are the least messy, easiest to manage sweet treat. Perfect for a laidback summer party.
Italian Pasta Salad
A pasta salad offers a filling alternative to those who don’t want a burger or sandwich. Italian pasta salad typically comes with corkscrew pasta, cheese, olives, salami and an Italian dressing.
Another light, tasty summer salad. It can come with any flavor quinoa, as well as tomatoes and spinach, all tossed in the dressing of your choice.
Some combination of the above will meet your summer party food needs, and you won’t have to bust the bank or stay up all night cooking to make them. That leaves your guests happy and you with more time to actually enjoy the party!