17 Delicious Desserts Perfect for Peak Summer

Frozen Strawberry Trifle
Photo: CAITLIN BENSEL

Trying to figure out a dessert course for your next backyard barbecue, or just looking for easy after-dinner treats to give your kids? Look no further. This list of ultimate summer desserts has something for every sweet tooth, whether you prefer a chocolatey treat, scoop of ice cream, tropical ice pop, or a fresh fruit cobbler.

If you're looking for a grand finale to serve at the big family gathering or a sweet treat to celebrate the everyday, you'll find it on our list of best summer dessert recipes. And if you're interested in some savory recipe inspiration, too, we have the ultimate guide to simple summer meal ideas here.

These sweet recipes are fast and easy, so you'll be able to actually enjoy your own patio party for once!

01 of 17

Watermelon Mojito Granita

Watermelon Mojito Granita
Antonis Achilleos

This refreshing granita recipe is practically perfect for a hot summer day spent by the pool. It's made with watermelon, white rum, and mint jelly, as well as a generous dose of acidic lime juice. Even if you're not into the typically gritty texture of granita, we urge you to give this recipe a try. The mint jelly gives it an irresistibly silky texture that's hard to say no to.

02 of 17

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Scones

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Victor Protasio

White chocolate and macadamia nut is a proven winning combo in cookies, so it's no surprise that the duo is right at home between the flaky layers of a scone. Each scone is blanketed in a buttery caramel glaze, a few more macadamia nuts for crunch, and some flakes of sea salt for an elegant finish.

03 of 17

Apricot Almond Cake

Apricot Almond Cake
Greg DuPree

Stone fruits—think apricots, peaches, plums, mangoes, and cherries—have their peak season from June to September, which means you can totally make them the stars of your summer desserts. Here, apricots are paired with almonds (another stone fruit) via almond flour, almond milk, and almond extract, which accentuates the apricots' floral notes. This plant-based treat will be a hit with vegans and omnivores alike.

04 of 17

Frozen Strawberry Trifle

Frozen Strawberry Trifle
Caitlin Bensel

If you're hosting a backyard party and need a make-ahead dessert, this trifle is it. It's made with only five ingredients—fresh and frozen strawberries, sugar, cream, ladyfingers, and ice cream—and is refreshingly cool since your freezer will do most of the work. While you can serve this dessert at any point, it's especially tasty in the summer when you can top it with freshly harvested strawberries.

05 of 17

No-Churn Papaya Ice Cream

papaya-ice-cream-0419foo
Victor Protasio

What is there to say about no-churn papaya ice cream? So much. First of all, it's way easier to make than regular ice cream, since all you have to do is whip up heavy cream with sweetened condensed milk and fold in some papaya. No special equipment needed! Not to mention, it's delicious, too. Scoop right out of the freezer or turn into decadent sundaes with roasted pineapple, toasted coconut flakes, and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.

06 of 17

Lemon-Blueberry Cake

Lemon-Blueberry Cake Recipe
Greg DuPree

For an easy dessert that will wow any summertime guests, give this refreshing icebox cake a whirl. It calls for vanilla sandwich cookies, pillowy whipped cream, jammy blueberries, which peak in the summer, and tart lemon sorbet. Translation: There's a little something for everyone in this colorful confection.

07 of 17

Peach Cobbler Trifle

Peach Cobble Trifle Recipe
Greg DuPree

Peaches and cream? Yes. please! Here, juicy peaches, which are at their peak during the summer months, are bathed in sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon before being paired with heavy whipping cream and a store-bought pound cake. Pop this baby in the freezer so it gets a nice, refreshing chill.

08 of 17

Coconut Cake Doughnuts

coconut-cake-doughnuts-0419
Victor Protasio

The beauty of making doughnuts at home is that you don't have to wait in line or feel bad about eating seconds, or…thirds. And these are so delicious, you'll probably want the whole batch. The batter has coconut cream and nutmeg for a delicious tropical vibe, and after frying 'em you'll toss the doughnuts in a cinnamon-spiked coconut-sugar mixture. For a brunch treat, serve with coffee, or if you're serving as dessert, a rum-spiked cocktail would pair perfectly.

