25 Summer Dump Dinners That Basically Cook Themselves

·6 min read

In the dog days of summer, we’d rather be anywhere than a hot kitchen (though our first choice is probably on a float in an infinity pool with a cold glass of wine in hand). So, to minimize the whole standing-over-a-hot-stove thing, we like to rely on “dump” dinners: easy set-it-and-forget-it meals that are seasonal, fresh and delicious without too much effort (like sheet-pan gnocchi and Instant-Pot coconut salmon). Intrigued? Here are more of our favorite recipes.

RELATED: 40 Quick Summer Dinners You Can Make in 30 Minutes or Less

1. Instant Pot Coconut Salmon with Fresh Herbs and Lime

Instant Pot salmon? Yes, it’s a thing, and it’s both delicious and impossible to mess up. Since the fish is steam-poached in the spiced coconut milk, it comes out moist and flavorful every time.

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2. One-Pot Tomato Basil Pasta

This recipe requires just five minutes of prep and 15 minutes of cooking. If you use homegrown cherry tomatoes and basil, even better.

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3. Sheet Pan Tomato Basil Gnocchi

Cooking gnocchi (store-bought, of course) in the oven makes it crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, without any of that boiling water business.

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4. Greek Chicken with Feta and Kalamata Olives

This flavorful chicken dinner has the added benefit of being cooking in a parchment parcel (aka en papillote), so there’s almost no cleanup required.

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5. Instant Pot Spaghetti with Goat Cheese, Mint and Peas

The key to achieving perfectly al dente pasta in a pressure cooker is to drop the dry noodles in with the aromatics so they absorb as much flavor as possible, then quick-release the pressure once they’re cooked, so they don’t go mushy on you.

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6. Easy One-Pan Ratatouille

Traditional ratatouille requires many pots and pans and a lot of time, but we’ve managed to streamline the recipe in a major way. Spend that extra free time stocking up on veggies at the farmers market.

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7. Sweet Potato, Tomato, Kale and Halloumi Sheet Tray

It’s true, we’ll eat anything that involves halloumi, but we also love that the tomatoes and olives in this dish meld together into a sauce.

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8. Cheater’s Skillet Lasagna with Corn and Cherry Tomatoes

Proof that you can skip all the fussy layers and still make a cheesy, crave-worthy dinner.

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9. 15-Minute Skillet Pepper Steak

We know you’d rather be soaking up the sun than thinking about dinner, but you don’t have to resort to takeout. Just make this.

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10. One-Pan Roasted Salmon with Potatoes and Romaine

The entrée and sides all cook at the same time! (Swap the romaine hearts for kale or even broccoli if that’s your jam.)

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11. One-Pot, 15-Minute Pasta Limone

We love how fresh and summery this tastes. Plus, you probably have all of the ingredients on hand already.

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12. Slow-Cooker Pulled Chicken

Why go to the trouble of lighting the grill when you can make this for your next cookout instead? Serve with a side of slaw and we promise you’ll have a yard full of happy guests.

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13. Crock-Pot Corn Chowder

We don’t usually crave soup in the summer (unless it’s gazpacho), but this creamy chowder is a major exception. Pick up some extra sweet corn at the farmers market and have it for dinner all week long.

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14. Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

Resist the temptation to stop for a burrito bowl on the way home. You can make this in the Instant Pot just as quickly.

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15. Skillet Steak with Asparagus and Potatoes

Everything cooks together in one sizzling hot pan, which means great flavor and no pile of dirty dishes after dinner. We call that a weeknight win.

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16. Instant Pot Southern Macaroni and Cheese

For those times you’re invited to a cookout and forget you promised to bring a dish. (Although we also fully condone it for a random Wednesday when only carbs and cheese will do.)

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17. Sheet-Pan Garlic Butter Shrimp

Summer is all about entertaining, and this simple sheet pan supper is the perfect way to feed a crowd. We’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like shrimp with a lemony garlic butter sauce.

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18. Instant Pot Spicy Pineapple Chicken Tacos

We like to serve these with sliced avocado and plenty of fresh lime wedges. (The ice-cold margarita goes without saying.)

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19. Slow-Cooker Mediterranean Frittata

We’re basically always in the mood for breakfast for dinner. And when it’s too hot to turn on the oven, this is how we make it happen.

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20. Instant Pot Peanut Noodles

When you can’t look at another salad, try this meal-prep miracle. It’s loaded with veggies, protein and an irresistible peanut sauce.

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21. Sheet-Pan Lemon Butter Veggies and Sausage

It doesn’t get any easier than this one-pan wonder. Plus, it’s a great way to use up all the vegetables you have left in the fridge before you leave for vacation.

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RELATED: 30 Sheet-Pan Meals You Can Make in an Hour or Less

22. Instant Pot BBQ Ribs

We’ve always been a little bit intimidated by ribs, but this recipe (and our trusty pressure cooker) takes all the guesswork out. We know what we’re doing every weekend for the rest of the summer.

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23. Instant Pot Summer Soup

Whether you stopped at too many farm stands on the way back from the beach, or you’re just celebrating that there’s actually good produce at the market, we’re betting you have plenty of veggies to put in this super-simple (and extremely healthy) soup. It’s a good dose of virtue in between all the hot dogs and peach cobbler.

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24. Old Bay Shrimp and Sausage Sheet-Pan Dinner

Old Bay always makes us think of eating seafood on the beach. And whether you’re actually by a body of water or just dreaming about it, this is the easiest way to get into that vibe.

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25. Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork

The secret ingredient to this pork? A can of cola. We were skeptical too, but it’s hard to argue with a smoky-sweet, fork-tender pulled pork sandwich in the summer.

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RELATED: 15 Low-Maintenance Dump Dinner Recipes to Try Tonight