Cooking in the Summer Heat: 4 Methods + 8 Recipes

Ugh, summer heat. Sweat. Sticky. HOT! If you can’t tell, I don’t take the heat very well. I grew up in San Diego and it’s like anything under 65 is cold and anything over 78 is too hot. Now, I live in the Pacific Northwest and I’ve adapted a bit to the rainy, cold season. The summers are pretty awesome, but we always seem to get a few days were the heat is too much. And since we only have a few days of it every year, nobody invests in air conditioning. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE summer, but those super hot days can be rough.

It’s on those hot-hot days where cooking seems like a terrible idea, but dinner must be served. You want to serve healthy meals to your family without having to get take-out and spending a pretty penny. What’s a girl to do?

So in anticipation of those hot days, I came up with four different ways to make dinner without turning on the oven and heating up the whole house. Better yet, I’ve got some tasty recipes to go with it. I hope you are inspired to keep on keeping on in the summer heat.

1. Grill

In my mind grilling is synonymous with summer. Living in the Pacific Northwest really makes you appreciate the sun (although, we’re heat wusses). Standing in the rain trying to grill is just not what I call fun. So when the sun comes out, the grill is uncovered and put to action. We bought a new grill this season and I love it. It’s an awesome gas grill, so it’s quick to heat up and get dinner rolling.

Spinach Goat Cheese Turkey Burgers (with a kick) – Burgers are always a win on the grill, but I prefer turkey burgers. This is  thee  turkey burger recipe I use most often for turkey burger days. I often just use fresh spinach instead of the frozen, but both work great. Also, get the Tony Chachere’s as it really makes a big difference on these burgers. There is a little kick, but nothing to be worried about – this being said by a gal that can’t take much heat.

Grilled Moroccan Chicken – This is a recipe I discovered this year and the flavor is a knock out. We eat a lot of chicken in our household, so it’s always nice to get a change of pace. Definitely try serving it with the Moroccan couscous to make it a nice, well-rounded meal.

2. Salad

Is salad a method? Probably not. It seems like it should be to me. Like, “let’s salad it tonight, honey!” I usually waive off salads as a meal, but if you add some protein then for me it magically becomes a meal. I especially appreciate salads on hot, summer days when cooking seems like it’ll melt you (picture the Wicked Witch of the West) and you cringe at putting anything hot near you (or in your mouth). Then it’s salad to the rescue!

Greek Farro and Chickpea Salad – This salad is our new favorite and is on heavy rotation in our weekly meal plans. We usually add some grilled meat (we’ve tried chicken, steak, and pork – all great), however, it’ll can totally stand on its own. Farro is my new obsession and you should totally try it out if you haven’t already.

Chicken Blueberry Feta Salad – My favorite salads have fruit in them. It’s actually a spinach, apple, goat cheese salad that got me to start liking salads. This is a more sophisticated version and is so delicious and refreshing.

3. Crockpot

It might seem odd to pull out the crockpot in the summer as most of us consider it more of a fall and winter cooking method. You think stews and soups, which is not really what you crave in the summer. However, there are some great options for the crockpot for summer cooking. Better yet, it doesn’t heat up the entire house. I heart my crockpot and love discovering new recipes for it. I even discovered, but have yet to try, that you can even make banana bread in the crockpot!

Crockpot BBQ Beer Chicken – When I was young, I loved those tubs of Lloyd’s BBQ pulled chicken. As an adult, I sort of cringe at the thought, but I still have that same love for pulled chicken. This recipe is delicious and is great as a sandwich or in quesadillas!

Slow Cooker Greek Chicken Gyros – Greek food is a favorite and feels so fresh in the summertime. This chicken has great flavor and something for the whole family to enjoy.

4. Stovetop

The stove is another great way to avoid heating up the whole house in the summer. My favorite thing on the stove is probably pasta. But the options are limitless. You can keep it simple and do a grilled sandwiches (amp them up like this one), quesadillas, eggs…just so much goodness.

BLT Pasta – Take a delicious sandwich like the BLT and make it a pasta, and I’m in! This is simple yet oh so yummy.

Caramelized Pork Tacos with Pineapple Salsa – Do you do Taco Tuesdays? Then this one is for you. These are scrumptious tacos and should be on your meal plan for this week.

Hungry yet? Happy Summer!