22 Healthy High-Protein Recipes (That Taste 10 Times Better Than a Shake or Snack Bar)
We promise this lineup isn’t all red meat and beans, either. We’ve got 22 flavorful dishes on tap—like Roasted Curried Salmon with Tomatoes, Spiced Lamb Meatball and Swiss Chard Stew, and a Chipotle Beef and Beer Chili—that are far from rabbit (or shall we say, body-builder) food.
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Lentil and Kielbasa Stew
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 for awhile, stirring 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.
Get the recipe: Lentil and Kielbasa Stew
Seared Salmon With Israeli Couscous Salad
Salmon provides a nice break from chicken or shrimp when you’re after lean protein. Here, a cool salad with crisp cucumbers and fennel provides a refreshing contrast to the warm salmon, which is seared in just a few minutes over a skillet on the stovetop. Indeed, the combination of protein, grain, and vegetables makes for a light but satiating supper and delivers 44 grams of protein and under 500 calories per serving. As the couscous cooks, you’ll make the cucumber salad and cook the salmon.
Get the recipe: Seared Salmon With Israeli Couscous Salad
Shrimp and Fennel Risotto
This decadent one-pot supper does require a fair amount of oversight; all risottos do. But the payoff makes the work well worth it. You’ll start by melting a pat of butter and sautéing a chopped fennel bulb and an onion. Then, the Arborio rice and the shrimp cook slowly in sauce of chicken broth and white wine. At the end, you’ll stir in some grated Parmesan for a cheesy pasta bowl that boasts a nice, lean protein, too. Hey, we never said eating meals high in protein meant you had to go paleo.
Get the recipe: Shrimp and Fennel Risotto
Slow-Cooker Bean and Spinach Enchiladas
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 vegetable 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.
Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Bean and Spinach Enchiladas
Pesto Pasta With Green Beans and Potatoes
Filling, flavorful, and quite easy to prepare, this pasta plate contains ingredients most everybody in the family can get behind. You’ll boil the potatoes and green beans in the same pot, and cook the pasta separately. All that’s left to do, then, is cut the vegetables up, scoop everything into a large bowl or onto individual plates, add a spoonful of store-bought pesto, and sprinkle the whole thing with Parmesan and pine nuts. Perfect for when you’re craving a taste of summer’s freshness in colder months.
Get the recipe: Pesto Pasta With Green Beans and Potatoes
Black Bean Tostadas With Sweet Potato and Poblanos
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.
Get the recipe: Black Bean Tostadas With Sweet Potato and Poblanos
Classic Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage
The best slow cooker recipes let you throw the ingredients in the appliance, after no or very little 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 in the slow cooker in the morning, and 7 to 8 hours later, the whole meal’s ready.
Get the recipe: Classic Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage
Chicken and Quinoa Burritos
This super simple burrito packs a triple punch in terms of protein: Rotisserie chicken, black beans, and quinoa, which boast 8 grams of protein per cup. As a bonus, it’s one of the few plant-based foods (technically, it’s a seed) that contain all nine essential amino acids, meaning it’s what we call a complete protein. Load up a tortilla with cooked quinoa, beans, and chicken—along with grated Monterey Jack cheese, fresh cilantro, low-fat Greek yogurt (a genius substitute for sour cream), and avocado, and serve alongside corn salsa.
Get the recipe: Chicken and Quinoa Burritos
Spiced Lamb Meatball and Swiss Chard Stew
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 lean 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.
Get the recipe: Spiced Lamb Meatball and Swiss Chard Stew
Roasted Curry Salmon With Tomatoes
You’ve seen plenty of sheet-pan suppers with chicken. But you probably didn’t guess that this curried salmon dinner 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 a curried caprese salad with salmon.
Get the recipe: Roasted Curry Salmon With Tomatoes
Pork Cutlets With Sautéed Peppers and Beans
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. The whole thing comes together exclusively on the stovetop (no hot oven required). Simply top browned pork cutlets, which cook up in just a few minutes, with a mixture of cannellini beans, kalamata olives, bell peppers, shallots, and parsley. The combination’s so flavorful, you won’t miss any grains.
