20 Side Dishes You’ll Look Forward to at Lunch

Updated: Apr. 07, 2024

Make your meal a little more exciting with these lunch sides that really hit the spot.

1 / 20

Flavorful Slaw

Up your slaw game by adding a tart vinaigrette and big bites of fresh raspberries. The best part is you can also use bagged coleslaw mix so it comes together in a snap. That’s not all. Here are 40+ other ways you can put a bag of slaw mix to work.
2 / 20

Spicy Pickles

Crunchy, sour and with a kick of jalapeno peppers, pickles are the perfect side option for a hearty sandwich. By going the homemade route, you can customize the heat to exactly your taste. If you’re new to homemade pickles, check out our canning how-to.
3 / 20

Pasta Salad

Pasta salads aren’t just a cookout side dish, they belong in your lunch bag, too! Loaded with crisp veggies, tender pasta and flavorful dressing, it can be turned into your main with the addition of shredded chicken, cubed ham or deli meat. Take a look at our top 10 pasta salad recipes for more inspo.
4 / 20

Snack Mix

If you love munching, then a snack mix is for you. With corn chips, Chex, nuts and oats, it packs a texture—and flavor—punch.
5 / 20
Toasts with apples, ricotta (cream cheese), thyme, served on white round plate. Summer breakfast. White stone background. Top view.; Shutterstock ID 1394007395; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH

Goat Cheese and Apples

A little sweet and a little savory. Use slices of a medium-sized apple to scoop 2-3 tablespoons of plain or flavored goat cheese. You can take it to the next level by whipping the goat cheese before you leave home. Goat cheese makes a great panini, too!

6 / 20

Veggies and Dip

Kick that tub of plain hummus to the side and whip up this easy-peasy dip for fresh vegetables. If the fresh garlic is a bit too harsh for your tastebuds, roast it in the oven for a few minutes to soften the flavor.
7 / 20
cinnamon toasted almonds, string cheese, fruit, oranges, meal planning premium
Taste of Home

Roasted Nuts

With a sweet cinnamon flavor and a hint of vanilla, these almonds pair well with a fall-inspired salad or wrap. Plus, this recipe’s sodium level is lower than most roasted and salted nut mixes that are sold in stores.

Get Recipe

8 / 20
Celery sticks with peanut butter. Healthy snack, selective focus, horizontal; Shutterstock ID 510053068; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH

Celery and Peanut Butter

Hello, classic combo! Pair two stalks-worth of celery with about 2 tablespoons of creamy or crunchy peanut butter for a sweet side. By the way, here’s the best peanut butter brand, according to our editors’ taste test.

9 / 20

Kale Chips

Get your chip fix (and use up extra kale) with this East Coast-inspired recipe. Here are more ways to cook kale.
10 / 20

Marinated Veggies

Plain, raw vegetables aren’t for everyone. Turn up the flavor a few notches with a decadent red wine vinaigrette, chopped onion and fresh herbs.
11 / 20
black forrest ham pinwheels, meal planning premium
Taste of Home


If your lunch is on the lighter side, pack these pinwheels as a side. With two kinds of cheese, ham and a tortilla, it’ll round out your meal and keep you from hitting up the vending machine in an hour. These pinwheel recipes are also a great party appetizer.

Get Recipe

12 / 20

Broccoli Salad

Sweet, smokey and crazy-crunchy broccoli salad is a lunch must. If Miracle Whip isn’t your favorite, feel free to swap in mayo or unflavored Greek yogurt.
13 / 20
Cheese and crackers

Cheese and Crackers

Whether it’s cubes of cheddar, a hunk of parm or a spreadable wedge, grab a handful of pita crackers and stack away. If you’re feeling adventurous, try something new and pick up one of these little-known cheese varieties.

14 / 20


Perfect alongside a taco salad or tortilla soup, guacamole can be served with chips, fresh veggies or pineapple slices. Here’s the secret trick to keeping your guac from turning brown.
15 / 20
Rolled Turkey Lunch Meat; Shutterstock ID 630074105; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
Faith Lohr/Shutterstock

Turkey Rolls

Spread a bit of cream cheese on a slice of deli turkey (or ham or roast beef), sprinkle on some everything bagel seasoning and roll the meat loosely. You’ll add a ton of protein to your lunch and some added flavor from the seasoning.

16 / 20

Trail Mix

Who says chocolate can’t be a side dish? Create your own trail mix by mixing and matching various bags of nuts, dried fruit, granola and chocolate pieces.
17 / 20

Quinoa Salad

If you’ve haven’t jumped on the quinoa train yet, it’s time to clime aboard. Toss it with your favorite chopped veggies, fresh herbs and citrus juice for a refreshing grain salad.
18 / 20
blueberries, hard boiled eggs, sugar snap peas, meal planning premium
Taste of Home

Deviled Eggs

Add some oompf to that hard-boiled egg by turning it into a deviled egg. To bring to work for lunch, consider sandwiching two egg halves together to prevent the yolk mixture from smearing. Here are more ways to dress up deviled eggs.

Get Recipe

19 / 20

Mom’s Pickled Carrots

If you’re looking for something a little different, these pickled carrots are just the ticket. They’re made with a bit of cinnamon and clove for a unique taste.
20 / 20
Taste of Home

Antipasto Mix

Toss some green and black olives, artichoke hearts, mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes and salami with a bit of Italian salad dressing for a hearty and salty side. Check out these other salad recipes that go with almost anything.