Eating vegetarian doesn’t have to mean giving up protein or flavour. These recipes pack in the protein in a variety of clever ways, from modern meat substitutes to ancient grains and everything in-between. They’re so good you could serve them to your carnivorous friends and not one of them would complain!
These recipes are sorted by the main ingredient for your convenience–work with whatever you have in your fridge or pantry to make a meal quickly and painlessly every day of the week!
Tofu is a classic vegetarian staple, and for good reason–it’s high-protein, has a pleasant texture, and with almost no flavour of its own can be used in just about any dish, with the right marinade or seasoning. These recipes take advantage of tofu’s properties to make simple, fast and tasty dishes that don’t skip on protein content.
1. Cashew Noodles with Broccoli and Tofu (24g protein)
These tasty noodles combine high-protein tofu, egg noodles and cashews with iron-rich broccoli for a balanced, light meal that only takes a few minutes to throw together. Perfect for weeknights when you want something quick and delicious.
2. Peanutty Quinoa Bowls + Baked Tofu (32g protein)
These quinoa bowls are best described as a savoury porridge, but don’t let that put you off! Quinoa is naturally high-protein, and when added to peanut butter and tofu, it makes for a great protein boost for your weekday meals. The baked tofu in this recipe will convert even the most adamant tofu hater.
3. Low-Carb Vegetarian Stir Fry (24g protein)
This stir fry contains both tofu and mushrooms for protein, and like most stir-frys is a quick and easy dish to prepare–just mix up the sauce, turn on the wok, and add the ingredients in order. For days when you need a no-brainer meal, this is a great recipe to have saved.
4. Baked Sesame Tofu Sticks (20g protein)
If you know anyone who won’t eat tofu, this is the dish to make them change their mind. Perfect as am appetiser or a snack, the protein in the tofu is boosted by the peanut butter in the dipping sauce, making this a surprisingly healthy dish.
5. Kale Caesar Salad with Tofu Croutons (12g protein)
This classic salad has been updated and made even healthier with the addition of kale and tofu croutons, making it an ideal staple in your recipe repertoire. This salad remains as decadent as the traditional version, but much better for you.
6. Baked Tofu & Quinoa with Chickpeas and Spinach (34g protein)
Between the tofu, quinoa and chickpeas in this recipe, it’s a protein powerhouse–and it also comes out tasting like comfort food thanks to the clever cooking methods used. This recipe also offers some tips on successfully baking tofu, which is an important skill for any vegetarian.
7. Pistachio-Crusted Maple Dijon Tofu (12g protein)
This unusual recipe offers a different take on tofu, using it as though it was a filet of white meat and encrusting it with a flavourful topping. It couldn’t be easier to make–just cut the tofu into strips, cover with the crust, and bake for a few minutes in the oven! You could serve it with a high-protein base like quinoa, or healthy sweet potato wedges.
8. Tofu & Spinach Canellonni (13g protein)
This dish replaces the traditional ricotta in canellonni with tofu, making it a great vegan option for this classic dish. It looks much more difficult than it is–instead of trying to sppon the filling into tubes, this recipe suggests using fresh lasagna sheets instead, so you only have to roll them up!
9. Pizza Tofu (13g protein)
Strange as it may sound, all your doubts will be at an end when you try this delicious pizza-flavoured tofu. Marinate it overnight or while you’re at work or seeing to the kids or the housework, and then pop it in the oven for a quick and easy dinner that no one will turn their nose up at.
10. Mustard-Flavoured Tofu Nuggets (15g protein)
These nuggets are marinated, crumbed and baked with only a few minutes of hands-on time, and they’re sure to be a hit. For extra bonus protein, use quinoa flakes in place of the breadcrumbs–no one will ever know!
11. High-Protein Salad + Balsamic Tofu (24g protein)
The magic of tofu is that you can do anything you want with it in terms of flavour. This balsamic version, paired with a high-protein salad complete with chickpeas and quinoa, makes great use of these properties for a tasty, tangy dish with complex flavours.
12. Tofu Parmesan (12g protein)
This vegetarian update on a classic is super easy to make, and no one will complain about it. Replacing the traditional chicken with tofu allows the tomato sauce to really penetrate the dish, resulting in a flavourful, tender parmesan-crusted filet. Serve with a high-protein grain or salad side to really make it a protein-packed meal.
Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils are nature’s protein powerhouses, and they also contain a plethora of other important nutrients. These recipes make use of beans in a variety of ways that won’t leave you bored, and they’re easy to prepare, as well.
1. Cheesy Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (21g protein)
Sweet potatoes are much better for you than their regular cousins, and this recipe uses black beans, eggs and cheese, as well as arugula, to make a high-protein, balanced stuffed potato that’s sure to satisfy all your potato-related cravings.
2. Vegetarian Breakfast Enchiladas (22g protein)
Get your protein fix at breakfast with these tasty enchiladas. Black beans (or chickpeas), eggs and cheese make these a great high-protein option for weekend breakfasts when you’ve got some time on your hands and want to treat the family. You’re sure to get demands for repeat performances with these!
3. Black Bean Salad (12g protein)
Salads aren’t traditionally protein-rich, but with black beans and corn, this one is! Make it up to replace more traditional salads at your next get-together, or prepare it ahead of time for weekday lunches.
4. Sausage-Flavoured Beans and Grits (16g protein)
High-protein beans and grits are made to taste like sausage through a clever combination of spices. This meal is intended for breakfast, but it would make an equally delicious lunch or evening dish, especially in colder months.
5. Bean & Kale Burgers with Sweet Potato Wedges (19g protein)
If you love burgers but you’ve gone meat-free, this recipe is the one for you. Using high-protein, high-iron beans and kale, this burger has all the wonderful flavour you’d expect from a good hamburger, with none of the meat. Add sweet potato wedges to it, and you’ve got a much healthier alternative to takeout ready to go.
6. Vegan Tacos (17g protein)
Delicious soy chorizo and black beans make for an authentic-tasting taco without the meat. If you’re craving bright, warm Mexican flavours, these make an amazing weeknight dinner that even children who resist eating their vegetables will enjoy.
7. Edamame Barley Bowl (22g protein)
Barely and edamame come together in this healthy dish, which is more than worth the minor effort of putting it together. Avocado full of healthy fats and welcome flavour completes the dish, which comes out tasting as good as it looks.
8. Smashed White Bean and Kale Quesadillas (17g protein)
These quesadillas allow you to get your cheesy fix while making sure that you still manage to get enough protein in a single serve–not that you’ll be able to stop at one! Quesadillas are an easy meal to make on the grill or in the sandwich press, so you can keep this recipe on hand and always be ready to make a healthy meal.
9. Creamy Indian Lentils (30g protein)
This rich lentil dish is full to brimming with protein and nutrient rich ingredients. Lentils aren’t just high-protien–they’re full of micronutrients and fibre, which is what makes them such an excellent choice for vegetarian dishes. This one takes the form of a delicious curry that will satisfy on any day of the week.
10. Seven-Layer Tortilla Pie (21g protein)
There’s something truly impressive about this dish–it sounds and tastes like junk food, but it’s really very healthy, packed with beans and topped off with cheese baked to crispy perfection. This dish takes all of the hassle out of making enchiladas.
11. Baked Falafel Nuggets with Tomato-Cucumber Salad (13g protein)
It’s easy to overlook falafel as an option for high-protein dishes, but this recipe makes it the star of the show, and rightly so. Nuggets–regardless of what they’re made of–are always a favourite with children, and this dish is likely to be a hit with everyone.
12. Vegan Scalloped Potatoes with Chickpea ‘Cheese’ Sauce (9g protein)
This creamy, cheesy scalloped potato recipe uses a brilliantly clever sauce made from chickpeas and seasoned with nutritional yeast to mimic the taste of cheese for vegans. The chickpeas also lend their high protein content to the dish, making this comfort food you can afford to eat.
13. Jalapeño White Bean Burgers (18g protein)
These bean burgers, spiced up with jalapeños, will make any burger lover happy. They’re oven-baked, so they don’t need to be watched over too carefully, and they’re spiced to perfection. Your whole family will be thrilled with these burgers, and you’ll be thrilled with how easy they are to make.