09 of 17

Cantaloupe-Coconut Ice Pops

Cantaloupe Coconut Ice Pops
Victor Protasio

When the temperatures rise, the last thing you want to do is cook something really complicated. Luckily, these vibrant cantaloupe-coconut ice pops require only 20 minutes of hands-on prep. You can also make them ahead of time, which is helpful if you're hosting a big barbecue or pool party. Look for top of the season summer cantaloupe, which is deliciously sweet and pairs perfectly with the sweet basil-coconut cream that draws out the floral notes of the fruit. A finishing touch of toasted coconut at the bottom of each pop adds a satisfying crunch.

10 of 17

Mango Pound Cake

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Victor Protasio

Here's a fun twist on your average quick bread—a not-too-sweet loaf that folds in fresh chopped mango, while a blend of coconut oil and melted butter makes for a perfectly moist texture. Not only does coconut oil add delicious tropical flavor, it draws out the floral notes of mango. If you, by some miracle, have leftover cake, griddle up thick slices in melted butter. Bonus points for topping them with a scoop of ice cream or mango sorbet.

11 of 17

Dark Chocolate Coconut Tartlets

Healthy Desserts Recipes: Dark Chocolate Coconut Tartlets
Jennifer Causey

Sneak some protein into dessert time with sunflower seed butter or any other creamy nut butter. When mixed with silky melted dark chocolate, it's the filling for an insanely easy coconut tartlets dessert recipe.

12 of 17

Mixed Berry Biscuit Cobbler

Mixed Berry Biscuit Cobbler
Kelsey Hansen

The warm, fluffy biscuits are the real star here, and have uses far beyond cobbler. Scoop them onto a baking sheet and bake until golden, then build strawberry shortcakes or serve with warm stone fruit.

13 of 17

Honey Whole Wheat Strawberry Clafoutis

Honey Whole Wheat Strawberry Clafoutis
Kelsey Hansen

Have you ever roasted or broiled strawberries? It brings out their natural sweetness and softens them to an almost spoonable consistency. We used the technique to add flavor to our whole wheat clafoutis, which is a sweet addition to any summer menu.

14 of 17

Vanilla Peaches in Rosé

Vanilla Peaches in Rosé
Victor Protasio

Peaches and rosé join forces to create this dessert, which is basically summer in a bowl. Oh, and there's plenty of vanilla ice cream too. You'll start by making a syrup with rosé and sugar, plus vanilla and anise for aromatic floral notes. Then, you'll pour this over cut peaches and let them soak up the delicious flavors. Finally, serve the peaches over vanilla ice cream, with extra syrup drizzled on top. Trust us, you'll be making this dessert all summer long.

15 of 17

Banana Pudding Pie Bars With Meringue Topping

Banana Pudding Pie Bars With Meringue Topping
Brie Passano

Imagine eating a giant bowl of banana pudding, except it's served atop a Nilla Wafer crust and comes topped with toasty, fluffy, marshmallow-y meringue. The homemade vanilla pudding is a star on its own, so save the recipe and serve it with warm fruit or layered in a trifle.

16 of 17

Lemon Ricotta Cake

Lemon Ricotta Dump Cake
Caitlin Bensel

No mixing bowl needed—simply combine all the ingredients for this light and fluffy, sweet and easy breakfast casserole and pop it in the oven.

17 of 17

Honeydew and Blackberry Ice Cream Sundaes

Honeydew Blackberry Sundaes
Victor Protasio

There's nothing wrong with a scoop of vanilla or chocolate ice cream on a hot day, but if you're looking for something a bit different that also happens to highlight some scrumptious summer fruit, don't skip this sundae recipe. You'll start by stirring together a sesame-almond brittle that's infused with honey, and then nestle scoops of blackberry ice cream with honeydew melon. And if you love a little crunch, you'll be pleased to know that this dessert is topped with shards of the sweet brittle and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.

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