Looking for gluten-free lunches for you or your kids? This extensive list of gluten free lunch ideas will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters! Each recipe on this list is kid-approved and perfect for adults too! Enjoy them at home, school, work, or on the go.
My whole family was on a gluten-free diet at one point, and I know how tricky it can be to pack a variety of gluten-free school lunches for your kids and keep it simple enough to pull off without pulling your hair out.
That’s why I’ve created this list – to give you lots of ideas!
Now you don’t need to spend hours researching to find allergen-friendly lunch ideas your child will eat. You can find all the yummy easy ideas you’ll need right here!
Can I just order gluten-free hot lunches at school?
Of course, you could order school lunches for your child (many public schools have to accommodate dietary restrictions and provide gluten-free lunches). However, that may be a risk you’re understandably not willing to take if your child has celiac disease or is extremely sensitive to gluten.
Even if your kids aren’t that sensitive, they may find the cafeteria school lunches tasteless and boring (mine did). Plus, I have found that they are not as nutritious. AND they’re much more expensive than packing lunch for what you get.
That’s three strikes in my book and why my kids don’t buy lunches from school.
Tips for packing a gluten-free school lunch
How do you pack a gluten-free lunch for school? This was one of the overwhelming questions I had when my kids first started eating gluten-free. I worried about how I was going to make it happen within our budget AND be able to provide variety so they weren’t eating the same thing day after day.
I worried a lot and then realized I was WAY overthinking it because once I started packing gluten-free lunches, I realized it’s really not that hard.
You can pack a gluten-free lunch very much like a regular school lunch, except you’re substituting gluten-free ingredients. Here are a few tips to help get you started on the right foot.
- Always check the labels before you serve your child any new food. You might be surprised at the random foods that DO contain unexpected gluten.
- Balance out lunches by including protein, vegetables, fruits, and gluten-free grains.
- Try different ways of serving the “same” thing. For example, a gluten-free sandwich could become a deconstructed sandwich (like a Lunchable), a wrap in a gluten-free tortilla, or a salad.
- Leftovers can become your new best friend! Pack them in a Thermos to stay warm for a quick and easy gluten free lunch idea.
Satisfying gluten-free lunch ideas
I have a total of around 60 lunch ideas here, so there’s something for everyone and enough variation to provide interesting lunches all year long!
Protein ideas for gluten free lunches
Let’s start with the main protein part of your child’s lunch. These ideas are meant to be the filling part of the lunch with fruits, veggies, sides, and treats listed below.
1. Deli meat roll-ups with a cheese stick
Simply roll slices of lunch meat around a stick of cheese.
Pro Tip: Make sure to choose lunch meat that’s gluten-free. You’d think they all would be, but some brands may have a sneaky ingredient or two that isn’t wheat-free
They can be prepared in several different ways, including hard-boiled, scrambled, or even egg salad. Add a cooked cut-up hotdog for more flavor and protein. And feel free to sprinkle a little hot sauce or other sauce on it for flavor or spice.
3. Gluten-free PB&J
Spread peanut butter (or Sunbutter if your child’s school is nut-free) and jelly on a corn tortilla or gluten-free bread.
Pack a hotdog by itself or with a gluten-free bun. Or you could even wrap it in a gluten-free tortilla.
Just be aware that hot dogs can be a choking hazard, so this may be a better idea for older children.
5. Grilled cheese
Be sure to use gluten-free bread! Or try this grilled cheese, ham, and broccoli sandwich.
6. Taco salad
Leftover taco salad makes a terrific (and easy) gluten-free lunch idea. Layer it your favorite way in a container and pack it with an ice pack to keep it chilled.
Check to ensure they’re gluten-free. Pack them in a gluten free bun, or cut them up and add them to eggs, vegetables, or gluten free pasta. You could also use sausages in a stir fry and pack that for lunch.
8. Tuna salad
Put it on gluten-free bread to make a gluten-free sandwich or on top of a bed of lettuce as a salad.
9. Deli meat wrap
Wrap a corn tortilla or piece of gluten-free bread around some sandwich meat.
10. Gluten-free pasta
Gluten-free macaroni and cheese is always a hit. Try this instant pot homemade mac and cheese. Or you can stick with boxed gluten-free mac ‘n cheese. My kids love Walmart’s brand.
For extra protein, add in some chicken (shredded or cubed).
11. Waffle peanut butter sandwich
Make sure you use gluten-free waffles for this, but it’s a nice switch from normal PB&J without any extra work.
12. Gluten-free chicken nuggets
Buy frozen nuggets or make them yourself. You can easily adapt this recipe for homemade chicken nuggets to be gluten-free.
