35 Exciting Salad Recipes Made for Lunch

summer salads as a non boring lunch option

Looking to add some zest to your midday meals? Say goodbye to boring lunches and hello to a summer salad revolution! With the warmer months upon us, it’s time to refresh your lunch routine with a burst of flavors, colors, and textures. 

Our collection of 35 exciting summer salad recipes will take your taste buds on an unforgettable journey. From fruity delights to hearty grain bowls, these salads are not only delicious but also packed with essential nutrients to keep you energized throughout the day. 

Grab your fork and get ready to shake up your lunch routine with these exciting salad recipes!

Benefits of Incorporating Salads into Your Lunch Routine

Salads are not only a delicious and refreshing meal option, but they also offer numerous health benefits that can enhance your overall well-being. 

Incorporating salads into your lunch routine is a great way to increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-rich ingredients. These vibrant dishes are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can boost your immune system, improve digestion, and promote healthy weight management. 

Additionally, salads are a fantastic source of hydration, as they often contain water-rich ingredients such as cucumbers and lettuce. By adding salads to your lunch menu, you’ll not only satisfy your hunger but also nourish your body with the goodness it craves.

When it comes to salads, the possibilities are endless. You can customize your creations to suit your taste preferences and dietary needs. Whether you’re a fan of leafy greens, hearty grains, or protein-packed options, there’s an exciting salad recipe out there to suit your every craving. From light and refreshing options to more substantial and filling choices, salads offer a versatile canvas to experiment with flavors and textures. So, why settle for a mundane lunch salad when you can enjoy a burst of freshness and vitality with an exciting summer salad?

In the following sections, we’ll explore a variety of summer salad recipes that will elevate your lunch routine to new heights. 

Light Summer Salad Recipe Ideas 

When the weather heats up, it’s natural to crave lighter and more refreshing meals. Summer salads offer the perfect solution, as they combine fresh produce with zesty dressings to create a burst of flavor that will leave you feeling cool and satisfied. Here are a few recipe ideas to get you started:

  1. Watermelon Feta Salad: This summertime classic combines juicy watermelon chunks with tangy feta cheese, mint leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. The sweet and savory combination is a refreshing treat on a hot day.
  2. Caprese Salad: This Italian favorite features slices of ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves, all drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. It’s a simple yet elegant salad that celebrates the flavors of summer.
  3. Asian Cucumber Salad: For a light and tangy option, try this Asian-inspired salad that combines thinly sliced cucumbers, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and a touch of sweetness from honey or agave. It’s a refreshing side dish that pairs well with grilled meats or seafood.
  4. Strawberry Spinach Salad: Combine fresh spinach leaves, sliced strawberries, crumbled goat cheese, candied pecans, and a balsamic vinaigrette for a sweet and tangy salad that celebrates the flavors of summer.
  5. Mango and Quinoa Salad: Combine cooked quinoa with diced mango, black beans, red bell pepper, red onion, cilantro, and a lime vinaigrette for a tropical and protein-packed salad.
  6. Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad: Roast beets until tender, then slice. Enjoy the flavors of the roasted beets and with goat cheese.

These are just a few examples of the countless light and refreshing summer salads you can enjoy during the warmer months. Feel free to experiment with different combinations of fruits, vegetables, and dressings to create your own signature dishes. The key is to embrace the vibrant flavors and textures that summer produce has to offer.

Hearty Summer Salad Recipe Ideas

While light and refreshing salads are perfect for hot summer days, sometimes you need a more substantial and filling meal. Luckily, summer salads can also be hearty and satisfying, combining a variety of ingredients to create a well-rounded and nutritious lunch option. Here are a few recipe ideas that will keep you fueled throughout the day:

  1. Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad: This twist on the classic Caesar salad adds grilled chicken breast for a protein-packed punch. Toss romaine lettuce with homemade Caesar dressing, croutons, Parmesan cheese, and juicy grilled chicken for a satisfying meal that will keep you full and satisfied.
  2. Quinoa and Roasted Chickpea and Vegetable Salad: For a gluten-free and plant-based option, try this hearty salad that combines cooked quinoa with roasted chickpeas and vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, and eggplant. Add some crumbled feta cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice for an extra burst of flavor.
  3. Southwest Black Bean Salad: This Tex-Mex inspired salad is packed with flavor and protein. Combine black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro with a zesty lime dressing for a satisfying and filling meal. Serve it on a bed of mixed greens for a fun exciting salad option.
  4. Thai Peanut Noodle Salad: Combine cooked rice noodles, shredded carrots, bell peppers, edamame, and chopped peanuts with a tangy and creamy peanut dressing for a flavorful and satisfying salad.
  5. Greek Orzo Salad: Toss cooked orzo pasta with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, red onion, feta cheese, and a lemon-herb dressing for a refreshing and Mediterranean-inspired salad.

