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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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