33 Easy Summer Dinners for When It's Too Hot for the Stovetop

Grilled Shrimp Lettuce Wraps
Photo: Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner

There's nothing more fun than summer in the South, but there's also nothing hotter. When the temperature starts to spike, the last thing you want to do is stand over a hot stovetop and heat up the entire kitchen at dinnertime. But sticky summers are inevitable, and dinner still needs to be made. To keep your house cool, your wallet safe from endless dinners out, and your life on track, we rounded up the best summertime cold dinners for hotter-than-hot days.

These recipes take minimal effort, make use of time-saving kitchen hacks, and taste like a family favorite waiting to happen. There's twists on old classics and introductions to new recipes that are bursting with summer's best ingredients. With refreshing shrimp-topped salads, no-fuss pita sandwiches, slow-cooker spectaculars, and sheet pan dupes for grill classics, you won't need to touch that stovetop. Dinner tonight? Done! Here are our favorite dinner ideas for hot summer days that taste great hot or cold.

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Herbed Chicken-and-Rice Salad

Herbed Chicken-and-Rice Salad
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Ali Ramee; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

Recipe: Herbed Chicken-and-Rice Salad

Microwaveable rice and rotisserie chicken are the helpful ingredients to help pull together this pretty salad without having to turn on the stove.

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Lemon Vinaigrette Pasta Salad with Field Peas

Lemon Vinaigrette Pasta Salad with Field Peas
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners

Recipe: Lemon Vinaigrette Pasta Salad with Field Peas

Pick whichever pasta you prefer and combine with an easy honey-lemon vinaigrette and fresh veggies for a side dish that goes with anything.

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Chicken Caesar Salad Sandwiches

Chicken Caesar Salad Sandwiches
Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Chicken Caesar Salad Sandwiches

Use that rotisserie chicken to the bone with these delicious sandwiches that are perfect for lunch or dinner. The chicken salad mixture can be made a day ahead for extra ease when assembling your sandwiches.

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Steak-and-Bell Pepper Salad

Steak-and-Bell Pepper Salad
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners

Recipe: Steak-and-Bell Pepper Salad

This savory salad is delicious and hearty enough to enjoy for a quick summer dinner on the patio. Toasted sourdough croutons and juicy steak take it from basic to super special.

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Tropical Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Tropical Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Photo: Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Tropical Chicken Lettuce Wraps

These healthy lettuce wraps are no-cook and all good. The light chicken salad mixture brings both heat and sweet for a 15-minute recipe that's anything but boring. Serve in lettuce wraps, wheat wraps, or over a bed of greens.

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Easy Egg Salad

Easy Egg Salad
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Easy Egg Salad

Southerners do love to smear up an egg salad sandwich on the go, so pack up a basket of these to eat outside on your porch or at the park.

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Watermelon Gazpacho

Watermelon Gazpacho
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Cat Steele

Recipe: Watermelon Gazpacho

We didn't know a five-ingredient recipe could look and taste fancy, but this chilled soup is proving otherwise. If watermelon is your favorite summer fruit, this recipe is a unique, fun, and delicious way to prepare it.

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Shrimp Cobb Salad with Bacon Dressing

Shrimp Cobb Salad with Bacon Dressing
Photo: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Missie Neville Crawford; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Shrimp Cobb Salad with Bacon Dressing

The only thing you have to prep for this salad is the bacon, and once you taste this dressing, you won't mind the few minutes you spent cooking it. This light recipe feels so much more indulgent than it is.

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Greek Grilled Chicken Pita

Greek Grilled Chicken Pita
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Greek Grilled Chicken Pita

This is worlds away from that boring deli chicken sandwich, while still being easy enough to whip up on the busiest of days.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
Caitlin Bensel

Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

This taco night classic just got way easier by being able to make it all in your slow cooker, which leaves you ample time to savor the summertime breeze outside.

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Tuna Pasta Salad

Tuna Pasta Salad
Caitlin Bensel

Recipe: Tuna Pasta Salad

This isn't your great-aunt's tuna salad, and thank goodness for that. Packed with fresh arugula, cherry tomatoes, and some pickled peppers for a pop of heat and color, this tuna pasta salad is a crowd-pleaser.

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Instant Pot Crack Chicken

Instant Pot Crack Chicken
Caitlin Bensel; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners

Recipe: Instant Pot Crack Chicken

Made with a winning combination of pepper Jack cheese, sour cream, chicken, and bacon, this family-friendly recipe is what we turn to when we need something comforting and no-fuss.

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Salmon Bagel Sandwiches

Salmon Bagel Sandwiches
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Recipe: Salmon Bagel Sandwiches

Stay cool with this recipe that you can eat from brunch to dinner. Cook the salmon ahead in the slow cooker and assemble the best bagel sandwich you've ever had.

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Slow-Cooker Carnitas Tacos

Slow-Cooker Carnitas Tacos
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Carnitas Tacos

Using this convenient shortcut to typically skillet-toasted carnitas, you can broil the meat on a sheet pan to brown and crisp the entire batch at once before popping in a slow cooker until oh-so tender.

