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    The 30 BEST Cold Lunch Ideas

    When you need to pack your lunch hours ahead of time, cold is the way to go!

    These amazing Cold Lunch Ideas are great make ahead healthy midday meals for school or work.

    You’ll find sandwiches and wraps, salads, pasta salads, and even some unique Cold Lunch Ideas you may not have thought of.

    Go through all of these cold lunch ideas, your cold lunches have never been so interesting!

    the best cold lunch ideas

    The Best Cold Lunch Ideas:

    1. Tortellini Pasta Salad with Prosciutto

    We’re starting our list of cold lunches with this gorgeous platter. Isn’t it an upgrade over your regular pasta salad? 

    Cheesy, soft tortellini along with heirloom cherry tomatoes bursting in all colors. Throw in some creamy, buttery, melt in your mouth mini mozzarella balls, sweet red bell pepper and briney kalamata olives and you have one great cold lunch ready in jiffy.

    Get the Recipe

    2. Rainbow Pasta Salad

    There is nothing more healthy than a bunch of different colors in your bowl. Make a huge bowl this great Rainbow pasta salad and it’s a great addition to any school lunch box. Tasty and super heathy.

    Get the Recipe

    3. Vietnamese Chicken Salad (Gỏi Gà Bắp Cải)

    This is not your usual chicken salad. It’s almost like a shredded slaw, but with amazingly tasty dressing and the goodness of chicken.

    Look at the colors and textures and you will guess all the jam packed flavors in this heaping mound of cold chicken salad.

    Get the Recipe

    4. Loaded Layered Hummus Dip

    Dress up your hummus like never before… Get that scooping going with this beautiful, bright and colorful Loaded Layered Hummus Dip.

    This luscious loaded hummus is perfect as a cold lunch idea along with pita bread.

    Get the Recipe

    5. Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

    This Mediterranean Quinoa Salad is the light and tasty cold lunch idea you need this summer.

    A simple mix of quinoa, a few veggies, some Mediterranean staples, and a zesty lemon dressing is all it takes.

    Get the Recipe

    6. Antipasto Pasta Salad

    Our Antipasto Pasta Salad is very hearty and satisfying as your next cold lunch.

    And it’s so easy. It can be your quick weeknight dinner, complete with protein, veggies and carbs. Or it can be meal prep for all the week’s lunches.

    Get the Recipe

    7. Baba Ganoush 

    This easy Baba Ganoush recipe is perfect contender as cold lunch idea. Roasted eggplant, creamy tahini, and a variety of great flavors enhancers come together beautifully.

    Get the Recipe

    8. Chicken Larb Salad (Thai Larb Gai)

    Get ready for a cracking new flavor with this Authentic Thai Larb Gai Recipe! In Laos and Thailand, Larb is more than just a dish, it’s a social experience. 

    Meet Larb Gai, a Thai chicken salad that’s packed with flavor.

    Get the Recipe

    9. Shrimp Remoulade Lettuce Cups

    Shrimp Remoulade is a New Orleans classic. You can use them in your salad bowl, or make lettuce cups. Great quick lunch or keto friendly meal option!

    They’ll be one of your new favorite cold lunch ideas.

    Get the Recipe

    10. Turkey Spinach Pinwheels Meal Prep

    Here’s another great meal prep lunch recipe. This one features turkey spinach pinwheels, which are packed alongside grapes, carrots and cucumbers to keep things healthy!

    Get the Recipe @ damndelicious

    11. Egg Salad Sandwich

    This Egg Salad Sandwich is a classic that never gets old. It’s also a great meal prep option, just make a big batch of the egg salad.

    Get the Recipe @ tastesbetterfromscratch

    12. Salmon Asparagus Orzo Salad

    This lemony salmon asparagus pasta salad recipe is full of the best fresh springtime flavors, is quick and easy to make, and can be served warm or as a cold pasta salad.

    Flaky smoked salmon tossed with some chopped asparagus, herbs, pine nuts, parmesan and a quick lemony dressing. This simple orzo salad is such a winner!

    Get the Recipe @ gimmesomeoven

    13. Muffuletta Sandwich

    The Muffaletta Sandwich is a delicious New Orleans invention filled with olive salad, cheese, and a variety of meats, all on a loaf of Italian bread. It’s quite hefty and loaded with meats.

    Get the Recipe @ laurafuentes

    14. Italian Wraps

    These Italian Wraps have rotisserie chicken, crisp lettuce, sweet tomatoes, creamy avocado, parm cheese and Italian dressing, along with crotons for some crunch. Great wrap recipe!

    Get the Recipe @ chelseasmessyapron

    15. Mexican Pinwheels

    Looking for some pinwheel ideas to feed the crowd? How about these Mexican Pinwheels? They are filled with spiced creamy chicken mix, all rolled up for perfect finger food.

    A great make ahead cold lunch, which is easy and quick to make.

    Get the Recipe @ therecipecritic

    16. Chicken Salad Sandwich

    This Chicken Salad Sandwich is super quick, made with shredded pre-cooked chicken.

    The salad also featured grapes and cashews, giving it a nice variety of flavors and textures.

    Get the Recipe @ saltandbaker

    17. Grilled Pesto Chicken Wraps

    These Grilled Pesto Chicken Wraps are so delicious!

    Tortillas are filled with rotisserie chicken, avocado, artichoke hearts, mozzarella and pesto, then grilled crisp. You will be making these more than once, for sure!

