15 Easy No-Cook Side Dishes Perfect for Summer

updated Jun 23, 2022
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Most of the time, when a friend invites you over for a barbecue and you ask what to bring, they will task you with a summer side dish — at least that’s what my friends do. While I usually don’t have the time or energy to fire up the oven or stove to make something (and let’s face it, most of the time it’s way too hot to turn on the oven anyway), a plain green salad just doesn’t feel festive enough for a potluck. My solution: no-cook summer side dishes.

You can leave your Instant Pot and slow cooker where they are, this line up of 15 no-cook sides includes salads and slaws that simply require a little chopping and tossing. They’re no-fuss and can be made ahead of time, but still feel special. I guarantee they’ll be a welcome addition to the party spread.

1 / 15
Shaved Cucumber and Fennel Salad with Olives and Feta
This Mediterranean-style salad is layered with lemony fennel and cucumbers for a simple salad that's bright, fresh, salty, rich, briny, and crunchy.
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2 / 15
Light & Easy Broccoli Salad
While this shredded broccoli salad comes together pretty quickly with the help of a food processor, you can make it even easier on yourself by picking up a bag of pre-shredded broccoli slaw mix.
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3 / 15
Easy Lemon-Marinated Bean and Vegetable Salad
This hearty salad gets better the longer it sits, so it's a good one if you need a make-ahead dish.
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4 / 15
Dragon Fruit Salad
The next time your fruit salad routine is feeling kinda stale, here’s a smart and simple strategy that will instantly jazz things up: Pick up a fun fruit that you might not buy all the time and instead of cubing the fruit, grab a melon baller. Scooping the fruit into bite-sized balls and tossing in dragon fruit gives basic fruit salad a fun and impressive twist.
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5 / 15
Tomato Salad with Red Onion, Dill and Feta
If you can get your hands on both, use a mix of red and yellow tomatoes to make this juicy salad especially colorful and vibrant.
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6 / 15
Anna Jones' Raw Thai Citrus Crunch Salad
This refreshing, crunchy salad is inspired by pad Thai, but instead of noodles, it's full of ribbons of zucchini and carrots. Everything can be assembled ahead of time, but leave the dressing off until just before serving.
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7 / 15
Caprese Salad
It's hard to beat this classic Italian salad of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. It's always a crowd-pleaser at any gathering.
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8 / 15
Cilantro-Jalapeño Jicama Slaw
You can prep the vegetables and dressing for this slaw up to three hours in advance, but keep them separate until you are ready to serve. Then toss everything together at the last minute to keep the slaw crisp and colorful.
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9 / 15
Crunchy Asian Slaw with Ginger-Tahini Dressing
The tangy dressing for this slaw can be made up to five days in advance! All you have to do is bring it along to toss with all the veggies before serving.
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10 / 15
Watermelon Salad with Feta & Mint
This salad tastes best just after it's been assembled, but since it doesn't require a fancy dressing, it's easy enough to bring its components separately and mix them together at the party.
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11 / 15
Tangy Cucumber Salad
Here's one of those salads that actually gets better over time. So you can make it in its entirety the night before or the morning of the party and it will be at its best once friends and family dig in.
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12 / 15
Rainbow Noodle Salad
This spiralized salad can be made with any number of vegetables you like, from zucchini to carrots to radishes to beets. Just go for the most colorful mix to give this dish the most eye appeal.
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13 / 15
Corn Salad
This fresh corn salad is mixed with juicy tomatoes, sweet basil, and salty feta for a simple, refreshing salad that tastes like summer.
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14 / 15
Carrot Salad
This mayo-dressed, raisin-studded salad is a simple mix of kitchen staples, making it the easy, delicious cookout side you need.
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15 / 15
Tri-Color Slaw with Lime Dressing
This fresh, colorful slaw is bursting with big flavor. It's a natural partner to anything coming off the grill.
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