Get the recipe: Pork Cutlets With Sautéed Peppers and Beans
Mole-Spiced Black Bean and Quinoa Bowl
Here, mole sauce serves as a delicious dressing for plenty of protein-packed ingredients, like quinoa, black beans, arugula, pumpkin seeds, and cauliflower.
Get the recipe: Mole-Spiced Black Bean and Quinoa Bowl
Soy-Glazed Salmon Sandwiches With Watercress
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. 25 minutes and you've got yourself a delicious (healthy!) meal for four.
Get the recipe: Soy-Glazed Salmon Sandwiches With Watercress
Tuscan Bread Soup With Beans (Ribollita)
This ribollita recipe is comfort food at its finest. The Tuscan-style soup is packed with good-for-you vegetables (kale, carrots, and tomatoes) plus plenty of white beans to keep you full, thanks to protein and fiber.
Get the recipe: Tuscan Bread Soup With Beans (Ribollita)
Beef, Bacon and Egg Burger
In a quest to create a burger that boasts even more protein than most, we devised this tasty morsel. And what could be more tasty that throwing a piece of crispy bacon under the bun? Mixing it into the patty itself. Yep, this burger is actually made with ground beef chuck and chopped bacon. Fresh off the grill, it’s sandwiched in an English muffin bun with a sliced tomato and a fried egg. It’s like all the perks of burger night and brunch combined. Bloody Mary optional.
Get the recipe: Beef, Bacon and Egg Burger
Steak With Skillet Tomatoes and Spicy Sautéed Green Beans
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 blistered tomatoes, which are sautéed and mixed with fresh oregano leaves, and green beans, which 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.
Get the recipe: Steak With Skillet Tomatoes and Spicy Sautéed Green Beans
Spanish Omelet With Potatoes and Chorizo
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.
Get the recipe: Spanish Omelet With Potatoes and Chorizo
Slow-Cooker Squash Lasagna
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.
Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Squash Lasagna
Poached Bass Over Frisée
Expand your seafood repertoire a bit with our recipe for poached bass. The white fish boasts a mild flavor and a smooth, buttery texture, and when prepared this way, it’s deliciously moist and flaky. To add interest, we used a sliced shallot, fresh thyme, fresh parsley, and mustard seeds to the poaching liquid. A salad of crunchy greens, dressed in a white-wine vinaigrette, and a piece of toasted bread round out the high-protein meal. This may not replace your favorite salmon supper, but it’ll likely gain a spot alongside it.
Get the recipe: Poached Bass Over Frisée
Chicken With Goat Cheese Vinaigrette
Skinless chicken breasts pack a substantial amount of protein without contributing too much fat. And this recipe, with a dressing that combines olive oil, fresh parsley, crushed red pepper, and creamy goat cheese, lends the meat and the bed of orzo a bit of a kick and tons of flavor. As the pasta cooks, you’ll throw together the vinaigrette and brown the chicken: The meal’s ready in 20 minutes, from start to finish. Looking to up the protein content? Stir garbanzo beans, or any other white beans into the orzo prior to serving.
Get the recipe: Chicken With Goat Cheese Vinaigrette
Chipotle Beef and Beer Chili
Made with a pound of ground beef chuck and a can of kidney beans, this hearty, spicy chili will knock your socks off. The recipe starts like most chili recipes do: You’ll sauté chopped onion in oil before browning the meat, but a few special ingredients—stirred in with the peeled tomatoes and beans—up the ante. Chipotles in adobo sauce lend the chili a smoky, complex flavor, and a bottle of dark Mexican beer, like Negra Modelo, keeps the stew moist without watering it down. Double the recipe for high-protein freezer meal.
Get the recipe: Chipotle Beef and Beer Chili
Bean Salad With Bacon and Chives
This unbelievably easy bean salad boasts two forms of protein and little else. After rinsing a can of cannellini beans, you’ll toss them with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, whole-grain mustard, and a bit of salt and pepper. At that point, you can store the mixture in the salad for up to eight hours, which makes this salad a great protein-rich lunch on the go. Just before you eat, toss in the crispy bacon and chopped fresh chives for a crunchy and deliciously fresh meal.
Get the recipe: Bean Salad With Bacon and Chives