The 7 best ways to cook during hot summer days
When turning on the oven is unthinkable, here are your options.
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Yesterday was one of the hottest days of the summer, a fact I hadn’t considered when I fired up the broiler to make a lovely herbed salmon for dinner. Needless to say, naïve, foolish me was sweating up a storm and changing my clothes by the time it came to eat, as my air conditioning struggled to account for all the extra heat.
If you’re smarter than I am, you’ve probably realized that turning on your oven isn’t a great idea this time of year—but that doesn’t mean you can’t cook a great meal at home. From sous vide and searing to blending and chilling, here are the cooking methods we recommend to help you get through the heatwave.
1. Outdoor grilling with gas
This one might be a little obvious, but grilling will keep all that extra heat outside your home. The Weber Spirit II E-310 was our favorite grill to use on every test of our recently updated gas grill roundup, producing perfect sear marks on burgers, evenly cooked chicken, and crispy asparagus.
The Spirit can’t hold quite as many burgers as our upgrade pick, the Weber Genesis II E-310, but the 18 or so burgers that do fit will be cooked evenly to perfection. It’s also easy to build, aesthetically pleasing, and reasonably priced—it doesn’t get much better.
- Get the Weber Spirit II E-310 on Amazon for $449.00
- Get the Weber Genesis II E-310 on Amazon for $799.00
2. Charcoal grilling for that added smoky flavor
If you prefer the unbeatable smokiness of a charcoal grill to the convenience of gas, consider the iconic Weber 22” Original Kettle Grill. It’s been in production since 1951, and more than 60 years later we think it still offers a great combination of price, convenience, and performance, having aced all the tests in our best charcoal grill roundup.
Want something that can do even more? Japanese charcoal kamado grills like the Big Green Egg are extremely versatile—they can grill just about everything while also functioning as smokers and outdoor ovens. Owners are obsessed with them, and we’re on the same train.
- Get the Weber 22” Original Kettle Grill on Amazon for $165.00
- Get the Big Green Egg kamado grill at a Big Green Egg dealer
3. Sous vide cooking with an immersion circulator
Immersion circulators work by heating a large volume of water to a specific temperature, and then keeping that temperature consistent to slowly cook submerged meat and vegetables to tender perfection. This method is called sous vide, and it’s wildly popular with restaurants and foodies—and it’s perfect for hot summer days. You won’t have to worry about heating up the air in your kitchen!
Sous vide is also a convenient way to make a ton of meat at once that can then be tossed on the grill or cast-iron for a quick sear when you’re serving a large group of people. If that sounds good to you, you’ll want to invest in an immersion circulator—the Anova Bluetooth Cooker is our favorite. Oh, and sous vide will serve you well all year long.
4. Searing with a good cast iron
Cast iron skillets are amazingly versatile—they can be used in the oven, on the grill, or on the stovetop. When you’re trying to keep your oven off, popping your cast iron onto the grill or stovetop (with an extractor fan on) is a great way to get a quick sear without producing too much heat. This cast iron skillet from Lodge is our absolute favorite—and the brand, which has been making its pans since 1896, is pretty much synonymous with cast iron.
5. Immersion blending for cold soups and more
Not to be confused with immersion circulators, immersion blenders (also called stick blenders or hand blenders) are the hand-held blenders that are perfect for small-batch cooking, soup making and churning.They’re also compact, lightweight and generate zero heat in the air, making them ideal for summer cooking. Our favorite immersion blender, the Breville Control Grip Immersion Blender, handled everything we threw at it with ease, thanks to its well-designed blender head and versatile accessories. Use it to whip up some gazpacho now and butternut squash soup in the fall.
6. Pressure cooking with an Instant Pot
You might associate the Instant Pot with colder weather thanks to all the stews and warm dishes it can prepare, but it can also be useful in the summer. Multicookers keep heat contained and cook meals quickly, making them the perfect alternate to your oven for cooking chicken, baking cakes, and more. While there are a ton of great multicookers on the market, we love the Instant Pot Ultra for its precision and quick cook times.
7. Small-batch broiling and baking in a toaster oven
Yes, I made the mistake of turning my oven to broil yesterday—but if I had been using a high-end toaster oven, I could have achieved the same results while keeping my kitchen cool. Our favorite toaster oven, the Breville Smart Oven Pro, has the versatility of a much larger appliance. It can broil, convection bake, and roast just about anything you can fit in it. Oh, and it’s completely gorgeous. Get to cooking!
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.