WRITTEN BY Rachael Medina
Rachael Medina is the staff writer and content manager for California.com. She was born and raised just outside the Mojave Desert in Southern California and moved to the redwood forests of Humboldt C…See full bio
Sweet grilled peaches, a refreshing lime popsicle, and a slightly tart berry pie—these easy summer desserts are what California dreams are made of. Whether you prefer fruity dessert recipes or have a hankering for summer pie like your grandma used to make, getting creative with the Golden State’s plentiful produce can turn all your ideas into the mouthwatering treats you’ll crave for years to come.
From blackberries and basil to plums and figs, there are all kinds of incredible summer produce grown in California’s diverse landscapes, so you’ll never have to choose between eating seasonally and having a wide variety of dessert options. Since in-season fruits naturally taste delicious, it’s easy to avoid added sugars or complicated cooking instructions—though there are endless possibilities for complex desserts, too—and confidently please any palate. With so much to choose from, the toughest part of planning your summertime desserts is figuring out what to make first. Read on to discover your new favorite summer dessert recipes.
Fruity, fresh, and vibrant flavors are the best additions to summer desserts, and thanks to California’s cornucopia of fruits and vegetables, there’s no end to the delicious treats you can make. From strawberry shortcake and cherry pie to grilled peaches and watermelon popsicles, there are too many incredible combinations to count. Whether you’re looking to host an all-day bake fest at your house or searching for a simple guilty pleasure to quell your sweet tooth, these fresh recipes are sure to satisfy.
Whether you’re planning a summer bash with your close friends or hosting a festive celebration with your housemates, you can’t go wrong with a thoughtful dessert—but with these easy summer dessert recipes, you won’t have to spend hours in the kitchen.
S’mores are a summertime classic that needn’t be saved for your occasional camping trips. These ooey-gooey treats are so easy to make and offer a great bonding opportunity at any social gathering.
Set out all the ingredients and (safely) light the firepit for a traditional experience, or opt for oven-roasted s’mores if you’d rather stay inside. No matter how you choose to warm up your dessert, you’re sure to enjoy the indulgent taste of these California-inspired s’mores
1 package organic honey graham crackers from Berkeley’s Annie’s Homegrown
1 package Sonoma’s Smash Mallows
1 package local raspberries, strawberries, or pitted cherries
Since popsicles were invented in California and they’re made ahead of time, popsicles are incredible party treats. For the most flavorful summer dessert pops, use a mixture of your favorite summer fruits from your local CSA box—such as apricots, blackberries, blueberries, watermelon, peaches, or strawberries—and be prepared to freeze them overnight.
5 cups cubed watermelon, seeded and divided
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves
½ tablespoon local honey
2 ½ cups blueberries, divided
¾ cup apple juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons honey
4 cups blackberries, divided
1 ½ tablespoon fresh lime juice
4 tablespoons local honey or organic cane sugar
If you’re looking for a healthy, flavorful dessert for a cookout or for a Friday night, these recipes always make good options.
Is there a better way to savor sweet, plump California cherries than in a pie? We think not, so treat your guests (or yourself) with this comforting, deeply satisfying dessert.
Chilled pie dough
¼ cup cornstarch
½ cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 ½ cups fresh cherries, pitted
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small squares
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
Sugar, to taste
Summertime means it’s grilling time, so why not throw your dessert into the mix? This easy recipe is very customizable, too, making it an excellent choice for groups and celebrations when you want to skip out on loads of added sugars.
4 ripe peaches
2 graham crackers, crushed
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon local honey
Salt, to taste
(Pro tip: Top the peaches with a scoop of your favorite California ice cream for a truly decadent experience.)
Cool down with this dairy-free summer treat to reinvigorate your love for vegan ice cream. Substitute the strawberries for cherries, boysenberries, or blueberries, and make this smooth dessert all season long.
1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered (about 2 cups)
¼ cup natural cane sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ tablespoon lemon juice
2 cans full-fat coconut milk
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
Now that you’ve got the dessert covered, you’re ready to sit back and enjoy your summer.