Vegetarian meals that are delicious as well as high in protein are essential for people who don’t eat meat or those who are just trying to cut back on their meat intake. But lucky for everyone who falls into this category, in recent years, the vegan and vegetarian community has expanded, making way for an array of both creative and convenient recipes, all of which – you guessed it – are high in protein.
But what actually counts as high protein? While every body is different, which means everybody’s daily protein intake is different, (we’re talking body mass and composition, age, activity level, etc.) it can be hard to determine a one-size-fits-all amount. However, for the sake of arguments, around 20 to 30 grams of protein per serving is a good benchmark for the average person who regularly exercises.
How Can I Get High Protein on a Vegetarian Diet?
While a nice chunk of meat will provide you with the amount of protein you need in no time, the vegetarian diet can take a little longer as often it requires a combination of sources to get to that point.
Instead, you’ll have to gather a few ingredients, and many vegetarians opt for dairy products like eggs and cheese, as well as many other plant protein sources like beans, whole grains, red lentils, tempeh, tofu, seitan, seeds, and nuts. But the plus side is, as well as the good amount of protein you’re getting, you are also treating your body to the other advantages of plant based proteins (like fiber), along with a versatile array of textures and flavors.
So, with plant based dishes being easier than ever to make, let’s take a look at our top 8 favorites so you can start feeding your body with tasty protein packed meals!
High Protein Vegetarian Recipes
Ready for a healthy meal packed with protein? Let’s go…
1. Spinach and Chickpea Pasta
OK, so we’re starting with one of the easiest recipes to reel you in. Except for the veggies in this dish, every ingredient can be stored in the cupboard. We’re talking tinned tomatoes and pastes and of course the Italian staple, pasta!
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 large red onion – finely diced
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons of sundried tomato pesto
- 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- 2 x 390 grams of chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- One pinch of dried red chilli flakes
- 1/2 cup of water
- 400 grams of rinsed and drained chickpeas
- 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
- 200 grams of baby spinach
- 400 grams of pasta of your choice
- Fresh basil
- Freshly grated parmesan
- Heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté the red onion for 6-8 minutes until it is soft.
- Then, add the garlic and cook for an extra minute before adding the balsamic vinegar and tomato pesto.
- Add the oregano, chopped tomatoes, chili, water, and sugar to the pan. Partially cover it and simmer for around 20 minutes.
- Use salt and black pepper to season the sauce, and then add the chickpeas and heat everything through.
- Next, place the spinach on top of the sauce and let it wilt for around 3 minutes.
- Boil some water and season with a generous amount of salt and cook the pasta. Keep one cup of the pasta water before you drain it.
- Pour all of the pasta into the sauce and toss everything together before adding some cooking water to loosen the ingredients.
- Garnish with some fresh basil and grated parmesan. (Optional, obviously.)
And there you have it. A simple vegetarian recipe with enough protein to get you through the day. All that’s left to do now is enjoy!
2. Vegetarian Chili
Who doesn’t love a chili? Warm and flavorful, you can’t go wrong with high protein vegetarian meals like this one. This recipe in particular has some added extras that really give the dish a kick.
(Obviously, use the veggies you prefer, but for ease, we’ve created the recipe with these greens:)
- Onion, bell pepper, carrot, corn, sweet potatoes
- Green chilis
- Spices for the perfect chili blend – chili powder, dried oregano, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika
- Crushed tomatoes
- Veggie broth
- Black beans and kidney beans
Toppings (optional, of course):
- Tortilla chips
- A squeeze of lime or lemon juice
- Shredded cheese
- Greek yogurt, plain yogurt, or sour cream
- Put some oil in a large pot on medium to high heat. Add in the veggies and the garlic and sauté for 5-7 minutes, making sure you frequently stir.
- Next, add the spices and stir together for around 30 seconds.
- Lastly, add in the black beans, kidney beans, crushed tomatoes, corn, and water. Bring to a boil before reducing the heat, and simmer everything for 30-45 minutes. (Or until the flavors all come together and the chili is at the thickness of your liking.)
- Taste and adjust the seasonings and salt as you go until you’re 100% happy.
- Top with garnishings of your choice and serve!
3. Spicy Black Bean Burgers
Black bean burgers are the trusty vegetarian version of the mighty burger, and boy are they just as tasty. This simple meal has a healthy protein content and isn’t too difficult to prepare, either.
