Grandma's Favorite Summer Desserts Bring Back Sweet Memories

Guarantee a delicious season with these recipes.

atlantic beach pie in a blue pie plate

Just like some people swap their bedding with the changing seasons, we rotate our recipes as well. Not only do we showcase the freshest produce, but we also utilize certain cooking methods more during certain times of the year. When we need new recipe inspiration, the first person we turn to is Grandma. This time around, we’re revisiting Grandma’s favorite summer desserts. From juicy fruit cobblers to no-bake icebox cakes, these vintage dessert recipes will delight at every summer event. From a Lemon Lush for the ladies’ luncheon, to a batch of Peach Fried Pies for the family reunion picnic, and a Deep-Dish Berry Cobbler for the Fourth of July, these desserts from Grandma’s recipe box will guarantee a delicious season. The next time the calendar changes from one season to another, don’t consult Pinterest—go right to the best source, Grandma! 

01 of 22

Fresh Peach Cobbler

Southern Living Fresh Peach Cobbler in a bowl to serve with ice cream

Fred Hardy II; Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman

There is no dessert that screams old-fashioned summertime quite like peach cobbler. This simple version that comes together with pantry staples tastes just like Grandma’s.

02 of 22

Strawberry-Pretzel Jello Salad

Strawberry-Pretzel Jello Salad
Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Southerners know that the word “salad” doesn’t always mean a bed of greens with toppings and dressings. Sometimes, like with this nostalgic strawberry-pretzel combo, it can even be served at desert! 

03 of 22

Classic Chess Pie

plates with slices of chess pie
Photographer: Jen Causey, Prop Stylist: Christina Daley, Food Stylist: Ana Kelly

Sure, Classic Chess Pie can be served year round. But there’s something special about enjoying a slice with fresh summer berries from Grandma’s garden on top. 

04 of 22

Cherry-Nectarine Pandowdy

Cherry-Nectarine Pandowdy
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones

Similar to a cobbler in taste, this vintage dessert is much more forgiving for those of us who aren’t pastry artists. You simply have to cut the dough into squares and arrange it on top of the fruit mixture. Voila! 

05 of 22

Lemon Lush

Two slices of Lemon Lush dessert on plates with forks with a glass of lemonade and a napkin.

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Lydia Pursell

This layered, no-bake dessert is one Grandma remembers well. The hardest part is waiting for each layer to set so that the end result has beautifully defined layers. 

06 of 22

Triple Berry Sonker With Dip

Triple Berry Sonker
Photographer: Victor Protasio Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer Prop Stylist: Mary Clayton Carl Jones

This unique summer dessert is a must-try if Grandma loves cobbler. “Sonker was delicious and the crust was flaky/chewy, which was really nice on the warm berries,” wrote a five-star reviewer. “The dip... how fun! A cross between vanilla pudding and frosting, it was really good!”

07 of 22

Peach Fried Pies

Peach Fried Pies
Iain Bagwell; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

These yummy treats start with a store-bought shortcut, canned biscuits, which make them a breeze to prepare. Pack up a batch for the church potluck or a summer picnic. 

08 of 22

Éclair Cake

Eclair Cake
Molly Bolton/Southern Living

“For me, the best thing about this cake is that it's a no-bake dessert,” writes Senior Digital Food Editor Kimberly Holland. “It's also fast—from start to finish, you're only going to need about 30 minutes. But then comes the hard part: the waiting.”

09 of 22

Ginger-Plum Slump

Ginger-Plum Slump
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones

We love any excuse to get out Grandma’s beloved cast-iron skillet, and this stovetop cobbler with drop biscuits is just what we’re looking for in the summertime. 

10 of 22

Old-Fashioned Banana Pudding

a container of banana pudding with a scoop out
Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Grandma would never dream of using instant pudding, so she’d approve of this from-scratch recipe. The toasty meringue topping makes it beautiful enough for the holiday sideboard. 

11 of 22

Chocolate Delight

Ouida’s Chocolate Delight
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

This layered beauty goes by many names around the South. Whatever you call it, there’s no denying it’s a total delight, and plenty of five-star reviewers agree. 

12 of 22

Peach-Raspberry Buckle

Peach-Raspberry Buckle
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones

If you’re craving a dessert that showcases summer fruit but aren’t in the mood for a cobbler or crisp, try a buckle! Like a crumb cake, this recipe would be delicious served at brunch as easily as after supper. 

13 of 22

Atlantic Beach Pie

atlantic beach pie in a blue pie plate

We dubbed this sunny citrus recipe the easiest pie ever, and you have to try it for yourself to see why. “This pie is the perfect mix of sweet and tangy. If you like key lime pie and lemon pie, this is a marriage of the two,” wrote one reviewer. “Going in my permanent collection for summer desserts!”

14 of 22

Charlotte Russe Cake

Charlotte Russe Cake
Micah Leal

This no-bake cake is an absolute stunner for a spring or summer gathering. This vintage cake “offers all of the decadence and indulgence of what you would think when you think of French pastry, but with the added benefit that you don’t even have to turn on your oven,” says recipe developer Micah Leal. 

15 of 22

Strawberry Kuchen

Strawberry Kuchen
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones

This simple cake, studded with fresh strawberries and sliced almonds, is a lovely centerpiece for a luncheon with Grandma. 

16 of 22

Chocolate Icebox Cake

Chocolate Icebox Cake
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

This recipe from our 1972 Southern Living Party Cookbook is just as popular today. It can be prepared one day in advance and left to chill in the fridge, but wait until before serving to top it with whipped cream. 

17 of 22

7UP Bundt Cake

7-UP Bundt Cake
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner

Old-fashioned soda cakes probably take up several pages of Grandma’s recipe book. This bright Bundt cake topped with sugared lemon and lime zest screams summer. 

18 of 22

Homemade Strawberry Shortcake

Homemade Strawberry Shortcake

These pretty little shortcakes are a delight to make and enjoy—the perfect way to spend an afternoon with Grandma! Our Test Kitchen recommends using pure vanilla to make the whipped cream extra rich. 

19 of 22

Old-Fashioned Pound Cake

Old Fashioned Pound Cake
Southern Living

We might as well call this recipe “Old Faithful.” There is no occasion morning, noon, or night, that a pound cake isn’t an appropriate dessert. Add fresh summer fruit like peaches or berries on top, and you’ve made Grandma proud. 

20 of 22

Deep-Dish Berry Cobbler

Deep-Dish Berry Cobbler
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

The lattice crust on this timeless berry cobbler recipe looks professional, but we used a refrigerated pie crust shortcut to make it quick and easy for busy hosts. Don’t forget the whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving! 

21 of 22

Pineapple Cherry Dump Cake

Pineapple Cherry Dump Cake
Micah A. Leal

Some of Grandma’s recipes take a practiced hand in the kitchen to master, but old-school dump cake recipes are literally foolproof. This sweet confection gained only five-star reviews, including one that says: “I made this yesterday and it was delicious! Now I have the whole pan to myself and will probably eat some every night for the next 2 weeks, but I'm not complaining!” 

22 of 22

Best-Ever Lemon Meringue Pie

Best-Ever Lemon Meringue Pie
Southern Living

We prefer our meringue “Mile-High” for the prettiest slices of this cool and classic pie. We can’t resist a warm cup of coffee or tea with this beautiful confection. 

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