Bento Lunch Box Recipes


The Spruce


Bento boxes are a convenient, filling, and fun way to enjoy your lunch. In simpler terms, bento are single-serving, packed meals that have grown in popularity across the globe, but most common across Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean cuisines, and Southeast Asian cuisines. They almost always include a base of rice or rice balls. along with different proteins like chicken or pork and tasty side dishes of vegetables or fruits are added.

Experiment with different traditional Japanese recipes along with your own ideas. Make sure to use foods that are not liquidy or too soft. These will leak in the bento box and will not hold well. Because bento can take some time to assemble, you can prepare ingredients the night before to pack the following morning.

Check out these other traditional bento box ideas and these great tips for making your bento box successful

  • 01 of 10


    Japanese tamagoyaki recipe

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    Tamagoyaki is a silky smooth rolled omelet. It's super popular bento food because it's so easy to whip together and tastes delicious on its own or with rice. It can also be served at room temperature, which is ideal for a bento box lunch situation. 

    You can also add different herbs into the egg to switch it up.

  • 02 of 10

    Rice Balls


    The Spruce


    Onigiri is the Japanese names for these tasty bento box-friendly rice balls.  They are usually round or triangle shaped and either wrapped or accented with nori, which is dried seaweed. You can make other cute shapes like a panda, kitten, or bunny.  Use bits of the seaweed to create the eyes, nose, etc. 

    You can also stuff them with with any meat or fish you want like crab, ground pork, or tuna.

  • 03 of 10

    Inari Sushi

    Rice Stuffed Tofu Pockets (Inari Sushi)

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    Inari sushi is also called brown bag sushi. It's made by packing Sushi rice in seasoned aburaage (fried tofu) pouches. Inari ushi is super easy to eat and is virtually mess-free so it's perfect for a bento box. It's another item that can be served warm or cold. The tofu is often dyed different colors for a fun take on the food. 

  • 04 of 10

    Teriyaki Chicken

    Terikyaki chicken recipe

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    Chicken teriyaki is a classic bento box item. A delicious sweet and salty sauce coats the chicken and makes it irresistible!  It's tasty served hot or cold. It's easy to make in a pinch but it can also be made for dinner and the leftovers can be used in the next day's bento! 

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Apple Rabbits

    apple rabbits

    yumehana / getty images

    Fruit shaped into adorable rabbits, what could be cuter? Both adults and children alike will love these little apple rabbits.  Everyone will happily eat their fruit when they are this cute! 

    You can try shaping other fruits and vegetables into cute shapes, like making flowers out of carrots with a cookie cutter or shaping strawberries into little hearts.  It's all about making lunch fun and appetizing.

  • 06 of 10

    Soy Sauce Eggs

    Easy Soy Sauce Eggs (Shoyu Tamago)

    The Spruce / Nyssa Tanner

    Soy sauce eggs are delicious, pretty and are also mess-free. Cut them in half for easy eating. You can also make a large batch of them ahead of time and serve them in your bentos throughout the week.

  • 07 of 10


    tsukune on skewers on a plate

     The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

    These Japanese meatballs are salty and sweet and are so tender. They're perfect warm or cold and can be served on adorable little skewers or even inside a rice ball.

  • 08 of 10

    Chicken Katsu

    chicken katsu

    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

    Chicken katsu are delicious breaded chicken cutlets topped with sweet, savory, and tangy katsu sauce. It's the perfect addition to a bento lunch. The chicken still tastes delicious cold and the thick sauce is perfect for dipping or drizzled over the chicken and some rice.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Hot Dog Octopus

    octopus hot dog

    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

    You might think hot dogs are a funny addition to a bento lunch, but they're so cute! They're easy to prepare and are perfect at any temperature. We decorated them with sesame seeds to make the adorable faces. Traditionally they're referred to as tako sausages.

    Pork or beef hot dogs are most commonly used as they are a fine texture and are easy to cook and cut into adorable animal shapes.

  • 10 of 10

    Potato Korokke

    Potato Korokke on a plate with dipping sauce

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

    Japanese potato croquettes are crunchy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. They can be seasoned with curry or other spices or can be stuffed with meats or vegetables. They can also be made ahead of time and frozen or stored in the refrigerator. Simply reheat before adding to your lunch box.