13. Mini quiches
Mini quiches are a breeze to make and simple to personalize and customize. Plus, they’re filling and taste great cold! Try these zucchini sausage egg mini quiches.
14. Taco meat muffins
These tasty taco muffins are packed with protein! The combination of ground turkey, almond flour, egg, and even sweet potatoes with a dose of taco seasoning will please any taco lover.
15. Cauliflower pizza
My kids never guessed that this Hawaiian cauliflower pizza had cauliflower in it and happily scarfed it down every time!
16. Pumpkin chili
Packing leftovers for lunch is easy peasy – especially soups! Send this leftover pumpkin chili for a fall favorite.
17. Tuna patties gluten free lunch idea
Leftover tuna patties are delicious and filling.
18. Tuna salad
Add your kids’ favorite mix-ins for tuna salad (we like mayo and relish). Serve chilled with an ice pack.
19. Sloppy Joes
Leftover sloppy joes on a gluten-free bun, bread, or by itself will fill those hungry bellies and taste delicious too.
20. Tuna casserole
Who doesn’t love tuna casserole? Make your favorite recipe – or try my free recipe – and use gluten-free noodles instead of regular noodles.
21. Egg salad
Egg salad is a great dish that’s full of protein and a breeze to pack for lunch with an ice pack!
22. Deviled eggs
These deviled eggs are made with Miracle Whip for a final product that’s tangy and irresistible.
23. Banana pancakes
Treat your kiddo to breakfast for lunch with these 2-ingredient banana pancakes. They’re easy and delicious!
Did you make enchiladas for dinner? Leftover enchiladas is a hearty gluten free lunch idea that takes hardly any effort to pack! Fill them (or top them) with black beans for a boost of protein.
25. Ham and cheese wraps
Wraps are an easy and versatile lunch item that kids often love because they’re a breeze to customize according to diet restrictions and preferences.
26. Waldorf chicken salad
My family loves this waldorf chicken salad with blueberries and grapes. It’s filling and refreshing.
27. Sandwich on a stick
Presentation is everything, right? Think of this sandwich on a stick as a deconstructed sandwich, but it looks so much MORE fun! Simply substitute your favorite gluten-free option for the bread in this recipe.
Fruit & veggies gluten-free lunch ideas for kids
Once you choose a protein for the main course at lunch, it’s time to pick some fruit and vegetables to give a nutritional boost.
28. Banana and peanut butter
A banana sliced with peanut butter or Sunbutter is filling and delicious! Make it even heartier by spreading the nut butter on a gluten-free tortilla, putting the banana on top of the nut butter, and rolling it up like a wrap.
29. Celery with peanut butter
Celery with peanut butter or sunbutter and raisins (also sometimes called “ants on a log”) is a classic that many kids love. This gluten free lunch idea also works with raisins, craisins, or dates!
30. Peanut butter fruit dip
Pair sliced apples with peanut butter or Sunbutter. You can also include any fruit (grapes, melons, apples, strawberries, berries, etc.) with this tasty peanut butter yogurt fruit dip.
31. Fruit salad
Homemade fruit salad is easy to make for dinner the night before, and it is the perfect accompaniment to almost any protein recipe!
Send homemade applesauce in a pouch or container. Or you can send store-bought containers of applesauce as a gluten-free side dish.
33. Fresh veggies and hummus
Pack fresh vegetables such as baby carrots, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, celery, and sweet bell peppers with a separate container of hummus for dipping. Since hummus is made from chickpeas, it makes a delicious, protein-filled dip.
34. Smoothie bowl
How about an acai smoothie bowl? Just pack it in a sealed container and send the fruit in a baggie or other container so your kiddo can add it to the smoothie bowl at lunch.
We love Greek yogurt because it’s low in natural sugars and super high in protein to keep those little bellies feeling full until after school. Add a few berries for a bit of fruit or a little gluten-free granola for some crunch.
36. Cottage cheese with fruit
Cottage cheese is a favorite in our house – especially when paired with pineapple or blueberries! Send it for lunch in a Thermos so that it stays chilled.
If your kids love smoothies, send a strawberry banana smoothie in a covered mason jar. It’s an easy way to sneak in veggies (spinach or carrots) and protein powder so that even the pickiest eaters get good nutrition.
38. Carrot pasta
Make homemade carrot pasta and top it with a favorite sauce for a colorful gluten free lunch idea. Depending on what sauce you use, this could be a great stand-alone protein and veggie dish or a yummy side dish.
Snacks to include with gluten free school lunches
If your kids are anything like mine, there’s a LONG period of time between breakfast and lunch. I like to send a little snack to tide them over until they get to eat their lunch. Here are some of the best ideas, and if you want even more ideas, check out gluten-free snack ideas for kids!
