60+ Lunch Ideas That Are Hearty and Satisfying

Move over sad desk salads and hastily made sandwiches. Here are some fancy lunch ideas that keep you full (and away from the snack drawer) all afternoon. Each easy lunch recipe—in this gallery of salads, sandwiches, soups, wraps, and bowls—is guaranteed to elevate the mid-day slump.

You’ll find recipes from a Niçoise-inspired summer salad to a sheet pan cheesesteak and everything in between, and almost all are ready in 30 minutes or less. Trust us: These dishes will put your boring lunches to shame.

Niçoise-Inspired Summer Salad

Caitlin Bensel

This colorful lunch dish takes its cues from the classic Niçoise salad, which means it’s full of satiating protein. In addition to smoked trout and hard-boiled eggs, you’ll find chickpeas, sweet cherry tomatoes, and blanched sugar snaps. Serve this with crusty bread to sop up the savory garlic-and-anchovy dressing.

Monte Cristo

Caitlin Bensel

Crispy, gooey, creamy, and salty: This ham-and-Swiss sandwich is fried in butter, dusted in powdered sugar, and dipped in jam. Is there a more gratifying (and, yes, decadent) sandwich than a Monte Cristo?

Chickpea Salad Sandwich

Alison Miksch

Move over tuna, chicken, and shrimp salad. Chickpeas are a versatile, high-protein vegan alternative that are making their way to superfood status. This mayo-based salad also has celery, parsley, shallots, lemon juice, and Dijon for a bright, herbaceous bite.

Chicken Pesto Flatbread Sandwiches

Caitlin Bensel

Pesto adds richness to any dish, and this 30-minute lunch idea is no exception. It uses store-bought pizza dough to make a savory sandwich that’s filled with fresh mozzarella, baby arugula, and pesto-tossed rotisserie chicken. Kiss your mid-afternoon hunger pangs goodbye.

Spring Greens Tartine With Prosciutto, Fontina, and a Fried Egg

Greg DuPree

This easy dish, which is also great for brunch, is an open-faced sandwich topped with crispy prosciutto, melty fontina cheese, and wilted greens cooked with sliced spring onions and garlic. The final topping—a picture-perfect fried egg—adds more filling protein.

Zesty Chicken Salad

Greg DuPree

In this simple lunch recipe, cooked chicken combines with just enough mayonnaise to bind, dill pickles for a briny punch, a shallot for kick, lemon juice for fresh zing, and fresh tarragon for subtle herbaceousness. Serve with crusty bread, homemade potato chips, or a side salad.

Fancy Tomato Sandwich

Greg DuPree

A tomato sandwich isn’t the heartiest meal in the world, but we promise this one delivers. Start by spreading salted chive butter on a freshly cut baguette, add thick slices of cheese—Gruyère, Comté, or sharp Cheddar—and then juicy tomato rounds. A tangle of baby arugula and a sprinkle of fried onions round out this easy-to-make lunch option.

Smashed Cucumber Salad With Spicy Feta and Olives

Jennifer Causey

Despite just five ingredients, this meatless salad manages to leave you feeling full. It features crunchy cucumbers, chopped olives, and tangy feta marinated in olive oil and spicy red pepper flakes. Grab some toasted pita to help ensure none of the savory feta crumbles go to waste.

Fish Stick Tacos

Caitlin Bensel

Grab some fish sticks from the freezer for these quick, easy, and fun tacos. A refreshing cabbage and sauerkraut slaw elevates them from kiddie food to wicked good. Make the slaw ahead to cut down on lunch-hour prep time.

Quick Nutty Noodles

Greg DuPree

These nutty noodles come together in just 20 minutes courtesy of a handful of pantry staples. It features soba slicked with a decadent almond butter dressing, joined by crunchy salt-marinated cucumber, peppery watercress, and quick-pickled radishes. To make this easy lunch more filling, add sliced avocado or pan-seared tofu.

Japanese-Style Shrimp Salad

Greg DuPree

This lunchtime salad is perfect for hot days and is packed with plenty of healthy ingredients, such as romaine lettuce hearts, avocado chunks, and Persian cucumber slices. Use pre-cooked shrimp to cut down on prep time.

