40 High-Protein Dinner Ideas

From spiced salmon to lamb meatballs, these dinner recipes offer a delicious way to fuel up.


Victor Protasio

Whether you're trying to fuel up for a particularly busy day, have been intensifying your exercise routine, or you're just sick of feeling hungry all the time, boosting your protein intake may be one way to help you feel more satisfied. Even if you're not concerned about replenishing your body after a workout or sticking to a paleo-like plan, it's smart to be sure you and your family are getting enough of this critical building block, which helps our bodies build and repair tissue. A great way to accomplish this is to subscribe to a meal kit service such as Sunbasket which will curate meal plans to provide adequate protein-rich options. But if you want to go it alone, these delicious and easy-to-make high-protein dinner ideas are a good start.

We promise this lineup isn't all red meat and beans, either. We've got 30 flavorful dishes on tap—like Roasted Spiced Salmon with Spinach, Spiced Lamb Meatball and Swiss Chard Stew, and a Southwestern Beef Chili With Corn—that are far from rabbit (or shall we say, body-builder) food.

01 of 40

Gochujang Gumbo

Gochujang Gumbo
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Shrimp and andouille sausage come together in this spicy soup, which is a twist on the typical gumbo you might find in New Orleans. In this recipe, gochujang—Korean chile bean paste—and red Fresno chiles add big flavor, while celery, bell pepper, and okra up the heartiness and protein content of the dish. 

02 of 40

Skillet Pork Chops and Beans

Skillet Pork Chops and Beans
Greg DuPree

For proof that cozy meals can also be loaded with protein, we present this one-pot dish. In this recipe, pork chops are seared to golden perfection and nestled in aromatic cannellini beans, and the whole thing is topped with crushed, seasoned croutons.

03 of 40

Buttery Shrimp With Marinated White Beans

Overhead View of Buttery Shrimp With Marinated White Beans Served in White Bowl
Caitlin Bensel

Shrimp and white beans combine with garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, butter, and white wine to create a quick and sophisticated dinner that comes together in just 25 minutes. Balance out your important food groups by serving this meal with a healthy grain or a salad of leafy greens.

04 of 40

Charred Broccolini With Tahini Caesar And Crispy Chickpeas

Charred Broccolini With Tahini Caesar And Crispy Chickpeas

Jennifer Causey

Chickpeas make up the protein-packed base of this salad. Then, a rich tahini dressing that also includes Parmesan, garlic, and Dijon mustard, ties everything together. You can add more protein to this dish by topping it with rotisserie chicken, but it’s not necessary. 

05 of 40

Turkey-Pumpkin Chili

Turkey-Pumpkin Chili Recipe
Caitlin Bensel

This recipe is peak fall, but since it calls for canned pumpkin purée, you can make it in any season. In this comforting dish, pumpkin gets to show off its savory side. Here, it’s joined by lean ground turkey, two cans of cannellini beans, and plenty of herbs and spices. If you want a fresh herb to sprinkle on top, try cilantro, which infuses the base of the soup.

06 of 40

One-Pot Italian Sausage-Gnocchi Soup

Gnocchi and sausage soup served in a bowl
Jennifer Causey

Even though soup is broth-based, it’s easy to pile on the protein. For example, this hearty soup packs lean turkey sausage and potato gnocchi into every bite. You’ll also find diced tomatoes and baby spinach, and can easily add whatever veggies you have in your fridge.

07 of 40

Baby Lamb Chops With Mixed Olive Relish and Roasted Carrots Recipe

Baby Lamb Chops With Mixed Olive Relish And Roasted Carrots

Jennifer Causey

Lamb is a great, often underutilized, source of protein. In this recipe, quick-cooking lamb chops are joined by a briny, bright, and herby olive relish, as well as roasted carrots. To add even more protein to this meal, serve it with quinoa, wild rice, or couscous.

08 of 40

Lemon-Coriander Roasted Chicken With Leeks And Squash

Lemon-Coriander Roasted Chicken With Leeks And Squash

This one-skillet meal is a great option when you have company over, but let’s be honest, it works for any night of the week. In this recipe, the chicken is flavored with a butter that’s spiked with fresh cilantro, ginger, lemon zest, and ground coriander. The bird rests on a bed of protein-rich acorn squash and leeks, and everything is roasted at the same time.

