Looking for dinner ideas for hot summer nights? These healthy no-oven dinner recipes are perfect when you don't want to heat up the house!
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with summer cooking.
I LOVE all of the fresh summer produce. Nothing beats our local Texas peaches, ripe berries and beautiful summer squash.
On the other hand, I live in Texas and it is HOT. In the height of summer, I pretty much avoid turning on the oven at all costs. Over the years I've come up with some strategies for putting together simple summer meals that won't heat up our entire house.
I love using the grill for this, but also mix in some lighter slow cooker or instant pot meals and some recipes that simply require little to no heat.
I hope this list helps the next time a heat wave hits your hometown!
Healthy Summer Dinner Recipes on the Grill
The grill is one of my favorite cooking methods for summer for a few different reasons.
First is the obvious reason that it doesn't heat up the house. If you want some cooked protein but don't want to turn on your oven, the grill is perfect.
Second, the grill naturally imparts so much delicious smoky flavor, it allows you to keep recipes super simple.
Third, the grill is perfect for batching. If you're grilling chicken one night, throw on some extra for healthy lunches throughout the week. Or throw on some summer veggies tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper for the perfect summer side.
Here are a few or my very favorite ways to use the grill for healthy summer dinners:
There's something so bright and summery about this meal. The herbs from the homemade pesto coupled with the lightness of the zoodles make it perfect for a hot night when heavy food just isn't appetizing.
To avoid heating your house, grill the pesto chicken instead of baking it. The zoodles cook on the stovetop, but for just 3-4 minutes, not enough to heat up the kitchen!
I'm such a fan of grilled fruit, it's the perfect summer side or dessert.
This entire meal comes together on the grill, keeping your house nice and cool. If you haven't tried grilling pork chops yet, it's a great way to cook this cut of meat. The grill isn't just for burgers!
The original recipe calls for baking the salmon in the oven but grilled salmon is so delicious, this recipe could easily be adapted for summer cooking.
You may want to use a cedar plank to prevent your salmon from sticking to the grill.
I love seafood in the summer. It's such a light yet protein-packed and satisfying meal.
The coconut and lime in this one make it the perfect no-oven dinner recipe for summer. It's basically a tropical vacation on a plate!
Again, this recipe was originally written for stovetop burgers, but burgers of course work well on the grill!
If you're looking to seriously up your burger game, this is a great one to try. It calls for lamb instead of ground beef and also incorporates red onion, goat cheese and all sorts of spices for some serious flavor.
The only parts of this recipe that require cooking are the salmon and the rice. All of the veggies are kept raw, making this seriously fresh and delicious.
Grill the salmon to avoid turning on the oven. I also seriously love my rice cooker, which heats up the house less than the stove, but you could also use your Instant Pot for the rice!
If you think you're not a “salad for dinner” type of person, I challenge you to try this one!
The combination of the protein from the steak and the healthy fats from the avocado make it super satisfying and filling. Plus the homemade salsa ranch is seriously one of my favorite salad dressings ever!
My steak kabobs are incredibly simple, but full of summer flavor from the grill.
If you follow the prep-ahead instructions below the recipe, this is a perfect summer weeknight dinner.
Another fun way to do kabobs is to lay out the ingredients and let everyone build their own!
Summer Weeknight Dinners with the slow cooker (or Instant pot!)
The slow cooker has a reputation as a fall / winter device and I get it. It is perfect for hearty, cozy dishes…but it can do so much more!
The slow cooker is great for cooking a big batch of protein to top a salad, bowl, taco or lettuce wrap. And while it does use heat, the crockpot will heat up your house much less than the oven.
Here are a few of my favorite summer-friendly slow cooker recipes:
Is it me or do these slow cooker beef burritos just scream summer? When I look at them I can easily see my family sitting out on the patio dining alfresco, perhaps with a margarita or two.
The best part is the beef cooks in the crockpot so it's a very hands-off recipe that comes together easily.
While the recipe calls for baking the chicken in the oven, you can easily grill, poach, or cook the chicken in the Instant Pot.
I haven't actually tried this, but you can also cook bacon in the microwave to avoid heating the house. Or, you can simply cook bacon in the oven when you're making breakfast (when it's not too hot out yet) and save a couple of slices for this recipe.
Lettuce wraps are perfectly light and refreshing. Plus, everyone gets to build their own, which is always a hit!
The recipe includes both slow cooker and Instant Pot instructions, so use your favorite no-oven method and enjoy!
Little to No Heat Summer Meals
Last but not least, these healthy summer dinner recipes require little to no heat. Some use the stove, but just for a few minutes, and others require no cooking.
Sometimes it's just too hot to eat hot food, and you want a cool, refreshing dinner!
My Buddha Bowl recipe does call for the oven for the sweet potatoes and chickpeas, but it is so customizable, you can easily rework it for summer. The sauce is everything so as long as you include that, it will be delicious!
You have two choices here for avoiding the oven. You can skip roasting the chickpeas and use a different veggie in place of the sweet potatoes. Raw bell peppers or cucumbers would work well.
OR, you can cook the sweet potatoes in an air fryer (toss with olive oil, S&P, cook at 400 for 10-15 minutes). Similarly, you can cook the chickpeas in the air fryer at 400 F for 12-15 minutes, tossing a few times during cooking.
My Paleo Waldorf Salad is a totally no-cook recipe as-is. It's crunchy, creamy and full of flavor (and nutrients!)
If you want to make this salad a little more substantial, sauté some shrimp for a few minutes. They cook so quickly it won't heat up your kitchen.
Does anyone else have fond childhood memories of breakfast for dinner?
This is especially fun if you never have time to make a fun breakfast in the morning, but love eggs and other breakfast foods.
You've no doubt seen shakshuka in the past year, but have you tried green shakshuka? It's such a fun variation and the herbs bring so much flavor!
Just like with the chicken lettuce wraps above, I recommend cooking the bacon in the morning before the heat of the day. Other than that, the only other item that requires cooking is the pasta.
This is a fun one to bring to a cookout or get together!
Okay, this one obviously isn't a main dish, but it makes a great side dish or even a healthy dessert!
Add some simple grilled chicken and a simple green salad and you have the perfect summer meal.