Heirloom Tomato & Herb BLTs

Heami Lee

Juicy heirloom tomatoes shine in this irresistible sandwich, which is satisfying enough for a busy lunch hour. Thick tomato slices are joined by homemade herby mayo, bacon, mixed greens, basil leaves, and dill. After sampling this sandwich, you’ll never need another BLT recipe.

Ham and Egg Croissant Sandwiches

Victor Protasio

It sounds like a breakfast sandwich—and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying it in the morning—but we’re here to tell you: It’s just as enjoyable as a mid-day treat. Serve with a side salad or French fries to solidify its lunchtime status.

Summery Corn Soup

Tara Donne

In addition to corn, this savory soup boasts leeks and scallions, aromatic thyme, and enough white wine to add a balancing tang to each bite. Gut-friendly miso acts as a thickener and provides a boost of umami while the corn pulls double duty: Cobs infuse the broth with their sweet flavor and kernels add body.

Chickpea Tuna Salad

Photo by: Victor Protasio

Not a mayonnaise fan? We got you. This vinegar-based tuna salad is made with marinated chickpeas, oil-packed tuna, radicchio, and red onion, as well as briny kalamata olives and capers. Even if you are a fan, you won’t miss the mayo one bit.

Apple Cheddar Quesadillas

Antonis Achilleos

Apples and cheese are a proven culinary combo, so why not feature them in a quesadilla? This recipe matches Honeycrisp slices with sharp Cheddar and a tangy honey mustard sauce for a 25-minute lunch that is sweet and savory. Whip up a quick salad of spinach, avocado, and pumpkin seeds to go with it.

Crispy Chicken and Cheddar Sandwich With Pickle Dijon

Jennifer Causey

While there are plenty of fast-food chicken sandwiches to choose from, this homemade version takes the cake. The recipe layers crispy chicken cutlets with grated Cheddar, romaine lettuce, and a tangy, pickle-relish spread. Served on a hoagie roll, it ensures you’ll stay full until dinner.

Chicken Tortilla Crunch Salad

Victor Protasio

Cut prep time to almost nothing by starting with rotisserie or other cooked chicken, and instead of shredding cabbage, buy a bag of coleslaw mix. All that’s left is to mix the mayo, sour cream, and salsa dressing. And don’t forget crushed tortilla chips on top—they’re the best part!

Salmorejo with Prosciutto and Hard-Boiled Egg

Jen Causey

Salmorejo is a cold tomato dish famous in southern Spain. This no-cook soup is like gazpacho but thicker, creamier, and heartier, thanks to torn pieces of sourdough bread that are whirled into its fresh tomato base. It’s especially refreshing on a hot summer day.

Tofu Scramble Wraps With Spinach and Spiced Sunflower Seeds

Erin Scott

If you’re looking for a lunch with high protein and a low carbon footprint, you’ve found it. This egg-free scramble features sustainable tofu, chickpea flour, and turmeric to give it an eggy texture and color. Wrap in a flour tortilla with fresh spinach and sunflower seeds, and you can enjoy a nutritious vegan lunch and save the planet.

Muffuletta-Style Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Fred Hardy

What transforms a standard grilled cheese sandwich into a New Orleans-style muffuletta? Just about everything except the “grilled” part. This one uses buttered Italian bread slices smeared with jarred olive salad and stuffed with provolone, salami, and ham.

Sheet Pan Cheesesteak Sandwiches

Victor Protasio

If you’re looking for a lunch idea that’s sure to keep you full, these cheesesteak sandwiches will get the job done. Each is served on a baguette and packed with plenty of marinated steak with slices of bell pepper, onion slices, and provolone.

Rice Bowl with Chipotle Black Beans

Gentl & Hyers

This lunch idea is perfect for prepping on Sunday and enjoying it throughout the week. Start with cooked white rice, and then load up with black beans, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and canned chipotle peppers. Finish with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt. 

Chicken and Avocado Rice Bowl

Greg DuPree

This easy lunch recipe takes your standard bowl formula—a grain, colorful veggies, and protein—and gives it a fresh, interesting twist with radishes and lemon juice. Top with hot sauce for a little kick.

Brussels Sprouts Salad

Heami Lee

This make-ahead meatless salad is perfect for a busy weekday lunch. Thinly sliced Brussels team with radicchio while pecans, dried cranberries, and cheese add heft.

