10 Easy Lunch Recipes That Take 20 Minutes or Less

updated Mar 4, 2020
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Credit: Faith Durand

Despite the fact that I work from home, lunch is hardly a leisurely affair. I rarely get the opportunity to loll about in the kitchen at noontime assembling something lovely. Instead, I tend to look up from my computer screen as 2PM is drawing near to realize I haven’t eaten, and rush to make something fast. If you work from an office, you may be doing the same mad dash to throw something together in the morning, before you have to head off.

These fast lunch recipes can be saviors for those who don’t have much time, but still want to eat something homemade (whether or not you eat at your desk). Many of them are also ideal for those of you who want to meal prep over the weekend, as they’ll hold up in the fridge for days. Basically, what I am saying is: These 10 recipes are well-suited for just about anyone.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. 3-Ingredient Pesto Zoodle Bowl

A package of zucchini noodles paired with store-bought pesto and a fried egg come together in minutes for a light-yet-satisfying lunch. You can also make it with other types of vegetable noodles such as butternut squash or beet.

Get the recipe: 3-Ingredient Pesto Zoodle Bowl

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Sauerkraut and Sausage Roll

This hearty sandwich takes advantage of fully cooked chicken sausage. Any roll will work, but if your local grocery store or baker has the pretzel-style rolls, pick them up. That signature salty chew is worth it.

Get the recipe: Sauerkraut and Sausage Roll

3. Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad

All you need are a jar of pesto, a couple of packages of cheese tortellini, some cherry tomatoes, and some roasted red peppers and in next to no time you can assemble a satisfying pasta salad that will last all week long.

Get the recipe: Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad

Credit: Andrea Bemis

4. Mediterranean Veggie Pita Sandwich

These vegetarian pita sandwiches hold up well for up to four hours without refrigeration, which means you can assemble one in the morning, and carry it with you to the office without having to worry about finding a fridge or packing a cooler.

Get the recipe: Mediterranean Veggie Pita Sandwich

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. Spicy Salmon Black Bean Salad

Hot smoked salmon isn’t as popular as cold smoked salmon (the kind you’ll find on your bagel), but it really should be. It flakes easily onto salads and has tons of bold smoky flavor. You’ll find fillets ready-to-eat in the seafood section of your grocery store.

Get the recipe: Spicy Salmon Black Bean Salad

Credit: Lauren Volo

6. Egg and Avocado Salad on Toast

Adding diced avocado to your usual egg salad is an easy way to jazz it up while also making it both heartier and more wholesome. Enjoy it on toast, as it is here, or slip it inside pita or a wrap — you can even just pile it onto a bed of greens.

Get the recipe: Egg and Avocado Salad on Toast

Credit: Joe Lingeman

7. 20-Minute Sheet Pan Chicken and Veggies

The secret to roasting up a sheet pan full of chicken and vegetables so quickly is to crank up the oven to 500°F. Doing so not only makes for a faster cook time, it results in juicy meat and crisp-tender peppers and broccoli.

Get the recipe: 20-Minute Sheet Pan Chicken and Veggies

Credit: Lauren Volo

8. Chopped Chickpea Salad

The great thing about this dish is it’s more of a template of ingredient types than a recipe, so there’s plenty of room for variation. To get you started, we share three great variations. Once you learn the formula you can make it over and over for lunch and never get tired of it.

Get the recipe: Chopped Chickpea Salad

9. Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich

Pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and this chicken salad comes together in next to no time. Here, Greek yogurt replaces some of the usual mayo to lighten the salad up but makes it no less creamy. Pack the bread and salad separately, and you can assemble at work.

Get the recipe: Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich

Credit: Faith Durand

10. Couscous Salad with Cucumber, Red Onion and Herbs

This couscous salad is light, fresh, and full of vibrant herbs. To give it more staying power, stir in a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas or top it with a hard-boiled egg.

Get the recipe: Couscous Salad with Cucumber, Red Onion & Herbs