No-Oven Summer Dinners (Kid-Friendly)

What do you make when it’s just too hot to cook? I’ve got a list of No-Oven Summer Dinners for you! These meal ideas are quick, easy, kid-friendly, and, most importantly, won’t heat up the whole house.

Tips for making Kid Friendly Summer Dinners:

  • Use your air fryer!: Cooking some chicken to add to a sandwich or salad in the air fryer is quick and easy. Plus, it heats up the kitchen so much less than the oven or standing over a hot pan. You can also cook frozen items like falafel, breaded chicken cutlets/nuggets, meatballs,
  • Give your Crockpot/Slow Cooker some love: set it and forget it! Great if you place ahead because dinner is checked off your to-do list early in the day and no oven or stove top to heat up the house.
  • Prep earlier in the day: If you want to boil some water to cook pasta, do it in the morning when it’s not as hot. You can reheat it in the microwave later or use it cold for pasta salads.
  • Buy prepared foods and pre-cooked proteins: Grocery stores have many options these days for items we can use to make meals easier. Use rotiserrie chicken to add protein to pasta salads, sandwiches, burrito bowls, rice bowls, and more. You can also buy foods like hard boiled eggs, roasted/marinated tofu, grilled meats,

Kid Friendly Summer Dinners:

Snack and Sandwich Variations:

  1. “Snack Dinner” or Kid-Cuterie: Forage through your fridge and find a variety of things to put together. Hummus or ranch dip with fresh veggies, slice up whatever fruit you have, then add some proteins like cheeses, deli meat, pepperoni, leftover cooked chicken…nothing is off limits. Add some crunchy crackers, pretzels, and some treats like cookies too. Arrange everything casually on a large cutting board or platter then dig in. It’s a great way to use up and enjoy whatever you have on hand!
  2. DIY Sandwich or Panini Station: Grab a few selections of sliced bread or rolls and your favorite fillings then let kids and adults assemble their own. If you have a sandwich press, plug that in and help kids make their own paninis. Some ideas: tomato and fresh mozzarella, Italian meats with provolone cheese, and the classic grilled American cheese and ham are some of our favorites. Serve some fresh fruit and crunchy veggies with dip to round out the meal.
  3. Pita Pockets or Wraps: Another variation on a sandwich, pita bread (or a large tortilla) can be a great vehicle for lots of flavorful fillings. I love to cook some frozen falafel in the air fryer or use the Trader Joe’s Kebab meat as a protein. However, you can use hummus, cooked chicken like my Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken, or whatever you like. For a Greek-inspired meal, put out some chopped romaine lettuce, tomato, cucumber, crumbled feta, olives, and tszaziki sauce. Everyone can make their own pita or wrap however they like it.

Kid-Friendly Summer Dinners Salads:

  1. Salad Bar/Deconstructed Salads: I know salads don’t seem “kid friendly” at first. However, you can really adjust salad dinners to everyone in the family’s taste. The key is to have lots of choices and keep things deconstructed. That way everyone can create a plate they enjoy. One of our favorite summer salads is this Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad with Strawberry Dressing. If you don’t want to stand by a hot grill, you can totally buy cooked chicken at the grocery store. You can also grab some other proteins and toppings at the store like hard boiled eggs, bacon, prepped veggies, and croutons or some nice bread to serve along side.
  2. Simple Pasta Dishes: Pasta salad is a summer staple. However, I think pasta salad can get a little boring. Some things to keep it interesting: prepared pesto, try filled pastas like tortellini or ravioli, add quick proteins like canned tuna or hard boiled eggs. Have kids help make this fun Rainbow Pasta Salad to use up any veggies you have in the fridge.

Slow Cooker Meals for Kid Friendly Summer Dinners:

  1. Crockpot Turkey Meatballs: Such a simple summer meal if you don’t worry about boiling pasta and serve the meatballs on some sub rolls instead. Either serve with a bagged salad or simple crunchy veggies. It’s one of my boys’ favorite meals.
  2. Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken: You can use the tender, flavorful shredded chicken in sandwiches, on top of salad, mixed into pasta sauce, and more!
  3. What’s For Dinner ebook: My ebook filled with 30 One-Pot, Stress-free Meals has some of my favorite, easy crockpot recipes including, Shredded BBQ Chicken (with hidden veggies), Sweet Potatoes with Taco Topping Bar, and Turkey and Veggie “Sloppy Joe’s”. The book of 30 recipes is only $9! Not only will you be using the book to get dinners on the table this summer, but it’s a useful resource to have on your phone all year long.
  4. Simple Salsa Chicken: No recipe needed! Just add 1 to 2 pounds of boneless chicken (I like to use thighs) and a jar of salsa to a slow cooker. Set on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours then shred it up. You can use the chicken in tacos, burritos, on top of salads, on rice, and more. Or top burrito bowls with these Instant Pot (or Slow Cooker) Pinto Beans.

Bowl-Style Summer Meals:

  1. Burrito Bowls: For the base, use a bag of microwave rice. You can even bump up the favor by stirring in some chopped fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. Top with a slow cooker chicken like the salsa one mentioned above. You can also just mix some shredded rotiserrie chicken with a little salsa or Mexican-style seasonings. Don’t forget about beans as a protein option! There are many delicious options in cans that you can just heat up in the microwave and serve. Add chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese, lettuce, store-bought guacamole or diced avocado…whatever you like in your burrito.
  2. Rice Noodles: So versatile and easy to cook, rice noodles are a summer staple at my house. Just pour some boiling water over the noodles. Let them soak until tender, then they are ready to use in so many ways. Buy your choice of protein at the store (rotisserie chicken/tofu) or just fry up an egg or two. For a delicious sauce, try the peanut sauce in my Rainbow Noodle Bowls recipe.
  3. Sushi Rice Bowls: I like to cook my sushi rice in the Instant Pot or use a rice cooker if you have it. You can also use another kind of white or brown rice. Whatever is easiest for you and doesn’t require heating up the stove top. I like to top the rice with cucumber, avocado, and whatever other veggies I have around. Shelled edamame is great too. For a protein, buy frozen shrimp, defrost them, and make sure to pat them dry really well. Toss shrimp in a teriyaki sauce or spicy mayo. When I don’t have another protein on hand, I often just fry up a few eggs and put those on top of rice with the veggie. It’s delicious. I do have a full recipe for Sushi Rice Bowls in my cookbook, Kid Kitchen.

Breakfast for Kid Friendly Summer Dinners:

  1. Smoothies! They can be full of fruits, veggies, protein, and more. I wouldn’t serve them as an entire meal, but they make a great addition to a quick sandwich or other simple breakfast foods like frozen waffles or pancakes.
  2. Freezer Finds: Check out my blog post, Make Ahead Kid Friendly Breakfasts, for ideas for stocking your freezer with nutritious options. Also, nothing wrong with heating up some store-bought breakfast sandwiches or burritos.
  3. Toast!: Lots of yummy ways to top some toasted bread! One of our favorites is avocado toast topped with a poached egg made in the microwave. Cottage cheese, melted cheese, or simple scrambled eggs are also great choices.


Need more Dinner Ideas?? (and not too worried about heating up the kitchen)

Check out this helpful post: Make Ahead Dinner Recipes

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  1. Kristin Chambers on July 8, 2024 at 10:52 am

    These all look fantastic Heather! Love all of this!!! Thank you for sharing. 😁

    • Heather on July 8, 2024 at 4:38 pm

      Hi Kristin, Really hope it will be helpful. Thanks so much for leaving a comment! 🙂 Heather

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