Thai Peanut Butter Ramen

Antonis Achilleos

You have to try this 10-minute lunch recipe that turns peanut butter and a package of ramen noodles into a warm, satisfying meal. Gochujang or Sriracha sauce adds a Thai kick to this hearty option.

Cheesy Chive Waffles With Fried Eggs

Greg DuPree

Don’t think your waffle iron can’t come out after 11 a.m. With a batter fortified with nutty Gruyere cheese or Cheddar, this savory waffle and eggs recipe makes the perfect lunchtime respite. Add peppery watercress or arugula, and instead of sugary syrup, top with a lemony mayo that brings a bright richness to every bite.

Butternut Squash Soup With Sage and Parmesan Croutons

Jim Franco

To trim down the 2 hours it takes to make this recipe, start with store-bought squash cubes (fresh or frozen) and cook them in the microwave instead of roasting them in the oven. Don’t skimp on the croutons, though! They make the soup more filling and add a satisfying crunch.

Chicken Paprikash Soup

Antonis Achilleos

This recipe transforms Hungary’s national dish into a quick and easy soup that warms your soul. Cooked chicken, egg noodles, and its namesake paprika star in this dish, with red bell pepper, onion, and tomatoes playing supporting roles in a nourishing broth.

Bacon & Pimiento Grilled Cheese

Fred Hardy

It’s hard to turn down a grilled cheese, but this one—stuffed with creamy pimiento cheese, crunchy bacon, and juicy tomatoes—is impossible to resist. The real trick to this recipe is spreading mayonnaise, rather than butter, on the outside of the bread. This ensures a golden brown crust that will have you reaching for a second helping.

Speedy Steak and Blackberry Salad

Andrew Purcell

Steak for a quick lunch? Yes, you can. In just 30 minutes you can sit down to this sophisticated salad featuring juicy steak, goat cheese, and summer-fresh blackberries. Crunchy pistachios add texture and another layer of flavor for a tasty lunch.

Green and White Pizza

Caitlin Bensel

The “green” in this luscious lunch option is a topping of broccoli rabe sautéed with garlic, while the “white” refers to mozzarella, Parmesan, and a dollop of crème fraîche. Both colors bake atop a time-saving, ready-made pizza dough for a lunch that’s better than takeout.

Swiss Chard With Chickpeas and Couscous

John Kernick

This vegan pasta bowl (yes, couscous is pasta, not a grain) features high-fiber Swiss chard and high-protein chickpeas topped with toasted pine nuts. It’s a satisfying meal you can bring together in just 20 minutes, start to finish.

Antipasto Salad

Victor Protasio

If you don’t feel like cooking lunch, but can’t handle another boring sandwich, here you go. Reminiscent of that prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe appetizer, this Italian-inspired salad is meaty, tasty, and easy to put together. Topped with buttery olives, crunchy pistachios, and creamy burrata, it may be the best thing you eat all day!

Easy Green Shakshuka

Greg DuPree 

Shakshuka is a saucy egg dish that’s usually red, but this recipe spins the color wheel to turn the North African dish a vibrant green. Thanks to recipe shortcuts—canned artichokes, frozen spinach, and store-bought salsa verde—it’s ready in just 15 minutes. Borrowed from Ali Rosen’s book, 15 Minute Meals, it makes a great dinner, too.

Carbonara Pizza

Jen Causey

If you’re a pasta carbonara fan, you’ll love how this recipe turns the beloved Italian dish into a pizza. It tops refrigerated pizza dough with mozzarella and Pecorino cheese along with crispy pancetta (or bacon). Halfway through baking, add raw eggs to cook on the pizza so they’re nice and runny for serving.

Tofu Fried Rice

Fred Hardy

Got leftover rice? Transform it into an Indian-inspired, vegetarian lunch. The recipe calls for tofu crumbles and raisins, but you can throw in just about any cooked veggies for more flavor and nutrients. Serve with a drizzle of yogurt for a creamy finish.

