There comes a time every summer when the heat is just too much. Warm weather euphoria subsides, and it seems like the only way to survive the sweltering minutes, hours, and days ahead is to remain fixed in front of the air conditioning unit. When you're in the midst of a heat-fueled daze, the last thing you want to do is use the oven. To keep your cool and avoid a spell of mid-afternoon hanger, we went in search of the best healthy summer salads that tick all of the boxes. They're made from nutrient-rich ingredients that won't derail your diet, are hearty to keep you feeling full, and involve absolutely zero cooking, so you can return to the sweet gust of the air conditioning unit as soon as possible. Summer, we're ready for you.
SKIP: Ramen TRY: Cold Veg and Mango Noodles
The Hero Ingredient: Fresh mango gives this cold noodle salad a hint of sweetness and unique texture.
The Pro Tip: "You could add some cooked and cooled brown rice noodles to this to make it a bit more hearty," says recipe developer Laura of The First Mess
SKIP: Roast Potatoes TRY: Potato, Green Veg and White Bean Picnic Salad
The Recipe: Picnic Salad
The Hero Ingredient: Capers and mustard give this classic potato salad a flavor kick.
The Pro Tip: Don't have sherry vinegar? White wine vinegar works in its place.
SKIP: Berry Tart TRY: Summer Abundance Salad
The Recipe: Summer Abundance Salad
The Hero Ingredient: Make the most of cherry season by tossing them liberally in this sweet salad.
The Pro Tip: Make the spicy honey balsamic vinaigrette in advance to liven up any basic salad.
SKIP: Fish Fillet TRY: Ahi Tuna Poke Salad
The Hero Ingredient: Fresh ginger makes this a vibrant poke dish.
The Pro Tip: This recipe includes crispy wontons—skip this step if you'd rather not use the oven on a hot day.
SKIP: Baked Kale Chips TRY: Green Detox Salad
The Recipe: The Mean Green Detox Salad
The Hero Ingredient: Fresh grapefruits pair well with the lemon juice and zest in the tahini dressing.
The Pro Tip: "The dressing can be made a week in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to use," says Tieghan Gerard.
SKIP: Avocado Toast TRY: Avocado, Broad Bean, and Goat Cheese Salad
The Recipe: Salad of Avocado, Broad Beans, and Goat Cheese
The Hero Ingredient: Don't skip the cheese—creamy feta and buffalo mozzarella make this dish.
The Pro Tip: Sprinkle with dukkah and chili flakes as the finishing touch.
SKIP: Salmon Bake TRY: Summer Loving All-In Salmon Salad
The Recipe: Summer Loving All-In Salmon Salad
The Hero Ingredient: Smoked salmon gives this vibrant green salad a salty edge.
The Pro Tip: Not a fan of salmon? Substitute it for smoked chicken.
SKIP: Spaghetti Bolognese TRY: Summer Corn and Tomato Salad
The Recipe: Summer Corn and Tomato Salad
The Hero Ingredient: Dill flowers make for a pretty, decorative garnish.
The Pro Tip: Search for yellow and orange tomatoes at the farmers market to add color variation.
SKIP: Roast Vegetables TRY: Summer Vegetable Salad
The Recipe: The Ultimate Summer Salad
The Hero Ingredient: Green beans are abundant during summer—toss them liberally in this salad.
The Pro Tip: This recipe can also be made with roasted ingredients in winter.
SKIP: Lemon Chicken TRY: Avocado Grapefruit and Fennel Salad
The Recipe: Avocado Grapefruit and Fennel Salad
The Hero Ingredient: Fennel and tart grapefruit balance this Sicilian-inspired side.
The Pro Tip: "Slice the fennel extra thinly, discarding the woody stalks. Save the feathery fronds for garnish and use on top of the salad with the shaved Parmesan," recommends Heidi, the recipe developer.
SKIP: Zucchini Fritters TRY: Cucumber Salad
The Recipe: Cucumber Salad
The Hero Ingredient: Cucumber might be the obvious choice, but herby yogurt steals the show.
The Pro Tip: Any type of cucumber works in this salad, but the Modern Proper team prefers the English variety. "They have less seeds than the standard grocery store cuke and because their skin is paper thin and not bitter at all you don’t have to peel them. Easy peasy."
SKIP: Warm Grain Bowl TRY: Tropical Kale Salad
The Recipe: Tropical Kale Salad
The Hero Ingredient: The coconut curry lime dressing takes this fresh vegetable salad to the next level.
The Pro Tip: Experiment with fresh ingredients in different colors for a crowd-pleasing platter.
Searching for more salad inspiration? This sriracha salad is a crowd favorite—here's how to make it.