Am I the only one who’s noticed the heat? It’s hot, right? I’m not imagining this, right? Sheesh. With the summer heat really coming in hot this year, many (me) are looking for ways to cool things down a bit. The kitchen is famously one of the hottest rooms in the home, and firing up certain appliances can add to the already blistering temps. But there are ways to keep cool in the kitchen to help save your sanity, and some money on your air conditioning bill.
And while you may feel the urge to forgo cooking altogether, these tips for keeping the kitchen cool during a particularly hot day or in the midst of a heatwave will let you keep to your breakfast, lunch and dinner routine without sauna-fying the entire operation.
Here are the best tips and tricks to stay cool in the kitchen this summer.
1. Prepare instead of 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, smoothies 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.
And when you do cook, limit your time in the kitchen with a helpful meal kit (these are the best meal kits for 2023). While you’ll likely still have to cook the food, you’ll do far less prep and spending less time in a sweltering kitchen is definitely a good thing. Most services offer lighter, no-cook meals during the summer, too.
Great gear for food prep
2. 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.
Gear for cooking outside, all tested and reviewed.
3. 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 an air fryer 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.
Kitchen appliances that’ll keep your wall oven off
If you’re going to heat up your kitchen, make it worth it. If you do end up using 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.
But with the right kitchen appliances you can batch cook and keep the oven off. For example, make a whole bunch of pulled chicken in your Instant Pot (which gives off very little heat). Then you can use the leftovers to make tacos, chicken salad nachos, and other meals that don’t require firing up your oven again.
Best gear for batch cooking
5. 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 appear 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.
More cool kitchen tips
6. 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.
We’re a fan of these
7. 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.
Smart lights for a kitchen glow-up
8. 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 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.
The best gear to stay hydrated