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Homemade BBQ lamb doner kebab in a pitta

25 top summer party food ideas

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Try these excellent sharing dishes, party nibbles and picnic platters, plus BBQ mains and pitchers that will result in maximum enjoyment with minimal effort.

Summer is finally here, and what better way to soak in the rays than by gathering in the garden with refreshing drinks and delicious food? If you’re catering for a crowd, the last thing you want to do is spend all your time in the kitchen, so we've brought together our best fuss-free summer party dishes, from finger food to share and fall-off-the-bone BBQ ideas, to sweet treats to finish off the day. These dishes all require minimal effort, which will lead to more relaxation in the sunshine. There are plenty of reasons to host a gathering this year, from the May bank holiday to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, so get cooking and impress your neighbours and loved ones with these top ideas.

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Sharing dishes

1) Healthy veggie platter 

A platter of mixed vegetables

This vibrant vegetable platter is perfect for a summer party. Made in just three simple steps, it's entirely hassle-free. The tahini and lemon dressing adds zesty, nutty richness. The platter is a great accompaniment to barbecued meats, but is fresh enough to be a light lunch in its own right.

Find more inspiration for summer side dishes that burst with colour and flavour.

2) Seared tuna & cucumber salad 

This sharing salad is topped with flavour-packed marinated tuna steaks – great for lunch or a light dinner. Sear tuna, then marinate in the fridge for an hour. Tip all the vegetables into a large serving platter, toss with lime juice and mirin and let stand for 30 minutes before dressing. Top with the tuna and sprinkle with coriander seeds before serving.

Discover more delicious summer salads.

3) Smoky veggie nachos 

A plate of nachos with lots of toppings

These vegetarian nachos are the perfect finger food to kick-start a summer party. The nachos are made from baked soft corn tortillas, offering a healthy alternative to shop-bought options. Unlike most party food, these nachos are healthy, boasting plenty of folate, fibre and vitamin c.

Try other popular Mexican dishes, such as tacos, tortillas, fajitas, burritos and quesadillas, with our Mexican recipe collection.

4) Summer vegetable & flatbread platter with dill & mustard dip

Fresh vegetable platter with dip

This is al fresco dining at its finest. The mustard and dill dip brings a punch of flavour to the sweeter fresh veg. Enhance the platter even further by pairing it with our homemade flatbreads or pittas, perfect for dunking.

5) Buffalo cauliflower

cauliflower in sauce next to cucumber and dip

Vegetarians and carnivores alike will enjoy this veggie take on the American classic. Mix your batter – made with paprika, cumin, garlic powder, flour, salt and buttermilk – dunk in your cauliflower florets and bake for 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile, melt together hot sauce, maple syrup and butter, then coat the florets in the sauce and return to the oven for 10 minutes more. Serve alongside a ranch dip and some celery sticks.

Get inspired by more Stateside favourites, from burgers and hotdogs, to pancakes and pies, with our American recipes.

Street party

1) Nutty chicken satay strips

Chicken strips alongside cucumber and dip and plates of other finger food

These nutty chicken satay strips are perfect for a street party, as they are delicious served hot or cold. With the Queen’s Jubilee approaching, serve dishes inspired by global flavours to celebrate Britain's melting pot of cultures.

2) Cheese & pesto whirls 

Baking tray of pastry swirls

These herby tear-and-share bread rolls are luxurious, oozing with mozzarella and bursting with the tangy sweetness of sundried tomatoes. To boost the flavours further and impress your neighbours and friends, make the rolls using one of our delectable pesto recipes.

3) Jamaican veggie patties 

Jamaican patties and hot sauce alongside another plate of starters

These Jamaican vegetable patties are ideal for a street party, as they can easily be transported. They're also freezable, so you can make them ahead and pop them in the oven just before taking them to the party.

For more pastry parcels that are perfect for picnics, check out our pasty recipe collection.

4) Coronation chicken pie 

A pie next to a yellow goblet on an orange plate

Serve this delicious, gently spiced chicken pie warm or cold – it will be a winner either way! It may look like a show-stopping centrepiece, but as it’s made using ready-made puff pastry, it’s simple to make.

For more pie inspiration, whether you like sweet and savoury, browse our pie recipes collection.

5) NYC-style hot dogs with street-cart onions

A tray of hot dogs with siracha and bowls of dip

These New York-style hot dogs are the perfect addition to a summer BBQ. They take only 30 minutes to make from start to finish. There are many options for cooking the frankfurters, so if your BBQ is full, don’t fret. You could also cook them in a griddle pan for that same charred flavour.

Hot dogs will never go out of style, so why not check out our other  hot dog recipes to find topping and sauce inspiration, including classic fried onions and next level accompaniments.

Picnic

1) Super sausage rolls 

Tray of sausage rolls

These super sausage rolls are made with shop-bought all-butter shortcrust pastry in just three steps. Roll out your pastry and brush with a thin layer of chutney before placing a long log of sausagemeat on top. Enclose in the pastry, then cut into 5cm lengths and chill on a baking tray before baking. At this stage, the rolls can be frozen – just add 10 minutes to the baking time to cook from frozen.

Sausage rolls make a great picnic or buffet snack and are delicious hot or cold. Try more of our sausage roll recipes to discover more flavour combinations.

2) Easy scotch eggs 

Halved scotch eggs next to dip

These delicious scotch eggs can be prepared in only 40 minutes with the help of some chef’s tricks. Create an assembly line of the whole family so everyone can get involved in the process. Wrapping the boiled egg in the sausagemeat is a craft in itself, and kids will love getting messy coating these in the breadcrumbs.

