8 Secret Tips for No-Cook Cooking

There are plenty of ways to "cook" without heating anything at all. Here's how to make easy food without cooking and create dinners that are perfect for hot summer days.

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Slicing Chicken on cutting board
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Start with Precooked Ingredients

The best way to make easy no-cook meals is to start with ready-to-eat ingredients. Rotisserie chicken, hard-boiled eggs, canned beans or lunch meat all make ideal targets for easy sandwiches or filling toppings for your favorite salad.

Try It: Our Best Cold Sandwich Recipes

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Tarragon Tuna Salad
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Celebrate Salads

Make your favorite salad more filling with pre-cooked ingredients, or make a protein salad like chicken salad, tuna salad, egg salad or ham salad. Protein salads are fantastic grab-and-go options for lunch, but they can also be enjoyed for dinner when stuffed into a toasted pita or served up in lettuce cups.

Try It: Hearty No-Cook Summer Salads

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Zippy Turkey Zoodles
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Use Zoodles Instead of Noodles

Instead of boiling water and heating up the kitchen, reach to zoodles instead to use in an easy pasta dish or a cold pasta salad. You’ll find them pre-spiralized at most grocery stores, or make them at home with zucchini, carrots, parsnips, beets or cucumbers.

Try It: Our Best Cold Pasta Salads

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Apple Maple Pecan Salad
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Build Flavor by Letting the Flavors “Marry”

Cooked dishes taste incredible because you create layers of flavor as you cook. You can still achieve the same depth with no-cook meals by allowing the flavors to “marry” in the refrigerator. Make dishes like coleslaw or bean salad ahead of time and give them at least an hour before serving.

Try It: Crunchy Coleslaw Recipes

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Tuna and White Bean Lettuce Wraps
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Think Outside the Bun

It’s easy to think of sandwich recipes, but we challenge you to skip the sliced bread and turn your favorite sandwich into a salad instead. If you’re craving a handheld meal, look to tortillas as a wrap, pita pockets or lettuce cups to change up your normal routine.

Try It: Ways to Make Lettuce Wraps

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Bowl of Gazpacho with cucumber and bell pepper topping
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Embrace Cold Soup

It might not sound appetizing at first, but cold soup is the ideal way to cool down on a hot day. Pair chilled soup with a crisp salad or slice of bread to create a filling meal.

Try It: Our Easy Gazpacho Recipe

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Indulging in a charcuterie at a house party
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Don’t Forget About Charcuterie and Crudite

Charcuterie and crudite vegetable platters are often used as appetizers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t turn them into dinner. Whip up a filling dip and serve it with crackers or pita chips, a colorful assortment of raw vegetables, pickles and olives, a few cold cooked meats and a nice assortment of cheese. No-cook dinner is served!

Try It: The Best Cheese Board

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California Roll Wraps
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Get Inspired By Your Favorite Flavors

When you get tired of making the same no-cook recipes, look to your favorite flavors for inspiration. Turn hot ramen into crunchy ramen salad, make a cold dip with pizza toppings or make a cold version of your favorite noodle bowl.

Try It: Quick No-Cook Recipes

Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay is a professional chef, recipe developer, writer and developmental editor. After years of working in restaurant kitchens, she turned to writing to share her skills and experience with home cooks and food enthusiasts. She's passionate about using local, organic ingredients and teaching others how to incorporate seasonal food into their diet. Lindsay still cooks professionally for pop-up events, writes for several publications and is the co-author of two books about Ayurveda.