14. Easy Mexican Chickpea Salad (17g protein)
High-protein chickpeas are combined with bright mexican flavours in this easy salad. Simply chop, whisk, and toss your way to an easy meal that would be equally at home as an office lunch or at a picnic.
15. Vegan Chickpea Cauliflower Tikka Masala (25g protein)
Move over chicken–this chickpea and cauliflower vegan version of classic tikka masala will satisfy all your curry cravings without the need for meat, and with the protein hit you get from chickpeas and cashews!
Seitan is an unusual meat replacement made from gluten–not ideal for those on a gluten-free diet, but w ith a protein content of 75g per 100g, it’s ideal if you’re looking to give a serious boost to your protein intake. Texture wise it’s very flexible–you can even make it yourself–and these recipes make it the star of the show.
1. Seitan Stuffed with Walnuts, Dried Cranberries and Mushrooms (39g protein)
At around 75% protein content, seitan has almost three times the protein of a chicken breast, which it mimics closely in texture. This recipe takes advantage of that similarity, treating a piece of seitan like a chicken breast with a delicious stuffing.
2. Crispy, Spicy Fried “Chicken” (34g protein)
What if you could have fried chicken without having any meat? This spicy recipe is easy to put together, and tastes just like Creole-style fried chicken once it’s done. If you’re craving fast-food, this makes a great fully vegan alternative to your favourite takeout.
3. The Best Buffalo Seitan Bites (32g protein)
This delicious buffalo-style recipe also includes instructions on making your own seitan, though you can always purchase it instead. The bites come together quickly and would make an excellent high-protein snack, or you could always serve them with a high-protein side as a complete meal.
4. BBQ Seitan Ribs and Barbecue Sauce (35g protein)
Craving sticky, delicious ribs? This recipe has you covered. These vegan ribs take advantage of the highly malleable texture of seitan to mimic beef ribs, and the sauce is amazing. This grills up quickly, and the prep work isn’t difficult at all.
5. Slow-Cooked Apple Cider Seitan Sandwiches (34g protein)
This recipe makes an apple cider-flavoured seitan as the basis of a sandwich, and has a healthy coleslaw recipe to go with it. Simple weeknight dinners have never been so delicious.
6. Meatball Subs with Seitan (34g protein)
In terms of sandwiches, the meatball sub is the ultimate junk food classic–but there’s nothing junk about this high-protein, meatless version! With flavourful seitan, lashings of tomato sauce and melting cheese, you’ll enjoy every bite.
7. Vegan Seitan Gyros & Tzatziki Sauce (32g protein)
Gyros aren’t just for late-night cravings anymore! This wholly vegan version makes use of seitan to replicate the tender, melt-in-the-mouth texture of gyro meat. Make up the specially formulated seitan in advance, and you can always sneak to the fridge for a late-night snack when the urge hits you.
Tempeh is similar to tofu in that it’s made from soy, but it has a coarser, chewier texture that can really add to a dish. It also boasts a higher fibre content than tofu, making it a good alternative to its more common cousin.
1. Thai-Style Tempeh Cutlets (17g protein)
Better than fish cakes, these tempeh-based cutlets come together quickly and easily in the blender, and fry up quickly for a delicious dinner. Serve with a light Thai salad, or boost the protein content with one of the other options on this list.
2. BBQ Tempeh Sandwich (17g protein)
These simple, tasty sandwiches go together in minutes and taste like you’ve spent hours making them. You can always add whatever else you like to these sandwiches–they’re a great base to work from.
3. Vegan Tempeh Meatballs (22g protein)
Meatless meatballs may sound silly, but these are tasty and would go equally well with pasta or in sandwiches–once you’ve got the meatballs made, the possibilities are endless.
4. General Tso’s Tempeh (19g protein)
Just like the Chinese takeout classic, this tempeh-based dish is flavourful and will be popular with anyone you serve it to. Exchange the rice for quinoa if you want an extra protein boost, or add whole grains for more nutrients.
5. Gingery Maple-Glazed Tempeh (15g protein)
Maple-flavoured tempeh is a surprisingly delightful dish, and paired with a light salad it becomes a high-protein, but still light lunch. You could make this in the morning before work if you were so inclined, or the night before to save time before you head out to work.
