23 easy summer dessert recipes you'll want to share with the family

Summer dessert recipes, using seasonal berries, meringue, ice cream and cool flavours for sunny days...

A selection of our favourite summer dessert recipes including strawberry macaron cake and ice lollies
A selection of our favourite summer dessert recipes including strawberry macaron cake and ice lollies
(Image credit: Future / various)

We've pulled together some of our best seasonal summer dessert recipes and ideas with options for cakes, ice cream, tarts, ice lollies, and more.

"Everyone loves a sweet treat to finish off a special meal and, in the summertime, we are spoilt for choice. Seasonal fruits are in shops, farm stores, and markets. Berries of every kind, plus peaches, nectarines, apricots, and cherries, are just crying out to be picked and transformed into a delicious dessert," says The Great British Bake Off alumni Karen Wright, a recipe writer who starred on the hit show in 2018. 

"My favourite is the good old strawberry. I make French-style tarts using a sweet pastry shell, topped with crème patisserie and fresh strawberries with a shiny glaze on top. Of course, this can also be made using a shop-bought shell and readymade custard, no cooking involved at all," she says. "Or what about strawberries with a balsamic vinegar dressing and a grind of black pepper? Believe me, it makes those taste buds tingle, topped off with whipped cream or crème fraîche, and ready to serve in minutes."

Karen's advice is to think fresh and seasonal. "I love a pavlova in summertime, that crisp yet chewy meringue, topped with fresh fruit and billowing whipped cream is sensational," she says. "My mother loves knickerbocker glory. Layer ice cream, fruit, and cream in a tall conical glass and top with nuts, strawberry sauce, and sprinkles – now that’s a showstopper idea!" The perfect accompaniment to our delicious summer Sunday dinner ideas.

The best summer dessert recipes

Summer dessert recipes: Rosé and red berry jellies

Refreshing, light, and boozy – tick, tick, and tick

(Image credit: Frankthephotographer.com/Woman's)

1. Rosé and red berry jellies

Makes: 6 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 15 mins

A jelly for the grown-ups, this is an incredibly light but sweet way to finish off a meal, making inventive use of summer berries by infusing them with wine and elderflower cordial. One for after a big dinner or for anyone who isn't partial to heavy, creamy desserts – though you could serve it with a dollop of good quality vanilla or strawberry ice cream for those that are.

Get the recipe: Rosé and red berry jellies

Summer dessert recipes: Lemon meringue pie

A retro classic, perfect for summer

(Image credit: Woman's Weekly)

2. Lemon meringue pie

Makes: 8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 35 mins

With a fresh, zingy citrus base contrasted with a sweet, sticky meringue topping, this is a summer treat if ever we saw one. Buy or make your own shortcrust pastry for the base and, while there's no need to mess with a classic, you could switch out the lemon for lime, or even orange, for a talking point of a twist.

Get the recipe: Lemon meringue pie

Summer dessert recipes: Cookie ice cream sandwich

Absolute crowd pleaser, right here

3. Cookie ice cream sandwich

Makes: 6 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins

Marvellous for kids, and marvellous for adults, these homemade cookies contain choc and cherries (which could be switched out for other options such as raisins or nuts, if taste buds prefer). Choose your favourite ice cream flavour for the sandwich filling – we recommend cherry for the cherries, pistachio for the nuts, or good old-fashioned vanilla or chocolate chip for just being generally popular and delicious. 

Get the recipe: Cookie ice cream sandwiches

Summer dessert recipes: Candice Brown's rhubarb syllabub doughnuts

A doughnut, but not as we know it

4. Candice Brown's rhubarb syllabub doughnuts

Makes: 6 large or 12 small | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 2 hrs 35 mins

GBBO winner Candice has turned traditional creamy summer pudding into these impressive and indulgent doughnuts. They take a bit of effort, but they're so worth it, and they certainly trump a blob of jam as far as fillings go. Rhubarb is in season just now and here it is beautifully combined with mascarpone, cream, and orange zest. An absolute triumph. 

Get the recipe: Rhubarb syllabub doughnuts

Summer dessert recipes: Strawberry macaron cake

Pavlova with a French twist

5. Strawberry macaron cake

Makes: 8 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 1 hr 20 mins

This is a macaron, but not as we know it. Rather than the pastel-coloured circular mini sandwich cakes, this is a French twist on a pavlova, the difference being that the macaron is made with almonds in the meringue. With layers of fresh strawberries and Greek yogurt, it's a French twist on a British classic.

Get the recipe: Strawberry macaron cake

Summer dessert recipes: Gin and tonic sorbet

Dessert and booze in one – that's the sort of multitasking we like

6. Gin and tonic sorbet

Makes: 6-8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 10 mins, plus freezing

Great for dessert, or even as a palate cleanser or an aperitif, this is a break from the usual sorbet flavours and ideal for anyone partial to a G&T. You won't get the kids nicking your pudding with this one either. Decorate with fresh mint, lemon thyme, or some fresh lime. 

Get the recipe: Gin and tonic sorbet

Summer dessert recipes: White chocolate and raspberry gateau

Summer in cake form

7. White chocolate and raspberry gateau

Makes: 16 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 1 hr

Coated on the outside with toasted crushed hazelnuts and topped with fresh raspberries, it's the perfect pud served on a summer's afternoon or evening –  or, even better, for a summer birthday party where it will feed many grateful mouths. It's a basic Victoria sponge, done in four layers, with a cream cheese frosting filled with raspberries. A winner of a pud.

Get the recipe: White chocolate and raspberry gateau

Summer dessert recipes: Mango and coconut sorbet

Like art in sorbet form

8. Mango and coconut sorbet

Makes: 6 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 30 mins

Vibrant colours and vibrant flavours with this homemade coconut ice cream topped with mango sorbet and a raspberry coulis. Three different baking skill sets to master and a visual treat, as well as one for the taste buds. How very sophisticated. 

