So it’s summer and the last thing anyone wants to be thinking about is turning on the oven. Sweating over a 400 degree box full of hot air in an already sweltering kitchen? No thank you.
I used to think that the only way to keep cool in the kitchen during the hot summer months was to put on my bathing suit and cook with a fan blasting directly on me. But over the years I’ve realized that there are plenty of ways to beat the heat but still enjoy some delicious summer-ready meals. So for those of you who don’t want to subsist on only ice cream during this summer of record-setting temperatures, below are some easy ideas for how to keep cool in the kitchen, along with some of my personal favorite summer recipes.
How to Beat the Kitchen Heat:
1) Invest in a slow cooker. If you don’t already own one, or have never seen the point in them, trust me when I say the slow cooker will be your new best friend for summer cooking. Slow cookers will help you cook all your favorite dishes — from fried chicken to peach cobbler — without having to sweat the heat of your oven.
- Crazy Slow Cooker Pork Chops (shown above)
- Tropical Pudding Cake
- Slow Cooked Orange Chicken
- BBQ Chicken Salad from 365 Days of Slow Cooking
2) Reconsider the microwave. That little box isn’t just for warming up leftovers. You’d be amazed by what you can cook in the microwave… everything from Franks and Beans to rich and chocolatey fudge. Use your microwave to make dinner and dessert this summer and your kitchen will stay breezy and cool.
3) Get a head start. It may seem obvious but making your meals when there’s a break in the sweltering weather may be your best bet for keeping cool in the kitchen. Make-ahead meals are great for summer because you can save any oven-required recipes to cook when it’s a bit cooler out and then save to eat on a rainy… er… steamy…. day. Genius, right?
4) Jump on the no-bake bandwagon. No-heat and no-bake recipes are the ultimate summertime cooking resource. You just can’t beat sweet treats and savory meals that don’t require you to turn on the oven. If you’ve never tried making one before, now’s the time!
- No-Bake Banana Split Dessert from Brown Eyed Baker (shown above)
- 5-Minute No-Bake Cookies
- Bake Not Brownie Bars
With these four simple food-prep techniques, cooking in the summer will no longer be something you dread. In fact, you may just find some new quick and easy recipes that you’ll want to make year-round!
More tips for keeping your kitchen cool:
- Use your exhaust fan. This fabulous invention is designed to get rid of hot air, blowing it straight up and out the window, so make use of this great device.
- Prep when it’s cooler out. Do as much leg-work as possible during non-peak heat times. Chop your veggies during the cooler evening hours, prep your ingredients early in the morning before it gets too hot, etc. You’ll thank yourself later!
- Take advantage of lulls in the heat streak. Use cooler days as your main cooking days for the week, making meals in advance and freezing them until you need them.
- Smaller is better. Something as simple as chopping vegetables and other ingredients into smaller pieces will reduce the necessary cooking time so you won’t have to sweat the heat in the kitchen as long.
How do YOU keep your kitchen cool in the summer?