While breakfast consists of healthy staples like eggs, yogurt, and fruit-filled smoothies, and dinner includes lean, protein-packed options like perfectly cooked steak and fried chicken, lunch is more of an all-rounder. Sure, you have your standard salads, sandwiches, and soups, but often these dishes are underwhelming and can be made with less-than-ideal ingredients.
That’s why we’ve put together these low-carb lunch ideas that are healthy, delicious, and will ensure you don’t feel tired and sluggish even at 3 p.m. Nutritious lunch options include Zesty Chicken Salad, Chicken Satay Lettuce Wraps and more, and each contains less than 30 grams of carbohydrates per serving. Read on to discover two dozen ways to upgrade your boring lunch game!
Quick steak and blackberry salad
This salad looks fancy (thanks to the steak) but takes just 30 minutes to make. Aside from the meat, this lunch dish is packed with healthy ingredients, including fresh blackberries, arugula, toasted pistachios, and a sprinkle of crumbled goat cheese.
Grilled Honey Nut Squash Salad
Sweet honey nut squash is the star of this fall salad, and for good reason. Inside, you’ll also find nutritious ingredients like Chinese cabbage, radicchio, pepitas, and mint, and let’s not even get started on the bold dressing made with miso and tangy brown mustard. Not only does the dressing coat the salad, but it also coats the squash and cabbage before they hit the grill, adding even more flavor.
Red lentil pumpkin soup with lemon
Soup can be a great low-carb lunch option, and this one won’t disappoint. In each bowl you’ll find nutrient-dense lentils, carrots, butternut squash, an abundance of spices, and harissa paste. There is also warm ginger and a pinch of chopped almonds. While you can toast some bread for dunking, you don’t need it.
Spicy chicken salad
Apart from you, there isn’t a single carb in sight here will Find plenty of protein. Here, poached chicken is cubed and served with just enough mayonnaise to thicken, dill pickles for a salty punch, shallot chunks for kick, lemon juice for a fresh tang and – an excellent wild card – fresh tarragon. Serve with a side salad and enjoy.
Chard and herb frittata with cherry tomatoes
Who says eggs can only be enjoyed for breakfast? This meal is proof that eggs for lunch are an excellent idea, especially when paired with fresh chard, cherry tomatoes, and lots of herbs and spices. The healthy mix-ins mean there are few carbohydrates and a lot of protein.
Crispy salad with chicken and ginger
If a wilted lettuce salad doesn’t appeal to you, try this instead. This healthy recipe consists of marinated and fried chicken strips, grated cabbage, carrots and red peppers and a topping of flaked almonds and fresh mint leaves. A dressing made from orange juice, soy sauce, rice vinegar, olive oil, fresh mint and grated ginger rounds it all off.
Tofu and mushroom lettuce wraps
One trick to keep your meals low-carb is to replace wheat wraps with fresh lettuce instead. In this recipe, the salad is filled with some white rice and grated tofu, seasoned with shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce and sweet hoisin sauce.
Warm Chicken Shawarma Salad
In this 30-minute salad, chicken is seasoned with a kebab-inspired spice blend of coriander, cumin, cinnamon, pepper, turmeric, and allspice. The lean, flavorful meat is then served with peppery arugula, a herb shower, creamy yogurt dressing, and warm pita. Skip the pita dish if you want even fewer carbs, but even with that, this dish is still filling and healthy.
Steak salad with herb dressing
This easy weeknight dinner salad uses half of a chimichurri-inspired dressing to marinate the steak while the grill preheats. Meanwhile, the other half garnishes a salad made of creamy avocado, juicy tomatoes, crunchy radishes and crunchy greens. With just 18 grams of carbs per serving, this meal deserves a spot on your weekly lunch list.
Salmorejo with prosciutto and hard-boiled egg
Similar to gazpacho, this cold soup is made with tomatoes and bread without cooking, but contains only 22 grams of carbohydrates per serving. Pair it with prosciutto and a hard-boiled egg for tons of filling protein.
Black beans and zucchini chili in the slow cooker
Since chili is essentially ground meat, beans, and spices, it’s not surprising that it’s relatively low in carbohydrates but high in protein. Feel free to add healthy, flavorful toppings like avocado slices, hot sauce, and cilantro.
