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42 High Protein Meals That Are Easy and Filling – Real Simple

11 minutes, 49 seconds Read
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Serving meals high in protein is a smart way to help your family get enough of this critical body-building and tissue-repairing macronutrient. To that end, we compiled delicious, easy-to-make, high protein recipe ideas to keep you and your family on the right nutritional track.

We promise our lineup isn’t all red meat and beans, either. We selected flavorful dishes that range from seafood to lamb and even meat-free options. We’re sure you’ll find several to add to your monthly or weekly menu rotation.

Gochujang Gumbo

Hector Manuel Sanchez

Shrimp and andouille sausage co-star in this spicy soup, a twist on a typical New Orleans-style gumbo. In this high protein recipe, gochujang (Korean chili bean paste) and red Fresno chiles add a big flavor, while celery, bell pepper, and okra up this gumbo’s heartiness. 

Skillet Pork Chops and Beans

Greg DuPree

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

Buttery Shrimp With Marinated White Beans

Caitlin Bensel

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

Charred Broccolini With Tahini Caesar and Crispy Chickpeas

Jennifer Causey


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

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Caitlin Bensel

This chili tastes like fall in a bowl, but since it calls for canned pumpkin purée, you can make it in any season. In this comforting dish, pumpkin is 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.

One Pot Italian Sausage Gnocchi Soup

Jennifer Causey

This hearty soup packs lean turkey sausage and potato gnocchi into every bite. You’ll also find diced tomatoes and baby spinach, but there’s plenty of room to add whatever veggies you have in your fridge.

Baby Lamb Chops With Mixed Olive Relish and Roasted Carrots

Jennifer Causey


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

Lemon Coriander Roasted Chicken With Leeks and Squash

This one skillet meal is a great option when you have company, but it is easy enough for any night of the week. The chicken is flavored with butter spiked with fresh cilantro, ginger, lemon zest, and ground coriander. The bird rests on a bed of protein-rich acorn squash and leeks, all roasting in the same pan.

Roasted Root Veggie Quinoa Bowls

Victor Protasio


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

Red Lentil Soup With Lemon and Dill

Victor Protasio


In this chunky soup, creamy red lentils, fire-roasted tomatoes, and carrots are flavored with 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, it’s safe to say this meal is protein-packed.

One-Pot Chicken Sausage and Beans

Caitlin Bensel

Chicken sausage and beans—two excellent protein sources—layer on the flavor in this simple one pot recipe inspired by the classic French cassoulet. Rounding out the recipe are sautéed onions, juicy tomatoes, and a crunchy breadcrumb topping.

Spiced Chicken and Chickpea Soup

Caitlin Bensel

This hearty, flavorful soup is packed with protein thanks to skinless, boneless chicken thighs and a can of chickpeas. If you don’t have spinach, sub with torn kale or Swiss chard leaves.

Lentil and Kielbasa Stew

Roland Bello

Satisfying and flavorful, this hearty stew is packed with smoky sausage, green lentils, and veggies (celery, carrots, and onions). The lentils provide this meal-in-a-bowl an extra shot of protein, folate, iron, and potassium—while keeping the recipe’s calories low.

Roasted Spiced Salmon

Greg DuPree

Salmon provides a nice break from chicken and shrimp when you’re after lean protein. This one i seasoned with a compound butter made with turmeric and cumin, and it’s served alongside lemony spinach and rice pilaf with juicy pops of golden raisins.

Shrimp Linguine With Chorizo

Caitlin Bensel

Get a double dose of protein from this pasta dish packed with sautéed shrimp and spicy chorizo. The linguine gets a burst of freshness from lemon zest and a little crunch courtesy of panko breadcrumbs. It may seem complicated, but we promise it takes just 20 minutes.

