Whether you have guests staying with you or packing lunches for your family every day, it can be hard to keep thinking of new lunch ideas.
Instead of giving people boring Lunchables or cup noodles, check out 27 of the best hot lunch ideas that will thoroughly satisfy your family and guests.
- 1. Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese
- 2. Homemade Ramen
- 3. Cajun Sausage and Grits
- 4. Pulled-Pork Sandwich
- 5. Butter Chicken
- 6. Mac and Cheese
- 7. Ham and Swiss Panini
- 8. French Onion Soup
- 9. Philly Cheesesteak
- 10. Margherita Pizza
- 11. Nashville Chicken Sandwich
- 12. Chicken and Dumpling Soup
- 13. Twice Baked Loaded Potatoes
- 14. Shredded Chicken Sliders
- 15. Carbonara
- 16. BBQ Chicken Pizza
- 17. Banh Mi Sandwich
- 18. Broccoli Alfredo Pasta
- 19. Sloppy Joe Sliders
- 20. Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- 21. California Turkey Burger
- 22. Teriyaki Chicken Bowl
- 23. Buffalo Chicken Wrap
- 24. Seared Salmon Rice Bowl
- 25. Three Bean Chili
- 26. Spicy Burritos
- 27. Stuffed Peppers
- Final Thoughts
- 📖 Recipe
One of the best hot lunch ideas for guests is a steaming cup of tomato soup with gooey grilled cheese for dipping. The classic combination of grilled cheese and tomato soup is a delight for people of all ages, from 9 to 99. And it’s perfect for a chilly winter day, as it warms the soul.
If you are looking for hot lunch ideas thermos can hold, look no further than a piping hot cup of homemade ramen. Ramen is one of the most filling kinds of soups, as it’s loaded with ingredients like veggies, meats, noodles, and eggs. The best part about ramen is you can make it however you want!
A wonderful hot lunch idea with a kick is Cajun sausage and grits. This idea can be super spicy or very mild, depending on if you want hot lunch ideas for adults or kids. With meaty andouille sausage and creamy grits loaded with peppers and onions, it’s a warm and satisfying meal for lunch.
If you want to impress your guests, you can serve them a sensational pulled-pork sandwich for lunch. Making pulled pork can be a low-effort all-day thing, where you just toss spices and a pork butt or shoulder into a crockpot. When lunch rolls around, you’ll have a meaty and hot meal for everyone.
This Indian classic is one of the best hot lunch ideas because it’s bursting with bold flavors, and the sauce has a delicious and spiced flavor. Butter chicken is a decadent and appetizing lunch idea, as you can serve it on top of your favorite rice or by itself. It also tasted wonderful with some naan bread for dipping!
One of the best hot lunch ideas vegetarians will love is mac and cheese! Mac and cheese is a crowd-pleaser, and you can make any version you want. Whether you like baked, stovetop, shells, bowtie, cheddar, or gouda, it’s the perfect hot lunch idea for everyone, especially picky eaters.
A toasty ham and swiss panini is a wonderful hot lunch idea. You can serve it with crispy potato chips or French fries at home. This sandwich has familiar and comforting flavors that everyone will love but still delivers a tasty and distinct flavor.
French onion soup is one of the most convenient easy hot lunch ideas for home! You only need a few ingredients to bring it together, and it brings a rich, umami flavor that is lovely on a chilly day. This soup can appeal to kids and adults, so you can feed everyone with a massive pot.
Hot lunch ideas for school can be tough, but a Philly cheesesteak tastes good at all temperatures. If someone can’t heat their hot lunch at school, a Philly cheesesteak will still be delicious and flavorful if cold or at room temperature. If you want hot lunch ideas for a husband, consider this cheesy and meaty sandwich!
10. Margherita Pizza
Pizza is a great hot lunch if you have a handful of people to feed. After all, who doesn’t love pizza? Margherita pizza can satisfy vegetarians, picky eaters, and pizza lovers! It has a robust yet delicate flavor that won’t weigh anyone down if you have an evening of fun plans ahead of you.
If you want hot lunch ideas that will wow your family and guests, consider making a sweet and spicy Nashville chicken sandwich. A crunchy piece of chicken nestled between soft buns with vinegary pickles and crunchy carrots is sure to impress everyone!
Chicken and dumpling soup is like a cross between chicken noodle soup and chicken pot pie. The fluffy soft dumplings soak up the flavorful broth to make the soup more filling and full of comforting textures.
When you need to feed people, but are low on ingredients, twice-baked loaded baked potatoes can be an excellent solution. Use whatever you have in the fridge or pantry to add flavor to the creamy, roasted flavor of the potatoes.