A scotch egg is a staple of British summertime, but just because something is good doesn't mean it can't be better. We have many variations on this classic in our scotch egg recipes collection, from spicy Benghali scotch eggs to healthy vegetarian falafel scotch eggs.

3) Cheese & piccalilli tart

Multiple plates of tart

Tarts are a wonderful picnic and summer party food, as they can be easily transported and shared. This cheese and piccalilli tart has a crisp base, and the tang of the piccalilli cuts through the creaminess of the cheese filling. Serve with a fresh salad.

4) Mini quiches 

Blue plate with two forks and mini quiches

Make a traditional quiche lorraine more portable with these mini bites. The smaller size makes them very easy to serve at a party.

From classic recipes for picnics and street parties, to elevated ideas for sophisticated dinners, there's plenty more inspiration in our quiche recipes collection.

5) Veggie rainbow picnic pie

Colourful layered pie

Packed with veggies, feta and egg, this vegetarian pastry is part tortilla, part pie. Bursting with summer colours, it'll bring the wow factor at any picnic.

Barbecue

1) Spring lamb skewers with lightly pickled allotment salad

Skewered lamb with a dip

Pair charred, juicy lamb on skewers with the freshness and crunch of garden vegetables in a pickled dressing. Marinate the lamb for a couple of hours, then thread the meat onto skewers alongside seasoned vegetables. Barbecue for 3-4 minutes on each side, and serve with a fresh side salad.

For more tasty skewers, souvlaki and kebabs to cook over the coals, check out our barbecue skewers recipes. 

2) Pulled BBQ aubergine & black bean burgers 

Three burgers on a plate with corn

This recipe is one for the whole family to get involved in. Kids can help scoop out the flesh of the cooled aubergines before it's baked to resemble pulled pork. This meal is high in fibre and low in fat, making it a healthy vegan alternative to classic pulled pork burgers. Load up buns with the aubergine filling and your favourite trimmings, like red onion, shredded lettuce and gherkins. Serve with a side of corn and coleslaw.

For more sustainable barbecue options, have a look at our vegan and vegetarian burgers. They're packed with protein, fibre and flavou.

3) Sizzling spare ribs with BBQ sauce 

Plate of ribs in sauce

This two-step recipe is straightforward, but not for the faint-hearted. The marinade packs a punch, as it contains scotch bonnet chilli. Rub garlic, chilli and spring onions into the ribs, then coat with the remaining ingredients before cooking over a moderately hot barbecue for 20-30 minutes. Remember to wash your hands after handling the chilli!

This budget-friendly cut of meat is highly versatile, and delicious marinated and slow-cooked or barbecued. Check out more of our favourite ribs recipes.

4) Barbecued bream with spring onions, lemon & chilli 

Whole fish in seasoning in tray

Be champion of the barbecue this summer with our barbecued sea bream. Barbecuing the fish whole will impress friends and neighbours, as you must carefully cook the bream for 8-10 minutes on both sides. This goes well with new potatoes or potato salad – just remember to flake the fish onto plates and check for pin bones.

Check out more of our barbecued fish recipes for inspiration including meaty steaks, seafood skewers, spicy prawns and stuffed whole fish.

5) Homemade BBQ lamb doner kebabs 

pitta filled with vegetables and lamb

This homemade version of the takeaway classic will be a winner with everyone – even those who aren’t normally fans of a late-night kebab. Spiced to perfection and slow-cooked, this version is barely recognisable next to its greasy cousin. Served in fluffy pittas with fresh vegetables and pickled chillis after being charred on the grill, this kebab is truly a taste sensation.

Pitchers

1) Summer cup

2 glasses of pimms

The season has truly arrived when you’re sipping a summer cup at a picnic or barbecue. The perfect mixture of naughty and nice, the lemonade and fresh fruit in this cocktail is refreshing.

2) Mojito pitcher 

Pitcher and two glasses of mojito

This refreshing cocktail is perfect for a street party like the upcoming Jubilee, as you can make six servings at once. Stick to the well-loved classic mojito, or try one of our three twists: strawberry, blueberry or mango & pineapple.

3) Rumberry punch 

Pitchers of rumberry cocktail and garnished oranges

This no-nonsense cocktail is perfect for large gatherings, as it makes a whopping 10 servings. With just three simple ingredients – dark rum, cranberry and ginger ale – it can be made quickly without emptying out the drinks cabinet. For some extra-summery vibes, garnish with juicy orange slices.

For other fruity cocktails perfect for enjoying in the summer sun, take a look at our summer cocktail recipes.

4) Watermelon lemonade 

Lemonade in watermelon with ice, mint and lemon

This watermelon lemonade looks so fantastic, it could do double duty as a table decoration for upcoming Jubilee festivities. Alcohol-free but in no way lacking pizzazz, it can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

Avoid shop-bought soft drinks and try other twists on traditional lemonade with our lemonade recipes.

5) Blueberry & mint iced tea 

A table setting of canapes with a glass and pitcher of iced tea

This blueberry and mint iced tea can be made in just two simple steps: brew peppermint tea in hot water, then pour it into a jug of muddled blueberries with ice and serve. It's a winner for a hot summer’s day as it is freezable and can be enjoyed as a slushie, too.

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Cool down this summer with more of our slushie and iced tea recipes.

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