Get the recipe: Mango and coconut sorbet

A three tiered elderflower drizzle cake topped with edible flowers and drizzled icing

Perfect with a cup of tea in the best china

9. Elderflower drizzle cake

Makes: 6 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 40 mins

A most English of cakes, best eaten in a meadow with a cup of Earl Grey, though your back garden will suffice perfectly well too. It's elderflower season in early summer and this recipe makes perfect use of the classic cordial made from the flowers. It also features the sharpness of gooseberry jam in the filling, to complement the sweetness of the elderflower. Glorious.

Get the recipe: Elderflower drizzle cake

Pineapple and pomegranate upside down cake

A twist on a retro classic

10. Pineapple and pomegranate upside down cake

Makes: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 45 mins

Definitely one for those of the sweet-toothed persuasion, this easy but effective cake has a caramel glaze that makes the edges go pleasingly crunchy. The pomegranate is a nice touch, adding pops of colour to the pineapple, and it's as utterly divine served warm from the oven with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream as it is the following day with a nice cup of tea and a sit-down.

Get the recipe: Pineapple and pomegranate upside down cake


A true classic of British summer time

(Image credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

11. The perfect pavlova

Serves: 6 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 1 hr 40 mins

It's a bold statement but, with a little love and care, this recipe really will get you the perfect pavlova. It's all in the texture of the meringue which, in this case, should be chewy on the inside, and slightly crispy and firm on the outside. Then all you need to do is add thick cream, seasonal berries, and a dusting of icing sugar, and decorate further with rose petals or perhaps some crushed pistachios or hazelnuts if you want to produce a real showstopper (and who doesn't?).

Get the recipe: Perfect pavlova

Strawberry ice lollies

Adorable – and definitely not just for the kids

12. Strawberry ice lollies

Makes: 6-8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins

Giving us retro Fab lolly vibes in their design, these homemade lollies are kinda wholesome with their yogurt and fresh strawberries in the mix (ok, there's a fair bit of sugar in there, too). They're almost a cross between a frozen milkshake and a smoothie, dipped in melted white chocolate and covered in sprinkles. We're not even sure the kids will get any, should the adults get there first… 

Get the recipe: Strawberry ice lollies

Classic summer pudding

A Queen of puddings

13. Classic summer pudding

Serves: 4-6 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 40 mins

Simple ingredients, but a bit of an assembly job, this old school classic is summer's answer to a bread pudding. Another wonderful way to eat summer berries, it's best served with a simple vanilla ice cream or a jug of pouring cream. A truly delightful pud.

Get the recipe: Classic summer pudding

Eton mess

The perfect, simple dessert for people who don't really make dessert

14. Eton mess

Makes: 6 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 10 mins

"You don’t have to whip up those egg whites to make meringue if you are short of time, the supermarkets sell delightful meringue nests, just crush the meringue, mix it with the berries and cream, and voila, it becomes Eton Mess," says Karen Wright. 

Get the recipe: Eton mess

Mini Angel Delight cheesecakes

An angelic delight

15. Mini Angel Delight cheesecakes

Makes: 8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 30 mins

A perfect dessert for kids and nostalgia fans – were you even a child of the Eighties if you didn't eat Angel Delight? It's a good one to get baking with your smalls and is a quick hack for the time-poor, using shop-bought Madeira cake as the base. These cakes use strawberry flavour, but we also recommend chocolate or the iconic butterscotch a bit of a guilty pleasure, like many of the best things in life. 

Get the recipe: Mini Angel Delight cheesecake slices

Pimm's lollies

An excellent aperitif – in lolly form

16. Pimm's lollies

Makes: 8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 5 mins, plus freezing time

Basically a jug of Pimms and lemonade frozen, for extra refreshment on a scorcher of a day. Each lolly has a strawberry encased inside, and they're flavoured with the classic – sprigs of fresh mint. A very British lolly for a very British summertime.

Get the recipe: Pimm's lollies

Tropical pavlova

A summer pavlova, but not as we know it

(Image credit: Woman's Weekly)

17. Tropical pavlova

Makes: 6-8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr 35 mins

An exotic twist on a pudding more commonly associated with homegrown summer fruits, eating this might just transport you to lands of palm trees, coconuts and warm seas. Sigh. The colours of the pineapple, kiwi, and pomegranate seeds are a visual as well as a taste sensation –  choose fresh, rather than tinned, varieties, to avoid unnecessary sugar-y syrups and to max the vits, even when you're indulging.

Get the recipe: Tropical pavlova

Summer fruit ice cream trifle cake

Cake and ice cream with trifle vibes, three puddings for the price of one

19. Summer fruit ice cream trifle cake

Makes: 10 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr 15 mins

When is a cake, not a cake? And when is a trifle, not a trifle? When it's an ice cream trifle cake, that's when. A proper crowd pleaser and ticking three dessert boxes in one, mastering an ice cream cake is far easier than one would think – make sure the cake is cooled correctly before you add your soft scoop and then get it in the freezer quick sticks. 

Get the recipe: Summer fruit ice cream trifle cake

Yogurt Bomb

Slim on ingredients, big on taste

20. Yoghurt bomb

Makes: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 15 mins, plus freezing time

With just four ingredients – yogurt, honey, blueberries, and mango – this is a pretty healthy choice as desserts go, and the leftovers could even be eaten for breakfast to start the day with a spring in your step. The layers are visually compelling, but you could also make a simpler version with just one colour – and the option to mix up the fruit is always there, too. Banana, raspberry, strawberry, the choice is yours.

Get the recipe:  Layered yogurt bombe