It is inevitable. At some point this summer, it will be too hot, too humid, too overwhelming to cook.
So don’t do it.
Do not turn on the oven. Do not preheat the oven. Do not melt or burn or jump.
The 24 recipes that follow are made for the heat completely omitting its application, instead prioritizing fresh products, prepared proteins, combining, mixing and cooling. Where an original recipe may have required some cooking, we’ve offered tips and trade-ins to ensure you don’t turn on the stove, oven, even the toaster.
Of course, there’s no shame in a meal of chips and salsa or a juicy mango eaten sloppily over the sink. And while a few sandy coolers at the beach, shoved into the hand, then into the mouth, may be memorable, they’re not exactly Prustian.
So, make some food – and some memories. But definitely don’t cook.
Bring the French coast to you with this recipe from Kay Chun. Yes, you could blanch the suggested vegetables, but why? Grab some pre-cooked edamame, and stick to vegetables like carrots, cucumbers and pleasantly bitter endives. Then take Kay’s advice and amp it up with some canned tuna or roast chicken.
Recipe: Big Green Aioli
Malika Ameen, a Pakistani American cookbook author, has seen her family use all kinds of fruit in this delicious salad, but hydrating watermelon, like in this recipe she shared with The Times, is ideal for sustaining you when the mercury soars.
Recipe: Watermelon Chaat
Shredded pieces of supermarket rotisserie chicken soak up the easy sauce, inspired by the Vietnamese condiment nuoc cham, in this weeknight special from Yewande Komolafe. The mint and basil here outnumber the leafy greens for a salad full of fresh, herbaceous flavor and ready in five minutes. Crucible shallots, also purchased for minimal effort, add yet another layer of flavor.
When even thinking about cooking is a slog, Hetty McKinnon’s recipe, inspired by Japanese hiyayakko and Chinese liangban tofu, is the ultimate dish. Silken tofu, lightly chilled from the fridge, swims in a lovely soy dressing that easily doubles, triples or even quadruples. It can sit in your fridge for months, ready for whenever that summer kitchen slump inevitably arrives.
Sue Li’s simple dish is so smart and nuanced: Brining the cucumbers draws out any excess liquid while you whip up a quick sauce. But its real brilliance lies in how the recipe layers the peanut mixture between cucumber leaves for a rich texture in every bite. For even more crunch, use chile crisp instead of the oil, or thick peanut butter instead of cream.
This caprese delights in possibility: If your tomato choices are limited, this salad proves you can use whatever stone fruit looks good, then dip it in a mixture of lemon juice, sugar and salt until it tastes “vibrant and bright – like the best stone. fruit you’ve eaten,” as recipe developer Ali Slagle recommends. Peaches, nectarines, plums or cherries all work well here, topped with a little oil and herbs for a dish that cools and invigorates.
Recipe: Stone fruit Caprese
Two types of peppers—hot and sweet—work together in this Mediterranean-inspired salad from Genevieve Ko. A toss in a salt-and-vinegar dressing sears them gently and quickly, infusing them with flavor while you prepare the rest of the dish. Take a reader suggestion and pair the salad with a crusty baguette for contrasting texture.
Cannellini beans stand in for the traditional chickpeas in this hummus, which comes together in the kitchen and is ready in just minutes. Genevieve Ko brilliantly includes some miso for depth and some saltiness, but it’s just as memorable without.
Melissa Clark’s protein-heavy salad is delicious. Cut the prep time for this recipe in half by using cooked shrimp (or shrimp cocktail) and just skip the first step. Then, give everything a squeeze of lemon at the end until the flavors are balanced and sharp.
Recipe: Shrimp Salad
Traditional kulfi requires boiling milk until concentrated and extra sweet, which is less than ideal when the weather is hot and the outdoors is so inviting. This shortcut, straight from Tejal Rao’s mother, calls for combining sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream to a similar effect. It comes together in five minutes and freezes overnight, so prepare it in the morning, and pop it in the freezer so it’s ready before dinner.
Recipe: Quick Mango Kulfi
Ali Slagle channels the ’80s—the golden age of goat cheese—with this textural, fruity salad. Sweet nectarines go well with the tangy cheese and the crispy smattering of pita chips, but you could use any seasonal stone fruit as long as it’s juicy and ripe.