6. Thai-Spiced Tempeh with Green Beans (16g protein)
This flavourful dish is simple–tempeh meatballs with a Thai-style sauce and fresh green beans–and comes together in minutes. It makes a great standby to have in your repertoire for nights when you truly can’t bring yourself to do anything difficult.
7. Tempeh of the Sea (20g protein)
Tempeh gets put to use in making a mock-tuna salad in this recipe, which you can make up and keep for sandwiches whenever the urge strikes you. It’s quick and simple to make, so you never have to be more than a few moments away from a high-protein snack.
8. Snow Pea, Cabbage, and Mizuna Salad with Marinated and Seared Tempeh (22g protein)
An artfully balanced dish, this wintery salad packs a serious flavour punch, the mizuna adding a peppery burst of freshness to the dish and the tempeh the star of the show, cooked in a simple marinade that contrasts beautifully with the rest of the ingredients. This is one salad that isn’t boring at all.
9. Curried Tempeh Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Mango Chutney (20g protein)
All the elements of this easy-to-make sandwich have a wonderful, comforting quality to them. The warmth of the curried tempeh and the sweetness of the mango chutney all in a toasted sandwich, the familiarity of which is sure to bring a smile to your face at the end of a hard day.
10. Sweet Potato Tempeh Hash (24g protein)
The flavours of sweet potato, kale and tempeh come together in this dish, which is simply thrown into a pan and cooked, making it perhaps the lowest-effort recipe on this list.
11. Korean Tempeh Steaks (18g protein)
If you’re craving something to sink your teeth into, these tempeh ‘steaks’ might just be the ideal thing! Spiced with a Korean-style rub, they bring the flavour without compromising on the protein. Serve them as though they were regular steaks–or better yet, with a Korean-style salad!
12. Vegan Tempeh Carbonara (21g protein)
Who needs bacon when you can have bacon-style tempeh? This unique spaghetti carbonara is a vegan, lighter alternative to the heavy cream and egg dish usually associated with the name. It’s just as delicious, though, and the protein content is better than the original thanks to the tempeh and the creamy cashew-based sauce!
Eggs aren’t just delicious–they’re full of micronutrients, good fats, and obviously protein. There are a thousand ways to cook an egg, but we’ve narrowed the list down to just a few great dishes that are simple and tasty, perfect for mid-week dinners or lunches or lazy weekend breakfasts.
1. Red, White, Bean and Basil Frittata (13g protein)
There’s little easier to make than a frittata, and this one’s packed with protein-rich beans, giving a boost to the eggs. Frittata is equally good hot or cold, so you could make this for dinner and take some with you or lunch the next day!
2. Yummy Veggie Omelette (21g protein)
Omelettes are a versatile dish, and this one can be put together with whatever vegetables you might have on hand. The possibilities are practically endless, and with an egg base, you’re sure to get more than enough protein out of every serve.
3. Spicy Baked Eggs (20g protein)
Baked eggs take all the effort out of egg cooking. This recipe includes chickpeas and swiss chard, plus loads of added extras for flavour.
4. Bean, Kale and Egg Stew (34g protein)
This warming stew has everything you could possibly want for your protein fix–beans, eggs and cheese give the dish its heft, and this is the quickest stew you’ll ever put together–it should only take about half an hour. Great for the coldest of winter nights.
5. Brown Butter, Peas and Mint Omelette (22g protein)
The combination of eggs and peas in this recipe really brings the protein, and omelettes are a simple but delicious way to feed yourself when you’re not up to cooking anything fancy–but this particular recipe takes no more effort than boiling water and cracking eggs, and would be perfectly at home when you have company over as well.
6. Quinoa, Zucchini and Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata (15g protein)
Another super-easy frittata, this one adds quinoa for an interesting texture and the added nutritional benefits it has to offer. These store really well, so you could get away with making it once and then having it right there for when you can’t be bothered cooking later in the week.
7. Low-Carb Egg Breakfast Muffins (19g protein)
These muffins couldn’t be more convenient–just whisk the ingredients together, pour into greased muffin tins, and bake. They’re perfect for a high-protein breakfast on the go to get your day off to a good start, and they’d make great lunchbox snacks for the kids, too.
