Home Recipe Roundup 24 Hot Lunch Ideas to Warm You Up

24 Hot Lunch Ideas to Warm You Up

Say goodbye to cold salads and sandwiches because these hot lunch ideas will warm you up inside and out!

A hot lunch is nourishing and soul-warming. And compared to a cold lunch, it just tastes better! 

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Vegetarian Panini with Tomatoes and Mozarella

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and place for a cold lunch. Sure, it can save you a few minutes, but preparing a hot lunch doesn’t have to be time-consuming. 

On your busiest days, it can be tough to find time to cook, let alone sit down for a hot meal.

That’s why I’ve rounded up easy hot lunch ideas that you can make at home.

These recipes are simple, affordable, and oh-so-tasty! Enjoy!

1. Turkey Burgers

The next best thing to beef burgers are — you guessed it right — turkey burgers!

They’re just as juicy and tasty as the classic beef version, but there are a few differences.

Turkey burgers are lighter and healthier because they’re low in fat and rich in protein. Plus, turkey meat is loaded with B vitamins and other minerals.

These turkey burgers are sandwiched in lightly toasted buns along with your favorite toppings.

To make a healthier meal, top salad greens with a burger patty!

Chicken Fried Rice

2. Chicken Fried Rice

When thinking about Chinese takeout food, chicken fried rice is always an option. But why order it if you can make it at home in 30 minutes? 

You can do it much quicker if you use ready-made rice in a box and have everything chopped and measured before cooking.

Marinating the chicken is important for the tastiest result. To achieve authentic Asian flavor, add some sesame oil to the rice at the end.

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3. Ham and Swiss Quesadilla

Ham and Swiss cheese are a match made in heaven folded inside this quesadilla!

Ready in 10 minutes, this recipe is super easy to make. It’s also a great way to use some leftover ham, cheese, and tortillas in your fridge.

Of course, this quesadilla is best when served hot. That crisp tortilla and melted cheese are simply irresistible!

4. Lentil Soup

You’ll know you’re making lentil soup right when you pack tubs of it for lunch, and you want it again for dinner.

This recipe is the secret to such a flavorful lentil soup! Lentils are already savory, but with additional spices, this soup will give you a flavor boost.

Don’t skip the part where you have to add the lemon zest + juice. Trust me, you’ll need that for the best lentil soup ever. 

5. Caramelized Onion Mushroom Pizza

Who doesn’t want pizza for lunch? This recipe includes a thin, crispy crust with caramelized onion and seasoned mushrooms.

You wouldn’t skip lunch when you have this pizza as a meal!

Add tons of cheese, spinach, and a little fresh thyme, and you’ll want to have this dish again for snack and dinner. It’s that GOOD.

By using a refrigerated thin-crust pizza dough, you can make this insanely good pizza any time you want!

6. Mac and Cheese Cups

Are you a fan of mac and cheese? Do you have some muffin tins? If you answered yes to both questions, mac and cheese cups are perfect for you!

Because this recipe yields mac and cheese cupcakes, your favorite dish will become portable. This makes them a great addition to lunch boxes.

Mac and cheese cups are kid-friendly, too! When you pack these cheesy delights, their school lunch will never be the same again.

7. Savory Smoked Salmon Crepes

Have some hot lunch a la Francaise with these savory crepes stuffed with smoked salmon and cream cheese. 

This recipe is also great if you want to impress your guests with your French cooking skills.

Just remember to get the air bubbles out from the batter to make the best crepes!

Homemade Chili Con Carne

8. Chili

Chili is a popular dish for wintry days. Serve this for lunch to keep the whole family warm and satisfied. 

Going outdoors? Fill your thermos with this comforting dish to enjoy a hot lunch outside.

For this recipe, expect a meal that will exceed your expectations. Why? Because this is a pretty close replica of Texas Roadhouse Chili!

With this recipe, you can bring the taste of a legendary steak restaurant to your home.

9. Chicken Fajitas

Classic fajitas refer to grilled meat served in tortillas. And for this recipe, you’ll use tender, juicy chicken breasts.

Because this recipe is an easy one, you can expect simple ingredients and minimal cook time. Don’t have tortillas on hand?

These fajitas taste just as good even when piled on a plate.

If you want your lunch extra hot, feel free to increase the amount of chili powder, paprika, or red pepper flakes in your seasoning mix. 

10. Apple Cheddar Panini Sandwich

Panini, or panino, is a grilled sandwich made with Italian bread.

Filling options for this grill-marked sandwich are endless, from chicken pesto to bacon to pork BBQ.

If you want to shake things up with an unusual combination, try apples and cheddar cheese for your sandwich.

This recipe yields something similar to a grilled cheese sandwich, but it’s tastier and fancier.

The addition of honey mustard brings in more warm flavors that both kids and adults will love.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

11. Grilled Cheese

Sometimes, you just want to enjoy a hot, gooey, classic grilled cheese sandwich. When that happens, this recipe is what you’ll need.

The best bread for grilled cheese is sturdy enough to hold all the cheese inside. It could be challa, brioche, or crusty artisan bread.

For the cheese, American and cheddar are the most common options. If you want your sandwich well-spiced, try spicy pepper jack cheese.

12. Ramen

This homemade ramen will hit up your table in 30 minutes. Yes, it takes a longer time to cook than the packaged ramen, but it’s worth the wait and effort.

The good news is most of the ingredients here are pantry staples. From veggies to seasonings, you can find everything at home or your local grocery store.

All it takes is some slicing, boiling, and stirring, and you’ll have a tasty and healthy noodle soup dish in no time.

