The Essential Summer Cooking Bucket List

Summer is the perfect time to experiment with new foods and flavors (especially on the grill). So to avoid getting stuck in the summertime rut of burgers and potato salad, we’ve assembled this food-themed bucket list for you to enjoy while the weather is hot!

9 Must-Dos For Your Summer Cooking Bucket List

Make Ice Cream

Making your own ice cream at home may sound intimidating (especially if you don’t own an ice cream maker), but there are tons of easy recipes for homemade ice cream that are worth a shot this summer. We particularly like this three-ingredient chocolate ice cream—it’s ready in five minutes!

Grill Fruit

Think the grill is only for meat? Wrong. Grilling fruit brings out the natural sugars and is a great way to make a quick dessert. We love grilling peaches, pineapple slices, and pears. Serve with a bit of homemade ice cream!

Have a Picnic

Pack up that rarely-used picnic basket, scope out a nice spot of green grass at the park, and set up for an afternoon of eating al fresco with the family. We even have a light and healthy picnic menu ready to go!

Make Sun Tea

Use the bright summer sun to your advantage and make some tea! Sun tea doesn’t get much easier (or energy efficient), just fill up a clear glass container with water, and put in 8-10 bags of tea per gallon of water—depending on how strong you like your tea. Then sit the container out in the sun. A few hours later, add some ice, a few fresh mint leaves, and a lemon slice for an extra refreshing drink!

Eat on a Restaurant Patio

On a day that isn’t too hot (or for brunch, before the sun starts beating down) hit up your favorite restaurant and request to sit outside. Take your time and really enjoy the beautiful weather!

Cook on the Campfire

If your family likes to camp over the summer, this is an easy one, but if you aren’t campers, try making s’mores or roasting hot dogs (we like the all-beef, all-natural variety) on your outdoor firepit. Something about food cooked over a campfire makes it taste so much better!

Have a Cookout

Put out the gingham tablecloths, fire up the grill, and invite some friends and family over for a good, old-fashioned barbecue! Summer is great for easy entertaining because folks mostly stay outside—no worries about getting the dust bunnies out from under the guest bed. Plus, there’s something about a beautiful day and being outside that makes people so happy!

Grow Your Own Food

So, you might not be a master gardener and you may even be cursed with a black thumb, but just as long as you have a sunny windowsill, we promise you can grow something. It’s so rewarding to grow your own food! Start off with a few herb plants and maybe work your way up to growing a tomato plant in a pot on your patio.

Go to the Farmer’s Market

If you aren’t a farmer’s market regular, summertime is the time to get out there and experience it! Grab yourself a cup of coffee (iced if the mercury is rising) and stroll up and down the aisles of your local market. Don’t forget to bring cash and reusable bags for toting around your treasures.

What’s your favorite way to celebrate summer?

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Cassie Johnston is an award-winning food writer and recipe developer living and working in Southern Indiana. Her work has been feature in national publications such as Gourmet Magazine and The Huffington Post. Cassie’s a big fan of strenuous hikes, cheese, watching sports, Brussels sprouts, and craft beer, and she’ll talk your ear off about her love of local food and seasonal eating. She’s obsessed with social media and loves connecting with new friends!