09 of 40

Roasted Root Veggie Quinoa Bowls

Roasted Root Veggie Quinoa Bowls

Victor Protasio

The quinoa stars as the plant-based complete protein in these grain bowls, paired with squash, parsnips, red onions, and Brussels sprouts that add color and fiber. The vegetables are roasted with a little olive oil and salt, and joined by spinach and a dollop of hummus. The whole thing comes together courtesy of a punchy mustard vinaigrette. 

10 of 40

Red Lentil Soup With Lemon and Dill

Red Lentil Soup With Lemon And Dill

Victor Protasio

In this chunky soup, creamy red lentils, fire-roasted tomatoes, and carrots are flavored with the citrusy notes of lemon and sumac—a Middle Eastern spice made from ground dried berries. Considering a cup of lentils has 18 grams of protein, and this soup calls for even more lentils than that, it’s safe to say that this meal is protein-packed.

11 of 40

One-Pot Chicken Sausage and Beans

Sausage and beans layer on the flavors in this simple one-pot recipe, which is inspired by the classic cassoulet.
Caitlin Bensel

Chicken sausage and beans—two excellent protein sources—layer on the flavors in this simple one-pot recipe, which is inspired by the classic cassoulet. In this recipe you’ll also find soft onions, juicy tomatoes, and a crunchy breadcrumb topping.

12 of 40

Spiced Chicken and Chickpea Soup

Spiced Chicken Chickpea Soup
Caitlin Bensel

This hearty and flavorful soup is packed with protein thanks to skinless and boneless chicken thighs and an entire can of chickpeas. If you don’t have spinach on hand, feel free to use torn kale or Swiss chard leaves instead.

13 of 40

Lentil and Kielbasa Stew

Lentil and Kielbasa Stew in Two Large Soup Bowls With Spoons
Roland Bello

Satisfying and flavorful, this hearty stew is packed with smoky sausage, green lentils, and veggies (celery, carrot, onion). While it does require some time simmering over the stove, most of the cooking time is hands-off: You'll sauté the vegetables in a large pot or Dutch oven, then add the kielbasa, lentils, and cooking liquid. Let the stew simmer, stir occasionally, and it's ready. Easy, huh? The legumes provide this meal-in-a-bowl's extra shot of protein; versatile lentils are low in calories but also high in protein, folate, iron, potassium, and more.

14 of 40

Roasted Spiced Salmon

Roasted Spiced Salmon Recipe
Greg DuPree

Salmon provides a nice break from chicken or shrimp when you're after lean protein. Here, the fish is seasoned with a compound butter made from turmeric and cumin, and served alongside protein-rich lemony spinach and a rice pilaf that has juicy pops of golden raisins.

15 of 40

Shrimp Linguine With Chorizo

Shrimp Linguine With Chorizo Recipe
Caitlin Bensel

Get a double dose of protein from this pasta, which is packed with large sautéed shrimp and spicy chorizo pieces. The linguine gets a burst of freshness and a little crunch, courtesy of lemon zest and panko breadcrumbs, respectively. Even though this dish may seem complicated, we promise it takes just 20 minutes to make.

16 of 40

Slow-Cooker Bean and Spinach Enchiladas

Our Slow-Cooker Bean and Spinach Enchiladas boast a hearty, vegetarian filling, and while they might look labor intensive, they actually couldn’t be easier.
Marcus Nilsson

Enchiladas might feel like a lot of work-cooking the filling, then rolling, then baking amounts to too much. But we devised a way to prepare these protein-rich, inexpensive, and delightfully satisfying black bean and spinach enchiladas in the slow cooker. You'll form the enchiladas and place them in a single layer in the appliance before setting the heat to low—and walking away. Nearly three and a half hours later, you can whip up a crunchy side salad before carefully transferring the cooked enchiladas to plates and sprinkling with chopped scallions.