Slow Cooker Bean and Spinach Enchiladas

Marcus Nilsson

Traditionally, enchiladas are a lot of work, but this easy recipe creates protein-rich, inexpensive, black bean-and-spinach enchiladas in the slow cooker almost effortlessly. After 3½ hours, you have delightfully satisfying vegetarian enchiladas to serve with a refreshing leafy salad.

Black Bean Tostadas With Sweet Potato and Poblanos

Victor Protasio

This recipe 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, but for even more richness, finish with a crumble of cotija cheese.

Classic Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Steve Giralt

The best slow cooker recipes let you throw the ingredients together with little or no prep and return after 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 this classic dish’s intense flavor.

Salt-and-Pepper Chicken With Cheesy Spinach Quinoa

Victor Protasio

If you’re looking for an easy, balanced meal to make after a busy workday, this 20-minute dish is it. Start by cooking the protein-packed cheesy spinach quinoa, which boasts fresh greens and shredded Gruyère. Next, cook the salt-and-pepper-seasoned chicken breasts in a large skillet, serve the quinoa alongside, and you’re good to go!

Spiced Lamb Meatball and Swiss Chard Stew

Roland Bello

Meatballs: One could argue there are few protein bites that are more appealing than piping-hot balls of ground meat. Case in point: these lamb meatballs are better. They are spiced with garlic, paprika, and cumin and served in a chicken broth with Swiss chard and orzo. A dollop of yogurt completes this Middle Eastern-inspired meal in a bowl.

Roasted Curry Salmon With Tomatoes

Romulo Yanes

You’ve seen plenty of sheet pan dinner recipes, and this curry salmon supper works the same way. Think of it as a curried Caprese salad with salmon (instead of mozzarella). Serve the fillets over rice and top each plate with blistered grape tomatoes and fresh basil.

Grilled Pork Chops With Peach Arugula Salad

Greg DuPree

Whether you’re cutting back on carbs, trimming your grocery bill, or looking to get dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes, this high protein 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.

Mole Spiced Black Bean and Quinoa Bowl

Jen Causey

Yes, mole often takes a whole day to prepare, but it takes only seconds to pull a jar of it off your grocer’s shelf. This recipe transforms that store-bought mole sauce into a delicious dressing for protein-packed quinoa, black beans, and pumpkin seeds.

Soy Glazed Salmon Sandwiches With Watercress

Jen Causey

This recipe coats protein-rich salmon fillets with a glaze of chili sauce, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. After a quick sear, serve atop fluffy brioche burger buns with a crisp watercress salad. In just 25 minutes, you have a delicious, healthy meal for four.

Black Eyed Pea Ribollita

Caitlin Bensel

Ribollita (pronounced ree-bohl-LEE-tah) is Italian comfort food at its finest. This Tuscan-style soup is packed with good-for-you vegetables (collard greens, black-eyed peas, and tomatoes) plus plenty of Parmigiano-Reggiano, a surprisingly good source of protein too.

Turkey Burgers With Lime Mayo and Crispy Oven Fries

Greg DuPree

While turkey burgers aren’t always the most flavorful option, these burgers are anything but bland thanks to 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.

Steak With Skillet Tomatoes and Spicy Sautéed Green Beans

Sang An

This showstopper of a steak dinner can be cooked entirely on the stovetop. If you prefer the grill, cook the beef outdoors while you follow the procedure for the rest of the meal that’s ready in just 30 minutes.

Spanish Omelet With Potatoes and Chorizo

Ngoc Minh Ngo

Sure, you could wake up to this frittata-like dish for breakfast—or turn to it as a high protein dinner served warm or at room temperature. Looking for a vegetarian option? Omit the chorizo and substitute another vegetable like diced green and red bell peppers or sliced zucchini.

Slow Cooker Squash Lasagna

Romulo Yanes

Two kinds of cheese—ricotta and mozzarella—along with squash puree and baby spinach give this meatless lasagna heft. And that’s not even the best part: This lasagna cooks in the slow cooker, so there’s no hot oven blasting for hours. Serve with a green salad for a deceptively easy meal that’s as inexpensive to prepare as it is tasty.

