It’s inevitable. At some point this summer, it’s going to be too hot, too humid, too overwhelming to cook.
Don’t turn on the stove. Don’t preheat the oven. Don’t melt or sear or sauté.
The 24 recipes that follow are made for the heat by skipping its application altogether, instead prioritizing fresh produce, prepared proteins, assembling, mixing and chilling. Where an original recipe may have called for some cooking, we’ve offered tips and swaps to make sure 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 messily over the sink. And while some sandy cold cuts at the beach, tucked into hand, then into mouth, may be memorable, they aren’t exactly Proustian.
So, make some food — and some memories. But definitely don’t cook.
Bring the French seaside to you with this recipe from Kay Chun. Yes, you could blanch the suggested vegetables, but why? Pick up some precooked edamame, and stick to dippers like carrots, cucumbers and pleasantly bitter endives. Then take Kay’s advice and bulk it up with some canned tuna or rotisserie chicken.
Recipe: Grand Green Aioli
Malika Ameen, a Pakistani American cookbook author, has watched her family use all kinds of fruit in this savory salad, but hydrating watermelon, as in this recipe she shared with The Times, is ideal for sustaining you when the mercury rises.
Recipe: Watermelon Chaat
Torn pieces of supermarket rotisserie chicken sop 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 that’s packed with fresh, herbaceous flavor and ready in five minutes. Crispy shallots, also store-bought 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 gorgeous soy dressing that’s easily doubled, tripled or even quadrupled. It can sit in your refrigerator for months, ready for whenever that summer kitchen slump inevitably arrives.
Recipe: Silken Tofu With Spicy Soy Dressing
Sue Li’s simple dish is so smart and nuanced: Salting the cucumbers draws out any excess liquid while you whisk together a quick sauce. But its true brilliance lies in how the recipe layers the peanut mixture between sheets of cucumber for rich texture in every bite. For even more crunch, use chile crisp in place of the oil, or chunky peanut butter instead of creamy.
Recipe: Cucumber Salad With Roasted Peanuts and Chile
This caprese revels in possibility: If your tomato options are limited, this salad proves you can use whatever stone fruit looks good, then soak it in a mixture of lemon juice, sugar and salt until it tastes “perky and bright — like the greatest stone fruit you’ve eaten,” as the recipe’s 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 kinds of peppers — hot and sweet — work together in this Mediterranean-inspired salad from Genevieve Ko. A stint in a salt-and-vinegar dressing pickles them gently and quickly, infusing them with flavor as you prepare the rest of the dish. Take a reader suggestion and pair the salad with a crunchy baguette for contrasting texture.
Recipe: Tuna Salad With Hot and Sweet Peppers
Cannellini beans step in for the traditional chickpeas in this hummus, which comes together in the food processor and is ready in mere minutes. Genevieve Ko brilliantly includes a bit of miso for depth and a little saltiness, but it’s just as memorable without.
Melissa Clark’s protein-heavy salad is thrillingly zesty. Cut the preparation time for this recipe in half by using store-bought cooked shrimp (or a shrimp cocktail) and just skip the first step. Then, give it all a spritz of lemon at the end until the flavors are balanced and sharp.
Recipe: Shrimp Salad
Traditional kulfi calls for cooking down milk until concentrated and extra sweet, which is less than ideal when the weather’s hot and the outside is so alluring. This shortcut, straight from Tejal Rao’s mother, calls for combining sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream to similar effect. It comes together in five minutes and freezes overnight, so prep it in the morning, and pop it in the freezer so it’s ready by dinner’s end.
Recipe: Quick Mango Kulfi
Ali Slagle channels the ’80s — the golden age of goat cheese — with this texture-packed, fruit-filled salad. Sweet nectarines goes 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.
Recipe: Chicken Salad With Nectarines and Goat Cheese
As pretty as it is delicious, this summery recipe, influenced by Japanese hiyayakko and Italian caprese salad, tucks rosy peaches and bright-red tomatoes alongside silken tofu and drizzles 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.
Recipe: Cold Tofu Salad With Tomatoes and Peaches
You could wing it when it comes to a charcuterie board, or you could use this clever recipe, which builds in adapting for taste. Choose whatever spreadable pâtés, cured meats, cheeses, nuts or olives you like, but don’t skip the super-quick whipped ricotta. Both dip and spread, it turns the whole thing into a meal.
Julia Moskin searched high and low for the finest take on this Spanish classic, and she landed on one from Seville, in Andalusia, known for its hot weather. A half cup of olive oil lends its silky heft and tones down the color of this version. (It’s more orange than red.) Make it, then keep some in the fridge for when an urgent hunger strikes. This gazpacho goes a long way.
Recipe: Best Gazpacho
Run through with fresh herbs (and sour 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
A ceviche without seafood? Impossible, you might say. But Jocelyn Ramirez’s take on the classic applies a mix of lemon and nori sheets (and wakame, if you like) to grated cauliflower, evoking the brininess of the ocean. No, it’s not the real thing, but it’s just as satisfying.
Recipe: Cauliflower Ceviche
One ingredient. One step. One classic New York Times recipe. Bananas are sliced, frozen and then blended until smooth. That’s it! Top it with rich fudge or chocolate shavings, sprinkles or whipped cream and a cherry. Or just serve it straight with the satisfaction that you made a genuine crowd-pleaser.
Recipe: One-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream
A lightly retro chicken salad, this extra crisp take on a chain restaurant and buffet classic — Sweet Tomatoes, anyone? — pairs wonton strips, shredded rotisserie (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 Eric Kim, the recipe’s developer, suggests, or simply set aside a packet from your next takeout order specifically for this dish.
“What a sweet little gentle thing this is,” a reader wrote about this recipe, a centerpiece of many Iranian tables, from 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 temper their bitterness, but it’s entirely optional. What isn’t optional is tucking a bit of cheese, herbs and walnuts into the flatbread for a loghmeh, the Persian word for a perfect bite.
Recipe: Naan-o Paneer-o Sabzi
It’s rare that a salad feels like a celebration, but this recipe from Alexa Weibel challenges that assumption with glee. A homemade ranch dressing full of lively cilantro, lime and jalapeño gets drizzled over a collection of crunchy vegetables — romaine hearts, corn, radishes. If you can’t readily find Cotija, you can always swap in Parmesan for a similar salty umami.
Recipe: Chopped Salad With Jalapeño-Ranch Dressing
An olive salad tops five kinds of cured meat and provolone in this New Orleans classic, adapted from Susan Spungen. Letting everything sit for 10 minutes once assembled and before you dig in may be difficult, but it’s for the best: The sandwich melds together, the juices mingle, the anticipation builds. Make it ahead and keep it chilled, 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 Collards” — an edge, while mellow avocado and sweet shrimp keep it from going too far. Don’t worry about poaching the shrimp here: You can easily use precooked shrimp and toss it with the dressing at the end.
Recipe: Shrimp and Avocado Salad With Citrus Vinaigrette (Camarones a la Vinagreta)
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 getting hungry is a possibility. It hangs out amenably and welcomes any manner of last-minute additions: canned tuna, olives, herbs. A dream date!