Warm, comforting, and nourishing — hot lunches are good for the soul. Cold lunches like soups and salads may be healthy and delicious, but they just don't hit the spot like hot lunches do. So if you are looking for some hot lunch recipe inspiration, you are in the right place.
We are sharing over 40 hot lunch ideas including hot sandwiches, rice bowls, soups, pastas, stir-fries and more (including lots of vegetarian options too!) that will warm you right up.
Best Hot Lunch Ideas
Vegetarian quesadillas are quick and easy, completely customizable, loaded with veggies and beans. Serve this kid-friendly Mexican meal for lunch or dinner.
Easy to make, light and fresh teriyaki grilled salmon rice bowl is topped with vegetables, seaweed and salmon roe, with homemade teriyaki sauce on top. One of my favorite hot lunch ideas.
Turkey and Cheese Sliders are quick and easy, made with deli meat and Swiss cheese filled inside soft Hawaiian dinner rolls topped with a buttery sauce.
Homemade chicken noodle soup is classic, comforting, simple, quick, and easy to make at home. Plus, you can use leftover rotisserie chicken to save time with this hot lunch recipe.
These Salmon Burgers made with real fresh salmon, are crispy on the outside and flaky inside, juicy and thick, and healthy and packed with protein.
Tiktok ramen is savory, sweet and loaded with umami flavor. It's a quick and easy viral ramen hack with instant noodles, eggs, butter, garlic and soy sauce.
This Mediterranean Stuffed Eggplant is delicious, filling, and healthy. This vegetarian dinner is loaded with veggies and topped with bubbly cheese.
Sesame chicken meatballs are quick, easy, delicious, and loaded with Asian flavor, cooked in a homemade stir fry sauce and customizable with easy veggies!
Forget delivery and make sweet, tangy, and smoky BBQ chicken pizza from the comfort of your own home in under 30 minutes. The easiest weeknight dinner.
Homemade hamburger helper is a family favorite but you can make a cheaper, healthier, and way tastier version at home, ready in just 30 minutes.
Roasted Broccoli Grilled Cheese
Take your grilled cheese game to the next level with Roasted Broccoli Grilled Cheese Sandwich made with broccoli, red peppers, cheddar, and mozzarella.
Pineapple fried rice is a quick and easy meal that is ready in just 20 minutes. It's a savory, sweet, delicious, and flavorful weeknight family dinner.
Creamy vegan ramen is delicious, flavorful, and healthy comfort food, packed with nutrients that will give you an immunity boost. Ready in just 30 minutes!
Classic easy meat lasagna is the ultimate Italian comfort food with layers of tender lasagna, meaty tomato sauce, cheese filling and melted cheese on top.
Baked Chicken Quesadillas are cheesy, crispy, flavorful, and delicious. This family-friendly recipe is quick and easy to make in just 30 minutes!
Easy Greek Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki
This refreshing and light, easy Greek chicken gyros is packed with tender souvlaki chicken, Greek salad, and homemade tzatziki sauce, all wrapped in a pita. One of our most popular healthy lunch ideas.
Zucchini fritters are crispy outside, tender inside, and loaded with zucchini. These healthy bites are one of my favorite ways to use up summer zucchini.
These Indian Rice Bowls are flavorful, delicious, and easy to assemble. These wholesome, filling rice bowls have it all — grains, protein, and veggies.
Hearty and filling beef and bean burritos are easy to make ahead, freezer-friendly, and take just 30 minutes for restaurant-quality Mexican food at home.
Homemade tomato basil soup is comforting, rich, and smooth. This cozy soup is easy, flavourful, and nourishing, making it so much better than canned.
Cashew chicken is a quick and easy chicken stir fry ready in under 30 minutes. It's flavorful, delicious, and so much better and faster than takeout.
Tuna Melt Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Get your hands on pantry staple canned tuna and make a delicious, crunchy tuna melt grilled cheese sandwich in less than 10 minutes! It's so tasty and easy! For another grilled cheese option, try a roasted broccoli grilled cheese sandwich.
Leftover chili stuffed peppers are delicious, flavorful, and the easiest way to make stuffed peppers, with only three ingredients and five minutes of prep.
Farfalle Pasta with Mushroom Rose Sauce
Farfalle pasta with mushroom rose sauce is creamy yet light, delicious and flavorful, and quick and easy to make in 20 minutes. Best comfort food dinner!
Authentic Chicken Paella (Paella Valenciana) is delicious and filling. It’s loaded with protein, veggies, and rice, cooked in a flavorful saffron broth.
Sticky honey garlic meatballs are a delicious and flavourful 30-minute meal to add to your weekly dinner rotation. A total crowd pleaser.
Hamburger Soup with Macaroni - recipe coming soon!
Creamy Pesto Chicken is a quick and easy 30 minute meal that needs to be on your family weeknight dinner rotation. It's rich, creamy, and delicious.
Homemade chicken shawarma (donair) with juicy tender chicken marinated in Middle Eastern spices and wrapped in pita bread is easy to make at home. Serve it with a Persian Shirazi Salad on the side.
