Easy Recipes For When It's Too Hot To Cook

If the thought of sweating over a hot stove while summer temperatures rise above 90 degrees sounds about as appealing as a root canal, you're not alone. Adding heat on top of heat and cooking up a storm, just to eat a hot meal that makes your internal temperatures rise even higher, isn't exactly our idea of comfortable. It's time to leave behind the hearty casseroles and cozy soups of fall and winter and jump into some refreshing fare that will keep you cool, with plenty of time to enjoy your summer. That's cold yet satisfying dishes — like antipasto, salads, sandwiches, and frosty-cold desserts — will truly serve you during those long summer days.

These recipes might be easy to make, but that doesn't mean we're only talking light salads here: There are lots of hearty and delicious meal, snack, and treat options that require little to no time in front of the oven or stove are often intended to serve cold, while still making for a complete meal. And even those that require some cooking can be prepared ahead of time at night or in the cooler hours of the morning, before being stored in the fridge to chill until it's mealtime. Consider the following delicious options whenever you see the temperatures climbing, and you'd rather spend your time enjoying the warmth outside than indoors.

Cold Caprese salad hits the spot on hot days

There's not a whole lot to this recipe for Caprese salad — sliced tomatoes, basil leaves, fresh mozzarella cheese, and an easy dressing of olive oil and vinegar with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Despite the simple ingredients, a delicious and refreshing Caprese salad covers all the necessary bases for a tasty appetizer or a light meal — veggies, herbs, protein, and healthy fats. The best part? You can pull all the ingredients out of the fridge and pantry, slice and pour them, and serve this dish up in about five minutes — without touching the stove. The result is a crisp and lifely option you'll want to enjoy all summer long. 

Cool down with lettuce-wrapped tacos on warm summer evenings

From start-to-finish, this lettuce-wrapped taco recipe takes just 15 minutes to make, with just about 10 minutes dedicated to cooking the ground beef. So, yes, you'll spend some time in front of the stove, but not too much, and by serving the beef with cold lettuce wraps, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro, you'll create a meal will that's a refreshing and cool take on the traditional taco. 

Plus, this is one of those recipes that shines with leftovers and can also be customized with toppings you and yours prefer. So, if you cook a big batch of beef at the beginning of the week (preferably before the outdoor temps peak), you can just pull the leftovers out of the fridge, zap them in the microwave (see, no stove!), and prep the rest of the ingredients when you're ready to chow down. 

Have a slice of cool bruschetta this hot girl summer

When you're having friends over for a summer evening dinner, the perfect appetizer to pair with a cold glass of wine or beer is a thick slice of easy-to-make bruschetta. For this simple recipe, all you have to do is find a loaf of crusty bread, like an Italian loaf or baguette, and then use olive oil, garlic, and a little salt to prep the snack. You do have to use your oven's broiler for about two to three minutes, but in the grand scheme of things, that's practically nothing. Then, if you're so inclined, you can top the prepped bruschetta with homemade or store-bought prepared toppings like pesto sauce and fresh mozzarella, olive tapenade, or feta cheese and diced tomatoes. 

A cooling cobb salad that requires zero time in a hot kitchen

Summer is the perfect time to get acquainted with your grocery store's prepared food options. Chances are, you can buy pre-cooked boiled eggs, bacon (in bacon bits or pre-cooked deli strips), and even chicken (any version works — canned, pre-cooked strips, or rotisserie), which ultimately limits the time you have to spend in front of the stove. By stocking up on these staples, you can easily use this Cobb salad recipe to whip a meal with absolutely zero cooking. Or, if you'd prefer to cook these classic toppings at home, just make a big batch ahead of time and store them in the fridge so they're nice and chilled by the time you're ready to make your salad — there's no reason any of these ingredients need to be served hot.

Cold shrimp and vegetables make the perfect aguachile for warm summer nights

If you like ceviche, you're going to love this aguachile recipe, which is basically a twist on the same concept, however, the recipe uses raw shrimp instead of fish as the protein source. The beauty is, the shrimp isn't cooked; rather, it's cured in a mix of lime juice and salt. That means that all of the ingredients (and the final dish, of course) are served cold for a crisp and refreshing feel. And given the south-of-the-border roots of this Mexican meal, might we suggest enjoying it with a margarita poolside? It really couldn't make a better hot-weather meal!

Costco pineapple chicken tacos will leave you feeling fresh during hot summer picnics

This delicious, sweet and tropical taco recipe may look fancy, but it requires practically zero preparation, given that all five of the ingredients can be picked up from your local Costco and used almost immediately. Simply pile up warm corn tortillas (go ahead and use the microwave) with Costco rotisserie chicken, slices of pineapple, easily-prepared guacamole, and a pre-made pineapple habanero sauce. And just like that, you'll have an easy and delicious recipe you can feed the whole family without ever touching the oven. 

