In hot weather, it's out with traditional roasts and in with summer Sunday dinner ideas, from barbecued meat to hearty salads.
"A beer can chicken on the BBQ is my family’s go-to dish over the summer. I make a dry rub with smoked paprika, salt, brown sugar, and garlic granules, and cook until the skin is lovely and crispy - absolutely delicious!" says Dominique Woolf, the Sunday Times Best Selling author of Dominique's Kitchen, who won the C4 series Jamie Oliver's Cookbook Challenge. "It goes perfectly with spicy BBQ sauce and any chicken leftovers are brilliant the next day in a Vietnamese rice noodle salad with shredded carrots, courgettes, and peppers, and a sweet-sour dressing made from rice vinegar, sugar, chilli, garlic, and fish sauce."
Dominique, who is also the founder of The Woolf's Kitchen and shares Asian-inspired recipes on Instagram, has plenty of other suggestions for what makes a good summer Sunday dinner. "Lamb chops are another winner on the BBQ, especially when they’ve been marinated, for example, with lemongrass, garlic, and turmeric. We’ll always have salads on the side, such as an Asian Slaw which adds freshness and zing to the meal (omit the chillis if you have younger kids).
If we’re having guests, a tomato and burrata salad drizzled with a homemade pesto always goes down brilliantly and makes a perfect fuss-free starter. And finally, you can’t beat an Eton mess for dessert. Not only is it super easy (I always use shop-bought meringues), but the combination of strawberries and cream makes it the ultimate crowd-pleaser. A perfect, light, and fruity way to end a summer’s meal!"
Our roundup of summer dinner ideas offers a lighter alternative to roast dinners with plenty of family-friendly meals and seasonal produce including all the best BBQ food ideas. See our selection below...
The best summer Sunday dinner ideas
1. Hot honey chicken
Serves: 4 | Prep time: 5 mins | Cooking time: 16 mins
By hot honey, we mean honey mixed with chilli flakes (leave out for the kids), as well as plenty of garlic (don't be shy) and lime zest, and juice. Perfect with a homemade slaw – always worth going the extra mile on this rather than shop bought, when you have time – the chicken would also be fabulous with some griddled asparagus or corn on the cob, and a side of buttery new potatoes.
Get the recipe: Hot honey chicken
2. Almond chicken tray bake
Serves: 4 | Prep time: 5 mins | Cooking time: 35 mins
A great twist on a wintery roast is these chicken thighs baked with veggies, including crispy kale. A fabulous one-pot dish, you could serve with new potatoes, rice or couscous, and try throwing some more seasonal veg, like French beans or rainbow chard in to the mix. Black olives would work well, too.
Get the recipe: Almond chicken tray bake
3. Rack of ribs
Serves: 6 | Prep time: 15 mins | Cooking time: 1 hour
Forget a formal dinner table, these ribs are a messy delight of a Sunday lunch, and you get to eat them with your hands. Making your own BBQ sauce is totally worth the effort, and the rest can be bottled for another day. Serve with potato salad and a big bowl of seasonal greens. Just don't forget the napkins.
Get the recipe: Rack of ribs
4. American-style pork chops with BBQ sauce
Serves: 4 | Prep time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 25 mins
Forget a pork roast with crackling for the time being, because these chops are the business for a summer Sunday. Rubbed with spices, including paprika and cayenne pepper, they're served with a seriously punchy sauce that'll make the usual apple sauce pale into insignificance. Great served with baby potatoes roasted in olive oil and some green beans.
Get the recipe: American-style pork chops with BBQ sauce
5. Steak with hot salsa verde
Serves: 4-6 | Prep time: 15 mins | Cooking time: 8 mins
This recipe is inspired by Churrasco, the local BBQ beloved by Gauchos, and sees the steak served on a sharing platter, topped with capers, onions, and peppers, and an insane salsa verde. And if you've never made a salsa verde before, then it really is the time to start now. Just yum.
Get the recipe: Steak with hot salsa verde
6. Barbecued salmon with creamy cucumber, sour cream and chive salad
Serves: 4 | Prep time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 7 mins
A brilliant cheat's dish for when you can't face spending half of Sunday on dinner prep, this recipe basically pimps up a shop-bought sour cream dip with some fresh chives and thinly sliced cucumber. Either barbecue the salmon steaks or cook them in a hot griddle pan, then squeeze over some fresh lemon and serve with a watercress salad. The ultimate light summer dinner dish to really put a spring in your step..
7. Grilled halloumi with honey
Serves: 5 | Prep time: 5 mins | Cooking time: 5 mins
Salty cheese and sweet honey are a pairing that should be coupled up far more often, because they work wonders together. This dish transports you straight to holidays in the Med, particularly when served with a tomato, olive and onion salad to add some sharpness in contrast with the honey. It's worth seeking out fresh oregano if you can, but dried will suffice perfectly well as a substitute. Great for a barbie or done on a hot griddle.
Get the recipe: Grilled halloumi with honey
8. Avocado and couscous salad
Serves: Easy | Prep time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 25 mins
Vegan friendly and bursting with nutrients, this avo salad is great as a side, or even as the main event – thanks to the protein-rich chickpeas and pine nuts, the grains, the healthy fats from the avocado, and a ton of fruit and veggies, including sweet pomegranate seeds, peppers, and herbs. A superfood salad, if ever we saw one.