These hearty and filling summer salads are a great way to incorporate a variety of nutritious ingredients into your lunch routine. They provide a balanced combination of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, keeping you energized and satisfied throughout the day. Don’t be afraid to get creative and customize these recipes to suit your taste buds and dietary needs.

Tips for Meal Prepping Summer Salads

Meal prepping is a great way to save time, stay organized, and ensure that you have healthy lunches ready to go throughout the week. When it comes to summer salads, a little preparation can go a long way in streamlining your lunch routine. Here are some tips to help you master the art of meal prepping summer salads:

  1. Choose the right containers: Invest in a set of high-quality, airtight containers that are suitable for storing salads. Look for containers with separate compartments for dressing and toppings, as well as larger compartments for leafy greens and other ingredients. Glass containers are ideal as they are non-toxic and can be easily reheated if needed.

Salad Containers for Your work lunch

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  1. Prep your ingredients: Wash, chop, and prepare your ingredients ahead of time to save time during the week. Divide your leafy greens, vegetables, and proteins into individual containers or Ziploc bags for easy assembly. You can also pre-cook grains like quinoa or pasta and store them separately to add to your salads later.
  2. Pack dressings separately: To prevent your salads from becoming soggy, store dressings and sauces in small, leak-proof containers or individual dressing cups. Add the dressing just before you’re ready to eat to keep your salads fresh and crisp.
  3. Layer your salads: When assembling your salads, start with the sturdier ingredients at the bottom of the container and layer them in a way that keeps the more delicate ingredients on top. This will help prevent wilting and ensure that your salads stay fresh and appetizing.
  4. Add toppings just before serving: If you’re adding toppings like nuts, seeds, or crunchy toppings, pack them separately and sprinkle them on your salad just before you’re ready to eat. This will help maintain their texture and prevent them from getting soggy.

By following these meal prepping tips, you can enjoy delicious and nutritious exciting salad recipes throughout the week without the hassle of daily preparation. 

Take a few hours on the weekend to plan, prep, and assemble your salads, and you’ll be rewarded with convenient and satisfying meals that will keep you fueled and nourished.

35 unique and Delicious Exciting Salad Recipes

Now that we’ve explored the benefits of incorporating salads into your lunch routine it’s time for a roundup of unique and exciting summer salad recipes. Here are 35 options to inspire your culinary adventures:

The Lighter Side Salads

These salads are all about fresh, crisp ingredients for those hotter days. They’re perfect for those days when you’re after something refreshing and light.

Watermelon panzanella salad

This Watermelon Panzanella salad is the perfect easy, fresh summer salad recipe! It uses just a handful of fresh, easy to access ingredients for an incredibly impressive dish.

Photo Credit: Pretty Delicious Life

Cucumber Strawberry Salad

This Cucumber Strawberry Salad with blueberries, basil and mint is the perfect summer salad. Enjoy it as an easy side dish for BBQs or top it with your favorite protein for a tasty, filling lunch.

Photo Credit: Pretty Delicious Life

Asian Spicy cucumber Salad

This Asian spicy cucumber salad is packed with flavor and deliciousness and is the perfect summer salad to try your hands at. It is super easy to put together and is incredibly versatile too! You can pair it with almost anything you want to!

Photo Credit: Unique Cooks

Beet and cucumber salad

This simple salad uses beets and crisp cucumbers as the perfect summer salad option. It has just the right balance of crunchiness, saltiness and savoriness in an incredibly simple recipe- one you just can’t go wrong with.

Photo Credit: Unique Cooks

Spinach Strawberry Salad

This delicious salad uses spinach salad with strawberries, fennel, avocado, snap peas and almonds tossed in a simple homemade poppy seed dressing.

Photo Credit: The Healthy Epicurean

Curried Quinoa salad

This flavor packed quinoa salad with avocado and spinach is easy to make and perfect for meal prepping.

Photo Credit: Indiaphile

Tahini Kale Salad

Tahini Kale Salad is healthy, easy and delicious! The homemade creamy dressing is made with tahini, olive oil, lemon and maple syrup.

Photo Credit: Hello Frozen Bananas

Summer Grilled Peach Salad

Resting on a bed of crisp arugula, sweet grilled peaches, partner with summer fresh blueberries, crisp toasted pecans, creamy avocado and buttery burrata and topped with balsamic honey mustard dressing to create an epic summer salad. This grilled peach salad has the brilliant combination of sweet, savory, crisp and creamy. Impress your guests with this simple, colorful summer salad.