A cold Waldorf salad to balance the summer heat

A chilled Waldorf salad makes an excellent side dish for summer picnics and pool parties, with the yogurt dressing and chilled apples delivering just the right crisp and fresh flavor we crave on hot summer days. You will need to toast the walnuts in your oven for about a minute, unless you pick up a pre-toasted version from the store. But otherwise, you can make the salad in about 15 minutes flat, although we suggest preparing it a bit ahead of time so you can leave it in the fridge to chill before serving. 

Cool 10-minute tuna salad for warm summer lunches

If you haven't whipped up a tuna salad in a while, summer is the perfect time to make a big batch to chill in the fridge, whether it's for filling  sandwiches, dressing up some veggies, topping some crackers when you want something quick, filling, and cold. This recipe requires nothing more than water-packed canned tuna, celery, onion, carrot, mayonnaise, and a little bit of black pepper. Simply chop, dice, mix, and chill — and just like that, you've got a crowd-pleaser you can turn to whenever you can't stand the thought of cooking. 

Copycat Disney Dole Whip will cool you down during hot weather fun

Disney Dole Whips are one of the most popular Disney World treats, and for good reason — they're cold, tropical, and delicious, which makes them perfect for cooling down on hot summer days. Plus, it's easy to make a copycat Dole Whip recipe at home with nothing more than vanilla ice cream, fresh pineapple, pineapple juice, and vanilla extract. Throw the ingredients in a blender, and in just a couple minutes you'll have a frosty-cold drink that will put a Disney-sized smile on your face. 

Turkish delight is a dessert best served cold on warm nights

If C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series of books have been on your family's summer reading list, then a perfect way to offer an immersive learning experience to your kids is to whip up a batch of Turkish delight. This sweet treat does require some stovetop cooking, but you can do that first thing in the morning or late at night, before popping the confection into the refrigerator to set for eight hours. What results is a cool candy that's sure to put a smile on your loved ones' faces.

Citrusy Orange Julius copycat is the perfect summer beverage to beat the heat

For another tasty restaurant-style knockoff drink recipe that's served frosty-cold, you'll want to try the ever-popular Orange Julius. This recipe is similar to the Dole Whip but uses orange juice rather than pineapples and pineapple juice. You'll simply mix orange juice, vanilla ice cream, milk, ice, vanilla extract, and some extra sugar together in a blender for about 30 seconds. And before you know it, you'll have an alcohol-free summer beverage that will help you beat the heat. 

Decadent ice cream sandwiches for when it's way too hot outside

Ice cream sandwiches are one of the most perfect hot-weather desserts around, and while you can always buy a box from the store, why not experiment to create your own perfectly decadent store-bought alternative? This ice cream sandwich recipe does require you to bake the cookies and melt caramel over the stovetop, but if you prep and store these sandwiches in your freezer ahead of time, they'll be ready to snack on whenever you're feeling overheated. 

Antipasto salad is always best served cold on warm summer afternoons

Antipasto salad is the perfect summer side dish, or if you decide to add sliced ham, turkey, or pre-cooked chicken, you can turn it into a meal of its own. Of course, you do have to actually cook the pasta itself on the stovetop, but that takes roughly 10 minutes, and the rest of the ingredients — like olives, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and cheese — simply need to be chopped and added to the pasta with some dressing. On that note, even the vinaigrette dressing is quick and easy to make. Once you've prepped all the ingredients, you simply mix them together and store the salad in the fridge to cool. It keeps for up to three days without losing flavor, so make extra and pack it for weekday lunches. 

Cool copycat Chipotle guac for snacking on during hot summer get togethers

Guacamole may not technically be a meal in and of itself, but when a recipe is as good as this copycat Chipotle guacamole, you might just end up eating a whole meal's worth. If you wan to avoid chips and guac as a meal, you might want to make a batch before you have friends over for your summer get together — you'll be less likely to finish the whole bowl all by yourself that way (though we certainly won't judge!). Just serve it up with a bowl of chips and an extra side of salsa, or you can add the guacamole to sandwiches to jazz up your lunchtime routine — no cooking required. 

Fill up on crisp, cold veggies on hot summer days with this Greek salad

It's likely the Mediterranean country of Greece isn't unaccustomed to hot days, which must be why they invented the perfect summer salad, also known as the Greek salad. This light mix of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, red onion, and feta cheese is exactly the taste sensation to help you cool down, and it's perfect served aside a slice of pizza (delivered for a quick dinner, of course), or a filet of fish. But if you're looking to avoid cooking (or ordering) altogether, grab a rotisserie chicken from your grocery store, peel off a couple pieces, and throw them on top of the salad for a delicious and easy meal. 