This Vegetarian Bolognese is a quick and easy vegetable-packed pasta with the flavor, texture, and goodness of a traditional Bolognese without the meat.
Chicken tacos are juicy and tender, loaded with flavor, delicious, and so easy to make. They are perfect for Taco Tuesday or a Cinco de Mayo Mexican fiesta.
Korean beef steak rice bowl is loaded with tender and juicy strips of beef, marinated vegetable sides (banchan), and kimchi. Make it in under 30 minutes!
No more takeout when you can make flavourful, restaurant-style, authentic chicken Pad Thai at home in just 10 minutes. It's sweet, savoury, sour and nutty.
These Thai Turkey Burgers topped with a crisp and creamy slaw are loaded with fresh and bright flavors, healthy and delicious, and quick and easy to make.
Quick and easy, creamy stovetop mac and cheese with white cheddar is a delicious and comforting one pot 20-minute meal packed with three types of cheese.
Beef taco soup is a delicious take on tacos, transforming it into a hearty, wholesome, filling soup topped with all the taco fixings. Ready in 30 minutes.
Chinese Takeout Orange Chicken is a quick, easy, delicious meal ready in 30 minutes. It’s healthier than takeout — can be pan-fried, air fried, or baked.
Instant pot beef curry with potatoes and carrots is delicious, hearty, comforting, and flavorful. It's made quick and easy in the pressure cooker.
Quick and easy, one-pan, 10-minute seafood fried rice with tiger prawns is so much healthier, tastier and better than takeout. It's the easiest weeknight meal.
White chicken chili is an easy and delicious one pot meal made with shredded chicken, hearty veggies, and a creamy broth that's loaded with flavor.
Skillet chicken fajitas are a light, fresh, and sizzling dish bursting with flavour, packed with colorful vegetables, and wrapped in warm tortillas. | aheadofthyme.com
Creamy Tortellini Soup with Sausage
Hearty and creamy tortellini soup with sausage, spinach and kale is total comfort food in a bowl. Make this flavourful one pot meal in under 30 minutes.
Sweet and sour pork is a delicious, quick and easy Chinese stir fry that takes just 30 minutes to make. Serve this homemade takeout over steamed rice.
Tips for Storing and Reheating Hot Lunches
- Make ahead instructions. You can make many of these hot lunch recipes ahead of time and store in the refrigerator for a few days or even in the freezer for up to 3 months (the soups and meatballs freeze really well!). You can also prep the ingredients in advance and store in the refrigerator until ready to use or assemble.
- How to store: Store any leftovers in airtight containers in the refrigerator or even in the freezer. Check the individual recipe for complete storing instructions and to confirm if the recipe is freezer-friendly.
- How to reheat: Most of the leftovers can be reheated on the stovetop over medium to low heat for about 5-10 minutes until warmed through, in the air fryer or the oven at 300F for 10-15 minutes until warmed through, or in the microwave in 20-second increments until warmed through. If heating from frozen, let it thaw first and then reheat.
More Lunch Recipes
- 40 Best Pasta Recipes
- 60 Best Soup Recipes
- 60 Best Chicken Recipes
- 15 Best Salmon Recipes
- 25 Best Ground Beef Recipes
- 30 Best Shrimp Recipes
Did You Make Any of These Hot Lunch Recipes?
Please leave a comment and rating below, and let me know what you thought of this round up of these hot lunch ideas. Be sure to snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @aheadofthyme or share it on the Pinterest pin so that I can follow along.
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40 Hot Lunch Ideas
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings
- Diet: Vegetarian
Over 40 hot lunch ideas that are warm, comforting, and nourishing including sandwiches, rice bowls, soups, pastas, stir-fries, vegetarian lunch, and more. One of my favorites are these Vegetarian Quesadillas.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 1 small jalapeño pepper, diced
- 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon paprika (or chili powder)
- ¼ teaspoon salt (to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 8 medium flour tortillas (8-inches in diameter)
- 4 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
Make the filling:
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the hot oil sizzles, about 1 minute. Add onion and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add bell pepper and jalapeño and sauté until tender, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add black beans and season with cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Mix well and cook until beans are heated through, about 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in cilantro and remove the skillet from the heat. Transfer the black bean veggie filling to a bowl and set aside.
Assemble the quesadillas:
- Heat a clean skillet over medium-low heat for 1 minute and brush with a little bit of oil.
- Place one tortilla in the pan. On one half of the tortilla, sprinkle ¼ cup cheddar cheese, top with 3 tablespoons of the black bean filling, and top with another ¼ cup cheddar cheese.
- Fold the empty half of the tortilla over to create a half moon. Cook until the tortilla is crispy and the cheese melts, about 2 minutes per side.
- Repeat with remaining tortillas.
- Transfer the quesadillas onto a plate and slice into 3 triangles. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, and/or salsa if desired.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Category: Lunch
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Mexican
Keywords: hot lunch ideas, lunch ideas, what to make for lunch, warm lunch
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