8. Eggs Benedict with Avocado and Roasted Red Pepper (23g protein)
Eggs Benedict may be traditionally reserved for breakfast, but this vegetarian version with smoky capsicum to replace the ham and creamy avocado as a base would make an equally pleasant light lunch, or even a weeknight dinner, with just 6 minutes cooking time!
9. Brussel Sprout, Sweet Potato and Egg Skillet (25g protein)
High-protein brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes come together with eggs in this warming skillet. It’s perfect for any meal of the day in the cooler months, when all the ingredients are readily available and you don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking.
10. Zucchini and Goat’s Cheese Crostini (22g protein)
This meal will make your day better at any time in the summer months, when you want to eat light without skimping on protein. It comes together in just 10 minutes and it looks so impressive you’ll want to make it all the time.
11. Eggs In Purgatory With Artichoke Hearts, Potatoes, And Capers (26g protein)
This fancifully-named dish is quick, simple and delicious, with winter vegetables combined with eggs in tomato sauce (purgatory) coming together to make a high-protein, low-effort bake that the whole family is sure to enjoy.
12. Spinach and Mozzarella Egg Bake (21g protein)
This low-carb, high-protein egg bake is somewhere between a quiche and a casserole, making it a suitable meal for any time of the day. It makes a large batch, so you can enjoy it a few days in a row, or take it into the office if you’re looking to win some brownie points with your colleagues.
13. Paleo Cinnamon Toast Freezer Waffles (17g protein)
These Waffles are egg white based and make a perfect, guilt free breakfast snack. Better yet they’re protein packed and need less than 7 ingredients to make! They certainly make a change from the usual protein pancakes that you’ll find on the web!
Pasta and Grains
It’s easy to overlook pasta and grains as a valuable protein source, but they’re staple foods worldwide for a reason. This section also contains recipes which use quinoa. It’s not technically a grain (it’s a seed), but it takes the place of one in many high-protein recipes.
1. Baked Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese (24g protein)
Who doesn’t love mac ‘n’ cheese? This version is packed full of delicious high-protein cheeses, combined with a cozy blend of pumpkin and spices that make it a great, hearty dish for the cooler months, when you need a little fortification against the cold.
2. Pasta with Broccoli and Cauliflower (17g protein)
This healthy pasta dish makes use of white beans to boost the protein content, and is packed full of fresh veggie flavour with broccoli, cauliflower and sun-dried tomatoes. The perfect meal to linger over on a warm summer evening.
3. Orecchiette in Creamed Corn with Wilted Tomatoes and Arugula (20g protein)
The flavours of the Mediterranean star in this surprisingly hearty dish, which gets its protein from the creamed corn and orecchiette, an ear-shaped pasta which you should buy fresh so as to get the maximum benefit from the egg content. Pine nuts add an extra crunch and a few more important nutrients to the dish.
4. Mushroom Risotto (14g protein)
This oven-baked risotto takes all of the effort out of the dish, but leaves in all the flavour. Protein-boosted by the mushrooms and brown rice, this dish is warm and creamy, the perfect thing after a long day.
5. One-Pan Mediterranean Quinoa (13g protein)
Made all in the one pot, this meal saves you the effort of cleaning up once you’re done. Quinoa is the star of the show here, and the whole thing comes together quickly and easily for those evenings when you just can’t be bothered but don’t want to ruin all your hard work in eating well.
6. Sweet Potato Protein Pizza Base (22g protein)
Once you’ve got this high-protein pizza base packed with quinoa flour figured out, the possibilities are endless. This is less a finished recipe and more a licence to experiment with whatever toppings you like, allowing you to enjoy a pizza whenever you like without any of the guilt.
7. Cheesy Southwest Breakfast Farro (22g protein)
Farro is an ancient, high-protein grain that also happens to make a delicious breakfast when combined with cheese and eggs. Put it on the stove before you get dressed, and it’ll be ready when you are!
8. Creamy, Healthy Corn and Quinoa Chowder (8g protein)
This warming chowder is quick and simple to make, and will transport you straight to the seaside with the smell of salt in the air. It’s a comforting dish that will nourish you body and soul at the end of a long day.