39. Energy balls
40. Snack balls
Banana snack balls are a fruity twist on energy bites.
41. Gluten free apple oatmeal muffins
Our family loves these hearty gluten-free apple oatmeal muffins, and they fit perfectly in lunchboxes.
42. GF gingerbread muffins
Gluten-free gingerbread muffins are full of spice and ginger and all yummy things.
43. Protein balls
Love chocolate? (me too!) Try these chocolate protein balls to satisfy the sweet tooth.
44. Energy Bites
Blueberry energy bites are simply bites of deliciousness. We love them!
45. Granola bars
Gluten-free granola bars are a staple in our house all year long. They’re super easy to customize with different flavor combinations!
46. GF Crackers
Crackers are a classic lunch item. Make (or buy) gluten-free crackers and toss them into the lunch.
47. GF pumpkin streusel muffins
Gluten-free pumpkin streusel muffins are a fall favorite, but they taste amazing all year long!
48. Rice cakes
It seems like everyone who eats a gluten-free diet tries rice cakes at some point. There are flavored options you can buy, or add peanut butter (or Sunbutter) on top for a bit of protein.
49. Fruit chews or gummies
Homemade fruit roll-ups, fruit chews, or gummies make a tasty treat and use real fruit.
50. Granola squares
I tend to send these cranberry granola bar squares in the late fall and around the holidays. My kids love the mix of tart and sweet.
51. GF banana bread
Turn a classic into an allergen-friendly favorite and pack gluten-free banana bread with lunch.
52. Gluten-free chips
GF tortilla chips pair well with any and all of these gluten free lunch ideas! Eat them plain, or top them with taco salad for a twist on nachos!
Gluten-free pretzels are another terrific option that’s easy to pack, and many kids love.
Gluten-free lunch treats
Live life on the sweet side! Here are a few gluten free lunch ideas to round out the meal with a treat.
53. Peanut butter cookies
Yum! Few things are better than a homemade peanut butter cookie. We love these gluten-free chewy peanut butter cookies.
54. Oatmeal raisin cookies
This classic cookie is a staple in our house. Shy away from traditional versions in favor of these gluten-free oatmeal raisin cookies.
55. Chocolate chip cookies
Transform an oldie and favorite recipe into an allergen-friendly version with this recipe for gluten and dairy-free chocolate chip cookies.
When you want pure decadence, make these gluten and dairy-free fudgy brownies. They’re a once-in-a-while special treat in my kids’ lunches.
57. Chocolate chip bars
Who loves cookie bars? (We do!) Try these gluten free chocolate chip bars – won’t even miss the gluten or dairy!
58. Chunky Monkey bites
Sometimes simple is the most satisfying! Chunky Monkey banana & chocolate bites will satisfy that sweet tooth without the guilt.
59. Oatmeal bars
For something with just a touch of sweetness along with some protein and nutrients, try raspberry oatmeal bars. They’re so good that a pan only lasts a few minutes in our home.
60. Rice Krispie treats
Ah, the king of gluten-free desserts: gluten-free Rice Krispies treats. They’re easy and versatile, so it’s just as easy to make strawberry Rice Krispies treats when you want a change from the original flavor.
Supplies for packing gluten-free lunches
If you know how I do things, you know that I’m not a fan of having stuff simply for the sake of having it. That said, there are a few supplies that I recommend having and a few I recommend avoiding when packing any of these gluten free lunch ideas.
I do NOT recommend
- Expensive bento boxes – they’re usually too small for anyone older than toddlers and way too pricey, especially if you have multiple kids like I do.
- Cheaper plastic bento storage boxes – I’ve purchased at least 4 different versions, and they all leak with the lids not snapping on or breaking after a couple of weeks of use. They may be cheaper, but it’s still a waste of money.
School lunch supplies I DO recommend
- Good quality lunch bag
- Reusable ice packs – these slim ice packs are ideal for sliding into any style lunch box or bag to keep items cool
- Reusable storage containers – these are perfect for sandwiches/wraps or bringing leftovers to school. These containers are inexpensive and have lasted us a long time.
- Thermos container – an insulated container is great for hot or cold leftovers.
- Generic plastic sandwich bags – or (if you prefer) reusable storage zippered bags.
- Reusable cutlery – we’ve given up on these as my kids lose them, and it’s too pricey to keep replacing 4 sets. But if you prefer reusable utensils, this set is very nice.
- Water bottle – there are tons of options now, so search to find what works best for your child. We’ve had good luck with these styles:
What are your favorite gluten free lunch ideas for kids?