Cool Summer Cooking Tips

cherries for summerDuring the winter I have lots of energy for cooking. It’s a pleasure to turn on the stove and warm up the house. But in the summer, I just wish the food would magically appear in front of me.

Readers on the Facebook page for Cooking Manager (join us!) asked for a list of ways to cook while keeping cool. You can bet that in a few weeks, I’ll be reviewing my own tips for inspiration. Please add your own tips in the comments.

First let’s look at appliances. Some appliances generate more heat than others, and they should be avoided.

  • A slow cooker has little insulation and no thermostat. While it generates less heat than the oven, it needs to stay on all day. If you can move it outside or close it off in a separate room, it’s a good choice. But don’t waste the air-conditioner on your slow cooker.
  • The oven generates a lot of heat, depending on how insulated it is. If you must use it, turn it on early in the morning or late at night. Toaster ovens are smaller, but may be less insulated.
  • Stove-top. The gas or electric range heats the kitchen as well as the food. It’s fine for items that cook quickly.

These appliances work better for the summer:

  • Microwave ovens only heat the food, so less  heat gets into the kitchen. But cook for long enough and you will eventually feel the heat. Larger quantities or dense items require longer cooking times and may not be worth it.
  • Pressure cookers release steam when they are done, but the time and energy you save makes them a good option, especially for longer-cooking foods like beans.
  • The grill is a summer favorite, as the heat stays outside in the first place.
  • If you can make yourself a solar oven, you can cook outside with no energy usage.

More summer cooking tips:

  • Cook long-cooking items like dried beans in quantity and refrigerator or freeze them so they’ll be available. Like Faye Levy suggested in the comments to my post on summer salads,
  • Cook in the morning or evening, at most heating up food just before the meal.
  • A lot of people don’t bake in the summer at all. I do, but I dread thinking about it. Plan carefully so that your oven is on for as short a time as possible.
  • Watch the weather report and plan to cook more on cooler days.
  • Use an exhaust fan to divert cooking heat out of the kitchen. You don’t need to install a special fan. Just direct your regular fan to blow the heat outside.
  • Keep the kitchen door closed, if possible, so the heat won’t escape to the rest of the house.
  • Choose quick-cooking foods like small pasta, fine bulgur, lentils, scrambled eggs, string beans, leafy greens, and pita.
  • Food should never be overcooked, but in the summer you’ll want to pay more attention. Some foods, like vegetables or pasta, might taste better when cooked less time than you’re used to.
  • Be especially careful with food safety. Defrost in the refrigerator, store leftovers right away, cover foods tightly and use them up in time.
  • Prepare for cooking, including peeling and chopping, beforehand while the kitchen is still cool. Or make space in another room.
  • Cook foods that will also taste good cold. Bean recipes, pasta casseroles and of course salads all work well. But experiment—just because something is traditionally eaten hot doesn’t mean you have to eat it that way.

More Recipe Ideas for Summer Cooking:

What tips can you share for cool summer cooking?

Photo: Pink Sherbet Photography



  1. Thanks for these tips. I believe in cooking with the seasons too. I love soup in the winter and salad / cold foods in the summer. Grilling is my personal favorite during summer.

  2. Faye Levy says

    Thanks for this post. When I saw the subject, I had a few ideas, but you are so thorough–you covered them all! I thought I was the only one who checks the weather forecast in order to plan my menus! I happen to have a few cool days and I’m quickly cooking my beans, roasting vegetables, etc. When I run out of cooked beans, canned and frozen are fine for summer.

    Re Rivki’s note on grilling, I find it useful to have a few eggplants on hand when we’re using the grill, so I can put them on afterwards to have the makings of salat hatzilim for the next few days.

    Foods that are good hot or cold – I find that cooked vegetables pasta, and other dishes enriched with olive oil and not butter or thick sauces are better cold because butter congeals. Sometimes it’s good to take them out a little while before serving, or even to microwave briefly to take the chill off, and they’ll taste better. This is especially true of pasta salads (seasoned with olive oil, not mayonnaise). Also, the same dish that’s good hot will often need more seasoning if you’re serving it cold.

  3. Thanks, Faye! I’ve seen it suggested that bloggers should leave something for readers to add. 🙂 I’m sure we haven’t thought of everything. Here’s hoping for a mild summer.