17 of 40

Black Bean Tostadas With Sweet Potato and Poblanos

Black Bean Tostadas With Sweet Potato and Poblanos on a Plate on a Table
Victor Protasio

This recipe for Black Bean Tostadas is about to be your go-to easy vegetarian main dish—it comes together in just 35 minutes and is packed with heart-healthy ingredients, like cabbage, black beans, sweet potatoes, peppers, and fresh herbs. Crema ties it all together, and if you want to add even more richness, finish it off with a crumble of cotija cheese.

18 of 40

Classic Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corned Beef and Cabbage on a Large Plate With Carrots and Potatoes
Steve Giralt

The best slow-cooker recipes let you throw the ingredients in the appliance, with little or no prep, and return after a day at work to a great-smelling house and a warm meal. This take on Corned Beef and Cabbage delivers all that. Thyme and caraway seeds, added to the cooking liquid, amp up the classic dish's intense flavor. Throw red potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and the beef into the slow-cooker in the morning, and 7 to 8 hours later, the whole meal's ready.

19 of 40

Salt-and-Pepper Chicken With Cheesy Spinach Quinoa

Victor Protasio

If you're looking for an easy, balanced meal to make after a busy day at work, this 20-minute dish is it. You'll start by cooking the protein-packed cheesy spinach quinoa, which boasts fresh greens and shredded Gruyère cheese, and then you'll cook the salt-and-pepper-seasoned chicken breasts in a large skillet. Serve the quinoa alongside the flavorful chicken and you're good to go!

20 of 40

Spiced Lamb Meatball and Swiss Chard Stew

Spiced Lamb Meatball and Swiss Chard Stew in a Pot With Handles, and Another Portion in a Bowl
Roland Bello

Meatballs—one could argue there are few straight protein bites that are more appealing than these piping hot balls of beef. But a quest for higher protein content often leads to carb- and cheese-laden Italian meals. Our take? Make lamb meatballs, spiced with garlic, paprika, and cumin, and serve them in a soup of chicken broth, Swiss chard, and orzo. The pasta, which resembles large grains of rice, gives this hearty stew a little chew. A dollop of plain yogurt in each steaming serving completes the Middle Eastern-inspired meal-in-a-bowl.

21 of 40

Roasted Curry Salmon With Tomatoes

Roasted Curry Salmon With Tomatoes and White Rice on a Plate
Romulo Yanes

You've seen plenty of sheet-pan dinner recipes with chicken. But you probably didn't guess that this curry salmon supper works the same way. After tossing the grape tomatoes with oil, salt, and pepper, and spreading them on a rimmed baking sheet, you'll nestle the salmon fillets on the same pan before roasting the meal in a 400-degree oven. When the fish is cooked through and perfectly flaky, you'll serve the fillets over rice and top each plate with blistered tomatoes and fresh basil. Think of this as a curried Caprese salad with salmon.

22 of 40

Grilled Pork Chops with Peach Arugula Salad Recipe

Summer Pork Chops
Greg DuPree

Whether you're trying to cut back on carbs, trim your grocery bill—or you're just looking for a recipe that'll help get dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes—this protein-heavy meal fits the bill. It pairs perfectly seared pork chops with a peppery arugula and stone-fruit salad. Don't have peaches? Use plums or nectarines instead.

23 of 40

Mole-Spiced Black Bean and Quinoa Bowl

Jen Causey

Here, mole sauce serves as a delicious dressing for plenty of protein-packed ingredients, like quinoa, black beans, and pumpkin seeds.

24 of 40

Soy-Glazed Salmon Sandwiches With Watercress

Jen Causey

In this recipe, you'll coat protein-rich salmon fillets with a glaze made from chili sauce, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Give them a quick sear before serving atop fluffy brioche burger buns with crisp watercress salad. With just 25 minutes, you've got yourself a delicious (healthy!) meal for four.

25 of 40

Black-Eyed Pea Ribollita

black eyed pea ribollita
Caitlin Bensel

This ribollita recipe is comfort food at its finest. The Tuscan-style soup is packed with good-for-you vegetables (collard greens, black-eyed peas, and tomatoes) plus plenty of Parmigiano-Reggiano. The savory cheese adds flavor to the soup, and is a surprisingly good source of protein too.

