On the hunt for some summer dinner ideas? Hot days may have you avoiding your oven at all costs, but there’s no reason to break a sweat—there are plenty of delicious ways to serve up dinner without turning up the heat.
Try one of these easy summer dinners that are creative and cooling, with plenty of recipes to get you going.
When it comes to dinner ideas for hot summer nights, the ideal recipe doesn’t require you to cook a thing. These easy summer dinners are totally heat-free, so you can satisfy your appetite without the sweat.
DIY Crudité Plate
If you’re hunting for healthy summer dinners but aren’t so into salad, then crudité is the way! Fresh crunchy veggies with a bevy of dips or sauces and perhaps some cheese or bread if you’re feeling cheeky—what could go wrong? You can make your own dips if you’re feeling up for it, or enjoy the myriad of store-bought options out there.
- Herby white bean dip
- Jalapeño-cilantro yogurt sauce
- Beetroot, pesto, or avocado hummus
- Greek crudités with tzatziki and pita chips
- Trader Joe’s crudité platter
Gazpacho—a chilled soup—is one of the best summer dinners because it’s light, it’s cold, and it uses summer produce at the height of freshness. While it’s typically tomato-based, there are plenty of gazpacho variations that have come out in recent years, so you can tailor it to your tastes!
Roasted Chicken Remixes
Step one: Buy a roasted chicken from the grocery store that someone else went through the sweaty effort of cooking for you. Step two: Pop that baby in the fridge. Step three: Enjoy some of the best summer dinners of your life with the chilled meat.
- Chicken gyros with cucumber salsa and tzatziki (skip the herb oil for a completely no-cook recipe)
- Chicken enchilada roll-ups
- Chinese chicken salad
- Heirloom tomato and chicken toss
Completely no-cook meals can be challenging, especially if you want a little heft to your dinner. In that case, try these light summer dinners that require minimal cooking and then are served chilled or at room temperature to stay cool while also staying full.
Vietnamese Summer Rolls
Vietnamese summer rolls—sometimes called fresh spring rolls—involve a combination of cold rice noodles, meat or vegetables, and plenty of fresh herbs rolled up in rice paper and eaten cold, usually with a yummy dipping sauce on the side. Make them in a batch and eat them for a few nights for a crunchy, cooling meal.
- Traditional Vietnamese spring salad roll
- Vegetarian summer rolls with spicy peanut sauce
- Avocado summer rolls
Cold Noodle Dishes
Hot and heavy plates of pasta may be the last thing you want in the heat of the summer, but there are plenty of chilled noodle dishes that are still filling while providing a lighter fare. If you can survive 10 minutes of boiling water in your kitchen, you’ve got some quick summer dinners. You could even swap in zoodles or other spiralized veggies if you’re looking for some really light summer dinner ideas!
If you’re on the hunt for healthy summer dinners, lettuce wraps are where it’s at. You can whip up almost any combination of meat, tofu, fresh or cooked veggies, and the like, and wrap them up in healthy and hydrating leaves of lettuce.
- Tofu, cucumber, and carrot lettuce wraps with peanut dipping sauce
- Tropical chicken lettuce wraps
- Thai turkey lettuce cups
- Slow cooker beef lettuce wraps with quick pickles
Salad is such an obvious choice for summer dinners, with fresh produce abound and no need to cook a thing to make a light and satisfying meal. Really, you could grab whatever looks good at the market, toss it together with an easy dressing, and dinner is done. But if you want more specific inspiration, here are some summery salad ideas.
Fruity Summer Salad
Sweeten up your salad game with these healthy summer dinners that incorporate the gems of summer produce. You could easily add some grains, cold rotisserie chicken, or beans to any of these recipes for a slightly heartier meal.
- Mango and cucumber salad with coconut milk dressing
- Melon, berry, and feta salad
- Summer peach spinach salad with avocado, toasted almonds, and goat cheese
Traditionally made from fresh tomatoes layered with mozzarella cheese and fresh basil, caprese salad is one of the most perfect summer dinner ideas bursting with summer flavors. Plus, there are plenty of ways to mix up the traditional recipe to create any number of quick summer dinners.
Beans are hearty, filling, and delicious eaten cold, making them ideal for some of the best summer dinners. Buy them canned to save some cooking, or use a pressure cooker to make dried beans without having to suffer the heat.
- Mediterranean bean salad
- Black bean salad with corn, avocado, and lime vinaigrette
- White bean and tuna salad
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Of course, sometimes the best way to stand the heat in the summer is to just lean into it by heading outside and grilling. Grab some friends, fire up the grill, and try one of these dinner ideas for hot summer nights.
Kebabs or Skewers
Kebabs are great for easy summer dinners because they grill up fast, use up all the odds and ends that are leftover from other meals, and can be completely customized for different dietary needs.
- Grilled Mediterranean chicken kebabs
- Rainbow veggie skewers
- Grilled salmon kebabs
- Sausage and broccoli kebabs
Cook some meat up quickly on the grill or make veggies fajita-style, add some crunchy fresh slaw or salsa and cooling sour cream, and pile it all in a tortilla—before you know it, you’ve got some surprisingly quick summer dinners that are sure to make anybody happy.
- Grilled pineapple and flank steak tacos
- Cilantro lime grilled shrimp tacos
- Mole spiced chickpea and grilled zucchini tacos
- Grilled chicken street tacos
Don’t forget the sweet treats! After you’re done enjoying one of your quick summer dinners, finish things off with one of these desserts that need no time in the oven.
Icebox cakes involve layering store-bought cookies with a light whipped cream and letting it soften in the fridge overnight, creating a cake-like texture without a bit of baking.
- Cookies and cream Oreo icebox cake
- Blueberry lemon icebox cake
- Mexican lime icebox cake
- S’mores icebox cake
Miss the sweet shaved ice desserts from your childhood summers? Granitas are the grown-up version, a flaky, icy treat you can make without any special equipment. Blend up a few ingredients—usually fruit, sugar, and citrus juice—freeze them in a shallow pan, and then scrape the mixture apart with a fork.
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