No-Cook Recipes for Your Next Summer Dinner Party

Imagine this. It’s the middle of a toasty Chicago summer. The air is thick and humid, temperatures are perpetually on the rise and the absolute last thing you want to think about is turning on your stove or oven. But what to do about that spur-of-the-moment dinner party with friends? Beat the heat with these eight fast and flavorful no-cook recipes.

Mezze Platter

Recipe: Mezze Platter from The Mediterranean Dish
Photo by Suzy Karadsheh.

It’s hard to resist a perfectly composed platter of Mediterranean goodies. Hummus, pita, big chunks of feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, marinated artichokes and grilled eggplant — the possibilities are endless. The best part is that most of the ingredients can be easily purchased at your local grocery or specialty food store and just assembled before the party. The ultimate no-cook, not-really-a-recipe meal. Get the recipe on The Mediterranean Dish.

Green Tomato Gazpacho

Recipe: Green Tomato Gazpacho from Kalyn's Kitchen
Photo by Kalyn Denny.

Tomato season is eagerly anticipated in the Midwest for good reason. The varietals grown during July and August are in a different flavor league and transform any traditional tomato dish from just OK to truly superb. Take this gazpacho from Kalyn’s Kitchen incorporating the gorgeous, striped Green Zebra tomato. Combined with cucumber, green pepper and a bit of chopped avocado to bind, you’ve got the equivalent of your morning green smoothie for dinner. Get the recipe on Kalyn’s Kitchen.

Rad Rainbow Raw Pad Thai

Recipe: Rad Rainbow Raw Pad Thai from Oh She Glows
Photo by Angela Liddon.

Sometimes the best no-cook dinner ideas are where you’d least expect them. Take this Rad Rainbow Raw Pad Thai from Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows. While usually stir-fried over high heat, this Pad Thai instead takes the raw approach, highlighting the freshness and crunch of all those classic pad thai veggies. But what about the noodles? Julienned or spiraled zucchini makes a seasonal, healthy substitute — without the pot of boiling water steaming up the house! Get the recipe on Oh She Glows.

Baja Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas

Recipe: Baja Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas from No Spoon Necessary
Photo by Cheyanne Holzworth-Bany.

Ceviche was made for no-cook dinner parties. Raw chunks of your favorite seafood get a simple marinade in citrus, then are topped with vegetables, fruit or spices of your choosing; it’s almost too easy. These Baja Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas from No Spoon Necessary elevate this traditional appetizer to a meal fit for company. Add some ice-cold beers and big bowls of guacamole and pico de gallo and party on. Get the recipe on No Spoon Necessary.

Raw Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad

Recipe: Raw Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad
Photo by Kate Taylor.

Salads often get relegated to appetizer or side-dish status, but sometimes a recipe comes along that deserves to be the main event. This Raw Kale & Brussel Sprouts Salad is one such dish that is as easy as it is delicious. The real star of the show is the Tahini-Maple Dressing, combining tahini, maple syrup and a bit of white miso for a sweet and sour mix that’s so good you’ll want to eat it straight with a spoon. Get the recipe on Cookie + Kate.

Pan Bagnat

Recipe: Pan Bagnat from Lavender & Lovage
Photo by Karen S Burns-Booth.

Most people wouldn’t think of sandwiches as typical dinner party fare. But, it’s often the familiar favorites that are the biggest hits with guests. Pan Bagnat, a French picnic sandwich loaded with cooked ham, mozzarella and pickled vegetables, makes a unique centerpiece for a party and takes mere minutes to come together. It is also even better made a day ahead so all you have to do come dinnertime is slice, serve and enjoy. Get the recipe on Lavender & Lovage.

Heat-Free Lentil & Walnut Tacos

Recipe: Heat-Free Lentil and Walnut Tacos from Oh My Veggies
Photo by Kiersten Frase.

When it comes to tacos, you have to get pretty creative if you’re looking to cut heat out of the cooking equation. These heat-free lentil and walnut tacos fit the bill though with a base of cooked lentils and walnuts that get pulsed in the food processor until crumbly. When combined with taco meat seasonings and topped with all the usual suspects like romaine, avocado and salsa, this raw, vegetarian recipe tastes shockingly akin to the classic ground beef “taco night” taco. Get the recipe on Oh My Veggies.

Shaved Cauliflower Salad

Cauliflower. Such a delightful yet truly underrated vegetable deserving of more attention. For a perfect way to show off this brassica in all its glory, try this Shaved Cauliflower Salad from Happy Yolks. Combined with radicchio, thin-sliced celery, walnuts, medjool dates, loads of herbs and a bright citrus dressing, this salad delivers sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami all in one bowl. Get the recipe on Happy Yolks.


Maddie LaKind is a personal chef, caterer and writer living in Ravenswood. For more information about her services, visit her website,

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