Looking for the best easy no-cook recipes to make during a heatwave? These are some of our favorites, including light meals that won’t make you sweat, simple snacks you can whip up in a few minutes, and no-bake desserts to keep you cool and well-fed.
It’s summer, and it’s sweltering in many parts of the country. In addition to taking cover indoors with face pancaked flat against the AC unit and bags of frozen peas stuffed in places bags of frozen peas should never be, you might be wondering what and how am I supposed to eat in a moment like this?
We can safely say turning on the oven is an absolute no-go. Venturing outside in the heat to find food is also an extremely high-risk maneuver (even before you take coronavirus into consideration), and you’d have to be devoid of human compassion to make a delivery bike boy or girl pedal through the dense humidity and searing sun just so you can have sushi.
Related Reading: How to Make Sushi at Home (It’s Easier Than You Think)
That really just leaves only one option and that’s cooking at home—or should we say “cooking” at home? From snacks to apps, main courses, desserts, and even refreshing frozen drinks we’ve got some no-bake, no-cook, no-HEAT recipes to get you through any sweltering summer streak.
Pro tip: A Vitamix may just be your best friend to make cold foods like gazpacho, salsa, and smoothies in a snap and if you own an Instant Pot you already know it contains all the heat inside and won’t warm your kitchen so that’s a great option.
Vitamix A2300 Series Ascent Blender, $449.95 from Williams Sonoma
Perfect for making quick cold soups, dressings, and smoothies on a hot day.
Otherwise, here are a few perfect recipes to make in any extreme heat situation. And don’t forget to get to the grocery store and stock up before the wave hits.
Snacks & Apps
The beauty of this homemade mango salsa is three-fold. It’s got bright, fresh, refreshing ingredients like mango; it’s fully no-bake/cook; and it’s not very spicy which could exacerbate a heatwave in ways you don’t want. Add this to a salad or just eat with chips (and margaritas) and use the leftovers to top a salmon burger or chicken sandwich once the mercury settles. Get our Mango Salsa recipe.
Related Reading: The Best Low-Calorie, Low-Carb Beers for Summer
Guacamole is kind of a no-brainer and we’re not saying you shouldn’t make a batch, but maybe mix things up with this avocado and yogurt dip. Greek yogurt adds a tang that works nicely with avocado’s more tame and creamy flavor profile. Serve this with chips, crackers, or cut vegetables for a healthier option. Get our Avocado Yogurt Dip recipe.
Yes, I see that this recipe calls for roasting the peppers yourself (don’t you dare @ me) and in normal times we’d say “go for it!” but these are not normal times, OK? You can find pre-roasted red peppers in any grocery store or deli and they’ll work perfectly. Serve this fun dip chilled with pita chips, celery, or carrot sticks. Get our Red Pepper & Feta Dip recipe.
Soups & Salads
We’re in the heart of tomato season and so a heatwave would be the perfect time to put them to use. A nice herbed tomato salad like this one, if you’ve got good tomatoes at hand, will definitely keep your internal temp down. Add some fresh mozzarella or some no-bake proteins like beans or tuna salad to turn this from side to main. Get our Herbed Heirloom Tomato Salad recipe.
Related Reading: Why Are Heirloom Tomatoes So Expensive?
Serve yourself a little elegance to take your mind off the obliterating heat trying to invade your home like some noxious gas. Crab salad couldn’t be simpler to make and is delightful served with good crackers, with avocado slices, or over a bed of greens—and I might add, pairs well with Champagne, which you should also have on hand during a heatwave (or any event, really. Get our Crab Salad recipe.
This no-cook soup is a full no-brainer during any heatwave. You can do everything you need in a blender, making it not only perfect for hot summer moments but easy and fast, leaving you more time to sit and fan yourself back to life. Get our Basic Tomato Gazpacho recipe.
Watermelon is summer’s most refreshing fruit (one of its healthiest too), but have you ever had it blitzed into gazpacho? If not, now’s the time. Bonus points for pickling the watermelon rind for a garnish. Get our Watermelon Gazpacho recipe.
Related Reading: The Best Way to Cut a Watermelon
This is one of our best-rated recipes. A classic steak tartare seems custom made for any carnivore going through a heatwave and if you’ve never tried it, this may be the time. Use good organic eggs for this. Worcestershire sauce and mustard provide the base flavors and it’s best served over greens or with toasted bread. Get our Classic Steak Tartare recipe.
The best thing about ceviche is the no-cooking part. Just prep the ingredients, toss it all in a bowl, and let it cure. Serve over greens or with chips or crackers, with sliced avocado for a nice, light, no-cook lunch. Get our Halibut Ceviche with Watermelon recipe.
Staub Ceramic Prep Bowls, 4 for $19.95 from Sur La Table
Prep your ceviche and other no-cook recipes in these ceramic beauties.
Technically someone has to cook this chicken at some point but one of my hottest tips for good and easy chicken salad is to buy a roasted chicken from the market or a good rotisserie spot if you have one and use that meat. Saves you the hassle and also the heat of doing it yourself. Curry chicken salad goes swell over crunchy greens; feel free to add or subtract any ingredients as you see fit. Get our Curry Chicken Salad recipe.
Related Reading: 15 Quick Meals from Store-Bought Rotisserie Chicken
OK, real talk. This is technically not 100 percent no-cook as you will have to boil some water, but that’s a small price to pay for a delicious cold noodle main dish the whole fam will be pumped for. Add protein like shrimp or chicken or keep it vegan. Soba or udon noodles can be found in nearly any grocery store. Get our Cold Asian Peanut Noodles recipe.
Hime Dried Udon Noodles (2 pack), $16.87 from Amazon
For your cold peanut or sesame noodles.
If you’re cool with boiling water for noodles, you might also want to top them with a no-cook pasta sauce starring summer’s sweetest cherry tomatoes, plus a little soft cheese for creaminess. Get our No-Cook Tomato Sauce Summer Pasta recipe.
Related Reading: The Best Raw Pasta Sauce Recipes for Late Summer
Icebox Cakes by Jessie Sheehan, $13.26 from Amazon
The queen of cold cakes shares her favorite no-bake recipes.
But here are some more no-bake sweets because you have to have dessert.
There’s no wrong way to make a no-bake cake; this one is courtesy of our senior video producer, Guillermo Riveros. It only takes five ingredients and a blender to achieve creamy, citrusy perfection. Get our Lime Icebox Cake recipe.
Anchor Hocking 8-Inch Square Glass Baking Dish with Airtight Lid, $13.62 from Amazon
Glass lets you see the layers and the lid is great for storing any leftovers.
This is a crowd-pleaser and versatile too. You can add some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and blend any leftovers into a decadent smoothie for breakfast the next day. I mean, who doesn’t love berries? Get our Summer Berry Salad recipe.
For a hot day such as this, you’re going to want (need) a cold, fruity, frozen cocktail, which bridges the gap between dessert and drinks. Bust out the blender and a bottle of bourbon (nothing too expensive) and spin your way to a cooler state of mind. Get our Slushy Cherry Old Fashioned recipe.
Milkshakes more your speed? You can spike those too; check out our guide to making boozy shakes if you’re intrigued. Or skip the alcohol and see the secret to a perfect shake, then get our Mud Pie Milkshake recipe.
Cheers, and stay cool my people!
Header image by Chowhound