4 Fresh Summer Salad Recipes for Your Next BBQ


It’s that time of year again when sandcastles, boating and fireworks fill our calendar and BBQs become a way of dining for a few glorious months. Although we all have our go-to cookout dish, new summer salad recipes are fun to make, and enjoy. My summer salads are delicious as-is, but lend well to modifications depending on what you like – or what you have available in the fridge. So go on mama, add those sliced almonds, corn, black beans or seasoned chicken strips – whatever you like!

Zucchini Noodle Salad

Zucchini Noodle Salad


  • 1 large zucchini or 2 small, spiralized
  • ½ pint grape tomatoes, sliced
  • ½ avocado, cubed
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • ¼-1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, shredded or chopped
  • balsamic vinegar to taste
  • fresh basil to tastezucchini noodles

Noodle the zucchini using a spiralizer (pictured). I have been using the same off-brand spiralizer for many years now that I bought on Amazon. It was roughly $20 and came with three different blade types for varying noodle shapes. If you don’t have or want to buy a spiralizer, most grocery stores are now carrying pre-packaged zucchini noodles. If you are using a spiralizer, the trick is to get the straightest zucchini possible for consistent noodle density and to prevent having to start and stop to adjust the zucchini’s alignment. This is quite literally the hardest part of this summer salad recipe, so hang in there. Once done, simply add all the other ingredients and blend together. Because this is a cold salad there is no need to cook the zucchini noodles or dry them out with paper towels to remove excess water.

Sweet Apple Cranberry Quinoa Salad


  • 2 containers of ‘apple cranberry quinoa salad’ from Trader Joe’s
  • 5oz bag of arugula
  • 1 cucumber
  • 8 sweet peppers, mini

I created this summer salad recipe out of pure desperation just last weekend for a BBQ. I had committed to bringing a dish but found myself with no time after a week of work travel. So, I headed to Trader Joe’s with my fingers crossed and about 20 minutes to spare. I quickly found the ‘Apple Cranberry Quinoa Salad’ in the pre-made section of the produce area. But, they only had two packages which would not be enough by itself for all the guests. So, I thought, ‘what can I add to this to make it a bigger salad?’. Cue arugula! Ah arugula, with its tangy and fresh taste, is a perfect match with the apples and cranberries in the quinoa. For a little extra veggie count I added cucumbers (a salad staple in my opinion) and mini sweet peppers to the mix. When I got home I just tossed everything together in a large bowl and headed out to the BBQ. Much to my relief this last minute summer salad recipe was a huge hit!

Quinoa Spinach Salad

Ingredients: avocado ranch summer salad

  • 1 cup tri-color quinoa
  • 5oz baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 cucumber, quartered
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, diced
  • Primal Kitchen Avocado Ranch Dressing or balsamic vinaigrette to taste

Cook quinoa according to package directions. Once cooled, add in remaining ingredients and stir. I have done several variations of this salad, adding in and swapping items as desired; mozzarella, avocado, chicken breast and shaved brussels sprouts are a few things I’ve tried with much success. I also used to only dress this summer salad with balsamic vinaigrette but recently found (and am now addicted to) Primal Kitchen’s Avocado Ranch dressing. I first saw it at Target but just last week spotted it at Hannaford (win!). 

Tabbouleh Salad

Tabouleh Summer Salad


  • 1 package of tabbouleh (7oz)
  • 5oz package of Lef Farms crisp mix or spice blend
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage 
  • 1 cucumber (because as I mentioned, no salad is complete without one)
  • ½ pint grape tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cups baked chickpeas, sea salt (I use Biena)
  • Original hummus to taste, per serving

It was more recently that I discovered the unique favor blend of tabbouleh. Although I liked it, I wasn’t really sure how to eat it. Is it a spread, a dip, a side dish or part of a main course? I’m still not entirely sure, but this fresh twist on a summer salad works! Like the other salads, this is a ‘mix together and go’ type of dish. To speed up prep time, simply buy the pre-shredded cabbage, or get a bag of cole slaw mix in your product section and ditch the dressing packet. I do recommend you add the hummus on a per-serving basis like you would dressing, otherwise the hummus can make the salad soggy after sitting out for a bit on the BBQ table. 


There you have it! These summer salads are bursting with color and flavor, and sure to be a hit at the next neighborhood bbq or family cookout. Which summer salad recipe will you try first?