It’s hot, y’all. We’ve officially crossed over into the time of year when it’s sometimes just too steamy outside to turn the oven on. Summer is a time when meals should be as simple as they are delicious, always enjoyed with the brightest flavors of the season. Some of the easiest, most nutritious, and delightfully oven-free meals? Easy summer salads. Whether they’re topped with protein, fruit, veggies, nuts, or all of the above, easy summer salads can make the most of even the hottest days. Because let’s be honest, the last place you want to be this summer is trapped in a hot kitchen.
There are a few key elements that distinguish a summer salad from your average everyday salad. Summer salads are often lighter, sometimes filled with seasonal fruit, and are usually topped with a bright, citrusy vinaigrette that’s as cheery as the season. The best part is, your ingredients do the work for you. With all the delicious produce that’s in season this time of year, the end result will only taste like it took hours to make.
Feature image by Ashleigh Amoroso.
12 Easy Summer Salads to Make When It’s Too Hot for the Oven
Thai Chicken Salad With Spicy Peanut Dressing
Why We Love It: One of the best parts about this summer salad is that you can use leftover rotisserie chicken in it. Talk about easy and delicious! It also boasts creamy avocado, floral mango, crunchy peanuts, and more to drive home all the Thai flavors.
Hero Ingredient: The spicy peanut sauce drizzled over top gives new life to all that carrot, cucumber, and kale.
Get the recipe for Thai Chicken Salad With Spicy Peanut Dressing.
Roasted Corn, Chickpea, and Avocado Salad With Poblano Vinaigrette
Why We Love It: This big texture, big flavor chopped salad combines sweet grilled corn, char-grilled poblano peppers, and bursting cherry tomatoes to create a salad you can enjoy at home or on the go. It’s also totally customizable and barely requires a recipe, which is always a good thing. Basically, this chopped salad is your oyster.
Hero Ingredient: If there’s one thing you should follow to a T, it’s the poblano vinaigrette. It’s smoky, sweet, salty, acidic, and pretty much everything you’ll come to crave and more.
Get the recipe for Roasted Corn, Chickpea, and Avocado Salad With Poblano Vinaigrette.
Summer Pasta Salad
Why We Love It: This is the summer to have it all, and that—in this case—means all the carbs! And grilled veggies, mozzarella, edamame, kalamata olives, etc., etc., etc. It’s perfect for lunch, dinner parties, and barbecues alike and will be a crowd favorite wherever you take it.
Hero Ingredient: Don’t be afraid to really char those veggies. It’s the caramelized edges that make this salad.
Get the recipe for Summer Pasta Salad.
Watermelon Tomato Caprese Salad
Why We Love It: When has watermelon ever been a bad thing? Especially in the summer? In my experience, never. Not when enjoyed by the slice, by the pool, or by the salad, as is the case with this watermelon/caprese collab. It’s delicious as a meal, appetizer, or side for grilled mains like chicken or salmon. And it’s the perfect use for any extra melon you probably have. Peel off the plastic wrap and get to cutting!
Hero Ingredient: With fresh basil, sour lime, rich olive oil, and flaky salt all elevating that juicy melon, it’d be impossible to pick just one.
Get the recipe for Watermelon Tomato Caprese Salad.
Southwestern Superfood Salad
Why We Love It: Imagine all of the flavors you love in a taco, combined in salad form. Then imagine sweet summer peaches entering the mix. I only have two words to describe it: absolutely divine. It’s balanced, flavorful, and so easy to throw together for any time of day. Easy to your advantage.
Hero Ingredient: I’m just a sucker for grilled corn. The sweetness and char it brings to the table is unmatched.
Get the recipe for Southwestern Superfood Salad.
Grilled Paneer and Watermelon Salad
Why We Love It: Prepare your melons for this fresh summer salad. Cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon unite here to create a whole that’s so much more than the sum of its parts. Plus, seasoned paneer brings a dose of char to perfectly counterbalance that fruity sweetness.
Hero Ingredient: Fresh mint weaves itself throughout this recipe and delivers herbal goodness on all fronts.
Get the recipe for Grilled Paneer and Watermelon Salad.
Burrata, Fig, & Arugula Salad
Why We Love It: Figs are a super high-fiber fruit that you should definitely be eating this summer. Is it just me, or do they seem to elevate every dish they’re a part of? Either way, this easy summer salad introduces them to creamy burrata, candied pecans, and a simple vinaigrette that lets all those yummy components shine.
Hero Ingredient: Again, fresh mint packs a big punch in the flavor department.
Get the recipe for Burrata, Fig, & Arugula Salad.
Mango & Feta Salad
Why We Love It: Another fruit superstar, mango is such a fun addition to summer salads. Its sweet, tropical profile really makes it shine here. And with salty feta, nutty pistachios, and fresh herbs by its side, mango is this year’s unofficial fruit of summer. I’m calling it now.
Hero Ingredient: Pistachios have always been a favorite nut of mine, and they bring all the crunchy texture that this salad needs.
Get the recipe for Mango & Feta Salad.
Mexican Street Corn Salad
Why We Love It: Make the most of corn season with this street corn salad that takes less than 10 minutes to make. You get all the joys of eating a decadent grilled street corn, just without the side of dirty napkins and messy hands.
Hero Ingredient: Don’t be shy with that cotija cheese.
Get the recipe for Mexican Street Corn Salad.
Grilled Peach and Asparagus Salad with Spicy Pepitas, Cashew Mozzarella, and Goji Chipotle Dressing
Why We Love It: Like its namesake, this loaded salad has a little bit of everything. It’s delightfully decked out with grilled peaches, charred asparagus, spicy pepitas, vegan mozzarella, and Goji Chipotle Dressing. Proof that more is more.
Hero Ingredient: You’ll want extra of that Goji Chipotle Dressing. It doubles as a decadent dip for raw veggies.
Sunshine Detox Salad
Why We Love It: A serving of this salad is storied to make you feel instantly healthier. With shredded cabbage, cherry tomatoes, carrots, sunflower seeds, and avocado, it’s not hard to see why. The best part is, this slaw seems to get even better as it sits in the fridge, so making a big batch at the beginning of the week is definitely a good move. Grab and go or sit and savor.
Hero Ingredient: Tahini-Orange Vinaigrette is simultaneously simple and flavorful.
Get the recipe for Sunshine Detox Salad.
Chaat Masala Citrus Salad
Why We Love It: Citrus salad is always tasty—and even more so during the summer. When the sun is out, it feels good to eat something as bright and vibrant as its rays. And not to mention how refreshing and hydrating an orange can be! Perfectly juicy, sweet, and a little sour, this salad celebrates everything there is to love about citrus fruits.
Hero Ingredient: Avocado mellows out all that sweetness and brings just the right amount of creaminess to the mix. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be making this all summer long.
Get the recipe for Chaat Masala Citrus Salad.