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Summer can really turn up the heat in your kitchen; here’s how to keep cool with summer recipes and smart cooking tips for when it’s just too hot. While a warm and cozy kitchen feels nice in the winter, it can be stifling when temperatures ramp up in the summer. Using large appliances, such as your oven or stove, can make your kitchen too hot to handle. The heat can even spread to other areas of your home and make your air conditioning work overtime. But you don’t have to choose between cooking and staying cool this summer. Try these strategies for keeping yourself well-fed without wilting.
1. Stay hydrated
Hydration is the No. 1 rule for any summer activity, and cooking is no exception — even if you’re indoors. If you’re working in the kitchen, always have a glass of water with ice ready to drink from as you go. Want to punch it up a bit? Try water infusions for more flavor and refreshment. Planning to sweat? Add sea salt and lemon to boost electrolytes and flavor.
2. Don’t cook
Don’t want to heat up your kitchen? Don’t cook. But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat. Focus on no-cook, fresh foods, such as summer salads, ceviche and cold noodles. Even slicing up fresh fruit or vegetables like cucumbers and melons can be a refreshing and healthy summer treat. And no-cook foods help beat the heat in two ways: by not heating up your kitchen or your body as you consume them.
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3. Cook outside
Take the heat out of the kitchen by cooking outdoors this summer. BBQ grilled chicken or steaks are classics for the grill but don’t forget you can grill summer favorites like corn on the cob or watermelon, too. You might be hot while you’re outside using a grill or smoker to heat foods, but your kitchen can stay cool.
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4. Use small appliances
Minimizing use of the oven and stove can help you avoid heating up your kitchen. Small appliances can cook your food just as well while emitting less heat than large appliances. Try using a toaster oven instead of your wall oven, or a panini press instead of the stovetop. You’d be surprised how versatile small appliances can be. Your slow cooker and Instant Pot aren’t just for winter soups and stews, either. Think of summer recipes you can achieve on your countertop, like Instant Pot pork carnitas. And don’t turn your nose up at your microwave, which can zap rice, quinoa, vegetables and more while generating practically no heat.
Check out these Chowhound recipe collections for more ideas:
If you’re going to heat up your kitchen, make it worth it. When you use your oven or stovetop, make larger quantities than normal. That way, you can use precooked leftovers, which means you have food ready to go without heating up your kitchen again. For example, if you roast a chicken in your oven, you can use leftovers to make tacos, chicken salad nachos, and other meals that don’t require firing up your oven again.
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6. Cook when it’s cool
Cooking in your kitchen when it’s already hot outside (and maybe already hot in your home) means you’ll only add to the heat. Plan ahead and strategize your cooking times for when it’s not as hot. The best time to cook to avoid the heat is in the morning or later in the evening. That might sound easier said than done, but you could bake bread in the morning, or cook proteins or pastas with breakfast so they’ll be ready to go for dinner.
7. Use fans
Airflow can help cool down your kitchen. If you’re using your stove, turn on the range hood vent. It’s there to remove not just grease, fumes and odors but smoke, heat and steam that could get trapped and heat up your kitchen while you’re cooking. Plus, you can keep a fan on in the kitchen to move air around and cool it down. You can also position your fan to move hot air out, or bring cold air in with a cool, wet towel. This battery-operated kitchen fan with suction cup is just $20 on Amazon.
8. Limit lighting
Sunlight and even artificial interior light can generate heat, and when you’re in the heat of summer, every degree counts. Dim the lights, shut any curtains, close your blinds and limit how many lights you turn on. You don’t need to work in the dark but be wary of turning on lots of overhead lights.