13. Nachos

This is not an ordinary nacho recipe. Check it out and you might find yourself craving loaded baked nachos!

This recipe requires minimal prep and quick baking (only 10 minutes), so it’s also great for busy school mornings.

All you need to do is arrange the nacho chips on a sheet pan, add the toppings, then bake. Once the cheese melts, you’re done!

Don’t hesitate to create a second layer or batch of nachos because this meal will be gone fast.

14. Pasta Fagioli Soup

Pasta e Fagioli is a traditional Italian soup that’s both hearty and comforting. As such, it has the makings of the ultimate hot lunch!

This dish uses pasta and beans as its main ingredients. Ground beef and fresh vegetables are thrown into the mix, making it a complete meal.

Olive Garden’s Pasta e Fagioli is to die for! But who says you can’t make it at home?

This recipe will show you the way to making a restaurant-quality soup for lunch. 

15. Monte Cristo Sandwich

The Monte Cristo sandwich is a variation of the classic French dish, croque monsieur.

This sandwich is made with ham and cheese, with a bit of mustard or mayonnaise.

The fun part is dipping the assembled sandwich into an egg mixture, then frying it until golden brown on both sides.

This recipe yields a perfectly crisp, flavorful sandwich.

It’s a perfect pair for tomato soup, berry jam, or anything slightly acidic to balance all the flavors.

16. Caprese Panini

Take a simple grilled sandwich to the next level by turning it into a Caprese panini!

Everything that makes Caprese salad a wonderful dish is found in this sandwich.

Think juicy tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, and flavorful pesto. All of these will bring irresistible Mediterranean flavors right into your home.

A Caprese sandwich is also easy to make. Just remember these three steps: prep the bread, assemble the ingredients, and cook the sandwich. 

17. Chicken Gyros

The best hot lunch ideas are healthy, flavorful, and can be made ahead of time. This chicken gyros recipe ticks all the boxes.

This Greek wrap is composed of marinated chicken, Tzatziki sauce, and tomato-cucumber salad.

The secret ingredient for this dish is yogurt, which goes into the marinade. It helps soften the chicken and carry all the flavors into the meat.

18. Savory Baked Oatmeal

Breakfast isn’t the only time you can have some good oatmeal. Oats for lunch are great too because they’re high in fiber and low in calories.

That means you can have a healthy diet while feeling full throughout the afternoon. The best part? This savory baked oatmeal tastes heavenly!

Since this savory oatmeal is baked, it looks like a frittata that’s made of, well, oatmeal. Of course, there are add-ins included like tomatoes, spinach, and goat cheese.

This recipe is also versatile. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand or any add-ins that suit your mood.

19. Filet-O-Fish

You can now make a healthier version of McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish burger at home using this recipe. Make it bigger if you want your lunch to be filling.

Inside the buns, you’ll find crunchy crumbed fish fillet, topped with cheese and tartar sauce.

The sauce for this burger is homemade, too. But don’t fret because all it takes is some mixing of simple ingredients.

Trisha Yearwood Crockpot Mac and Cheese

20. Macaroni and Cheese

There are plenty of recipes for mac and cheese, but if you’re looking for the best one, I can only recommend Trisha Yearwood’s version.

The traditional ingredients for mac and cheese include milk, butter, macaroni, and a couple of spices. 

Meanwhile, Trisha Yearwood’s recipe includes two large beaten eggs that add texture and fluffiness to the dish.

You can make your own tweaks by changing or adding some ingredients. For example, you can use pepper jack cheese or add more paprika for extra zing.

21. Tuna Melts

This tuna melt sandwich requires a tuna fish salad that you can make ahead of time. That means less prep work when you’re ready to bake the sandwich.

You can have an open-faced sandwich (no top bread) or a closed one — the choice is yours. But personally, open-faced tuna melts look much more tempting!

Tuna melts are already a filling lunch, but they wouldn’t be complete without potato chips on the side.

To offset the saltiness of tuna and cheese, you can also serve the sandwich with dill pickles.

22. Mulligatawny Soup

Mulligatawny soup is a flavorful and fragrant dish that hails from South India.

This soup is traditionally made with curry, coconut milk, red lentils, carrots, and apples.

But then again, there are various recipes for this soup. The one you see here is among the easiest ones to make.

This recipe yields a thick soup that’s almost like a stew. Vibrant and full of warm flavors, it’s the perfect hot lunch for cold days.  

23. Warm Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad

For vegetarians, the combination of roasted cauliflower and chickpeas in this salad is undeniably satisfying.

The slightly caramel-y roasted cauliflower combines beautifully with the tangy salad.

If you aren’t a fan of vegetarian main courses, you can use this recipe as a side dish for grilled meats.

Don’t be fooled by the list of ingredients here. It may be quite long, but there’s nothing to worry about if you keep a well-stocked pantry.

24. Muffin Tin Lasagna

Looking for lasagna to-go? Bake mini-lasagnas in a muffin tin!

This is a fun way to cook lasagna, creating cups you can quickly grab when headed to school or work.

Lasagna cups still have all the ingredients that you love in Italy’s classic pasta dish. The creamy ricotta cheese is here, as well as the delicious pasta sauce.

The only difference is that you’ll put the ingredients on top of wonton wrappers instead of using pasta.

Bake everything until the cheese melts and then get ready to devour!

24 Easy Hot Lunch Ideas

Directions

  • Select your favorite recipe.
  • Organize all the required ingredients.
  • Prep a hot, tasty lunch in 30 minutes or less!
Hot Lunch Ideas

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INSANELYGOOD

Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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