When you’re sweating it out in the summer, the last thing you want to do is turn on the stove and make an elaborate dinner. We’ve whipped up a list of our favorite easy summer meals that don’t involve cooking, from refreshing salads to colorful summer rolls to simple crockpot meals. Read on to get your fill of stove-free dinner ideas.
Cucumber and Mango Salad
Meet your new favorite side dish (or main dish, even): this salad is unexpectedly refreshing and healthy to boot. It’s sweet, tangy and cooling, and even has a bit of kid-friendly spice. Click here to get the recipe.
Mexican Bean Salad
Now this is our kind of cooking: the most work you’ll have to do for this Mexican-inspired salad is chopping and opening a few cans of beans. And since letting it sit helps the flavors meld together, it tastes even better the day after you make it. To get the recipe, click here.
Slow Cooker Tarragon Chicken Salad
It might seem crazy to pull out your slow cooker during the summer, but stay with us. It doesn’t heat up the kitchen nearly as your oven would, and you can basically turn it on and forget about it all afternoon. And this chicken salad is guaranteed to be a hit with your crew. Click here for the details.
Tomato Marinara Sauce
Your mind will be blown when you try this tomato sauce that doesn’t require any cooking at all. Just throw all the ingredients into the blender or food processor and prepare to be impressed. Click here to grab the recipe.
Slow Cooker Orange Chicken
The key to this succulent chicken is in the orange sauce, enhanced with brown sugar, soy sauce and fresh ginger. It’s easy to remix this recipe, too—you can substitute chicken breast or different veggies if that’s what your crew prefers. To get the recipe, click here.
Instant Pot Tortellini with Basil and Parmesan
If you’ve got an Instant Pot and fifteen minutes to spare, then you can’t go wrong with this genius recipe from Peas and Crayons. The cheese tortellini will cook to perfection in a creamy tomato sauce, and you don’t even need to boil water. Click here to get the recipe.
Buffalo Chickpea Salad Sandwich
Chicken Taco Pinwheels
These tasty pinwheels from Lisa’s Dinnertime Dish make the perfect lunch or light dinner. With an assist from rotisserie chicken, a little spinach and a sprinkling of taco seasoning, they’re as tasty as they are healthy. Click here to get the recipe.
Couscous Salad with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Feta
We love this delicious take on a grain-based salad from RecipeTin Eats. You “cook” the couscous by simply soaking it in boiling water (no stove required if you have an electric kettle!), then mix it up with a tasty dressing and other goodies. Get the recipe by clicking here.
No Noodle Pad Thai
It doesn’t get much more refreshing than this noodle-free pad Thai by Cookie and Kate. Fresh and crunchy veggies are coated with a sweet, tangy, slightly salty peanut sauce to make a fabulous light dinner. Click here to get the recipe.
Open Sandwich with Cold Cut Salad
This Dutch recipe from A Gourmet Food Blog has all the makings of an instant kid favorite: crusty bread, lunchmeat and a little mayo. It’s a fun way to take your bologna sandwich to the next level. Find out how it’s made by clicking here.
Rainbow Raw-maine Taco Boats
For a super fresh and satisfying dinner, you’ve got to try this fun take on taco boats from Minimalist Baker. Veggies are nestled into leaves of romaine, then it’s all drizzled with hummus and a creamy tahini sauce. Click here to grab the recipe.
When it’s too hot to contemplate cooking, a bagel bar is the way to go. There are a million delicious ways you can layer them up, and the results can be as hearty and healthy as you want. Get inspired to make your own over at The View from Great Island.
Kiddie Cobb Salad
Here’s a win-win idea from Mom’s Kitchen Handbook: skip the over-complicated summer meal and get the kids to eat more greens. They’ll love this cobb salad, which sports delicious add-ons like avocado, smoked turkey and egg. Best of all? This is one of those summer recipes that don't require any appliances! For the recipe click here.
Mozzarella and Tomato Salad
When you need a summertime meal, keep it simple! Combine fresh mozzarella and tomatoes for an easy peasy, kid-approved salad. For the quick how-to, (courtesy of Chef Brendan Collins), click here.
Crunchy Confetti Slaw
If you want a summer meal that’s bursting with color and flavor, look no further than this idea from Boulder Locavore. It sports a strawberry-peach balsamic dressing and it’s the perfect dish if you want to spend less time in the kitchen and more time catching summer rays. Head here for the recipe.
These rollups from Arla are a great way to change-up a lunch routine or give your usual summertime dinner a new spin. Use your favorite cheese, add in some extra veggies for a healthy kick, and you’re good to go! For more info, click here.
Psst! Looking for a salad that won’t trigger your picky eater’s veggie radar? This recipe from Dinner at the Zoo is loaded with meat, cheese, olives and, yes, veggies, so it’s got a range of tasty ingredients. You can even top it off with a homemade Italian style dressing! Get the recipe here.
Super Easy Kebabs
Summertime is grilling time, which is a great way to avoid heating up the house with the stove or oven. Kebabs are the perfect customizable meal and you can always use the leftovers in salads or wraps. Get the recipe here.
Rainbow Summer Rolls
Want to add color to your summer menu? This idea from The View from Great Island is the answer. It’s full of fresh ingredients and you can even use pre-cooked shrimp and your kids’ favorite veggies. Get the recipe here.
Southwestern Veggie Hummus Wrap
This delicious wrap idea from Chelsea’s Messy Apron is super flavorful and even includes hummus and a bunch of good-for-you vitamins and minerals. Eat it straight-up as a summertime salad or just have a tasty wrap for dinner! Get the recipe here.
Best Ever Chicken Salad
Psst! The secret to this chicken salad from How to Feed a Loon—besides fresh and simple ingredients—is that it uses rotisserie chicken. It makes the prep work extra easy and the result extra delicious. Enjoy as a sandwich or on top of a bed of lettuce! Get the recipe here.
For a summer dinner everyone will love, why not go the classic route of sweet tomatoes, crisp cucumber and tangy feta? This salad is a cinch for picky eaters—just arrange it on the table salad-bar style, which allows each family member to create their own unique dish. Snag the recipe here.
—Abigail Matsumoto & Susie Foresman