Get the recipe: Avocado and couscous salad
9. Traditional paella
Serves: 4 | Prep time: 30 mins | Cooking time: 50-60 mins
Nothing says summer quite like a big ol' pan of paella, and there are a variety of ways to make it, some of them speedy cheats, others more of a labor of love. A classic version is a seafood paella and, if budget allows, head to the fishmongers for good quality prawns, squid, and mussels.
Depending on your preference, chunks of juicy chicken thigh and chorizo also work well, though a completely veggie version is also an option. The most crucial store cupboard ingredients are smoked paprika, saffron, and stock cubes, and putting together a paella is always worth the effort. Just don't forget the sangria.
Get the recipe: Traditional paella
10. Mediterranean aubergines
Serves: 4-6 | Prep time: 20 mins | Cooking time: 45 mins
A brilliant veggie dish that'll take you straight off to your favourite Greek island, even when you're in your back garden in Basildon. A riff on a classic parmigiana, the aubergine is rolled, cannelloni style, stuffed with mozzarella, and covered in a rich tomato sauce before baking. An excellent one to make ahead of time. Serve with a light green salad.
Get the recipe: Mediterranean aubergines
11. Moroccan chicken salad
Serves: 4 | Prep time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 20 mins
Powerful flavours and chunks of marinated chicken turn a simple salad into a centerpiece dish for your Sunday lunch. Flavoured with harissa paste, this north African salad also includes artichokes, griddled courgettes, olives and some punchy watercress. Serve with couscous for a fully rounded and very delicious lunch.
Get the recipe: Moroccan chicken salad
12. Summer beef niçoise salad
Serves: 6 | Prep time: 15 mins | Cooking time: Varies, according to the size of the beef joint
There are other things to be done with a joint of beef than merely serving with gravy, as this glorious salad testifies. Traditionally made with tuna, it's almost a cross between a niçoise and a carpaccio – though the meat is cooked, but should definitely be done on the rare side. It's a big tumble of new potatoes, olives, green beans, tomatoes, onions, and eggs, all mixed together with a delicious red wine vinegar and garlic based dressing. Divine.
Get the recipe: Summer beef nicoise salad
13. Feta and black olive crusted rack of lamb
Serves: 6 | Prep time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 40 mins
This Greek-style lamb is just the thing for a Sunday, served with garlic roasted potatoes and a green salad, or some griddled courgettes. The flavoursome crust is made up of crumbly feta, chopped black olives, lemon zest, and breadcrumbs, and is ridiculously tasty. One of those popular chilled red wines, like a Pinot Noir, would work wonderfully here.
Get the recipe: Feta and black olive crusted rack of lamb
14. Beer can chicken
Serves: 4 | Prep time: 30 mins | Cooking time: 1hr 30 mins
The ultimate summer twist on a roast chicken, this clever dish sees the whole bird cooked on the BBQ. Resting it on the can of beer adds flavour and moisture for some seriously juicy meat. It does take a bit of prep and skill, so you'll be pleased to hear there are full step-by-step instructions to see you through. A good talking point when people come over and, once mastered, there'll be no stopping you.
Get the recipe: Beer can chicken
15. Tomato tarte tatin
Serves: 4 | Prep time: 30 mins | Cooking time: 35 mins
Local tomatoes are in abundance at this time of year and this recipe is an inventive way to make use of the glut, and a great one for meat-free meals. Super simple (so long as you buy read-made puff pastry), there are a mere five ingredients, and it's friendly on the purse, too. Perfect with a watercress salad.
Get the recipe: Tomato tarte tatin
16. Lamb chops and sweetcorn salsa
Serves: 4 | Prep time: 5 mins | Cooking time: 10 mins
A brilliant family Sunday meal choice, most kids love a juicy lamb chop, and most kids love sweetcorn, so this salsa will likely go down a treat. The lamb is seasoned with a Cajun spice and simply grilled. A quick and easy one to put together and great served with rice or a side of new potatoes.
Get the recipe: Lamb chops and sweetcorn salsa
17. Mackerel horseradish salad
Serves: 4 | Prep time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 30 mins
It's potato salad, but not as we know it. Michel Roux Jr no less has created this recipe and it packs a punch with the addition of fresh horseradish, spring onions, and sour cream into a classic side, topped with a grilled fillet of mackerel. A cheat's version could use a jar of horseradish sauce, though. Serve with watercress salad, for a simple, yet divine summer lunch.
Get the recipe: Mackerel horseradish salad
18. Courgette and goat's cheese frittata
Serves: 2 | Prep time: 5 mins | Cooking time: 50 mins
Double or triple up the quantities and make this next-level frittata for all the family. It's that time of year when courgettes are plentiful, so try them in this lovely vegetarian goat's cheese dish with roasted potatoes, spring onions, and seasonal rainbow chard in the mix. Use a sheep's cheese if goat isn't your thing, and add in some fresh oregano and/or thyme. Just add crusty bread and a big bowl of salad if you're serving a crowd.
Get the recipe: Courgette and goat's cheese frittata