Start your warm summer morning right with some cool avocado toast

You don't have to hit up a restaurant and pay out the nose for a delicious avocado toast recipe. And for those busy mornings, this on-the-go meal that only takes 10 minutes requires nothing more than a toaster (or toaster oven) and simple, straight-from-the-fridge ingredients like avocado, goat cheese, chives, and red pepper flakes. Best of all, you'll start your morning with a good balance of carbs, healthy fats, and protein if you add it, so go ahead and eat up! One great idea to jazz up this meal? If you have boiled eggs already on hand, slice those into pieces and layer it on top, too. It's a combination that's practically guaranteed to keep you full until lunchtime.

Cool off on a hot pool day with a tasty banana split

It's easy to forget all about the humble banana split, but this quick and easy dessert is perfect for parties, requires zero cooking, and is loaded with easy-to-find cold ingredients like ice cream, whipped cream, and even those "fancy" maraschino cherries. Plus, if you're prepping them for your family, you can feel good about the extra nutrients in the banana, even if the rest of the meal is full of added sugars. One other fun idea for nighttime pool parties? Create a banana split "bar" for your guests with a multitude of different flavors of ice cream and a range of toppings, like sprinkles, fresh diced fruit, and other classics like chocolate and caramel sauce. Simply pre-slice the bananas in bowls, and let your guests do the rest. 

Delicious no-bake cookies you can snack on without opening an oven during the hot summer

Who says you have to fire up the oven and heat up the whole house when you're craving cookies? This no-bake oatmeal cookie recipe is as simple as mixing together oats, raisins, almond butter, and a couple other flavorings before forming them into cookies and cooling them in the fridge. They're healthy enough to enjoy as a breakfast or a quick snack and tasty enough to give to kids or health-conscious adults for dessert. And of course, if you're so inclined, you can always add chocolate chips or coconut flakes to amp up the flavor even more.

Enjoy oatmeal in the summer -- without firing up a hot stove

Oatmeal is a healthy and tasty way to start your morning, but if cooking a batch on the stove seems like a bit much when it's hot out, then we can't blame you. That's why we recommend you try whipping up a few bowls' worth of delicious overnight oats. This version of oatmeal is served cold, and never hits the stove or microwave at that. Rather, you'll mix the ingredients and chill them overnight in the fridge, allowing the milk and yogurt to soften the oats and meld the other flavors, like the blueberries and cinnamon featured here. 

Try your hand at homemade honey-roasted peanut butter for summertime sandwiches and snacks

Sure, you can always buy store-bought peanut butter, but why pay for the markup in price when you can easily whip up a batch of your own at home? Plus, who likes taking grocery store trips when there's outdoor fun to be had? It takes just 11 minutes to prep and blend this honey-roasted peanut butter recipe together, then, you can pop it in the fridge and use it to your heart's content on sandwiches, apples, celery stalks, or bananas. 

Cool down with a McFlurry copycat recipe perfect for hot summers

When you're craving a truly decadent dessert, don't use the oven to bake cakes, pies, or cookies. Instead, grab the ingredients to make a copycat version of the McDonald's Cadbury Creme Egg McFlurry. All you need is vanilla ice cream, heavy whipping cream and a few Cadbury eggs (whichever version is your favorite). Then, you simply blend and serve! Obviously, this is easiest to make around Easter, when Cadbury Creme Eggs are most readily available, but if you're a fan, go ahead and stock up to keep them on-hand for warmer days, or consider shopping Amazon or other online outlets that typically carry the treat year-round. 

Ceviche is the perfect no-cook dish during the summer heat

Ceviche is the perfect summer fish dish because it requires zero cooking. All you'll have to do is just cure the fish in some citrus, like lemon or lime. And while most types have a Latin American flavor, this easy recipe for ceviche features salmon and soy sauce, along with radishes, mango, onions, cucumber, and cilantro — for a slightly more Asian flavor. Once you've prepped the dish, simply chill it in the fridge until you're ready to enjoy. Try serving your ceviche with plantain chips or a side of rice (when you use a rice cooker, you won't heat up the kitchen) to keep the meal authentic. 

Make a copycat chocolate Frosty to cool adults and kids alike during the hot summer

If you've ever wondered how Wendy's gets the consistency of their classic chocolate Frosty so soft, creamy, and perfect, it's time for you to try this copycat Frosty recipe. It requires just three ingredients — chocolate milk, whipped cream, and condensed milk — and as long as you make the chocolate milk into ice cubes in advance, it only takes a couple minutes to whip up in the blender; clearly, no cooking required!

Delicious pico de gallo is the perfect cool summer dip

The difference between salsa or picante sauce and pico de gallo is simple — you don't have to cook pico de gallo. Rather, you simply blend the ingredients together (this recipe calls for tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalapenos, cilantro, lemon, and salt), then serve cold with your favorite tortilla chips. Really, it couldn't be simpler, and it's easy to adjust the amounts of each ingredient to get the flavor just right for you (for instance, adding more jalapeno if you like extra heat). Just like that, you have a snack or appetizer that's perfect for a summer night in with friends.