Miso Black Bass With Asian Slaw

Greg DuPree

Expand your seafood repertoire with this recipe for broiled bass. This white fish boasts a mild flavor and smooth, buttery texture, and it’s deliciously moist and flaky with a tasty miso glaze. It’s served alongside a slaw of red cabbage, red bell pepper, and sliced jalapeños topped with a soy-and-lime dressing.

Almond Crusted Chicken With Arugula Salad

Caitlin Bensel

Almond flour stands in for panko to coat chicken cutlets in this recipe, but you won’t miss any crispness or flavor because sesame seeds add earthy notes along with some crunch. The crispy chicken pairs with a lemony arugula and Brussels sprouts salad that offsets the juicy cutlets.

Southwestern Beef Chili With Corn

Hector M. Sanchez

Get your chili fix—and plenty of protein—with this flavorful recipe. It gets a Southwestern flare from poblano peppers and chili powder, along with a hearty base of onion, carrots, peppers, and beans. Top with Greek yogurt and shredded cheese for more protein, plus sliced avocado and whatever else you crave.

Chickpea Veggie Burgers

Caitlin Bensel

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

Eggplant and Tofu Stir Fry

JOSÉ PICAYO

This simple vegan stir fry boasts plenty of protein thanks to tofu. Toss in additional veggies to up the nutritional content, and feel free to swap out the white rice for brown rice for more protein. Easily customizable to suit your preferences (and what’s in the fridge), you can throw this together in about 30 minutes.

Vegetarian Chili With Sweet Potatoes

Con Poulos

A half-dozen veggies give this vegetarian dish plenty of protein and other key nutrients. Our favorite thing about this game-day classic is you can toss ingredients in a slow cooker and, after about 5 hours, it’s time to eat!

Superfood Lentil Salad

Victor Protasio

As you may have guessed, this salad is packed with protein-rich superfoods. It pairs sunflower seeds and lentils with zucchini, greens, and golden raisins. Even the dressing—a versatile, fresh, sunflower seed vinaigrette—is loaded with nutrients.

Shepherd’s Pie

Greg DuPree

Beneath a layer of buttery, creamy mashed potatoes—that, believe it or not, deliver on the protein front—you’ll find a mean vegetable-enriched ground beef filling made with mushrooms and tomato paste. Though more time-consuming than most, this hearty English meat-and-potatoes meal is worthy of a spot on your winter dinner rotation.

Wild Rice and Mushroom Pilaf With Cranberries

Gentl + Hyers

Wild rice has more protein than the oft-lauded brown rice, which is reason alone to give this dish a try. It also features mushrooms and dried cranberries for a dash of sweetness. Serve alongside just about any meat or fish dish, or snack on it solo when you’re feeling a bit peckish.

Whole Grain Minestrone With Parmesan Crisps

Caitlin Bensel

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

Vegetarian Tacos With Goat Cheese

Con Poulos

These meat-free tacos certainly don’t lack protein thanks to tofu and a crumbled goat cheese topping. Chili powder and store-bought salsa deliver a burst of flavor you won’t want to miss. Yum!

Garlicky Hoisin Beef

Anna Williams

No need for takeout here! This garlicky hoisin beef is just as good as your favorite restaurant meal, and it’s loaded with protein. Hoisin sauce is typically used in Cantonese cooking and has a fragrant aroma and taste that pairs well with the sirloin steak.

Mango Chicken Curry With Coconut Rice

Jennifer Causey, Food Stylist: Julian Hensarling, Prop Stylist: Christina Daley


With 30 grams of protein per serving, this curry packs a high-energy punch. Coconut milk gives the rice and sauce a creamy quality, while mango, ginger, and yellow curry paste bring the sweet and spicy elements. Chicken thighs simmered in the sauce add richness and flavor, and cilantro, red peppers, and lime brighten everything up.

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