Southwestern Beef Chili With Corn

Hector M. Sanchez

We know you don’t have hours to cook lunch, but do you have half an hour? That’s all it takes for this veggie-packed bowl to come together. Along with the standard ground beef, onions, peppers, black beans, and tomato paste, this version adds carrots and corn to the mix. Make this four-serving recipe on Monday, and you’re set for lunch for the week!

Speedy Pork Banh Mi Sandwiches

Caitlin Bensel

Make this classic Vietnamese staple part of your workweek without a visit to the lunch truck. Use leftover pork to make prep a breeze, and whip up the carrot and cucumber slaw in minutes. Schmear a sriracha-mayo spread on baguette slices and pull this sandwich together for a fresh, tasty bite as good as (maybe better than) takeout.

Zesty Corn Soup With Chicken

Jennifer Causey

This recipe puts the flavors of Mexican street corn into a warm, comforting bowl. Using shortcuts like frozen corn and rotisserie chicken helps you put this on the table well before the end of lunch hour, and you’ll remember its lime-mayo and spicy flavor long after lunchtime is over.

Black Bean and Egg Tostadas

Fred Hardy

Tostadas are a great lunch option: They’re easy to assemble, highly customizable, and in no way boring. This recipe layers corn tostadas with a black bean mixture, fried egg, and avocado slices. They’re topped with fresh greens, thinly sliced radishes, and a drizzle of a lime-flavored crema.

Swiss Chard Mac and Cheese

Caitlin Bensel

Order up a nice bowl of mac and cheese for lunch, but hold the guilt! This healthier version cooks on the stove, is packed with greens, and is free of the shelf-stabilizing additives those boxes have. Fusilli stands in for the “mac,” while mozzarella and Parmesan deliver on “cheese.”

Herby Chicken Salad Tartines

Victor Protasio

Why settle for a plain chicken salad sandwich when you can have a fancy French-inspired tartine (pronounced tar-TEEN)? Start with leftover rotisserie or cooked chicken to make a mayo-based chicken salad with punches from Dijon, apple cider vinegar, celery seeds, and a bit of honey. That’s spread on a slice of toasted sourdough and topped with freshly sliced radish for a tangy crunch. Délicieux!

Kimchi Soup With Tofu and Bacon

Jennifer Causey

Do your intestines a favor by whipping up a bowl of this comforting soup featuring kimchi, the fermented cabbage dish that’s a staple in Korea. Its gut-healthy benefits team with tofu, bacon, and a gingery vegetable broth for a ton of flavor and a little heat.

Raspberry Smoothie Bowl

Christopher Testani

This lunch option combines the ease and nutrition of a smoothie with a satisfying grain bowl for a winning, no-cook meal. Packed with fruit (banana, raspberries, and kiwi), seeds (flax or chia), nuts (almonds or walnuts), and granola, it’s refreshing and hearty but won’t weigh you down.

Jammy Egg Salad

Darko Kontin/Getty Images

If you’re not on TikTok, you may have missed this sensation created by Maxis Kitchen. It uses soft-cooked eggs with jammy yolks, which replace the usual mayo. for a slightly different take on a traditional egg salad.

Parm-Crusted Grilled Cheese

Jennifer Causey

A crispy exterior layer of Parmigiano-Reggiano sets this apart from other grilled cheese sandwiches. Tucked inside are Gruyère cheese for a nutty flavor and superior melting, thin slices of Gala apple for a note of sweetness, and a slather of sharp Dijon mustard to balance the two.

Chicken Satay Lettuce Wraps

Caitlin Bensel

This light lunch idea takes you for a walk on the Asian side. It piles lettuce leaves with rice noodles, shredded chicken, and cucumber slices flavored with a punchy coconut-peanut sauce. The recipe suggests scallions, basil, and peanuts as toppings but feel free to add your favorite veggies or herbs.

Pickled Tuna Salad Sandwiches

Mark Lund

A tuna salad sandwich is about as iconic a lunch as they come, and this recipe encourages experimentation to create your favorite version: Use dill or sweet pickle relish, add hard-cooked eggs or not, pile it on white, wheat, or rye bread, and serve with potato, sweet potato, or veggie chips.

Hummus and Cucumber Toast

Caitlin Bensel

No time to cook lunch? Nonsense! If you can make toast, you can pull off this quick and easy light lunch. Hummus takes a respite from dippers and serves as a schmear on whole-grain toast. On it are cucumber slices drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with flaky salt and za’atar to reinforce this dish’s Middle Eastern vibe.

