Satisfying Lunch and Dinner Dishes for Hot Weather

Hot summers call for these cool foods

Grilled chicken salad wraps

The Spruce / Elaine Lemm

The last thing most people want to do in the summer is turn on the oven. So keep your cool, and get out of the kitchen quickly without needing to skimp on nutrition or complete meals with these hot weather recipes.

Some of the ingredients in these summertime favorites such as pasta, chicken, or hard-cooked eggs, might require some cooking or grilling, but you could consider cooking these foods in the evening when it might be a little cooler. Most of these recipes are for variations on refrigerated salads that you eat cold in contrast to a hot, steamy or sunny day.

  • 01 of 21

    Shrimp and Rice Salad With Peas and Celery

    Shrimp Salad With Rice
    Diana Rattray

    Color and flavor abound in this delicious shrimp and rice salad with peas and celery. Shrimp provides the protein, while flavor and color come from steamed peas, red bell pepper, and a mayonnaise dressing.

  • 02 of 21

    Chicken Salad With Apples and Cranberries

    Chicken Salad With Apples and Cranberries recipe, chicken salad on bread

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    This chicken salad with apples and cranberries is a perfect hot weather salad, and hearty enough to serve for dinner. The salad has lots of flavor and crunch with diced fresh apples, cranberries, and optional walnuts or pecans. Serve on lettuce leaves or in nice soft rolls or wraps for a delicious lunch or dinner. To bypass the heat of roasting the chicken yourself, buy a supermarket rotisserie chicken or follow a quick chicken recipe for basic baked chicken breasts.

  • 03 of 21

    Tuna Pasta Salad With Dill

    Tuna Pasta Salad With Dill

    The Spruce / Qi Ai

    This tuna pasta salad with dill will keep you cool. If you do not have chopped fresh dill, a few teaspoons of dried dill would work as well. The salad is easy to prepare and it makes a good main dish or side dish for summer meals.

  • 04 of 21

    Macaroni and Black Bean Salad

    macaroni salad with black beans
    Diana Rattray

    This salad is a great vegetarian choice. To make it vegan you can replace the mayonnaise with your favorite vegan dressing. The fresh flavors of lime and cilantro give this macaroni and black bean salad much brightness, which also makes it a great accompaniment to a burger or other grilled meats.

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  • 05 of 21

    Basic Deviled Eggs

    Basic Deviled Eggs
    Diana Rattray

    Basic deviled eggs are always a hit for lunches or snacks. Top these basic deviled eggs with sliced or finely chopped red onion, sliced grape tomatoes, fresh chopped parsley, chives, sliced olives, or cornichons.

  • 06 of 21

    Lobster Rolls

    lobster rolls
    Diana Rattray

    So, there are two common ways of serving lobster rolls. Learn how to make this classic, creamy mayonnaise way that is most common in Maine and Massachusetts or learn how to make it the Connecticut way with melted butter.  

  • 07 of 21

    Shrimp and Fresh Pesto Pasta

    Shrimp and Fresh Pesto Pasta Recipe

    The Spruce Eats / Elaine Lemm

    In about 30 minutes, you can have fresh pesto shrimp and pasta on the table. It's a delicious recipe featuring homemade pesto that's a little better when the basil comes out of your garden. Shrimp and cherry tomatoes are lightly fried, and it's served over a bed of tagliatelle or spaghetti.

  • 08 of 21

    Creamy Potato Salad

    Creamy Potato Salad

    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

    The bright flavor of this creamy potato salad makes it extraordinary. Capers, Dijon mustard, and fresh tarragon combine to give it a brilliant taste. It just needs a couple of hours to chill and let the flavors marry, then it's ready for any meal or a quick snack.

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  • 09 of 21

    Tuna Salad

    Eggs and Dill Tuna Salad sandwich on a plate

    The Spruce / Qi Ai

    Add fresh chopped celery or finely chopped onion to customize tuna salad with ingredients that you love. Hard-cooked eggs are delicious in tuna salad, along with a dill relish and dill weed; the beauty of tuna salad is that it is so versatile.