Shredded chicken sliders are a terrific idea because they can feed lots of people, and you can play with the flavor profile. You can choose a more Southern-style chicken with coleslaw and BBQ sauce or use Mexican ingredients to make it spicy and fresh.
Carbonara can be tricky the first time you make it, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a snap to make! It only requires a few ingredients and has a salty, creamy flavor that is cozy and luscious. You can make it with any pasta and add your favorite vegetables!
BBQ chicken pizza is easy to make and a widely loved food. Kids and adults love this tangy pizza, so it’s a brilliant choice if you have a room full of picky eaters. It’s the perfect hot lunch idea to keep everyone full and happy until dinner.
17. Banh Mi Sandwich
Banh Mi is a traditional Vietnamese sandwich with hoisin protein, crunchy bread, and lightly pickled vegetables. They often use radishes, carrots, and pork, but you can play with ingredients by substituting tofu, chicken, cucumbers, or onions.
A wonderful hot lunch you can bring to school or work is broccoli Alfredo pasta. You can make this classic pasta dish in one pot but create those familiar and yummy flavors everyone knows. And for a heartier lunch, you can add chicken.
This hot lunch idea is supremely messy, as it should be, so it’s best for lunch at home. Kids will love these moist and meaty sloppy Joe sliders. Sliders are a fun way to feed a group of people, and sloppy Joe sliders are a bit easier to eat than a full-size sloppy Joe!
One of the best hot lunches you can bring anywhere in a thermos is broccoli cheddar soup. It is gooey and vibrant with tender broccoli and bites of carrot. You can make big batches of broccoli cheddar and freeze them so you can bring this soup to work every day!
A beef burger loaded down with cheese and grease can be too heavy for the middle of the day. But if you still want the crumbly and meaty burger experience, make a California turkey burger for lunch! It’s easy to make turkey burgers in bigger batches, so you can feed your family or guests.
Instead of spending money at Panda Express on your lunch break, make your own sticky and spicy teriyaki chicken bowl. This idea is excellent for work lunches, as it reheats well and offers chicken, vegetables, and grains! Teriyaki chicken bowls are surprisingly easy to make and always hit the spot.
If you want healthy hot lunch ideas for work, try a slightly spicy Buffalo chicken wrap. This idea is healthy but still filling, so you’ll be satisfied after your lunch break without feeling too full. Load it up with lettuce and other veggies for a nutritious meal. Vegetarians can also swap out the chicken for chickpeas!
Step up your hot lunch game with a phenomenal seared salmon rice bowl. Salmon is a decadent protein that is rich in nutrition and positively delicious. This well-rounded lunch idea can use protein, vegetables, and grains, so you get a filling but healthy lunch.
25. Three Bean Chili
One of the easiest hot lunch ideas to make for a large group is chili! You can make chili in massive batches with many ingredients, which you probably already have in your pantry. A three-bean chili is lighter and healthier, making it the perfect recipe for lunch.
26. Spicy Burritos
If you want spicy hot lunch ideas, look no further than this fiery rice burrito. It’s perfect for vegetarians, but you can add meat if you want a more filling dish. A spicy burrito will wow your tastebuds and wake you up for the rest of your day.
27. Stuffed Peppers
Stuffed peppers are an easy lunch to make for a group of people, and they reheat well, so they're ideal for school or work. Load them up with rice, vegetables, and beef for a hearty but healthy meal. The addition of cheese brings a gooey, creamy texture and delicious saltiness.
Cold-cut sandwiches and wilted salads can be disappointing lunch options. Whether feeding people at home or making lunches to go, these hot lunch ideas will leave everyone with full bellies and happy taste buds!
- Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese
- Homemade Ramen
- Cajun Sausage and Grits
- Pulled-Pork Sandwich
- Butter Chicken
- Mac and Cheese
- Ham and Swiss Panini
- French Onion Soup
- Philly Cheesesteak
- Margherita Pizza
- Nashville Chicken Sandwich
- Chicken and Dumpling Soup
- Twice Baked Loaded Potatoes
- Shredded Chicken Sliders
- BBQ Chicken Pizza
- Banh Mi Sandwich
- Broccoli Alfredo Pasta
- Sloppy Joe Sliders
- Broccoli Cheddar Soup
- California Turkey Burger
- Teriyaki Chicken Bowl
- Buffalo Chicken Wrap
- Seared Salmon Rice Bowl
- Three Bean Chili
- Spicy Burritos
- Stuffed Peppers
- Review the listed recipes
- Pick your favorites
- Make your desired hot lunch recipes