As beautiful as it is delicious, this summery recipe, influenced by Japanese hiyayakko and Italian caprese salad, puts pink peaches and bright red tomatoes together with silken tofu and tosses them all in a dressing spiked with balsamic vinegar and sesame oil. Hana Asbrink, who created the recipe, calls the dressing “the best part!” — impressive in a salad with so much to offer.
You could wing it when it comes to a charcuterie board, or you could use this clever recipe that builds to adapt to taste. Choose whatever spreads, cured meats, cheeses, nuts or olives you like, but don’t skip the super-quick whipped ricotta. And dipping and spreading, it makes the whole meal.
Julia Moskin searched high and low for the best take on this Spanish classic, and she landed on one in Seville, in Andalusia, known for its warm weather. Half a cup of olive oil lends its silky weight and tones the color of this version. (It’s more orange than red.) Make it, then keep some in the fridge for when hunger strikes. This gazpacho goes a long way.
Recipe: Best Gazpacho
Drizzled with fresh herbs (and pickles!), this one-bowl tuna salad sandwich is full of robust flavors and textures, especially since Naz Deravian layers potato chips under the bun for a salty crunch that gives way to the creamy filling.
Recipe: Tuna Salad Sandwich
Ceviche without shellfish? Impossible, you might say. But Jocelyn Ramirez’s take on the classic applies a mixture of lemon and nori leaves (and wakame, if you like) to grilled cauliflower, evoking the brilliance of the ocean. No, it’s not the real thing, but it’s just as satisfying.
Recipe: Cabbage ceviche
One ingredient. One step. One New York Times classic recipe. Bananas are sliced, frozen and then blended until smooth. That’s it! Top it off with rich fudge or chocolate shavings, sprinkles or whipped cream and a cherry. Or just serve it straight up with the satisfaction that you’ve made a real crowd pleaser.
Recipe: One-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream
Lightly retro chicken salad, this extra-crisp take on a chain restaurant and buffet classic — Sweet Tomatoes, anyone? — pairs wonton strips, shredded roast (or leftover) chicken and chopped romaine hearts with a fruity sesame oil infused dressing. You could make the wonton strips, but don’t. Buy them at the supermarket, as suggested by Eric Kim, the developer of the recipe, or just separate a packet from your next takeout order specifically for this dish.
“What a sweet little tender thing this is,” a reader wrote of this recipe, a centerpiece of many an Iranian table, by Naz Deravian. Each element – feta, basil, mint, cucumbers and watermelon, to name a few – is thoughtfully arranged and delightfully cooling. You can soak the walnuts to moderate their bitterness, but it’s completely optional. What’s not optional is tucking some cheese, herbs and walnuts into the flatbread for loghmeh, the Persian word for perfect bite.
Recipe: Naan-o Paneer-o Sabzi
It’s rare that a salad feels like a party, but this recipe from Alexa Weibel challenges that assumption with gusto. A homemade ranch dressing brimming with vibrant cilantro, lime and jalapeño is drizzled over a collection of crunchy vegetables — romaine hearts, corn, radishes. If you can’t easily find Cotija, you can always swap in Parmesan for a similar salty umami.
Olive salad tops five types of cured meats and provolone in this New Orleans classic, adapted by Susan Spungen. Letting everything sit for 10 minutes once assembled and before you dig in can be tricky, but it’s for the best: The sandwich fuses, the juices mingle, the anticipation builds. Make it ahead and keep it cold, ready to feed a hungry crowd at a moment’s notice.
A tart vinaigrette built on Dijon mustard, orange juice and a splash of lemon, lime or grapefruit juice (your call) gives this salad — originally from Von Diaz’s cookbook “Coconuts and Kale” — an edge, while mild avocado and sweet shrimp preserve it. . from going too far. Don’t worry about poaching the shrimp here: You can easily use pre-cooked shrimp and toss it with the dressing at the end.
This bright, light but still filling salad from Lidey Heuck loves to tag along – to picnics, potlucks, barbecues, the beach. Take it wherever you think starving is a possibility. It is kind and welcomes any last minute additions: canned tuna, olives, herbs. Dream date!