15 No-Cook Summer Dinner Ideas


nicoise salad

We all know that when the summer gets scorching hot, the desire to spend an hour at the stove goes way, way down. Especially when there are hungry kids at the table and you have somewhere you need to be. That's why sometimes a parent's best bet is to pick something that doesn't need cooking to keep both the temperature -- and the bills -- low throughout the summer months. But if the ideas aren't immediately flowing, don't fret! We've put together a handy list of No-Cook meals that can be thrown together relatively easily and don't require an oven. All of these recipes require a few key ingredients and can be made in both kid- and adult-friendly versions -- no need to prepare a million different meals to make everyone happy. Take a look at these great No-Cook recipes and make a plan for a great summer family meal!

  • Shrimp & Avocado Salad

    shrimp & Avo salad

    If a dish like ceviche is a stretch for a picky eater (either child or adult) a shrimp and avocado salad is a twist that is pretty universally inoffensive. The best part about this dish is that it tastes fresh and delicious and a recipe like the one found on SkinnyTaste is a good starting point to making the shrimp and avocado salad a family staple. Don't forget to add the lime and cilantro! That's what makes the whole dish really pop.

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  • Watermelon Gazpacho


    Cool and refreshing, watermelon relies on that sweet, fruity flavor and the tang of herbs to make a dish that doesn't taste, well, like a watermelon smoothie. In fact, it's a flavorful soup that has body to it, but it's not thick like winter soups. Try the recipe from Love and Lemons, which states that the mixture of watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, and herbs can make something completely different than what one might think.

  • Bruschetta


    Summer means one thing: it's tomato season. Yep, it's time to pull out the cherry tomatoes, the Romas, the San Marzanos, and the heirlooms because summer is when tomatoes are at their best. To make CookieandKate's bruschetta, use whatever tomatoes are available. Just make sure to drain the tomatoes before putting them on crusty bread -- otherwise the bruschetta might end up a soggy mess.

  • Kale & Quinoa Salad

    Kale and Quinoa Salad

    We know, we know, we just praised the virtues of tomatoes with the last recipe, but really any vegetable will taste incredible at this time of year -- so one might as well get their fill. Kale and quinoa salad is a hearty meal even if one is trying to keep it light. Yes, cooking the quinoa is technically cooking -- but quinoa can cook relatively quickly on the stove and then it's just throwing the recipe together. Try this one from Jo Cooks.

  • Taco Salad

    taco salad

    We all know that it can be hard to get kids onboard with the vegetable train, but a taco salad can be a nice gateway into getting them to at least try a piece of lettuce. Of course, the best part of a taco salad is that they are easily customizable to one's personal taste -- but this recipe from Spend With Pennies is a good place to get a base recipe down and then go nuts with whatever fun taco add-ons one likes! 

  • Nicoise Salad

    nicoise salad

    A classic dish that takes minutes to put together, a french Nicoise salad is light, but also filling. The best salad recipes include a few key things; hard-boiled eggs, tuna, potato, and fresh green beans. Or try a recipe like this summer Nicoise salad from Half Baked Harvest, which substitutes green beans for some tasty asparagus and of course, they had to add that favorite millennial fruit --avocado. 

  • Chicken Salad

    chicken salad

    So, so easy and so, so delicious -- what would a casual summer weekday dinner be without a chicken salad sandwich? It doesn't sound sexy, we know, but trust us a good chicken salad is a standard for a reason. Plus it takes no time to put together and that's definitely key for a go-to family meal. Try this recipe from Divas Can Cook which is served on a flaky and delicious croissant.

  • Mediterranean Salad

    mediterranean salad

    There are lots of different names for this salad -- and tons of different ways to make it, but the basic recipe includes cucumbers, tomatoes, and lots of fresh herbs. Some recipes call for mint, and parsley, while others call for dill. And some versions include red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar, while others stick to olive oil -- it's pretty flexible, but a good basic recipe can be found at The Endless Meal

  • Vietnamese Spring Rolls

    spring rolls

    A light and delicious recipe that kids will love (or at least they'll love the peanut sauce) Vietnamese spring rolls are so crunchy and good. Plus, it's a great way to sneak vegetables into dinner if there's a picky-eater situation going on. According to cooking blog Foxy Folksy, it should take about 15 minutes to make 10 rolls -- which is a huge win if dinner needs to get done ASAP and the kids are hungry.

  • Thai Lettuce Wraps

    lettuce wraps

    OK, we admit it: This recipe does require a little bit of cooking, but it's worth it to make truly scrumptious Thai lettuce wraps. Yes, one will need the stove, but once the chicken filling is prepared, the only challenge left will be assembly. According to Tanorria's Table that part should be easy. And as a bonus, lettuce wraps are portable, so if a little one has a soccer game, these can totally be grab-and-go.

  • Tomato & Avocado Sandwich

    tomato and avocado sandwich

    Did we already mention that summer is tomato season? If there's one thing to take away from this list it's to sneak as many tomatoes into recipes as much as possible. Although it might seem simple, a tomato and avocado is exactly what we want on a long hot day. This White Bean Tomato Avocado Toasts recipe would taste great on some tangy sourdough bread, but don't stress if white bread is the only thing left in the house.

  • Soft Tacos

    soft tacos

    OK, we know, we know -- tacos sounds like we're asking people to cook again. But we promise, this version of soft tacos is completely heat-free. Take leftover turkey meat (or chicken or pork) and then construct a soft taco with salsa, cheese, lettuce, guacamole -- all of the good stuff. It's sort of like a cold cut turkey wrap, but even more flavorful.

  • Watermelon Salad With Feta

    watermelon salad

    An unlikely pairing, watermelon and feta go together like Bert and Ernie, salt and pepper, ice cream and sprinkles. We promise. This recipe from A Couple Cooks not only emphasizes that fresh is best when it comes to watermelon in this dish, but it's also important to use fresh basil and lemon to real make the flavors pop. Plus, it really is a seasonal dish that is best eaten during the summer, so make sure to make tons of salad and eat it the whole season through.

  • Stuffed Avocado

    stuffed avocado

    This is another dish that features the world's best fruit. (Yes, it really is a fruit!) Is there anything an avocado isn't good in? It's delicious in salads, sandwiches, on toast, and now, a super-simple no-cook meal is this incredible black bean mango salad stuffed avocado recipe from Angela's Kitchen. The best part? One can use canned black beans and they don't need to be heated up -- so there's no need to turn on the stove.

  • Turkey Wrap

    Turkey wrap

    Move over Costco turkey roll-ups, these make-at-home turkey wraps are just as good. We've always wondered what exactly is in those wraps that make them so dang good, but luckily food blog Culinary Hill has the answer -- cream cheese and cranberry sauce. Yes, really. That's what gives the Costco turkey roll-ups that sweet and creamy flavor. Oh boy, our mouths are already watering over this one.

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