20 cold dinner ideas
Save money on your energy bill while still eating well. Enjoy our best starters, mains and desserts that require no cooking. From savoury soups to sweet tarts
Whether it’s too hot to cook or you want to keep your energy bill as low as possible, you can still provide your family with a nourishing meal with lots of flavour. Our family no-cook recipes contain plenty of ideas for keeping cooking to a minimum, from using store-bought items such as ready-cooked chicken fillets to choosing easy-to-prepare ingredients like couscous, sandwiches and grains.
If you’d like to get the little ones involved, try our no-cook kids’ recipes, or for something sweet try our no-bake dessert recipes.
1. Vietnamese prawn summer rolls
These delicious prawn summer rolls make a fantastic fresh and flavourful starter for any meal. Taking only 30 minutes to prepare, they make 12 tasty rolls. It’s a great recipe for getting kids involved in the kitchen as it’s like a crafting game, though make sure to have extra rice paper as it can be tricky.
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This dip made using cod’s roe and bread is so much tastier than the shop bought stuff. Soak the bread in water before adding it to a blender along with all the other ingredients aside from the oils. Then slowly drizzle the oil while the blender is still going . If you're feeling adventurous why not bake your own fluffy pittas and serve with other dips and chopped vegetables?
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3. Radish confetti with salsa verde
This easy starter of raw vegetables is ideal for a hot day as it’s refreshing, and the salsa verde adds a powerful kick. Using a mandoline to cut the radishes extra thin creates a beautifully delicate finish.
Discover more radish recipes.
4. Peppered mackerel & pink pickled onion salad
This gorgeous, peppered mackerel & pickled onion salad is a fantastic starter as it takes only fifteen minutes to prepare in two simple steps. Mix onion, vinegar, sugar and a pinch of salt and leave to pickle while you chop ready-cooked beetroot and nuts. Divide everything between six plates, and serve.
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5. Chilled green soup with feta
This nutrient-packed no-cook soup is an excellent addition to any summer menu. Put the feta in a bowl and pour over the olive oil, coriander seeds, chilli and lemon zest. Set aside. Tip the remaining ingredients (except the seeds) into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Season. Add 50-100ml cold water and blitz to loosen before chilling for an hour.
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6. Prawn & grains poke bowls
Quickly marinate prawns in a chilli & lime dressing, then serve with grains, mango, radish, avocado and spring onions for a delicious Hawaiian-inspired poke bowl. The combination of sweet from the mango and sour from the lime gives a beautiful balance of flavour.
Discover more rice salad recipes.
7. Avocado panzanella
This tasty avocado panzanella takes only twenty minutes to prepare and is healthy, vegan and low in calories. Why not challenge yourself and make a homemade ciabatta to impress your family and friends to use in the recipe?
Discover more colourful panzanella recipes.
8. Chipotle gazpacho
Liven up your lunch with this easy, no-cook chipotle gazpacho soup. It's not only delicious but healthy too, delivering three of your 5-a-day and packed with vitamin C. Being gluten-free and vegetarian, everyone can enjoy it.
Discover more Mexican-inspired recipes.
9. No-cook chicken couscous
This super-healthy dish can be ready in minutes and is just as good hot or cold. It counts as one of your 5-a-day, and you could replace the shop-bought cooked chicken fillets to use up leftover chicken from your Sunday roast.
Discover more leftover chicken recipes to prevent waste.
10. Mozzarella & pesto chickpeas on toast
Mash up chickpeas and add pesto, sundried tomatoes and mozzarella to make a tasty topping for sourdough toast. It takes just 10 minutes to complete. Elevate this dish to the next level by using your own homemade classic pesto. You could even try to bake your white sourdough for even more kudos.
11. Salmon & smacked cucumber noodles
Make this tasty salmon & cucumber rice noodle salad for an easy midweek supper when you're short on time. It requires no cooking, so it's great for warmer days. You can replace the salmon with your favourite ready-poached fish.
Discover more noodle salad recipes.
12. No-cook veggie fajitas
Load soft tortillas with chargrilled veg, beans, tomato salsa and smashed avocado for an easy supper. For a more authentic Mexican feel, whip up a homemade salsa instead of the shop-bought stuff.
Discover more fajita recipes.
13. Mango chutney & chicken sliders
Top these chicken sliders with mango chutney, red onion, chilli and cucumber salad, and a mint & yogurt dressing. Try making your own homemade mango chutney; it’s straightforward and, once completed, can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to 2 years.
Discover more chutney recipes.
14. Loaded open sandwiches
These open sandwiches will be a winner with the kids with four delicious flavour variations; egg mayonnaise, mayonnaise and cucumber relish, prawn mayonnaise and ham and radish. Garnish with cress and dill to make them look professionally built.
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15. Coronation chicken salad
Rustle up this healthy and filling coronation chicken salad for a packed lunch in just five minutes using our roast chicken cooked beforehand to save time.
Discover more healthy leftover chicken recipes.
16. Cookies & cream fridge cake
This impressive cookies and cream fridge cake requires no cooking, perfect for days when it’s too hot to turn on the oven. Whisk the cream, mascarpone, vanilla and icing sugar together in a large bowl until smooth and holding soft peaks. Then keep alternating between a biscuit layer and a cream layer. Cool in the fridge before decorating with drizzled chocolate and more cookies.
Discover more showstopping cake recipes.
17. Raw coconut truffles
These raw, nutty bites make a lovely, dairy-free alternative to chocolate for an after-dinner nibble. Blend the coconut and macadamia nuts in a food processor until very finely chopped, and reserve some of the mix before adding the coconut oil, honey and vanilla. Blitz again, roll the mix into balls and roll in the reserved mixture.
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18. Blueberry & coconut frozen 'cheesecake' bars
This gluten and dairy-free berry and coconut cream sweet treats from BBC Good Food magazine reader Jenna Hope are entirely raw. They’re perfect for entertaining large numbers as the recipe serves 10-12, but if you have leftovers, they can be frozen for up to 2 months!
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19. Banana-tahini Eton mess
Make a fantastic twist on the classic Eton mess. Combine meringue, cream, tahini, bananas and salted caramel in a dessert glass. Challenge yourself by making your own crunchy and chewy meringues.
Discover more Eton mess recipes.
20. No-cook strawberry & balsamic tartlets
These no-cook strawberry tartlets are flavoured with hints of balsamic vinegar and black pepper for an unusual twist. Using shop-bought pastry cases means this dish can be prepared in only 10 minutes; however, if you want to add extra love, why not make your own sweet shortcrust pastry?
Discover more strawberry dessert recipes.
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