December 8, 2022


Cooking Is My World

Easy & Healthy Gluten-Free Lunch Ideas

Looking for simple, yet healthy and satisfying, Gluten-Free Lunch Ideas? I have you covered with tons of options for gluten-free lunches that are both filling and healthy. Whether packing for a work or school lunch, a day on the go or enjoying at home, you are sure to find several options that will satisfy without added gluten!

Collage of Gluten Free Lunch Recipes with text that reads gluten free lunches.

Eating gluten-free can be overwhelming. From learning to check every label to navigating dining out, to packing lunches for work and school, it is a lot to manage.

While I have an extensive collection of gluten-free recipes and have shared 30-Minute gluten-free meals that are perfect for busy weeknights, I want to help you navigate lunches.

When it comes to lunches, whether at home or on the go sandwiches are often a staple. But it can be hard and/or expensive to find decent gluten-free bread, leaving you wondering what to make for lunch!

Whether you or your child has Celiac Disease or a wheat allergy, I have you covered with simple, healthy ideas for gluten-free lunches that won’t break the bank!

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Gluten-Free Sandwich Ideas

As hard and as expensive as it is to find good quality gluten-free bread, I do have some ideas for gluten-free sandwiches that think outside the bread!

  • Rice Cakes: Spread rice cakes with nut butter, cream cheese, or hummus, and top with fruit, veggies, or jelly as desired. Keep in mind if packing for lunch, avoid adding fruit or vegetables with a lot of moisture content, as that may cause your rice cake to get soggy. Cream cheese and/or soy/nut butter with jelly works well for school or work lunches.
  • Oat Pancakes: Gluten-free pancakes make a perfect stand-in for bread for a peanut butter sandwich. Spread peanut butter on a banana oat pancake, top with an additional pancake, and pack for lunch or enjoy immediately. This is a favorite!
  • Corn Tortillas: Corn tortillas are super affordable and most brands are gluten-free (of course, always double-check!) They can be used as a wrap for Bean Burritos and are delicious as a base for a Baked Tostada, which can be enjoyed leftover cold for lunch.
  • Gluten-Free Wraps: I find it much easier to find affordable gluten-free wraps than decent gluten-free bread. Use those wraps to make a Turkey Wrap, Veggie Wrap, or any sandwich filling you like.
  • PB & J Muffins: These gluten-free muffins are made with oats and have all the flavors of a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They can be prepped in large quantities, frozen, and popped into lunch boxes for a simple, gluten-free lunch.
  • Think Outside the Bread: Instead of using something that resembles bread, why try serving Chickpea Avocado Salad in a hollowed-out avocado? Or use your favorite gluten-free cracker to scoop up Egg Salad or Tuna Salad or serve Chicken Salad over a bed of greens. Something as easy as rolling up deli meat, like ham or pepperoni, with slices of cheese is another way to enjoy the flavors of a deli sandwich without the need to purchase or make gluten-free bread.
Chickpea salad in hollowed out avocado.

Gluten-Free Salad Recipes

Lunch and salad go hand in hand in my book. Salads make a light, yet filling meal that packs well and can often be made in large batches to eat on through the week. Whether preparing a simple tossed salad and topping with leftover Homemade Rotisserie Chicken or Greek Chicken or using one of the recipes below, these gluten-free salads are all delicious lunch options.

  • Mediterranean Chickpea Salad: Whether you serve this flavorful chickpea salad on its own or in a gluten-free wrap of pita, it is sure to become a favorite lunch! Made with chickpeas, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, feta, and a light red wine vinaigrette, it is hearty, healthy, and incredibly easy to make.
  • BBQ Chicken Salad: Leftover BBQ Chicken? Use it to make a tastier copycat version of a BBQ Chicken Salad you would enjoy at a restaurant. Made with sweet corn, sharp red onions, juicy tomatoes, fresh cucumber, shredded cheese, crunchy tortilla chips, and a barbecue ranch dressing, you will love the flavor of this salad and rest easy knowing it is gluten-free.
  • Copycat Panera Greek Salad: Save yourself some serious money and skip the drive-thru at Panera. You can easily whip up their famous Greek salad at home for less money. Enjoy it on its own or top it with Greek Chicken for a heartier, gluten-free lunch.
  • Southwest Chicken Salad: A cobb salad meets southwest flavors in this delicious salad recipe. It is another great example of how healthy and gluten-free does not mean boring!
  • Broccoli Salad: This salad has it all! Vegetables, fruit, and protein from the edamame. It is light and refreshing, yet makes a satisfying lunch.
  • Taco Salad: Taco Salad is the perfect lunch to enjoy after taco night. Start with a base of lettuce and add leftover taco meat, beans, guacamole, corn, etc. Toss it together with the slightly creamy salsa dressing and pack with a bag of your favorite tortilla chips. This is a favorite gluten-free lunch option for both kids and adults.
  • Buffalo Chicken Salad: Talk about flavor! Made with tender chunks of chicken tossed in a spicy homemade buffalo sauce, homemade ranch dressing, and tons of fresh vegetables. This Buffalo Chicken Salad may just become one of your all-time favorite lunches–it sure is at the top of my list!
Bufflalo Chicken Salad with creamy ranch and crumbled bleu cheese dressing plated in large bowl.

Quinoa Recipes for Lunch

Quinoa is truly a super grain! It is naturally gluten-free and packed with protein. It also can be flavored in so many different ways. I love making a large batch of Instant Pot Quinoa and using it to make a variety of gluten-free grain bowls that make the perfect packable lunch. You can follow one of the recipes below or use the quinoa to top with anything you like.

