Summer is great. The second you step outside, you’re met with the sounds of birds chirping, the smell of fresh-cut grass, a beautiful blue sky…and an unbearable wave of heat. One of the biggest drawbacks of frolicking in the summer heat, though, is that very few foods sound appetizing. Most dishes are either too rich, too heavy, too hot, too spicy, etc. to eat when the weather is so hot. This list of cold dishes will help you escape this summer food rut by arming you with the best places to go and recipes to use to combat the summer heat.

1. Thai Steak Noodle Salad

cold dishes

Photo courtesy of Houston’s Restaurant on Facebook

This salad is perfect for when you want to escape the heat, but you’re also in the need of a hearty meal. With ample amounts of steak, soba noodles, mango and cabbage, this salad will sate even the hangriest consumer. Lucky for you, Houston’s Restaurant serves this dish in nearly 50 locations around the US, so you can get it when you travel.

2. Campechana

cold dishes

Photo courtesy of Goode Company Seafood on Facebook

This dish combines the essence of ceviche with a classic shrimp cocktail to create a dish chockfull of cold-boiled shrimp, jumbo lump crab meat, chunks of avocado, and pico de gallo, smothered in a tangy cocktail sauce and served with tortilla chips. The result is undeniably refreshing and delicious. Prepare it for a party, or order it at Goode Company Seafood.

3. Sushi Burrito

cold dishes

Photo courtesy of @wholefoodsatx on Insagram

Sure, regular sushi tastes just as good, but why not eat it in a convenient sushi burrito?! In a hipster haven like Austin, Texas, it’s important to remember that you are what you eat — opt for this cooler version of your favorite roll and you’ll fit in in no time. If you’re having trouble making this recipe, watch this video, or take the easier route and just order it from Whole Foods.

4. Bruschetta

cold dishes

Photo courtesy of @mandolasitalian on Instagram

Crisp tart cherry tomatoes mixed with garlic and basil, all stacked atop a crusty, buttery piece of bread — yes please. Use this recipe to make your own or enjoy with a glass of rosé at Mandola’s Italian Market.

5. Veggie Sandwich

cold dishes

Photo courtesy of @projectsunny on Instagram

Not only will one of these 50 vegetable sammies cool you down, it’ll make you feel like a loyal health guru. Just try not to make any life-altering commitments that you’ll regret as soon as you walk into a BBQ joint.

6. Smoothies

cold dishes

Photo by Christin Urso

Sometimes the summer heat is just too unbearable to eat actual food. Luckily, these copy-cat Naked smoothies are healthier, cheaper and a great midday sneak. If you’re still too lazy to make your own, head over to your local Jamba Juice or Whole Foods for a refreshing smoothie.

7. Bagels & Lox

cold dishes

Photo courtesy of @wholybagel on Instagram

A fluffy homemade bagel coated with a thick layer of cold cream cheese, topped with fresh smoked salmon, crunchy onions, and salty capers makes for the perfect savory meal on a hot summer day. This recipe pretty much speaks for itself, but to ensure you’re bagelwich has a good foundation, check out this list of the top bagel shops across America.

8. ‘Devily’ Eggs

cold dishes

Photo courtesy of @malo.ri.3 on Instagram

These cool bites are perfect for a summer snack. The cold hardboiled egg whites are filled with a creamy dollop of jalapeño hummus to create a filling, low-calorie mid-afternoon snack. You can also toss these savory goodies into a salad to make a more complete meal. Learn how to make them in 10 minutes here.

9. Avocado Toast with Sriracha

cold dishes

Photography by Catherine Sullivan

Ahhh yes, the ever-popular avocado toast. I bet you were wondering when this hot-weather classic would crop up. There are many variations to this menu-staple, but I like to top mine with cherry tomatoes, red onion and Sriracha.

10. Lobster Roll

cold dishes

Photo courtesy of @klandgraf on Instagram

Lobster rolls are a wondrous creation. They can make you feel classy (because lobster = class…obviously), but they remove the laborious efforts of actually eating lobster. What you’re left with is a buttery roll stuffed with rich pieces of lobster that have been smothered in mayonnaise. If that doesn’t say summer splurge, I don’t know what does. This particular rolls is from Perla’s but be sure to check out America’s best lobster rolls when you’re not in Austin.

11. Asian Chicken Salad

cold dishes

Photo courtesy of Snap Kitchen on Facebook

Cold, crisp, and delicious, this salad will satisfy your appetite even on the hottest of days. The chicken and almond slivers provide maximum flavor, and the cabbage and lettuce provide a cool, gratifying crunch. If making your own seems too labor intensive, you can also have it made to order at Snap Kitchen.

12. Smoothie Bowl

cold dishes

Photo courtesy of @designsbyevan on Instagram

Similar to smoothies, smoothie bowls are sometimes all you can fathom eating during the dog days of summer. These cold dishes add texture to a regular smoothie by using toppings like fresh fruit, nuts, nut butters, cocoa nibs, and more. Follow @smoothiebowls on Instagram for some delicious inspo.

13. Cold-Cut Sandwich

cold dishes

Photo courtesy of @slicebaby on Instagram

Sometimes it’s best to stick to the basics, and by basics I mean basically-the-best-sandwich-you’ll-ever-eat. The sandwiches at Eatzi’s are comprised of homemade breads, made-from-scratch spreads, and hand-carved meats — a long way from that ham and cheese sandwich your mom used to pack in your lunchbox.

14. Ceviche

cold dishes

Photo courtesy of @austinnyc_loveaffair on Instagram

If the cocktail sauce in the campechana turned you off, stick to this ceviche at El Alma for a tasty, tropical meal. These cold dishes feature mango, shrimp, sea scallops, and avocado, so you’ll feel like you’re on vacation. Learn how to make it here.

15. Pasta Pesto Deli Salad


cold dishes

Photo courtesy of Cafe Express on Facebook

This salad has it all — protein, healthy fats, and carbs: the golden trio for a cool well-balanced, filling meal during the height of the summer. And you thought there was no such thing. See here for more pasta salad recipes that are perfect for summer.

16. Raw Oysters

cold dishes

Photo courtesy of @benny_digital on Instagram

Some days are just so brutal that there’s nothing left to do but order raw oysters. Served on a bed of ice with a variety of cool accompaniments, these chilly bites will surely help you beat the heat. PSA: Go to Clark’s during happy hour and you’ll get 50 cents off each oyster and a choice of $5 martinis, oyster shooters, and draft beer. You’re welcome.

17. Spring Rolls

cold dishes

Photo courtesy of @elizabethstreetcafe on Instagram

If it’s so hot outside that literally NOTHING sounds good enough to eat, you should go for some rice paper stuffed with glass noodles AKA the spring rolls from Elizabeth St. Café. These spring rolls are super light and delicious, making for the perfect summer fare. If you feel the need to make you’re own, this recipe will bring you up to Master Chef status in no time.

18. Greek Yogurt Parfait

cold dishes

Photo courtesy of @karissal17 on Instagram

With 12 grams of protein per individual cup, Chobani can stand on its own as a great warm-weather snack. If you do feel like jazzing your yogurt up a bit though, the topping options are limitless: fresh fruit, nut butters, nuts, coconut flakes, etc. You can also up your dessert game with this Greek yogurt panna cotta.