No celebratory meal is complete without dessert, but, on blisteringly hot days, the mere thought of turning on the oven can make you wilt. (If you’re lucky enough to have central air, or don’t mind the heat, here are some summer fruit pies for you. Bake on!) These 16 no-bake recipes are for those sweltering days. A handful of these dishes require a little stovetop or microwave work, but the majority need no heat source at all, so you can stay cool while whipping up something sweet.
These ethereal chocolate mousse bars from Samantha Seneviratne come together quickly and without much fuss. Serve them with whipped cream — fresh or the kind that comes in a can. Substitute vanilla or chocolate wafer cookies for the graham crackers in the crust if you’re feeling it.
No fooling, you can whip together this five-ingredient recipe from Vallery Lomas in minutes. Heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar are beaten until fluffy, then combined with sweetened, mashed berries. Serve with shortbread cookies or delicate tuiles.
Recipe: Blackberry Fool
A vibrant showstopper that requires no oven? Sign us up. This beauty from Nik Sharma combines a rich, creamy mango-lime cheesecake base with a tangy mango gelatin top. One reader couldn’t find canned mango, so she used canned tart cherries instead, and deemed it “fantastic.”
Recipe: No-Bake Mango-Lime Cheesecake
On Episode 18 of Jennifer Garner’s “Pretend Cooking Show,” she called this Melissa Clark recipe, adapted from the chef Thomas Keller, “the most important thing The New York Times has ever done,” and who are we to argue? It’s basically homemade Magic Shell, and requires just two ingredients: good bittersweet chocolate and coconut oil. If you’re feeling ambitious, pair it with Julia Moskin’s easiest vanilla ice cream.
Amanda Hesser adapted this recipe from Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray of the River Café in London, and it is exactly what to make when you’ve overpicked strawberries at the farm. It calls for an entire lemon — rind and all — strawberries, sugar and more lemon juice. That’s it. The result is delightfully bright and tangy.
Recipe: Strawberry Sorbet
Pick a fruit, any fruit, and layer it with creamy vanilla pudding, jam and store-bought cake, then top it with a swirl of whipped cream. Voilà! You have a dessert worthy of the Queen. This recipe from Melissa Clark calls for ladyfingers or sponge cake, but pretty much any simple cake or tender cookie will do.
This striking cheesecake from Yossy Arefi is made with a combination of cream cheese, sour cream and heavy cream, so it is lighter and softer than traditional baked cheesecake. That’s a good thing. Use fresh or frozen berries for the swirly top, and, while the recipe calls for straining out the seeds, leave in a few for texture and crunch.
Kulfi, a popular Indian frozen dessert, is traditionally made by boiling milk to reduce it, then freezing the base (not churning) with fruit pulp, spices or nuts. This shortcut recipe from Tejal Rao calls for sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream and canned Alphonso mango. Her mother made it all year long when Tejal was growing up, in the gaps between visits to see family in India. “It’s inauthentic — and delicious,” she wrote.
Recipe: Quick Mango Kulfi
These peanut butter cups from Samantha Seneviratne are a guaranteed hit with kids of all ages. Experiment with different chocolates and nut butters; add a dollop of jam or dulce de leche to the peanut butter filling before covering with chocolate; or sprinkle with flaky sea salt or colored sprinkles.
Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
There is nary of drop of dairy in these creamy bars from Lidey Heuck, which are inspired by frozen Key lime pie. Made with store-bought dairy-free coconut or vanilla ice cream, they come together quickly. Be sure to use unsweetened, finely shredded (also called desiccated) coconut for this recipe — regular shredded or flaked coconut will be too coarse.
Recipe: Vegan Coconut-Lime Bars
The original no-bake cookie, these unassuming treats are sometimes known as cow patties or preacher cookies. They are as simple as can be: Combine sugar, milk, butter, cocoa powder, salt, sugar and cocoa powder in a pot over medium heat until smooth, stir in peanut butter, then scoop the cookies onto a baking sheet, pressing down slightly to flatten. Chill in the fridge until they harden. Ta-da! Cookies.
A touch fancier than plain old whipped cream, Mark Bittman’s recipe for Swedish cream is just whipped cream with a little sour cream folded in. (Add sugar and a drizzle of liqueur, if you like.) The slight tang of the sour cream complements ripe, sweet summer berries like a dream. As one reader said, “It lets the glory of the strawberries shine through.”
Recipe: Strawberries With Swedish Cream
Dubious? So were we, but this is the little mug cake that could. Adapted from “Baking Class: 50 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Bake!” by Deanna F. Cook, this recipe was originally developed for children, but we know people of all ages who love it. For a molten chocolate version, sprinkle the top with some mini chocolate chips before popping it into the microwave, then remove it a few seconds early.
Recipe: Chocolate Mug Cake
Everyone loves a lemon dessert. These thick, velvety puddings from Melissa Clark, which are inspired by a British dessert called posset, are prepared on the stovetop, and set with lemon juice instead of eggs, cornstarch or gelatin. The secret is to simmer the cream and sugar before adding the fresh lemon juice, giving the cream a chance to thicken slightly.
If you can build a Lego tower, you can make this impressive ice cream cake from Ali Slagle, which is inspired by spumoni, the frozen dessert typically served at Italian American red sauce joints. Ice cream is the star of the show here, so use the best you can. But the most important tip? Clear out plenty of space in your freezer before you start building. The finished cake is about 4 inches tall.
Recipe: Spumoni Ice Cream Cake
Tofu may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to dessert, but hear us out: In this recipe from Mark Bittman, silken tofu, melted chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon and chile powder are whizzed together in a blender to make a surprisingly creamy and delicious pudding that will delight adults and children alike.