Black beans also offer a lot more than just protein, too. They are also full of fiber and help to manage diabetes and lower blood pressure. Good food with added health benefits?! Count. Us. In. (This recipe serves 4.)
- 1 can of black beans
- 1 finely diced small yellow onion
- 6 finely diced button or bella mushrooms
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 1/2 finely diced red finger chili
- 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon of tomato puree
- 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
- 1/4 cup of finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- 4 burger buns of your choice
- Sour cream (optional)
- Salsa (optional)
- Guacamole (optional)
- Drain and rinse the black beans and then set them aside.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil into a frying pan on medium to high heat.
- Add in the mushrooms and onions and cook for 5 minutes until everything is soft.
- Add the garlic and red chili and cook for an extra minute before taking off the heat and putting to one side.
- Put the black beans in a big bowl and mash them with a fork. You can leave some of the black beans whole for some texture.
- Add the mushroom and onion mixture along with the rest of the ingredients to the bowl apart from the oil.
- Mix everything well so you can form a large ball. If the mixture is a little too wet, add some extra breadcrumbs.
- Make 4 patties by dividing the mixture into 4.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil into the pan on a medium to high heat.
- When it’s hot, place the patties into the pan and cook on each side for 4-5 minutes until they’re nice and crispy.
- Now serve the burgers in some buns with the salsa, sour cream, and guacamole, or use the toppings of your choice. Enjoy!
4. Vegetable Tofu Scramble
Tofu is an incredibly popular meat substitute, mainly because it’s so versatile and can absorb flavors really well. This vegetarian protein recipe, in particular, is scrambled, so take note of how to perfect it, as you can adapt it for a tasty vegetarian healthy breakfast!
- 14 oz of extra firm tofu
- 8 oz of mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons of cooking oil
- 1/4 teaspoon of cracked black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup of peppers and onions
- 8 oz spinach
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 cup of salsa
- If you have the option, freeze and thaw your tofu a few days before making it. While you don’t have to do this, it gives it a better texture and makes it more spongey and easier to mold. When the tofu is ready, take it from the package and squeeze out the excess moisture. Then, press the tofu and wait around 15 minutes until every bit of moisture has gone.
- While you’re pressing the tofu, slice up the mushrooms.
- Pour the oil into a big pan on medium to high heat. Once hot, tilt the pan so that it spreads across the bottom. Crumble all of the tofu into the skillet and dust some pepper and garlic powder over the top. Continue sautéing for around 2-3 minutes.
- Next, add the mushrooms and cook until soft. Add the onions and peppers and carry on sautéing until they are fully heated through. Then add the spinach and do the same until everything is thoroughly heated.
- Lastly, season the pan with salt and nutritional yeast. Toss the ingredients until everything is covered and give it a taste, adjusting the salt if you need.
- Serve the scrambled tofu with some salsa as a side dish.
5. Seitan and Vegetable Stir Fry
OK, so seitan isn’t gluten free, but it is high in protein. There are other vegetarian options you can choose for this dish that are GF will taste just as great, though!
- 2 cloves of minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon of canola oil
- 1 small thinly sliced onion
- 8 oz of sliced seitan
- 1 red sliced bell pepper
- 5 sliced button or shiitake mushrooms
- 4 oz of baby spinach
For the sauce:
- 1/4 cup of veggie stock
- 2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of dry sherry
- 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons of sesame oil
- Put all of the sauce ingredients into a sealed tupperware. Shake thoroughly until the cornstarch is dissolved, and then set to one side. If there are still lumps, you can break them up by hand or with a spoon.
- Add some canola oil to a large pan on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the seitan and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes. Both need to be golden brown.
- Next, add the mushrooms, pepper, and onion and cook for 4-5 minutes. The veggies need to be tender but still have that signature stir fry crunch.
- Add the spinach and cook for an extra minute.
- Shake up the tupperware with the sauce and pour it all into the large pan. Stir everything well and cook for one minute more.
- Turn off the heat and serve with rice. (Choose your rice of choice. Brown rice is really high in protein if you want to add some extra protein to your meal!)
6. Roasted Veggie Grain Bowl
As you know, grains are great for quick and easy high protein recipes, so we couldn’t not include grain bowls on the list! These meatless recipes will stand the test of time, and depending on whether you pick a fruity one or a more savory one, they can be for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! (This recipe is a savory one, btw.)