    Serve the tuna salad in sandwiches made with your favorite bread, panini, or ditch the bread altogether and serve on lettuce leaves for a refreshing lunch option or summertime dinner.

  • 10 of 21

    Crab Salad With Summer Vegetables

    Simple crab salad recipe

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

    Crab salad with summer vegetables makes for a sweet component as part of a salad to serve on a hot summer day, whether for a family meal or a special cookout or potluck. You can get Dungeness crabs from the West Coast and blue crab from the East, thankfully, crab is usually easily sourced in U.S. year-round.

  • 11 of 21

    Mediterranean Pasta Salad

    pasta salad

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

    Bring a bit of the Mediterranean to the table with this colorful pasta salad. Arugula, tomatoes, cucumber, black olives, fresh basil, and feta cheese are tossed along with cooked pasta and a creamy lemon-garlic vinaigrette.

  • 12 of 21

    Grilled Shrimp Salad

    grilled shrimp salad

     Leah Maroney

    Cook an entire salad on the grill—including the lettuce. Grilling the Romaine gives it a nutty flavor, which complements the grilled shrimp and charred corn beautifully. The salad is drizzled with a homemade avocado lime dressing and sprinkled with cotija cheese.

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  • 13 of 21

    Southern-Style Ham Salad

    Southern style ham salad

    The Spruce

    Southern-style ham salad is an excellent way to use leftover ham and can make a great filling for sandwiches. You can enjoy a ham salad sandwich much the same way as you would a chicken or tuna salad sandwich—serve it with chips and a tossed salad for a full meal.

  • 14 of 21

    Garden Pasta Salad With Rotini

    Garden pasta salad with rotini

    The Spruce

    This tasty garden pasta salad with rotini features fresh vegetables and a creamy, lemony mayonnaise and pesto dressing. Feel free to use your favorite type of pasta, too, rotini, elbows, and farfalle all work well.

  • 15 of 21

    Simple Shrimp Salad

    shrimp salad
    Diana Rattray

    This simple shrimp salad is a snap to throw together for a hot summer evening meal. Serve it on lettuce leaves with a side of fresh tomatoes or in a pita pocket.

  • 16 of 21

    Classic Crab Roll

    Classic Crab Roll

    Elaine Lemm

    The sister sandwich to the more labor-intensive lobster roll, the classic crab roll brings the fresh flavors of crab, lemon, and chives together in a delicious hand-held summertime meal. The pickled vegetables on top add a tangy finishing touch.

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  • 17 of 21

    Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Sandwiches

    grilled chicken salad wraps
    Elaine Lemm

    Use soft store-bought wraps for these grilled chicken Caesar salad sandwiches. This three-part recipe leads you through the steps for preparing the grilled chicken, the homemade Caesar dressing, and the constructing the wrap.

  • 18 of 21

    Tarragon Chicken Salad

    Tarragon Chicken Salad

    The Spruce Eats / Anita Schecter 

    Tarragon chicken salad is perfect in a sandwich or on a bed of greens. Roast the chicken or pull leftovers out of the fridge, then mix up the flavorful creamy dressing with lemon, Dijon mustard, and tarragon. It's both simple and delicious.

  • 19 of 21

    Taco Salad

    Taco salad
    Diana Rattray

    If you have browned ground beef crumbles on hand, you can have a taco salad in minutes. Get a jumpstart on this dish by freezing well-drained ground beef in 1-pound portions that you can pull out at your convenience to make this salad.

  • 20 of 21

    Pineapple Salad With Walnuts

    Pineapple Salad
    Diana Rattray

    A pineapple salad with walnuts goes well with all kinds of grilled foods. Serve it along with grilled tuna, salmon, pork, or chicken.

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  • 21 of 21

    Steak Salad

    steak salad
    Katie Workman /

    Throw a steak on the grill and toss it onto a salad for a cool and hearty summer meal. Everyone will love this delicious steak salad!