20 Easy No-Cook Meals That Keep the Oven Off

updated Jul 26, 2022
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Watermelon gazpacho served.
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman / Food Stylist: Anna Stockwell

Before we get started on a subject dear to our hearts, let’s define the term “no-cook,” since it can be interpreted in many ways. Long, philosophical essays have been written on what it means to cook, but for the purposes of this post, let’s say that “no-cook” simply means no heat, as in keeping the stove and oven off. This leaves us free to chop, squeeze, slice, arrange, dollop, scatter, mix, gently fold, and … well, you get the picture. Basically no-cook means assembling, sometimes with things that have already been cooked (like rotisserie chicken, hard-boiled eggs, slices of ham). Make sense? Good! Let’s get started on some of the best meals out there.

The Art of No-Cook Meals

Since these meals are more about assembly, no-cook meals begin in two places: the grocery store and the leftover shelf of your refrigerator. Picking up a rotisserie chicken, a couple cans of beans, tinned fish, or cured meats basically gives you a running start on meal time. To help with the grocery store, be sure to read our comprehensive 31 essential ingredients for no-cook meals and make a list! Your leftover stash will vary widely, but in general keeping things like hard-boiled eggs, a pot of rice or other favorite grain, leftover meats, and roasted vegetables is a good place to start.

Ready to get going? When it feel too hot to turn on the oven or you just don’t feel like stepping up to the stove, here are 20 no-cook meals to lean on.

1 / 20
Mediterranean Tuna and White Bean Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette
Take a few cans of tuna and white beans, toss them in a vibrant, tangy vinaigrette made from pesto and lemon juice, and you've got the ultimate no-cook summer dinner.
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2 / 20
Ahi Poke
Poke is a Hawaiian dish of marinated seafood, most often tuna, that's become quite popular recently, with poke-focused restaurants opening up all over. But poke is also really simple to make at home and can be tweaked and adjusted to fit your particular palate. Just be sure to buy the highest-quality tuna, as this is a raw dish.
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3 / 20
Salmon and Kale Caesar Wraps
Embrace canned salmon and you have the potential to whip up these wholesome, filling wraps that are a fun riff on the chicken Caesar version.
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4 / 20
Anna Jones' Raw Thai Citrus Crunch Salad
This beautiful salad is packed full of fruits and vegetables and tossed with a rich cashew-date dressing, so it's got real heft despite the fact that it's raw and vegan. The toppings add a nice crunch to the crisp veg, but the best part is the flavor from all the fresh herbs, ginger, and chile.
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5 / 20
Cold Sesame Chicken and Noodle Salad
Start with a rotisserie chicken to keep this chilled noodle salad extra-easy.
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6 / 20
Crab & Avocado Temaki
People think they can't make sushi because it's complicated and you need to study with a master for 10 years. This may be true, but you can also just plunge right in with something a little easier and not too traditional, such as these hand rolls made with crab, avocado, and sprouts.
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7 / 20
Tomato and Feta White Bean Salad
A simple can of white beans can be transformed into an exciting, colorful salad if you add lots of juicy tomatoes, chopped parsley, and salty feta to the situation.
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8 / 20
Rainbow Noodle Salad
Spiralizers may be heading into the tired trend category, but they can be useful in creating playful, colorful dishes. In this case, spiralized and thinly sliced vegetables are tossed in an orange/miso/sesame dressing and left to marinate for a few hours to produce a vibrant salad that's satisfyingly flavorful and crunchy.
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9 / 20
Sesame Ginger Tofu Poke Bowl
This vegan twist on a poke bowl features cubes of marinated tofu and a colorful array of toppings.
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10 / 20
Garlic Marinated White Beans with Celery and Parsley Salad
These garlic-marinated beans are going to be your new favorite lunch. You can use canned beans, but dried beans are preferred.
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11 / 20
No-Cook Dip and Veggie Summer Board
Yes, veggies and dip totally count as dinner — especially when it is too hot to cook.
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12 / 20
Italian Chicken Salad
This flavor-packed chicken salad sandwiched is loaded with herbs and wrapped up in tangy Dijon vinaigrette. And when it's too hot to cook, I like to pick up a rotisserie chicken for a head start.
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13 / 20
Fresh & Simple Crab Salad
This minimalist recipe looks toward Maryland with its Old Bay and chive accents, but keeps the sweet crabmeat front and center.
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14 / 20
Chicken Summer Rolls
Packed with juicy chicken, ribbons of crisp veggies, creamy avocado, and a lush layer of fresh herbs, this easy summer meal is bursting with freshness.
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15 / 20
The Ultimate Summer Salad
This bright and fresh mix of sweet summer peaches and juicy cherry tomatoes, tossed in a tangy cilantro-lime vinaigrette, is one to keep on repeat all summer long.
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16 / 20
Black Bean Salad with Corn and Avocado
This classic black bean salad is packed with bright, refreshing flavors like corn, tomatoes, and cilantro, and has a kick from fresh garlic, jalapeño, and red onion.
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17 / 20
Classic Italian Sub Sandwich
This classic, make ahead-friendly sandwich is piled with Italian cured meats, provolone cheese, tomatoes, shredded iceberg lettuce, and picked peppers.
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18 / 20
Avocado Tuna Salad
Creamy avocado replaces mayo in this tasty tuna salad.
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19 / 20
Watermelon Gazpacho
Watermelon gazpacho is light and refreshing — and you can blend it up in minutes. Here's how to make this perfect no-cook meal.
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20 / 20
Tomato Chickpea Salad
Tomatoes and chickpeas are tossed in a simple vinaigrette for a light, colorful, and satisfying bowl.
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Do you have a favorite no-cook dinner? Something that just comes together with the magic of a few leftovers or a quick trip to the store?