26 of 40

Turkey Burgers With Lime Mayo and Crispy Oven Fries

Turkey Burgers With Lime Mayo and Avocado
Greg DuPree

While turkey burgers aren't always the most flavorful option, these burgers are anything but bland thanks to a blend of several different spices within the meat—think chili powder and black pepper. A homemade lime mayo, ripe avocado slices, and chopped onion add even more flavor to the burgers, while crispy oven fries complete the meal.

27 of 40

Steak With Skillet Tomatoes and Spicy Sautéed Green Beans

Steak With Skillet Tomatoes and Spicy Sautéed Green Beans on a Plate
Sang An

This showstopper of a steak dinner, believe it or not, can be cooked entirely on the stovetop. If you feel like firing up the grill, cook the meat outdoors while you follow the procedure for the rest of the meal. You'll love the blistered tomatoes, which are sautéed and mixed with fresh oregano leaves. The green beans are boiled quickly, then sautéed in the same skillet with thinly sliced garlic. Sure to go into regular rotation, this family meal is done in just 30 minutes.

28 of 40

Spanish Omelet With Potatoes and Chorizo

Spanish Omelet With Potatoes and Chorizo on a Plate Next to a Side Salad
Ngoc Minh Ngo

Sure, you could wake up to this savory breakfast dish made with spicy sausage, red potatoes, and Manchego cheese. Or you could turn to the frittata-like meal as a protein-rich dinner. Looking for a vegetarian option? Omit the chorizo sausage and substitute another vegetable, like diced green and red bell peppers or sliced zucchini. Once you see how easy it is to cook up this Spanish omelet, we bet you'll try a slew of variations for a high-protein meal that's just as delicious warm or at room temperature.

29 of 40

Slow-Cooker Squash Lasagna

Slow-Cooker Squash Lasagna Topped With Cheese on a Plate Next to a Few Lettuce Leaves
Romulo Yanes

Two kinds of cheese-ricotta and mozzarella-along with squash puree and baby spinach, give this meatless lasagna some heft. And that's not even the best part: You layer this lasagna in the slow-cooker, not an oversize pan, so the dish doesn't require a hot oven turned on for hours. Just cook on low until the lasagna noodles are tender, about three or four hours, and serve the pasta with a green salad on the side for a deceptively easy meal that's as inexpensive to prepare as it is tasty.

30 of 40

Miso Black Bass With Asian Slaw

Miso Black Bass With Asian Slaw
Greg DuPree

Expand your seafood repertoire with our recipe for broiled bass. The white fish boasts a mild flavor and a smooth, buttery texture, and when prepared this way, it's deliciously moist and flaky with a tasty miso glaze. It's served alongside a slaw made with red cabbage, red bell pepper, and a sliced jalapeño chile, and topped with a soy sauce and lime juice dressing.

31 of 40

Almond-Crusted Chicken With Arugula Salad

Almond-Crusted Chicken With Arugula Salad Recipe
Caitlin Bensel

Almond flour stands in for panko to coat the chicken cutlets in this recipe, but we promise you won't miss any crispness or flavor thanks, in part, to sesame seeds, which add their own earthy notes along with some crunch. The chicken is paired with a lemony arugula and Brussels sprouts salad, which offsets the juicy cutlets.

32 of 40

Southwestern Beef Chili With Corn

Quick Dinner Ideas: Southwestern Beef Chili With Corn
Hector M. Sanchez

Get your chili fix (and plenty of protein) with this flavorful recipe. This chili gets its southwestern flare from poblano peppers and chili powder, and it also boasts a hearty base of onion, carrots, peppers, and beans. Add even more protein to this meal by topping your chili bowl with some Greek yogurt and shredded cheese, and whatever else you crave. Sliced avocado also makes a great topping for its healthy fats.

33 of 40

Chickpea Veggie Burgers

Chickpea Veggie Burger on a cutting board
Caitlin Bensel

These veggie burgers prove you don't need meat to get your protein fix. Instead of meat, you'll find two cans of chickpeas, spicy harissa, panko, lemon juice, herbs, and spices. Plop the burgers on brioche buns and top 'em with smashed avocado, sliced tomatoes, red onion, and lettuce, and dinner is served!

