Summer is the season for fun, sunshine, and of course, delicious desserts! When the weather heats up, there’s nothing better than cooling off with a refreshing, sweet treat. Desserts shine in the summer months—the fresh fruits, ice creams, and light custards perfectly counter the hot temperatures. Desserts are truly the star of summer meals and parties.
According to a survey in 2012, over 90% of Americans report eating ice cream regularly and during the summer. So, it’s clear that desserts are an essential part of summertime indulgence.
Let’s explore 10 must-try summer desserts, from ice cream classics to fruit-filled tarts. These sweet treats will keep you feeling cool and satisfied all season long.
1. Homemade Ice Cream
What better way to beat the heat than with a bowl of homemade ice cream? Making your own ice cream is surprisingly easy with just a few simple ingredients like cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla. The base mixture can be flavored endlessly with fresh summer fruits like strawberries, peaches, or mango.
Part of the fun is churning the ice cream yourself using an old-fashioned hand crank or electric ice cream maker. Kids especially will love taking turns turning the handle and watching their delicious creations come together.
Homemade ice cream is so creamy and fresh—store-bought just can’t compare! We loved making this on hot summer nights and serving it topped with chocolate syrup and sprinkles for the kids. It’s the perfect summer party activity!
2. Strawberry Swiss Roll Cake
Light, airy sponge cake gets rolled up with fresh strawberries for a beautiful summer dessert. Making this impressive-looking cake is easier to make than you think, so just find a good homemade Swiss roll recipe and get started. You can also have your kids help you out in the kitchen. Give it a shot; it’s sure to be the star of any summer party spread!
3. Ice Cream Sandwiches
For the ultimate ice cream sandwich, spread your favorite ice cream flavor between two cookies. We love using homemade chocolate chip or sugar cookies and sandwiches with a scoop of mint chocolate chip or cookies & cream ice cream.
The ice cream will start to melt quickly, so it’s best to assemble these right before serving. You can also freeze the assembled sandwiches for up to a month. Ice cream sandwiches are a nostalgic treat and so easy to grab and eat on hot days. Make a batch to have on hand for kids’ birthday parties all summer long.
4. Banana Splits
Banana splits make for a festive and fun summer dessert, especially for kids. Start with a banana sliced lengthwise and topped with scoops of 3 different ice cream flavors. Next, add your favorite toppings like chocolate sauce, sprinkles, whipped cream, and maraschino cherries.
The banana splits can be assembled in advance and stored in the freezer until ready to serve. Let them sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before serving to enjoy perfectly softened ice cream.
5. Homemade Popsicles
Popsicles are the ultimate nostalgic summer treat. Blend together fresh fruit and juice for healthy homemade pops that are so much better than store-bought ones. Some fun combinations include strawberry banana, mango pineapple, or mixed berry.
For creamier popsicles, blend in yogurt or coconut milk. You can also puree cooked fruits like peaches for a thicker, ice cream-like texture. Fresh herbs like mint or basil add a refreshing twist. Pour the mixtures into popsicle molds or small paper cups and freeze until solid, at least 6 hours. Enjoy these homemade pops as a healthy snack or dessert on a hot day!
6. Peach Cobbler
Take advantage of summer’s juicy, ripe peaches with a classic peach cobbler. The sweet fruit filling and tender biscuit topping are the essence of summer dessert.
Keep the prep easy by using store-bought pie dough for the topping. Fresh sliced peaches get deliciously syrupy when baked with sugar, cinnamon, and a touch of lemon. Dollop the cobbler with ice cream or whipped cream for an extra layer of decadence. Warm peach cobbler can be enjoyed for dessert or even breakfast!
7. Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry shortcake is a beloved summer tradition and for good reason. Fresh strawberries and fluffy biscuits topped with whipped cream create a simple, delicious dessert. You can bake your own shortcakes or use store-bought ones for convenience.
Be sure to avoid soggy shortcakes by splitting and filling them just before serving. Macerated strawberries help draw out the juices and intensify the flavor. Spoon juicy berries over each shortcake, finishing with dollops of whipped cream. This classic can be made with other summer berries, too, like raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries.
8. Lemon Bars
Pucker up with refreshing lemon bars featuring a tangy lemon curd filling over a crisp shortbread crust. They’re the perfect balance of sweet and tart. Make them ahead of time since the bars need to chill for at least 2 hours before cutting.
The prep is easy with store-bought crust and just 15 minutes of baking time. The bright citrus flavor makes these bars ideal for summer gatherings like bridal showers and picnics. For variety, try swapping in lime or key lime juice. A dusting of powdered sugar adds the final touch of sweetness.
9. Fruit Tarts
Showcase summer’s bounty of fresh fruit on a stunning fruit tart. Arrange eye-catching slices of kiwi, mango, berries, and stone fruits over a creamy filling and crisp pastry shell. Homemade is best, but you can also use a store-bought pie crust for ease. Pastry cream, whipped cream, or even vanilla pudding make great tart fillings. Top the finished tart with an apricot glaze for an extra pop of sweetness and shine. Fruit tarts are a refreshing finale for backyard BBQs and summer soirees.
Summer and dessert go hand in hand. From ice cream classics to fresh fruit tarts, these 9 recipes will keep you feeling cool, refreshed, and satisfied all season long. Desserts really shine in summer when abundant fresh fruits and simple, creamy flavors are at their peak. Backyard barbecues, beach trips, and warm weather fun are all made better with a sweet, indulgent treat. Beat the heat this summer by whipping up a batch of homemade ice cream, assembling ice cream sandwiches, or letting the kids make their own banana splits. Fruit-filled cobblers, shortcakes, and tarts are also easy ways to enjoy summer’s bounty. Dessert lovers rejoice—with so many tasty options, summer is definitely the sweetest season!