Summer’s here, and along with the warm weather, pool time and long weekends come plenty of get-togethers with family and friends. To help you wow your guests, we’ve combed through some of the best new cookbooks that offer fun, fresh, and even good-for-you recipes to try as you fire up the grill and put the drinks on ice.

The Grilling Book - book jacket

Everything You Need to Know About Grilling

The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide from Bon Appétit, edited by Adam Rapoport (Andrews McMeel, May 2013, $45) lives up to its name: It’s 430 pages full of valuable information. The book includes 380 recipes covering everything from the basics (how to build a fire) to inventive entrées (Green Shawarma Salmon). The book also includes a great section on beverages to try with grilled food, including the yellow jacket — an alcohol-free, juice-based refresher that’s reminiscent of a snow cone. There are chapters for every need and taste, including burgers, hot dogs, shellfish, flatbreads and pizza, but many weekend chefs will find that the section on grill prep and the Getting It Right sidebars, which include an argument for grilled corn on the cob with and without husk, are most helpful. 

Bonus recipe from The Grilling Book: Click here for Yogurt-Marinated Chicken Breasts.

No-Bake Makery - Book Jacket

Portion-Controlled Treats

No-Bake Makery: More Than 80 Two-Bite Treats Made With Lovin’, Not An Oven, by Cristina Suarez Krumsick (Grand Central Life and Style, May 2013, $20), features goodies that can be made without an oven — unless you count the microwave, and we don’t! Even better, most of the recipes result in small or individual portions that you can easily serve (and sample!) without guilt. Be sure to check out the “breakfast for dessert” section — the mini pancake stacks are irresistible. We also love the fruity two-bite truffles, made with shortbread cookies and strawberry jam, as a summertime alternative to strawberry shortcake. Of course, there are chocolate options, too, like the delicious mini pudding pops, which are sure to please any chocolate lover.

Bonus Recipe from No Bake Makery: Click here for Strawberry Nutella Icebox Cake.

The Prophets of Smoked Meat Book Jacket

Secret Pitmaster Recipes

The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue, by Daniel Vaughn (Ecco/An Anthony Bourdain Book, May 2013, $19.99), is primarily a narrative of the author’s fabulous journey through Texas for the best “‘cue,” but Vaughn also includes some of the best pitmaster recipes you’ll ever try.

Even if you don’t have a backyard smoke pit — and don't anticipate a desire to ever build one — you can experiment with some of the brines and rubs.

Crackers and Dips: More Than 50 Homemade Snacks - book jacket

Great Snacks for Parties

Crackers and Dips: More Than 50 Homemade Snacks, by Ivy Manning (Chronicle Books, June 2013, $19.95), delivers plenty of both party foods, including deliciously easy frico with basil “crackers” that are essentially melted, grated cheese. With 52 recipes from this Portland, Oregon-based food writer and baker, there are many options to try.

If you’re not ready to bake, however, you may choose to buy the crackers of your choice and mix up a dip, like wasabi-edamame shmear — it’s low-fat, full of protein and a great alternative to the usual guacamole. Manning’s dips emphasize flavor and fresh ingredients over fat and salt, making them perfect for a healthy cookout.

Bonus recipe from Crackers and Dips: Click here for Wasabi Edamame Schmear.

Art Smith’s Healthy Comfort Book Jacket

Better-For-You Comfort Food

Art Smith’s Healthy Comfort: How America’s Favorite Celebrity Chef Got It Together, Lost Weight, and Reclaimed His Health by Art Smith (HarperOne, May 2013, $27.99), shows what happens when a Southern chef who used to be “the king of comfort and the sultan of comfort food” chooses to change his life and his recipes (Smith has lost 120 pounds and says he wrestled type 2 diabetes into submission). Some of his recipes are simple, like grilled watermelon, while others, like his unfried chicken, take a bit more time but are definitely worth the effort. All will help readers — and — eaters transform old favorites into healthy must-haves. Smith lightens up other picnic standards, too, including a chopped salad with lemon dressing, sweet potato salad and green beans and tomatoes.

Bonus recipe from Healthy Comfort: Click here for Unfried Chicken with Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Franny’s Simple Seasonal Italian book jacket

A Bite of Brooklyn

Franny’s Simple Seasonal Italian by Andrew Feinberg, Francine Stephens and Melissa Clark (Artisan Books, May 2013, $35), showcases family-style Southern Italian cooking from the renowned New York restaurant. Sure, that means pasta — but it also means plenty of delicious ideas for salads and vegetables, like shaved asparagus with Parmigiano-Reggiano, lemon and black pepper; refreshing cucumber salad; marinated zucchini with mint and garlic — all of which can be prepared ahead of time, leaving you more time to enjoy the party! The pizzas, which range from super simple (olive oil and sea salt) to layered (tomato, provolone picante and roasted onion), can be adapted for cooking on almost any grill — gas or charcoal.