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Marinated Tomato-and-Herb Salad

Marinated Tomato-and-Herb Salad
Greg Dupree; Food Styling: Anna Hampton; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch

Recipe: Marinated Tomato-and-Herb Salad

When it's too hot to cook, we look to our farmers' market baskets and get creative. This chunky tomato salad will be your new favorite side dish to throw together.

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Chicken Salad With Grapes and Pecans

Chicken Salad With Grapes and Pecans on a plate with leaf lettuce and crackers
Will Dickey

Recipe: Chicken Salad With Grapes and Pecans

Turn leftover chicken (or rotisserie chicken if you want to make this recipe but don't want to cook) into an elegant but simple chicken salad. The juicy grapes and nutty pecans provide a nice balance to the just-sweet dressing.

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Chilled Radish-and-Avocado Soup

Chilled Radish-and-Avocado Soup
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Chilled Radish-and-Avocado Soup

This refreshing summer soup gets a peppery bite from radishes, hot sauce, and chile powder that is wonderfully balanced out by creamy avocados, tangy whole buttermilk, and a little honey for sweetness.

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Field Pea Fattoush Salad

Field Pea Fattoush Salad
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners

Recipe: Field Pea Fattoush Salad

This salad makes the most of your summer peas. Bright and fresh in flavor from mint and lemon, it gets great added crunch from both the crisp romaine and toasted pita.

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Creamy Pesto-and-Shrimp Penne with Peas

Creamy Pesto-and-Shrimp Penne with Peas
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Creamy Pesto-and-Shrimp Penne with Peas

Pre-peeled shrimp, frozen peas, and store-bought pesto makes this tasty pasta come together in a jiff. Just like that, you have a hearty summertime dinner up your sleeve.

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Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos with Fresh Tomato Salsa

Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos with Fresh Tomato Salsa
Greg Dupree

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos with Fresh Tomato Salsa

Let the slow cooker do the work on the pork, and throw the tacos together with a healthy salsa recipe when you get home for dinner.

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Turkey, Apple, and Brie Sandwich

Turkey, Apple, and Brie Sandwich
Photo: Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Lindsey Lower; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

Recipe: Turkey, Apple, and Brie Sandwich

You can snag all of these ingredients at the grocery at the start of each week and dole out these hearty sandwiches filled with turkey, hot pepper jelly, Dijon mustard, brie cheese, and more whenever you don't feel like cooking. Ask for thick-cut turkey to make it more filling!

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Ham Salad

Cheese Puffs with Ham Salad
Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Ham Salad

This retro Southern recipe is ideal for having on hand when you don't feel like cooking. Serve on a buttery croissant (or between two slices of whatever bread you have), with a side of crackers, or over leafy greens for a quick, comforting meal.

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Ham-and-Cheese Sliders

Ham-And-Cheese Sliders
Photography and Styling: Karen Rankin

Recipe: Ham-and-Cheese Sliders

These sliders are a great crowd-pleasing dinner that's reminiscent of a croque monsieur.

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Slow-cooked Barbecued Chicken

Slow-cooked Barbecued Chicken Sandwiches
Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Mary Clayton Carl

Recipe: Slow-cooked Barbecued Chicken

This chicken recipe is prepped right in the slow cooker and then left to cook for five hours.

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Shrimp-and-Corn Succotash

Shrimp-and-Corn Succotash
Johnny Autry; Prop and Food Styling: Charlotte L. Autry

Recipe: Shrimp-and-Corn Succotash

We served this succotash cold so it tastes as refreshing as can be on summer nights.

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Chicken Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes

Chicken Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Chicken Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes

Take advantage of in-season tomatoes and make this irresistible handheld chicken salad dish.

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Kale-and-Chicken Salad with Jalapeño-Lime Dressing

Kale-and-Chicken Salad with Jalapeño-Lime Dressing
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners

Recipe: Kale-and-Chicken Salad with Jalapeño-Lime Dressing

This salad is a cool and light dinner option that will keep you full thanks to the healthy greens and plentiful protein.

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Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad

Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad
Jennifer Causey; Food Styling: Melissa Gray

Recipe: Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad

This easy pasta salad is full of fresh flavors like sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, feta cheese, and basil.

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The SL BLT

The SL BLT
Alison Miksch

Recipe: The SL BLT

Nothing hits the spot like a BLT on a hot day.

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Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad

Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad
Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad

This salad does it all. Broccoli and bacon add crunch, while grapes add a burst of juicy summer fun.

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Spaghetti with Marinated Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Spaghetti with Marinated Tomatoes and Mozzarella
Alison Miksch

Recipe: Spaghetti with Marinated Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Just a few minutes of stove time is required to cook the spaghetti in this recipe. The rest comes together after the pasta cooks.

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Brisket Tacos with Summer Salsa

Brisket Tacos with Summer Salsa
Alison Miksch

Recipe: Brisket Tacos with Summer Salsa

Flavorful tacos are a favorite summer meal, and we love the bright salsa on these ones.

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Grilled Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

Grilled Shrimp Lettuce Wraps
Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner

Recipe: Grilled Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

This recipe tucks grilled shrimp, cilantro, and quick pickled veggies into lettuce leaves for a light lunch or appetizer that's sure to cool you off.

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