Photo Credit: Happy Kitchen

Urab Sayur

Urab Sayur is a lovely and light gluten-free salad that’s also slightly spicy. All you need is 25 minutes and 9 ingredients!

Photo Credit: Vegan Punks

Peach Arugula Burrata Salad with Blackberries

This Peach Arugula Burrata Salad with Blackberries is the best summer salad. It has juicy peaches, creamy burrata, and a honey balsamic vinaigrette. This salad is quick and easy!

Photo Credit: Fresh Apron

Protein-Packed Salads

Hearty and satisfying, these salads feature sources of protein like chicken, fish, or tofu. They’re great for those looking for a full meal in a bowl.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

A fresh and healthy Buffalo Chicken Salad topped with spicy chicken thighs and ranch dressing is easy to make and completely delicious!

Photo Credit: Little Sunny Kitchen

Spicy Southwest Salad

This spicy southwest salad is what dreams are made of! With an easy spicy ranch dressing, perfectly seasoned chicken, and tons of vegetables, it’ll be your new go-to salad at home!

Photo Credit: The Oregon Dietitian

Blackberry Chicken Salad

Step up your salad game with this vibrant and tantalizing Blackberry Chicken Salad. This delightful mix combines succulent grilled chicken, juicy blackberries, and crisp greens, all tossed in a homemade tangy dressing. 

Photo Credit: The Solo Spoon

Strawberry Chicken Salad

This salad is so summery and delicious you’ll want to make it every week! The dressing is fantastic too!

Photo Credit: Delicious on a Dime

Grilled Pesto Chicken Salad

This Grilled Pesto Chicken Cobb Salad is ridiculously delicious.   The pesto marinade has only four ingredients, making it one of the easiest meals – perfect for a weeknight dinner!

Photo Credit: Our Table 4 2

Prawn and Avocado Salad

Prawn and avocado salad is a light, healthy dish for lunch or dinner. This salad is a great way to incorporate healthy fats, lean protein, and fresh veggies. It’s low in carbs and packed with nutrients, making it an excellent option for healthy eating.

Photo Credit: Allergy Free Alaska

The Grinder Salad

The Grinder Salad is a low-carb twist on the viral, Tik Tok Grinder Sandwich. All of the signature grinder sandwich ingredients (minus the hoagie roll) are chopped and tossed with a tangy, creamy Italian dressing. This healthier take on a classic Italian sub is light, filling, and will keep you satisfied until your next meal!

Photo Credit: Sugar and Snap Peas

Steak Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

Romaine lettuce, marinated sliced sirloin steak, blue cheese (or bleu cheese), blackberries, red onion, and sugary spiced pecans combine for our steak salad with blue cheese vinaigrette. If you love blue cheese, this salad will call your name!

Photo Credit: In Fine Taste

Radicchio Endive Chicken Salad

As the weather gets warmer, this radicchio endive chicken salad with creamy honey mustard dressing is a fresh and delicious option for a filling summer meal. With its unique combination of flavors and textures, including tender chicken and crisp veggies, it’s a must-try recipe for anyone looking for a simple and satisfying dinner salad.

Photo Credit: XoXo Bella

Chef Salad

This chef salad recipe is filled with fresh flavors combining greens, ham, turkey, cheese, tomatoes, eggs, onions, croutons, and dressing!

Photo Credit: Home Fresh Ideas

BBQ Chicken Salad

This BBQ Chicken Salad is fresh and quickly comes together. The Salad sits on a base of romaine lettuce and includes BBQ chicken (of course), black beans, corn, diced red onion, grape tomatoes, and avocado. It’s topped with a creamy, BBQ ranch dressing, cilantro, and tortilla strips for some extra crunch and saltiness.

Photo Credit: Begin with Balance

big Mac Salad

Dive into this irresistible Big Mac Salad that puts a fun twist on a classic fast-food favorite right at your own home. This hearty recipe features ground beef, crisp lettuce, melty cheese, and our copycat Big Mac Sauce, bringing you all the flavors of a Big Mac without the bun!

Photo Credit: Cheerful Cook

Grain and Pasta Based Salads

These salads use grains or pasta as a primary ingredient, offering a filling and nutritious base. They’re ideal for those wanting a more substantial salad that provides long-lasting energy.

Pearl Couscous Salad

Pearl Couscous Salad is loaded with fresh vegetables and herbs, chewy couscous, feta cheese, and the most delicious lemony dressing.

Photo Credit: Little Sunny Kitchen

Orzo pasta Salad

This Orzo Pasta Salad is fresh, healthy, and flavorful, easy to put together, and perfect for making ahead. It is a great side dish for last-minute parties, small gatherings, or BBQs and the leftovers are perfect for picnics and packed lunches.