  • Quinoa Spinach Salad: Fresh spinach, green beans, tomatoes, and quinoa are tossed in a light lemon dressing to create a simple, healthy quinoa salad. The flavors get better as it sits, which makes this a great recipe to prep on the weekend and enjoy as quick lunches during the week.
  • Greek Quinoa Salad: I personally could eat this Greek Quinoa Salad every single day. It is filled with all my favorites–briny olives, fresh cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, and a rich dressing. So good!
  • Mexican Quinoa Salad: This salad packs a punch in terms of flavor and protein! Made with beans, corn, and flavorful lime dressing, this is one recipe that makes everyone a believer in quinoa.
Quinoa salad with tomatoes, olives, cucumbers and feta in blue bowl.

Gluten-Free Cold Lunches

Having gluten-free recipes that don’t need to be heated up is a must for anyone enjoying a lunch on the go without access to a microwave. These non-sandwich cold lunches can be back in a lunch box with an icepack and enjoyed just about anywhere!

  • Spring Rolls: Fresh, light, and incredibly flavorful, this appetizer can serve as a simple, healthy gluten-free lunch as well. Prepare the rolls up to 24 hours in advance, wrap individually in plastic wrap or parchment paper, and layer in an airtight container. Pack with an ice pack and a peanut dipping sauce.
  • Thai Noodles: These Thai-inspired noodles are insanely flavorful and super easy to make. They can be stored for 3-4 days in the refrigerator and can be enjoyed at room temperature or cold–perfect for lunch!
  • Texas Caviar: This is another recipe that is thought of as an appetizer, but I feel it makes a phenomenal lunch. Made with black-eyed peas and beans, this dip is full of protein and can be served in a wrap, a bed of greens, or scooped up with crackers or chips.
  • Cheese & Crackers: Pair your favorite gluten-free crackers with cubed cheese, some fresh veggies, berries, and Homemade Larabars for a simple gluten-free lunch option.
  • DIY Nachos: When you find yourself with leftover taco meat or refried beans, why not use them to make a nacho kit, much like a Lunchable? Use separate compartments to pack tortilla chips, cheese, taco meat, black beans, or homemade refried beans. Add your favorite toppings like diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, sliced olives, sour cream, salsa, or guacamole, and you have all the makings for delicious nachos. Serve with fresh fruit and this gluten-free lunch is perfectly balanced.
Spring rolls on black plate next to dipping sauce.

Gluten-Free Hot Lunches

You don’t necessarily need access to a microwave to enjoy a hot lunch. All you need is a good quality thermos and you can enjoy a warm lunch at the office, on the road, or in a school cafeteria. Whether taking your favorite gluten-free leftovers, such as Buffalo Chicken Casserole, Vegetable Beef Soup, or Instant Pot Burrito Bowl or preparing a warm entree for purpose of lunch, these recipes all make flavorful, healthy, gluten-free lunches.

Tip: Use lunch as a time to prepare a recipe that maybe your family may not enjoy as much as you do and then you can eat it all week long for lunch without hearing their complaints!

  • Tikka Masala: Made with cauliflower, chickpeas, and a spicy tomato sauce, this is one recipe I love, but my picky kids don’t care for. So this is a great example of a meal that I prep on the weekend and enjoy for myself during lunches. It comes together quickly and the flavors only get better as it sits.
  • Rice & Beans: Make a batch of Instant Pot Rice and Beans to enjoy for simple, yet satisfying lunches to enjoy throughout the week. Alternatively, serve leftover Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Rice or Instant Pot Spanish Rice and top with black beans, pinto beans, cheese, avocado, etc.
  • Vegetarian Curry: Made with butternut squash and kale, this simple curry recipe is packed with flavor and takes a few shortcuts to come together relatively quickly.
  • Black Bean Chili: Made with quinoa, black beans, and sweet potatoes, this vegetarian chili is a powerhouse of nutrients, protein, and fiber. Prepare a batch on the weekend and you will have enough chili to enjoy lunches for the work week!
  • Stuffed Sweet Potatoes: I love to prepare a large batch of Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes and then warm them up for lunch throughout the week. Top with black beans, leftover taco meat, or even leftover chili, and talk about one tasty, healthy lunch!
Baked sweet potato with black beans and avocado.

Gluten-Free Snack Recipes

While all of these gluten-free lunch ideas will fill you up, sometimes you want a little something extra to round out lunch. Below are some of my favorite gluten-free bars and snacks that make the perfect addition to a packed lunch.

 Tips for Packing Gluten-Free Lunches

  • Always, always check labels! Gluten is hidden in so many items and if it is not labeled as certified gluten-free, there is potential exposure to gluten.
  • Having reusable containers and a good-quality thermos is best when it comes to packing school and/or lunches for work. I recommend BPA-free meal-prep containers that fit well into standard-size lunch boxes for lunch boxes. I use silicone muffin liners when I need to divide the larger compartments.
  • Use leftovers. Never underestimate the power of leftovers when it comes to lunch. Using leftovers makes making lunch a breeze and it also cuts down on food waste.
  • Note on using Deli Meat when gluten-free. Be sure your lunch meat is completely gluten-free. I purchase certified gluten-free meat that is pre-packaged, so I do not worry about cross-contamination from the deli slicer that may have sliced meat or cheese that contains gluten.
  • Need more ideas for kid’s lunches? Be sure to check out my collection of Kid-Friendly Lunches and Peanut-Free School Lunches for more ideas. Most of the recipes can easily be modified to be gluten-free.

 I hope these gluten-free lunch ideas help to make eating or packing a lunch less overwhelming for you! Please share your favorite gluten-free lunch idea in the comment below.