9. Quinoa Banana Chocolate Chip Breakfast Bake (13g protein)
Spoil yourself with chocolate and bananas for breakfast without sacrificing the protein content. This is a sort of baked porridge, so you can put it on and forget about it until it’s ready, taking the stress out of mornings.
10. Pumpkin & Ricotta Pasta Casserole (18g protein)
You can’t go too far wrong with a casserole like this! Pumpkin, ricotta cheese, and pasta all add their high protein content to this simple recipe, making it about as convenient and healthy as a pasta dish comes–plus, pasta reheats well, so you’ll get plenty of use out of the leftovers.
11. Creamy Garlic Herb and Mushroom Spaghetti (15g protein)
This simple spaghetti dish uses whole-wheat noodles for an extra hit of protein and fibre. The herby, garlicky mushroom sauce cooks while the pasta does, making this a meal that can be made in under 20 minutes.
12. Simple Barley Pilaf (12g protein)
Who needs rice when you can have high-protein barley instead? This quick and easy pilaf makes for a protein-rich side dish that can be combined with just about any main dish for an unusual but delicious accompaniment. You can always alter the seasoning to go with whatever you’re serving it with.
13. Roasted Tomatoes with Goat’s Cheese Polenta (18g protein)
This rich polenta flavoured with goat’s cheese and delicious roasted tomatoes is the very best kind of comfort food, and high-protein, too! This could be served on its own or with another protein source if you desired, for maximum benefit.
You may not think of cheese as a valuable source of protein, but many cheeses are as high-protein as chicken. These recipes make use of that by incorporating cheese with healthy vegetables to make a balanced meal.
1. Roasted Tomato, Zucchini and Smoked Cheese Casserole (15g protein)
There’s nothing quite as warm and comforting as a casserole, and this one is no exception. In addition to having a decent protein content, this recipe is gluten-free and paleo-friendly. All you need to do is layer up the ingredients and put them in the oven to bake!
2. Parmesan Broth with Kale and White Beans (23g protein)
The beans and kale in this interesting, light soup make it a hearty meal. You’re unlikely to find another meal like it, so it’s one worth trying for the novelty if nothing else, or to impress particularly difficult-to-please guests with your culinary inventiveness.
3. Healthy Veggie Mac and Cheese (22g protein)
In this recipe, broccoli slaw replaces the traditional pasta, making for a lighter meal that still packs a decent amount of protein. It only uses a handful of ingredients, so you should have no trouble making this crowd-pleasing meal on short notice.
4. Waffle Iron Fried Cheese (20g protein)
If you own a waffle iron, this recipe couldn’t be simpler. It’s not one for every day–this is literally fried cheese–but it would make a great snack on a day when you need a pick-me-up, and it could easily be served with a healthy grain-based salad to balance out the fat in the cheese.
5. Asiago Broccoli Cheese Soup (23g protein)
This cheesy dish comes together quickly and is such a delicious way to eat broccoli that even the kids won’t object to it! Both asiago and cheddar cheeses add their protein content to this dish, which is comforting and warm for cold nights.
6. Grilled 3-Cheese Pimento Sweet Pepper Poppers (19g protein)
The name of this recipe should be enough to convince you it’s worth making. These cheese-stuffed peppers would make either a good stand-alone snack, or could be served with a simple salad to make a complete meal. Cream cheese, parmesan and cheddar make these delicious peppers a good high-protein option that’ll make everyone happy.
7. Butternut Squash and Cheddar Bread Pudding (27g protein)
Eggs, cheese and high-protein squash come together in this dish to make a simple, delicious casserole that also serves as a good way to use up your day-old bread. Just throw the whole thing in a casserole dish and bake until done!
8. Three Cheese Pesto Spinach Pizza (24g protein)
Who says pizza can’t be healthy? This three-cheese version is packed with spinach for all the nutrients you need, and can be scaled up for however many people you want to serve. It’s a no-fuss crowd-pleaser packed with protein–what more could you want?
9. Grilled Mushroom Cheesesteaks (16g protein)
Did you know that 65% of the world’s commercially-grown mushrooms come from Philadelphia? This recipe combines two state classics into one high-protein, super-easy meal that’s much better for you than the traditional version.