Photo Credit: Cooking Gorgeous

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

This Vegan Mediterranean Pasta Salad recipe is a winner! Featuring pasta, a colorful mix of healthy veggies, briny Kalamata olives, and a flavorful homemade Greek dressing, this vegan Mediterranean bowl is perfect for a light lunch, speedy dinner, or side salad for your next cookout

Photo Credit: Best Served Vegan

Japanese Inspired Cold Noodle Salad

This Easy Japanese Cold Noodle salad is a nice change up from the typical summer salad and is the ideal light meal. Made with fresh vegetables, it’s healthy, easy to make, and even uses up leftover ham. However, it’s not your traditional Japanese Cold Noodle Salad (Hiyashi Chuka), it’s a North American Chef’s salad version of cold noodle salad.

Photo Credit: Food Meanderings

Italian Pasta Salad

This pasta salad recipe is made with a simple homemade Italian vinaigrette and filled with peppers, tomatoes, olives, and salami. Great for lunch or to bring to a BBQ!

Photo Credit: Simply Stacie

Strawberry Balsamic Pasta Salad

This refreshing strawberry balsamic pasta salad will be a hit at your BBQ this summer! It’s also high protein with the addition of balsamic marinated tofu.

Photo Credit: Naturallie Plantbased

Tuscan Tortellini Pasta Salad

Tuscan Tortellini Pasta Salad is a delightful and refreshing dish that captures the essence of Italy’s sun-kissed Tuscan region. This colorful and flavorful pasta salad combines tender cheese tortellini with a vibrant medley of halved cherry tomatoes, fresh spinach, fragrant basil, pitted Kalamata olives, and sun-dried tomatoes.

Photo Credit: On the Double Cook

Asian Inspired Pasta Salad

The most delicious Asian Inspired Pasta Salad recipe that’s gluten-free, vegan, and allergy-friendly! This super easy and flavor-packed cold pasta salad is loaded with bright and crisp fresh veggies and tossed with an amazing soy-free dressing that’s the perfect balance of tangy, sweet, spicy, and umami!

Photo Credit: Strength and Sunshine

Texture Twist Salads

A blend of crunchy, creamy, and everything in-between. These salads are for those who love a mix of textures in their meals.

Italian Tuna White Bean Salad

Simple ingredients combine to make this Tuscan classic. Juicy fresh tuna pairs with beans for a Tuscan tuna white bean salad everyone will enjoy. It makes a tasty meal, whatever the season.

Photo Credit: XoXo Bella

Sushi Salad

This visually stunning sushi salad is pretty much sushi as you know it, but deconstructed. It is the perfect fusion of Japanese and Western cuisine. Maybe you’ve always wanted to make homemade sushi but you don’t have the equipment, or it just feels too overwhelming – this salad is for you! it’s healthy, nutrient-rich, refreshing, crunchy and best of all, it does really taste exactly like sushi.

Photo Credit: The Cinnamon Jar

Ramen Noodle Salad

If it’s summer or a holiday meal, in the Midwest you are likely to find an Asian Ramen Noodle Salad adorning the food table. The cabbage slaw, toasted ramen noodles and sesame dressing of this Midwest classic lends well to mixing and matching any combination of salad add-ins.  

Photo Credit: Our Table 4 2

Chinese Chicken Salad

This healthy Chinese chicken salad starts with finely shredded Napa cabbage, then adds chicken, Mandarin oranges, scallions, sesame seeds and almonds. A sweet (but not too sweet) Asian dressing is drizzled on top for the perfect summer salad. 

Photo Credit: What a Girl Eats

Green Cabbage Coleslaw with Soy Ginger Dressing

This green cabbage coleslaw is vegetable focused, with carrots, green onion, and Tuscan or Lacinato Kale as the base. The hearty greens are complimented with sweet apple, and the creamy dressing that tops everything off and makes this almost addictive dish! It uses roasted cashews as a way to add texture.

Photo Credit: It’s Better With Butter

Try one of these exciting salad recipes for lunch

Salads are much more than a side dish or a simple pile of lettuce. They can be vibrant, flavorful, and packed full of nutrients, making them an excellent choice for your lunch routine when you leverage in-season produce. These 35 exciting summer salad recipes range from light and refreshing dishes to hearty and filling meals, ensuring there’s something to suit every palate.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a health-conscious foodie or simply in need of some lunchtime inspiration by exploring the world of salads, you’ll uncover a treasure trove of flavors and ingredients that will forever change your perception of what a salad can be. We hope you enjoy these ideas!

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