Refreshing Summer Dessert Recipes
Our 36 recipes for summer sweets offer ideas for ice cream desserts, refreshing pies, summer-inspired cakes, fruity bar cookies, shortcake and more.
Cherry Brownies a la Mode
Traverse City's famous tart cherries get double billing in this sundae--baked in the brownies and spooned on top. But there’s another local fruit hiding here. Chef Adam Raupp of Mission Table restaurant adds a little Riesling to the sauce.
Kiwi Summer Limeade Pie
Refreshing and creamy, this make-ahead pie from Susan Meier of Omaha combines tropical flavors with macadamia nuts and kiwifruit. It was one of the finalists at Midwest Living's® first Best of the Midwest cook-off.
No one knows how fools (a centuries-old blend of whipped cream and fruit) got their playful name. Maybe it's because, with just 4 ingredients, you'd be foolish not to make one!
Gooey Butter Bars
Traditionalists may grumble, but we think topping St. Louis-style gooey butter bars with fresh berries is a stroke of midsummer genius.
Baby Citrus Cheesecakes
These cupcake-size treats are a fantastically simple alternative to a full-size cheesecake. You could also garnish them with fresh raspberries or blueberries.
Pint-Size Grasshopper Icebox Cake
A fluffy, summery, make-ahead 6-inch dessert with just four ingredients? Sold.
Strawberry "Cool Brûlée"
This deceptively good, weeknight-easy dessert has a topping of yogurt and whipped cream with raw sugar that looks like creme brulee, but requires no cooking.
Peaches and Cream Tart
Rather than hide gorgeous, peak-season peaches under a piecrust, line them up in sunny formation on an easy base of purchased puff pastry and sweetened cream cheese. We arranged our peaches in stripes, but you can spread them out rustically if you prefer.
Butterscotch Brickle Pudding Pops
Chopped pecans and toffee bits add delightful crunch to creamy pudding pops. If you don't have plastic freezer-pop molds, use 5-ounce paper cups. Cover the filled cups with foil, make a small hole in the foil with a knife and insert a wooden stick.
S'more Pie a la Marshmallow Crème
Cream cheese brings body and richness to so-chocolatey mousse filling. More wow comes from the blend of marshmallow crème and crème de cacao draped over the top.
Pink Lemonade Strawberry Shortcake
Pink lemonade concentrate gives a summery twist to classic strawberry shortcake.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Biggies
Our chewy, saucer-size cookie is delicious by itself, but for a warm-weather treat, it makes generous ice cream sandwiches when filled with tiny scoops of vanilla and chocolate ice cream.
Mini Peach Melba Ice Cream Cake
Crystallized ginger adds unexpected zip to frosty peaches, raspberries and ice cream.
Angel Food Cake with Strawberries and Elderflower Cream
To "bring the smell of the field" into this dessert, chef James Bloomfield of Alliance restaurant in Traverse City, Michigan, infuses whipping cream with fresh elderflowers. Get the same effect with a splash of St-Germain.
Pina Colada Cupcakes
Cocktail meets cupcake with the tropical marriage of pineapple preserves, crunchy macaroon bits and toasted coconut. We bet you won't even miss the rum.
Summer Breeze Lime Pie
A triple dose of lime-zest, juice and curd-gives this dreamy pie its refreshing flavor. The pretzel crust adds unexpected salty punch.
Raspberry Swirl Angel Food Cake
A subtle swirl of fresh raspberries infuses this homemade angel food cake with light fruit flavor. Like all angel food cakes, it has no fat or cholesterol.
Tropical Ambrosia Shortcake
Classic shortcake meets church-basement standard ambrosia salad in this surprising and crowd-pleasing dessert that's packed with tropical fruit flavor.
Peanut Butter-Fudge Pie
Vanilla ice cream, gooey fudge sauce and peanuts sit on a chewy rice-cereal crust. Trust us, it's out of this world-perfect for potlucks or family dinners.
Raspberry Cheesecake Bars
Layers of cheesecake, raspberry filling, almonds and coconut form dessert bars perfect for summer picnics and potlucks.
Black Forest Freezer Pie
This layered dessert combines cream cheese, powdered sugar and whipped dessert topping over vanilla ice cream in a graham cracker crust. When you're ready to serve the pie, spoon on cherry pie filling, and drizzle with fudge topping. The recipe is from Friske's Farm Market near Ellsworth, Michigan.
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Sundaes
Quickly warm pineapple in butter and brown sugar, then spoon the softened fruit over crumbled pound cake and dulce de leche ice cream.
Peach Upside-Down Cake
The family behind Illinois' Rendleman Orchards has amassed some great peach recipes in 135 years of growing peaches. This cake is no exception. Peach slices and brown sugar form a moist base for the tender, square cake -- and when flipped over, that base becomes the topping.
Lemon-Cream Cheese Pie
This creamy lemon pie, a longtime reader-favorite recipe, is a signature dessert at Al's Oasis, a family restaurant along the east bank of the Missouri River in Chamberlain, South Dakota.
Honey-Rosemary Shortbread Cookies
Chicago chef Myk Banas created these utterly delicious and subtly sophisticated cookies.
Creamy Peach Yogurt Pie
Juicy peach slices mix with peach jam to make an ultra-easy topping for this no-bake yogurt pie.
Cherry Phosphate Icebox Pie
A humble pie if you ever saw one, this unassuming potluck star has an almondy crust and a yogurt-based filling that mimics the acidic tang of a phosphate. Amaretti (Italian almond cookies) are available at large supermarkets. You can substitute graham cracker crumbs.
Triple-Chocolate Ice Cream Cake
Layer ice cream with a mixture of cookie crumbs, chocolate pieces and pecans to make this striped frozen dessert.
Pistachio Pavlova with Fresh Berries
Mildly nutty meringue cradles fresh berries in this classic dessert named for a ballerina. Use your favorite nut to flavor the meringue. Our Test Kitchen recommends pistachios, almonds or pecans. Any fruit works: blueberries, kiwi, bananas.
Vanilla Cake Batter Ice Cream
Cake and ice cream go together like peanut butter and jelly-so why not combine them in one sweet scoop?
Blueberry Almond Bars
At the Marshall County Fair's annual Blueberry Bake-A-Rama in Plymouth, Indiana, Lori Van Der Weele took home the Grand Champion award with this recipe that combines blueberries, butter, white baking pieces and almonds.
Ice Cream Chocolate Shell
This super-easy homemade ice cream topping doesn't harden quite as fast as that magical store-bought stuff, but it packs a lot more chocolate flavor. Plus, it's totally customizable with different flavors of chips! Store it in the pantry to zap in the microwave whenever you want to crack your spoon into something delicious.
Root Beer Float Ice Cream Sandwiches
Stirring crushed root beer barrels into sugar-cookie dough adds irresistible sparkle and spot-on float flavor-especially when you add scoops of vanilla ice cream between two cooled cookies.
Chocolatey Frozen-Mint Dessert
This refreshing make-ahead dish from a Witten, South Dakota, reader combines a chocolate graham cracker crust with chocolate chip mint ice cream and a homemade chocolate sauce. Try different combinations of ice cream and crust for your own dessert invention.
Ice Cream Cookie Cake
We created Ice Cream Cookie Cake in honor of Indiana, the top ice cream-producing state in the Midwest. You can mix and match cookies and ice cream to make this frosty, no-bake treat that's also an easy make-ahead dessert.
Tropical Fruit Freeze
This slushy ice tastes like a sweet snowball. Just freeze the ingredients together in a container. Then let it stand at room temperature 30 to 60 minutes before scraping off the icy mix.