Sweet Potato and Kale Tortilla Soup

Alison Miksch

This easy lunch recipe gives canned tortilla soup an upgrade with sweet potatoes. Add shredded chicken, top with crunchy tortilla chips and creamy avocado slices, and you have a hearty lunch that looks and tastes homemade.

French Ham and Cheese Sandwich

Danny Kim

For an easy lunch with a European twist, give this sandwich a go. A mixture of chopped cornichons (pickles, aka gherkins), butter, Dijon mustard, and fresh tarragon elevates the classic ham and cheese combo in a way you didn’t know was possible. Using a rich and nutty type of cheese, like Comté or Gruyère, makes all the difference.

Crab Roll

Marcus Nilsson

Take a quick trip to the rocky coast with this New England favorite. The crab meat and mayo salad is accented with crisp radishes, celery, and apples for extra sweetness and crunch. Serve on a hot dog roll, sit back, and listen for seagulls and crashing waves.

Open Faced Croque Monsieur

Marcus Nilsson

This popular French sandwich made with ham and Gruyère features a pinch of nutmeg and grated Parmesan. What really sets this sandwich apart is that it’s cooked in the broiler—which allows the ham and cheese sauce to meld together—and served warm.

Turkey Taco Salad

Alexandra Grablewski

With ground turkey, pinto beans, and avocado, this salad is packed with protein and fiber. Half of the store-bought salsa blends in with the turkey, and the other half is mixed with sour cream for a creamy, spicy dressing.

Spinach and Goat Cheese Frittata

Marcus Nilsson

Healthy spinach, protein-rich eggs, and tangy goat cheese star in this lunch dish that’s ready in just 20 minutes. Add a tossed green salad and a loaf of country bread to make it a meal that will keep you full until dinner.

Tomato, Bacon, and Garlic Mayo Sandwich

kcline/Getty Images

Unlike most BLTs, this one is mayo-free. Instead, it boasts an oregano, garlic, and yogurt dressing (which we call “mayo”) that you’ll want to make a jar of for all your sandwiches. Another upgrade is avocado slices, which technically makes this a BLTA.

Chicken, Sprouts, and Provolone Sandwich

Danny Kim

Bagels are great for lunch, too! This recipe features a toasted one, the bottom half shmeared with Dijon and then layered with a cooked chicken breast and slice of provolone. After a 5-minute stint in the oven, it gets topped with any kind of sprouts and the bagel’s other half for a quick, warm, satisfying sandwich.

Southwestern Chicken Soup

Alexandra Rowley

You’d never expect this flavorful soup could be ready in 15 minutes. It takes cooked chicken and a can of cannellini beans to the Southwest with a dose of cumin, sour cream, tortilla chips, and your favorite salsa.

Chicken and Dill Souvlaki

Anna Williams

Take your taste buds on a quick trip to Greece for lunch! Grab some cooked chicken and flatbread, slice some cucumber and onion, mix up a lemony dill and olive oil dressing, and top with (what else?) Greek yogurt. Don’t forget to stamp your culinary passport!

Slow-Cooker Mississippi Pork Roast Rice Bowls

Fred Hardy

The slow cooker makes this pork roast juicy and fall-apart tender. For more flavor, the pork is cooked with shallots, pepperoncini peppers, brine, ranch seasoning, and beef broth. While we love this recipe as-is, the leftover roast works for several other lunch options. Try stuffing the pork into tacos or a sub sandwich.

Tuna Niçoise Baguette

Jen Causey

A tuna salad sandwich is a lunch staple, so how about this version that borrows from the French Niçoise salad? Combining herbs, vinaigrette, olives, red onions, and peppers gives this twist on tuna salad its vibrant flavor.

Baked Seafood Casserole With Shrimp and Tilapia

Hans Gissinger

Spoil yourself for lunch with this creamy casserole that’s just like a shepherd’s pie—except you swap in seafood instead of minced meat. Tilapia and shrimp, to be exact. You’ll top them with white wine-cooked veggies, mashed potatoes for the creamy texture, and some bread crumbs to add a satisfying crunch.


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