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Fuel up with these high-protein breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes. I’m even featuring high-protein vegetarian recipes; all of the above offer 20 grams of protein or more per serving to help you stay full longer and support important body functions.
Despite what Rocky and Arnold Schwarzenegger may have lead us to believe as kids, protein isn’t just important for boxers and bodybuilders. And you certainly don’t need to drink raw eggs or spike your smoothies with scoop upon scoop of powder to meet your goals.
In my opinion, food is so much more than fuel; it’s meant to be enjoyed! There are dozens of easy ways to cover your daily protein needs with family-friendly high-protein recipes made with whole foods.
Table of Contents
How Much Protein Should I Eat Each Day?
Before we dive in, a brief refresher on the power of protein. One of the three macronutrients (fat and carbs are the other two), protein is essential to tissue and organ shape and function. It also helps construct muscles, bones, nails, and hair. Protein supports the immune system, assists with wound healing, and acts as an energy reserve for when the body is short on carbs and fat. A meal or snack with a source of protein also helps keep us fuller longer than one that only includes the other two macronutrients.
Adults should shoot for anywhere between 10 to 35 percent of your daily calories, depending on your physical activity level and wellness goals, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends. On a 2,000 calorie per day diet, that would be about 200 to 700 calories from protein or 50 to 175 grams of protein per day. (To put this into perspective, 4 ounces of chicken breast offers about 24 grams, 2 large eggs have 12 grams and 1 cup of navy beans has 19 grams.)
It takes some time for your body to absorb and be able to use the amino acids that act as the building blocks of protein. Research suggests that we can only utilize about 20 to 25 grams of protein at each meal or snack, and the rest is stored as energy to use later.
With that in mind, and to keep overall energy levels consistent, many nutrition experts suggest sprinkling out your protein consumption throughout the day. So ahead, I’m sharing delicious high-protein recipes for every meal of the day! Each includes 20 grams of protein or more.
Choose one and sprinkle in some high-protein snacks (like a scoop of cottage cheese with berries or a handful of almonds with a banana) or select a high-protein recipe for every meal if you’re aiming for that higher protein intake level. No matter which path you choose, your taste buds and body will be satisfied.
High-Protein Breakfast Recipes
Each of these protein-rich breakfast recipes offers between 21 and 40 grams of protein per serving. Pair them with Fruit Salad to round out the meal.
High-Protein Lunch Recipes
From soups and salads to sandwiches and wraps, these high-protein lunch ideas offer 20 to 50 grams of protein per serving. (Psst…feel free to stick to half of the quesadilla to stay within that 25-gram range.) Add a side of bread to the soups and salads or pair the sandwiches with veggies and hummus or eggplant dip or tortilla chips and salsa to complete the feast.
Crab Cakes with Remoulade
High-Protein Dinner Recipes
With 22 to 50 grams of protein per serving, my best high-protein dinner entrees span the globe and your protein sources. Featuring chicken, pork, beef, seafood, and turkey, add a side salad (might I recommend my Kale Salad or Wedge Salad?) for a well-balanced meal.
Easy Shrimp Scampi
High-Protein Vegetarian Recipes
You need not eat meat (today or any day, if you desire) to meet your protein needs. Featuring beans, cheese, peas, eggs, and other protein-rich plant-based foods, each of these meatless mains has between 21 and 28 grams of protein.
Baked Mac and Cheese
Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.