Look no further for your go to guide for healthy cold main and cold side dishes to feed a crowd on hot summer days (appetizers, too!). No one wants to heat up their kitchen when it’s hot outside, here are some easy make ahead dishes for a cookout, BBQ or potluck… or even just to make ahead for quick weeknight dinners!
The dog days of summer are upon us! Even here in northern Minnesota — where temperatures are mild compared to many places and most of us have no air conditioning — the oven hasn’t been turned on in weeks. If you’re like us, you’ve probably grilled just about everything you can think of and you’ve exhausted your supply of slow cooker recipes.
The very last thing you want to do is stand over a hot stove and sweat. Can I get an AMEN?
Now it’s time for something cold. Ahhhhhh….
These gorgeous and nourishing recipes are all about keeping you (and your house) cool and keeping your stove off! Not to mention utilizing some of those fresh items that are the best during the summer! I’m talking corn on the cob, cherry tomatoes straight from the garden, summer squash and fresh grilled vegetables!
Here is our round-up of 24 cold main dishes and 22 cold summer side dishes to get you through the rest of summer!
Appetizers, Soups & Dips
When you’re hosting a large crowd, it’s always fun to let your guests snack on something delicious to tide them over until meal time. These recipes are all real-food, healthy options that don’t lack in flavor.
- 50 Fermented Salsas, Dips & Spreads via Traditional Cooking School
- Heirloom Gazpacho with Bay Shrimp via Against All Grain
- Savory Caprese Dairy-free Cheesecake via The Spunky Coconut
- Fermented Jalapeno Deviled Eggs via Traditional Cooking School
- Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Dill via Feed Me Phoebe
- Crab Cake Deviled Eggs via Pastured Kitchen
- Caprese Stuffed Avocado via Laylita’s Recipes
- Cucumber-Avocado Rolls via It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken
- Fermented Tex-Mex Salsa via Traditional Cooking School
- Secret Ingredient Guacamole via The Nourishing Home
- Avocado Chutney via Mommypotamus
- Sprouted Hummus (with 3 flavor options) via Traditional Cooking School
Nothing beats a fresh salad, especially when garden produce is at an all time high. Use up those beautiful veggies with these creative, healthy and oh so tasty salad recipes. Pictured below, Zesty Low-Carb Jalapeno Cabbage Slaw.
- Zesty Low-Carb Jalapeno Cabbage Slaw via Traditional Cooking School
- Thai Slaw with Coconut-Mango Dressing via Get Inspired Everyday
- Cancer-fighting Red Cabbage Slaw via Kitchen Stewardship
- Apple-Carrot-Cabbage Slaw via The Nourishing Home
- Marinated Asian Sesame Cucumber Salad via Health Starts in the Kitchen
- Mediterranean Cucumber-Tomato Mint Salad via Traditional Cooking School
- Yummy Layered Salad via The Pioneer Woman
- Classic Caesar Salad via Nourished Kitchen
- Pomegranate, Kale, and Wild Rice Salad with Walnuts and Feta via Pinch of Yum
- Classic Carrot Summer Salad via Happily Unprocessed
- Carrot Salad with Turmeric-Coconut Manna Dressing via Eat Beautiful
- Succotash Salad via The Kitchn
- Golden Mid-Summer Vegetable Noodle Salad via Food Renegade
- Detoxifying Mung Bean Salad via Citron Limette
Wraps & Sandwiches
It’s such a great idea to prep quick and easy sandwich, wrap or spring roll ingredients ahead of time, then have simple lunches or dinners all week long without heating up the house. Pictured below, Radish and Egg Salad Sandwich
- BLT Keto Wraps via Traditional Cooking School
- Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Spring Rolls via White on Rice Couple
- Sprouted Grain Wraps with Hummus via The Yellow Table
- Chard Wraps with Cashew Cheese via The Spunky Coconut
- Wild Red Salmon Salad via Traditional Cooking School
- Simple Paleo Buffalo Chicken Salad via Paleo Newbie
- Italian Chicken Salad Sandwiches via The Kitchn
- Basic Egg Salad via Traditional Cooking School
- Radish and Egg Salad Sandwiches via A Couple Cooks
Pasta Salads & Potato Salads
A pasta salad can be a great use of leftovers in the refrigerator. Toss it all together and add a zesty or creamy dressing and you’re all set. Not to mention, most pasta salads are even better the second day, so make these recipes ahead of time and enjoy them all week long. Pictured below, Everything But the Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad.
- Everything But the Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad via Half Baked Harvest
- Sweet and Savory Einkorn Pasta Salad via My Humbled Kitchen
- Gluten-free Macaroni Salad via Food Renegade
- Carrot Pasta with Creamy Zesty Garlic Sauce via Tales of a Kitchen
- Probiotic Potato Salad via Traditional Cooking School
- Grandma’s Cultured Potato Salad via The Nourishing Home
- Russian Probiotic Potato Salad via Traditional Cooking School
Sushi & Rolls
Sushi and rolls are a great low-cook meal that can involve the entire family. Plus, with moderate cooking, you can have all the ingredients cooked and cooled and ready to go for creating these beautifully delicious sushi rolls. Pictured below, Gluten-free Chinese Chicken Lettuce Cups.
- Real Food Sushi via Traditional Cooking School
- Veggie Quinoa Sushi Rolls via Veggie Primer
- Healthy Hand Roll Sushi (made the Lazy Susan way) via The Nourishing Gourmet
- Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce via Chowhound
- Fresh Rainbow Spring Rolls via White on Rice Couple
- Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Paleo “Peanut” Sauce via Lexi’s Clean Kitchen
- Pad Thai Wraps via Our Four Folks
- Gluten-free Chinese Chicken Lettuce Cups via Simply Gluten Free
Whether your summer ends on Labor Day weekend or goes through the end of September, we hope you find these refreshing dishes take the edge off the summer heat and get you through the home stretch! Fall is just around the corner!
What cold main dishes and cold side dishes do you like to make on hot summer days?
This post was originally published on August 3, 2015 and was updated on August 30, 2019.
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