34 of 40

Eggplant and Tofu Stir-Fry

Eggplant and Tofu Stir-Fry Topped With Scallions on a White Plate

This simple stir-fry is vegan, but still boasts plenty of protein thanks to the tofu. Toss in additional veggies to up the nutritional content, and feel free to swap out the white rice for brown rice if you feel like you need even more protein in your life. As with many stir-fry dishes, this one can be thrown together in about 30 minutes and can be easily customized to suit your palate. We guarantee this meal will find its way into your weekly dinner rotation.

35 of 40

Vegetarian Chili With Sweet Potatoes

Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili With Sweet Potatoes, Beans, and Tomatoes Topped With Corn Chips in a Bowl
Con Poulos

Sure, chili made with meat has protein, but so does chili made with plenty of vegetables. Here, half a dozen veggies give this vegetarian dish plenty of protein and other key nutrients. The beans, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and more are joined by an array of spices, which helps guarantee that this fiber-packed meal doesn't lack flavor, either. Our favorite thing about this game-day classic, however, is that you can toss all the ingredients in a slow-cooker and let 'em cook while you tackle your growing to-do list. After about five hours, it's time to eat!

36 of 40

Superfood Lentil Salad

Superfood lentil salad served on a plate
Victor Protasio

As you may have guessed, this protein-filled salad is packed with protein-rich superfoods. You've got sunflower seeds and of course the titular lentils, which are paired with other healthy ingredients like zucchini, greens, and golden raisins. Even the dressing—a versatile and fresh sunflower seed vinaigrette—is loaded with nutrients.

37 of 40

Shepherd's Pie

Simple Shepherd's Pie in Baking Dish on Top of Blue Kitchen Towel and Served in Small White Bowl, with sprigs of fresh thyme on small black dish
Greg DuPree

Beneath a layer of buttery, creamy mashed potatoes (which, believe it or not, deliver on the protein front), you'll find a mean vegetable-enriched beef filling (instead of the traditional lamb) made with ground beef, mushrooms, tomato paste, and more. In short, this hearty English meal is a take on the classic meat and potatoes combination that's worthy of a spot on your winter dinner rotation. And while this layered masterpiece does take some time to make, you definitely won't regret it.

38 of 40

Wild Rice and Mushroom Pilaf With Cranberries

Wild Rice and Mushroom Pilaf With Cranberries in a Brown Bowl
Gentl + Hyers

Believe it or not, wild rice has more protein than the oft-lauded brown rice, which is reason alone to give this rice-like food a try. In addition to wild rice, this protein-filled pilaf features a combination of mushrooms as well as some dried cranberries for a dash of sweetness. To make this dish, cook the rice according to the package instructions and fold in the cranberries. Let it stand for about 10 minutes while you sauté the onion and mushrooms. Finish that mixture with parsley and tarragon, then stir it into the pot of cooked rice and toss to combine. Serve this rice alongside just about any meat or fish dish, or snack on it solo when you're feeling a bit peckish.

39 of 40

Whole-Grain Minestrone With Parmesan Crisps

Whole-Grain Minestrone Recipe
Caitlin Bensel

Grains tend to get a bad rap, but whole grains, like the farro used here, are actually quite healthy and pack plenty of protein. Elsewhere in this hearty soup you'll find a rich Parmesan-infused broth, carrots, celery, white beans, kale, and more. The homemade Parm crisps add a savory touch and a much-needed crunch to this nutritious meal.

40 of 40

Vegetarian Tacos With Goat Cheese

Vegetarian Tacos With Crumbled Goat Cheese on a Plate
Con Poulos

These tacos may not contain any meat, but they certainly aren't lacking protein. That's because, in the absence of meat, the tacos are filled with other protein sources such as tofu and a crumbled goat cheese topping. The chili powder and store-bought salsa deliver a burst of flavor you won't want to miss. To make these tacos, simply sauté the tofu in the spices and slowly add in the other veggies. Then, fill the tortillas with the protein-packed mixture and top everything with the salsa and goat cheese crumbles. Yum!

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