Cantaloupe and cucumber salad
This sweet and savory salad is as fresh as it gets. Here, thick slices of feta, chunks of sweet melon, slices of crunchy seedless mini cucumbers, and chopped buttery Castelvetrano olives are bathed in a simple vinaigrette of olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Enjoy it on its own for lunch or combine it with grilled meat or fish for dinner.
Green salad with cornichon vinaigrette
This simple but delicious salad gets an extra dimension with pickled cucumbers. In addition to the chopped cornichons that mix with the vegetables, some of the pickling liquid is also stirred into the dressing sprinkled with shallots, which gives it a very special taste. If you’d like, top with some grilled chicken (or even leftover rotisserie chicken) to add more protein.
This dish reimagines melon and prosciutto—a classic Italian combination—as a salad. In addition to this sweet and savory duo, you’ll find crunchy Little Gem lettuce, buttery Castelvetrano olives, creamy burrata, and crunchy pistachios. Because this salad is so full of flavor, all you need for dressing is a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Coconut marinated shrimp with cucumber and jicama
The star of this dish is cooked shrimp marinated in a flavorful blend of coconut milk, Fresno chili, and lime. The delicious shrimp is then mixed with sliced, crunchy cucumbers, fresh cilantro, and jicama matchsticks, creating an easy dish that only requires 20 minutes of hands-on work.
Parmesan scrambled eggs
Scrambled eggs are typically enjoyed for breakfast, but if you have 15 minutes to spare at lunchtime, you can enjoy these Parmesan-sprinkled eggs in the middle of the day. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, while the cheese adds plenty of flavor and keeps the carb count low.
Tomato slice salad with dill pickle relish vinaigrette
If you have a ton of summer tomatoes, put them to good use with this bright, salty salad. Here, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers are sliced and dressed with a homemade dill pickle relish vinaigrette. To dress up this salad, add a few dollops of burrata, shredded mozzarella, or parmesan shavings and enjoy!
Chicken Satay Lettuce Wraps
This low-carb meal, which is also great for dinner, is full of flavor and ready in just 25 minutes. Here, a delicious coconut-peanut sauce is the star, bringing the other ingredients together, including chicken, rice vermicelli, cucumber slices and lettuce to wrap everything up.
Crushed cucumber salad with spicy feta and olives
If cucumbers are one of your favorite salad ingredients, this dish is for you. Here, moisturizing and crunchy cookies mingle with feta and olives for a flavor-packed 25-minute lunch. The key here is to mash, salt and drain the cucumbers, which will make them crispier and crunchier and give the best bite.
Japanese-style shrimp salad
This salad is ready in just 15 minutes and will soon become a new favorite for lunch or dinner. In this dish, crisp romaine lettuce and cucumbers, juicy shrimp, and avocado chunks are coated in an irresistible creamy soy-mayo dressing that you’ll want to slather on everything. To save time, keep some pre-cooked shrimp in the refrigerator.
While gazpacho often has bread mixed in, this version is made almost entirely of fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and an onion. Other ingredients like lime juice, sour cream, cilantro, and pepitas add flavor and texture to the dish while still keeping the carb count low.
Chickpea and tuna salad
Tuna salad is often loaded with mayonnaise, but not in this version. This lighter version is vinegar-based and uses marinated chickpeas to add flavor and texture to the oil-pickled tuna. And that’s not all! Radicchio, red onions, kalamata olives and capers provide the flavor. Serve on a hearty bed of lettuce for the perfect low-carb lunch.
Summer squash with spring onions, chili and parsley
If you’ve never had raw summer squash salad, you’re in for a treat. This one has two things going for it: it tastes delicious and you don’t have to cook it. When you toss the summer squash and zucchini with salt, they soften and absorb the full flavor. Garnish with a dressing of chopped almonds for a light and flavorful finish to this healthy, low-carb dish.
Steak and Beet Salad with Cheddar and Pistachios
If you are a fan of the classic beetroot and goat cheese salad, we recommend trying this similar dish. In this protein-packed recipe, golden beets, crumbled aged white cheddar, and sliced flank steak come together for a delicious evening salad or filling lunch option.