20+ Delicious No-Heat Dinner Ideas For Those Hot Summer Days!
My husband works outside, so during the summer, he definitely appreciates coming home to a cold dinner and a cool house! After spending all day in the heat, he’s ready to get cooled off, and usually the last thing he’s in the mood for is a hot meal right out of the oven.
Even though I’m inside for a good portion of the day, I also like to eat cold dinners throughout the summer. Not only does it taste light and fresh for the season, but it keeps our electric bill down, too! And as the one who keeps track of our budget, I’m all for saving money on energy costs!
Whether you or your family members work outside or you’re just looking to keep your house cool during the hot summer months, I have a list of over 20 cold dinner ideas for you (plus a few ideas of how to cook without heating up the kitchen if you still want a hot meal)!
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Cold Dinners for Hot Summer Nights
Sandwiches, Wraps, or Pitas
- Chickpea Avocado & Pesto Sandwich – I love chickpeas, and my basil is taking off like crazy this year! This is a great way to combine the two.
- Tuna Salad – You can try my all-time favorite tuna salad or try something a little different with this Mediterranean Tuna Salad.
- Egg Salad – I prefer to use this avocado mayo for a healthier alternative, and sometimes I cut out the mayo altogether and just use mashed avocado! It tastes just as good, but be warned that it will turn brown fairly quickly!
- Chicken Salad – My favorite chicken salad is this one – it has tarragon, which I’m growing in my herb garden for the first time this year!
- Salmon Salad – if you’re not a tuna fan, try salmon instead! We love it! Once again, try making it with avocado mayo to keep it as “real food-friendly” as possible.
- Chicken Avocado Salad
- White Bean Basil & Avocado Salad
All the salads listed above work great on bread or buns, but if you’re tired of sandwiches, you can mix it up by putting it on pitas, wraps, or a bed of lettuce!
Here are some salad ideas with greens:
- Asian Steak Salad (Good Cheap Eats)- We added some goat cheese that we had on hand, and it was amazing!
- “Kitchen Sink” Salads – Use your imagination and whatever you have on hand!
Base of Greens + Protein + Additional Add-ins
- Green/Red leaf lettuce, romaine, kale
- Boiled eggs, quinoa, beans, lentils
- Peas, shredded carrots, sliced radishes, corn, peppers
- Walnuts, raisins, cranberries, pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds, pepitas
- Strawberries, mandarin oranges
Pasta (Substitute whole wheat pasta)
- Tuna Pasta Salad
- Caesar Chicken Pasta Salad – You can leave out the feta if you’re not a fan.
- Tomato Basil Pasta – Tomato and basil? A match made in heaven!
- No Cook Fresh Tomato Sauce
Other Cold Dinner Ideas
- Smoothie Bowls – I haven’t tried this idea yet, but it sounds divine on a hot summer evening! I wasn’t sure Levon would go for it (I have a hard time selling him on any meals that don’t have meat!), but he was game for trying it! If you’re concerned about protein, put spinach or kale in the smoothie, and top with homemade granola.(Here is the blender I have and love!)
- Southwestern Quinoa Salad
- Summer Tomato Salad – This recipe uses tuna, but you could use salmon, chicken, or even white beans instead!
- Quinoa and Black Beans
- Tortellini Skewers – Make this a real food meal with whole wheat tortellini and make your own pesto!
Cold Dinner Protein Sources
- Cold meats
- Tuna, Salmon, or Crab
- Boiled Eggs — Here is the easiest way to cook them!
- Beans – My favorites are pinto, black, & garbanzo, and they are super easy to cook in the Instant Pot or slow cooker!
5 Ways to Cook Without Heating the Kitchen
If you really want a warm supper but don’t want to heat up the kitchen (hello electric bill savings!!), here are 5 ways to cook food that won’t heat up the house:
- Instant Pot – If you can’t tell, I’m a huge fan of the Instant Pot, and the energy savings is just one of the many reasons I love it!Related Post: My Best Tips & Tricks for Instant Pot Success
- Slow Cooker – If you don’t want an Instant Pot, or if it’s not in the budget right now, your slow cooker is another good way to cook without heating up the house.
Related Post: 15 Favorite Things to Make in My Slow Cooker
- Indoor Grill – We have a George Foreman and love it. While it does let a little heat escape, it’s not nearly as much as the stove or oven!
- Outdoor Grill – Yes, you will get hot cooking over the grill, but at least it won’t heat up your house!
Related Post: 20 Favorite Kitchen Tools That Make Life Easier
And, if you absolutely have to fire up the oven, do it as early in the morning or late in the evening as possible! I can’t go the entire summer without making some baked goods, like muffins, breads, or cookies, so when I do make them, I make a double/triple batch and freeze some for later! That way I only have to heat up the oven once!
I hope that gives you a few ideas for how to eat well and stay cool this summer!
Tell me – what are your favorite cold dinners? I am always looking for new ideas, so share them with me in the comments below!
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