"Sad Girl" Sushi Boards, Green Goddess Pasta Salad, And 12 Other Really Good Low-Cook Meals We Rely On In Hotter-Than-Hell Weather

Figuring out what to eat for dinner in the summer months can be really tricky. Many of our usual go-to recipes are simply too hot and heavy to think about eating on a blazing hot day; plus, who wants to turn on the oven in the midst of a heatwave???

A scene from the movie "The Sandlot" with the character Hamilton "Ham" Porter saying, "I'm baking like a toasted cheeser. It's so hot here!"

But even in the dog days of summer, we've still gotta eat, so we asked BuzzFeed writers and editors to share their favorite summer recipes that they rely on when it's waaay too hot to cook. Here's what they had to say:

1.Lazy Nicoise Salad

A plate of salad with potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, red onions, eggs, anchovies, olives, and capers

2.Chopped "Any Salad" Wraps

A person holds a white plate with a cut vegetarian wrap filled with various chopped vegetables near a window

3.Spicy Tuna Rice Bowl

I'm a sucker for Spam musubi, but when it's hot out, I don't feel like frying up Spam. So instead, I go for this spicy tuna rice bowl, which has some of the same flavors and takes a LOT less work. Of course, this is only truly low-cook when you have a rice cooker.

All you need is rice (any kind you want, but I usually go with jasmine), canned tuna, a spicy mayo of your choosing, furikake rice seasoning, and optional soy sauce. Make your rice (preferably in a rice cooker to avoid using the hot stove). Separately, mix your tuna with the spicy mayo and soy sauce...add as much or as little of each as you want. If you can't find a pre-made spicy mayo that you like, I recommend using Kewpie mayo and mixing in sriracha and a little sesame oil. When the rice is done, season it with the furikake rice seasoning, spoon on your tuna, and you're done! If you want to jazz it up, you can add some green onion, and if you're feeling REALLY adventurous, you could crack a raw egg into your hot rice and mix it up before adding the tuna to make a sort of spicy tuna tamago gohan.

If you want to make it even easier and TRULY no-cook, you can get microwaveable rice and a pouch of Thai chili-flavored tuna from Starkist. Then all you have to do is microwave, add the seasoning, and mix!

Andy Golder

4.Cool Beans Quinoa Salad

A bowl of quinoa salad with diced vegetables and crumbled feta cheese

5.Tofu with Spicy Soy Garlic Sauce

Plate of tofu with spicy soy garlic sauce served alongside steamed rice with herbs

6.Sad Girl Sushi Boards

This meal is very, very, very roughly inspired by a Philidelphia roll, but is definitely not traditional by any means. It's kinda like a sushi charcuterie board, except it's not quite sushi and technically isn't charcuterie either, but it DOES take less than 10 minutes to make and tastes pretty good, so there's that! In my home, we like to call this "sad girl sushi."

All you need is cucumber, avocado, cream cheese, smoked salmon, rice (I like the Trader Joe's frozen brown rice that you can pop in the microwave), rice vinegar, a tiny bit of sugar, and those little snack-size packs of roasted seaweed.

Microwave one packet of brown rice. Mix the teeniest bit of sugar into about two tablespoons of rice vinegar until it's dissolved and fold it into the rice. Leave that to cool and chop the cucumber, avocado, and 1/3 of a block of cream cheese into thin, inch-long pieces. Then, cut the salmon pieces so they're roughly bite-sized. Plate it up kinda like a charcuterie board, with the rice in a bowl on the side, as well as a couple of packs of the seaweed snacks. Soy sauce and chili oil are optional, but very much recommended.

When I make this for my partner and me, I like to make us each individual little "boards" so we can portion things how we like. To eat it, I make little bite-sized "sushi tacos" — the seaweed, in this case, being the tortilla — and layer a little bit of rice, my toppings, and the smoked salmon on top. That's it! This is totally customizable, too, so add or exclude whatever toppings you like! For instance, if you like California rolls, try imitation crab! If you wanna spice it up a bit, add a sriracha mayo or some mango.

Angelica Martinez

7.Classic Fruit Salad

A glass dish filled with a mix of chopped fruits including strawberries, grapes, kiwi, blueberries, sits on a tiled surface

8.Smoked Trout Dip

A bowl of creamy dip garnished with sprigs of dill and chives, drizzled with olive oil

9.Green Goddess Pasta Salad

Recipe for Green Goddess Pasta Salad, serves 6. It includes ingredients, directions, dressing, other ingredients, and a note about pure herbs in a food processor

10.Tomato Toast

Plate with five slices of toasted bread topped with cherry tomatoes, herbs, and a creamy spread


I am a soup gal through and through, but obviously, hot soup isn't really possible or enjoyable in 90-degree weather, so gazpacho is usually my solution. It essentially tastes like a pureed salad in a bowl, and all comes together in a blender in just 15 minutes.

It does need a few hours to chill, so just keep that in mind before you think you've found the ultimate last-minute dinner. Alternatively, I have seen it served over ice in a glass and sipped through a straw before, which sounds so bizarrely fun to do.

You can definitely go the crouton route for toppings, but I also like to finely chop the veggies that are already going into the gazpacho (tomatoes, onions, and bell pepper) and top it with those along with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Castelvetrano olives are also having a moment right now, so even a little olive chimichurri or pesto would be amazing on top!

Claudia Santos

12.Mandarin Orange Spinach Pasta Salad with Teriyaki Dressing

A bowl of pasta salad with farfalle pasta, spinach leaves, mandarin orange segments, dried cranberries, and pine nuts

13.Burger Bowl

A bowl containing a mixed salad with ground meat, shredded cheese, fries, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, and a creamy dressing

14.Fancy Grilled Cheese

A grilled cheese sandwich is one of my favorite comfort foods, and this fancy version has sustained me through many a hot day. I like to use sourdough bread and spread a thin layer of pesto on the inside of the sandwich with butter on the outside. Then, I fill it with shredded mozzarella and sliced tomatoes and bake it in my toaster oven until the bread looks golden (rather than frying it on the hot stove). I serve it with a side of green salad and some big chunks of watermelon and eat with my face in the AC vent.

Megan Liscomb

What's your favorite no- or low-cook meal that saves you every time a heat wave rolls around? Tell us all about it in the comments below, and I can nearly guarantee you that at least one of us will try out your creation for ourselves.