    Get the Recipe @ wanderingchickpea

    18. Waldorf Chicken Salad Wraps

    Waldorf Salads are a classic flavor that has been enjoyed for generations. Now, you can enjoy it in wrap form along with chicken. This will be one of your favorite cold lunch ideas.

    Get the Recipe @ saltandlavender

    19. Southwestern Wraps

    These Southwestern wraps are fantastic! They’re filled with nutrition, and they use black beans, chicken, spinach, roasted red peppers, low fat sour cream, and a tasty blue cheese spread.

    Get the Recipe @ jocooks

    20. Veggie and Hummus Sandwich

    This Veggie and Hummus Sandwich recipe is a light, meatless sandwich. It’s packed with a big variety of veggies, for plenty of flavor and nutrition.

    Get the Recipe @ cookingclassy

    21. Tuna Salad Sandwich

    Here’s another real classic. This Tuna Salad Sandwich is the best one you will try. Tuna salad is made with an easy mix of tuna, mayo, hard boiled eggs and onions.

    It’s topped with tomatoes, lettuce and then you can assemble it on any variety of bread. This is a simple and tasty sandwich which everyone will love!

    Get the Recipe @ simplyhomecooked

    22. Spicy Sriracha Tuna Wraps

    These delicious Spicy Sriracha Tuna Wraps are light and fresh, full of flavor, and only take about 5 minutes to make.

    They are a great make ahead cold lunch option for school or work.

    Get the Recipe @ gimmedelicious

    23. Smoked Salmon Bagel

    Cream cheese on a bagel, along with smoked salmon topped with lemon, dill, and capers is very classic.

    Buy those bagels the next time you see them in your bakery and save them for this simple treat.

    Get the Recipe @ feelgoodfoodie

    24. Italian Sub Sandwich

    Italian subs are a classic lunch. They’re so meaty and flavorful!

    This one is made of crispy bread that’s layered with mayonnaise or Italian dressing, and it’s filled with provolone cheese, ham, salami, and mortadella.

    Get the Recipe @ jocooks

    25. Chunky Shrimp Guacamole

    Go a little beyond regular guacamole. Add some cooked shrimp into the mix and you have a great base for a lunch.

    Serve it with chips, crostini or crackers.

    Get the Recipe @ cafedelites

    26. Smoked Salmon Sandwiches

    Looking for a healthy lunch? This is it if you have some smoked salmon lingering in your refrigerator.

    Make a tall sandwich with cream cheese, avocado, tomatoes, radishes and sprouts with your favorite smoked salmon. This one is full of flavor and very fulfilling.

    Get the Recipe @ jocook

    27. Smoked Salmon Sushi Roll Ups

    Craving some sushi? Make these easy salmon roll ups filled with lemony cream cheese, creamy avocado & fresh cucumber slices.

    Roll them in everyday bagel seasoning and they are ready to be popped in your mouth.

    Get the Recipe @ kaleforniakravings

    28. Fresh Spring Rolls

    These fresh spring rolls are totally phenomenal! They’re homemade, healthy, easy to make, and packed with veggies.

    They’re filled with fresh basil, soft butter lettuce, crunchy carrots, cucumber, red peppers, and crisp red cabbage.

    Get the Recipe @ jocooks

    29. Classic Chef Salad

    Now this one is an old classic, too. Chef’s salad comes in many forms and variations. Basically, whatever is available in your refrigerator.

    But it’s always loaded with greens, assorted meats, cheeses, vegetables and this one comes with thousand island dressing. Very hearty and satisfying salad recipe.

    Get the Recipe @ billyparisi

    30. Vichyssoise

    Vichyssoise is your summertime potato soup. A classic French recipe, vichyssoise is a creamy soup with a blend of potatoes and leeks.

    What makes it a summer soup? It’s served cold.

    Get the Recipe @ oliviascuisine

    We hope you love these delicious and healthy cold lunch ideas as much as we loved finding them for you!

    Save or pin this collection of great recipes so you always know where to find it. And be sure to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we’re always cooking up new easy recipes for you!

    Check out these other great recipe collections!
    Quick Lunch Ideas
    School Lunch Ideas
    Sandwich Recipes
    Wrap Recipes
    Meal Prep Ideas
    Salad Recipes
    Pasta Salad Recipes

    featured image for cold lunch ideas post

    30 BEST Cold Lunch Ideas

    All of these amazing Cold Lunch Ideas are great make ahead healthy midday meals for school or work. We love this easy pasta salad:



    • 1 lb pasta such as rotini, penne or farfalle
    • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
    • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
    • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
    • 1 cup carrots, chopped
    • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 cucumber, chopped
    • 1/2 cup black olives, chopped
    • 1 cup garbanzo beans
    • 8 oz crumbled feta cheese


    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
    • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
    • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
    • 1 tsp pepper or to taste
    • 2 cloves garlic minced
    • 2 Tbsp parsley fresh, chopped
    • 2 Tbsp oregano fresh, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried oregano)
    • 2 Tbsp basil fresh, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried basil)
    • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes


      1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Add salt to your water, at least 2 tbsp of salt.  After draining your pasta add a little olive oil to prevent it from sticking together.
      2. In a small bowl or jar add all the dressing ingredients together and whisk well. If using a jar, put the lid on and close it, then shake well.
      3. Toss all salad ingredients together, mix in dressing. Chill before serving.

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      Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

      Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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