30 High-Protein Dinner Ideas

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

Black Bean Tostadas
Photo: 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. Enter: these delicious and easy-to-make high-protein dinner ideas.

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 30

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.

02 of 30

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.

03 of 30

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.

04 of 30

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.

05 of 30

Pesto Pasta With Green Beans and Potatoes

Pesto Pasta With Green Beans and Potatoes in a Bowl on a Green Placemat
Kana Okada

Filling, flavorful, and quite easy to prepare, this pasta plate contains ingredients almost 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 is cut up the vegetables, 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. It's a perfect dish for when you're craving a taste of summer's freshness in colder months.

06 of 30

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.

07 of 30

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.

08 of 30

Salt-and-Pepper Chicken With Cheesy Spinach Quinoa

salt-pepper-chicken-0419din
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!

09 of 30

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 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.

10 of 30

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.

11 of 30

Grilled Pork Chops with Peach-Parsley 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.

12 of 30

Mole-Spiced Black Bean and Quinoa Bowl

black-bean-quinoa-bowl-1219din
Jen Causey

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

13 of 30

Soy-Glazed Salmon Sandwiches With Watercress

soy-glazed-salmon-sandwiches-1219din
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.

14 of 30

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.

15 of 30

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.

16 of 30

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.

17 of 30

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.

18 of 30

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.

19 of 30

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 an Asian slaw made with red cabbage, red bell pepper, and a sliced jalapeño chile, and topped with a soy sauce and lime juice dressing.

20 of 30

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.

21 of 30

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 sour cream, sliced avocado, shredded cheese, and whatever else you crave.

22 of 30

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!

23 of 30

Creamy Potato-Cabbage Soup

A Bowl of Creamy Cabbage Potato Soup Next to a Spoon and a Piece of Toasted Bread
Greg DuPree

This soup is as quick and cozy as it gets, and it also happens to be a protein-packed meal you can enjoy all winter long. The titular ingredients are great sources of protein, (though potatoes have more protein than cabbage), as are some of the other components of this meal, such as vegetable broth and carrots. To make this hearty soup, all you need to do is sauté the cabbage and onion for about 10 minutes, then add the potatoes, carrots, and veggie broth. Once you bring everything to a boil, let the soup simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes. Finish off this comforting meal with a dollop of rich sour cream and some vinegar to brighten everything up.

24 of 30

Eggplant and Tofu Stir-Fry

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

This simple stir-fry is vegan, but still boasts plenty of protein thanks to tofu, eggplant, and more. Toss in additional veggies to up the protein 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.

25 of 30

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!

26 of 30

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, greens, and of course the titular lentils, which are paired with other healthy ingredients like zucchini and golden raisins. Even the dressing—a versatile and fresh sunflower seed vinaigrette—is loaded with nutrients.

27 of 30

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.

28 of 30

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 protein-packed mushrooms and 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.

29 of 30

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.

30 of 30

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, corn, and spinach. A crumbled goat cheese topping adds more protein to the mix, while 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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