30+ High-Protein Recipes for Every Meal of the Day

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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.

A baking sheet full of stuffed zucchini.

Despite what Rocky and Arnold Schwarzenegger may have led 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
  1. How Much Protein Should I Eat Each Day?
  2. High-Protein Breakfast Recipes
  3. High-Protein Lunch Recipes
  4. High-Protein Dinner Recipes
  5. High-Protein Vegetarian Recipes

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 build 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.)

A bowl of farm-fresh brown eggs.

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.

Egg Muffins

For a healthy breakfast recipe that’s easy to make and easy to love, try my Starbucks copycat Egg Muffins. Bake a batch of this muffin tin recipe to enjoy now or freeze for a meal prep breakfast or snack.

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Egg muffins on a plate.

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 chips and salsa to complete the feast.

Chicken Ramen

An easy recipe for Chicken Ramen soup. Prep all your ingredients ahead and you can have delicious homemade chicken ramen on the table in 15 minutes or less.

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Chicken ramen in a bowl with chopsticks.
Crab Cakes with Remoulade

Loaded with a full pound of seafood, these homemade Crab Cakes with Remoulade are a step above those filler-loaded recipes. Try this baked crab cake recipe for a light dinner or as part of your Mardi Gras menu.

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A crab cake on gray plate with a lemon wedge garnish.

High-Protein Dinner Recipes

With 22 to 50 grams of protein per serving, my best high-protein dinner entrees span the globe spirit 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.

Meatloaf

This classic Meatloaf recipe is just like Mom used to make: baked as a free-form loaf and brushed with a ketchup glaze. It’s delicious for dinner and just as good as leftovers the next day (meatloaf sandwich, anyone?).

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Meatloaf slices on a wooden cutting board.
Chicken Piccata

This version of Chicken Piccata follows the typical flour dredge with a coating of bread crumbs, so it’s extra crispy and so delicious with the buttery lemon sauce and capers.

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Plates of Chicken Piccata with Lemon Rice Pilaf.
Shrimp Scampi

Quick and easy Shrimp Scampi is on the table in 30 minutes! So buttery and delicious, the whole family will love it. Great with pasta, rice, or bread.

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Shrimp scampi on a white plate.

High-Protein Vegetarian Recipes

You need not eat meat (today or any day, if you wish) 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

Take a break from the blue box mac. Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese is the epitome of comfort food! The irresistible garlic butter breadcrumb-topped casserole is a surprisingly easy dinner recipe, calling for just 10 minutes of prep time.

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A scoop of mac and cheese with garlic butter crumbs.


Karla Walsh is a Des Moines, Iowa-based freelance writer, editor, and former fitness instructor who balances her love of food and drink with her passion for fitness. (Or tries to, at least!) She holds a double major in magazine journalism and kinesiology from Iowa State University. She also passed her level one sommelier exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers, received her personal trainer certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), and got her group fitness instructor certification through the Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA). She’s covered health, food, fitness, psychology, beauty, and beyond for more than 12 years. In addition to on Culinary Hill, her writing has been published in AllRecipes, Runner’s World, Shape and Fitness Magazines, as well as on EatingWell.com, Shape.com, BHG.com, ReadersDigest.com, TheHealthy.com, prevention.com, WomensHealthMag.comand more.


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