- Grains of your choice (for this one, we used quinoa as it’s naturally gluten free and is protein rich)
- Plant based protein of your choice (we used chickpeas for this one and top tip – roast them before you add them to your grain bowl as it gives the meal an extra crunch)
- Kale pepita pesto (or whatever sauce takes your fancy)
- Cauliflower, parsnips, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts
- Your pickle of choice (for this recipe, we’re using sauerkraut)
- Pepitas or croutons for crunch
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 425°F.
- You’ll want to make the quinoa first, so start by rinsing it and adding it to a medium pot with some water. Bring to the boil, cover it, and reduce the heat before letting it simmer for around 15 minutes. Remove the quinoa from the heat, cover it up and let it rest for 10 extra minutes. Then, fluff it with a fork to yield around 3 cups.
- Roast your parsnips, cauliflower, and sprouts onto one baking sheet. Drizzle your veggies with olive oil and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss them around the sheet and then spread them evenly, giving them all enough room to cook properly. Roast for 20-25 minutes until they’re crispy and golden brown, and then roast the broccoli for 10-12 minutes. Next, chop up the broccoli stems.
- Assembling time! Grab a bowl and place a scoop of the quinoa, the roasted veggies, a handful of chickpeas, a scoop of your zingy sauerkraut, and top with the pepitas or croutons. Drizzle the pesto over and adjust to your taste with some extra salt and pepper. You can even place a handful of sunflower seeds over the top for an extra crisp.
- Now all that’s left to do is serve. And because this recipe is a large batch meant to serve 4, you’re probably going to have some left over for tomorrow, so put the rest in a tupperware and store in the fridge.
7. Lentil Salad
This one’s for all the Mediterranean food lovers out there. And as summer is approaching, this is one of the best high protein vegetarian meals you can get. Lentils are 10/10 when it comes to vegetarian protein sources, too, and this recipe is super tasty. While you can add some feta cheese to top it off, this is a vegan version of the dish.
- 400 grams of rinsed and drained lentils
- 35 grams of red onion
- 35 grams of green bell pepper
- 35 grams of red bell pepper
- 40 grams of cucumber
- 40 grams of carrots
- 6 cherry tomatoes
- 40 grams of fresh parsley
- Lemon juice (half a lemon)
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt
- Black pepper
Now for the quickest prep and cook time ever.
- Place your lentils in a bowl.
- Add all of the vegetables (making sure they’re finely chopped) and then the rest of the ingredients – oil, salt, pepper, and lemon.
- Mix thoroughly and serve!
8. Falafel Salad
Another salad favorite, and another of our favorite high protein vegetarian recipes. Falafel has 13 grams of protein per serving, and it’s a staple part of traditional Middle Eastern cuisine. They’re also unbelievably versatile and super delicious, so let’s take a look at this recipe!
(For the tahini dressing)
- 1/3 cup of tahini sesame seed paste
- 1/4 cup of lemon juice
- 1/3 cup of water
- 2 cloves of peeled garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
(For the salad)
- Flat leaf parsley – one bunch
- Cilantro – one bunch
- 2 tomatoes
- 190oz of chickpeas
- 1/2 cup of uncooked bulgur
- Start by making the dressing. You’ll need to roughly chop the garlic cloves or smash them under a blade (your preference, really). Then, add the water, tahini, garlic, lemon juice cayenne, cumin, and salt into a blender together. Once mixed into a dressing, refrigerate until you’re ready to use.
- Put the bulgur into a sauce pot without oil or water and stir to cook for two minutes over medium heat. Once slightly toasted, add one cup of water and bring to a boil. Put a lid on the pot and turn the heat down so the mixture can simmer for 20 minutes. Then, fluff the bulgur and put it in the refrigerator to cool without a lid.
- Under cool water, wash the cilantro and parsley. Then, shake off as much water as you can. Roughly chop the leaves after pulling them from the stems, and place them into a bowl.
- Dice the tomato and add to the same bowl. Rinse and drain your chickpeas before adding them, too. Next, add the chilled bulgur to the boil while stirring all of the other ingredients together. Finally, add a generous amount of the tahini until all of the ingredients are fully coated.
- Sun dried tomatoes, crumbled feta, or diced cucumbers would be a great addition to this dish!
- Serve and enjoy!
High Protein Vegetarian Recipes That Will Keep You Going For a Long Time
Need some inspiration for your upcoming meal plans? These high protein vegetarian recipes tick all the boxes: Healthy, tasty, and of course, absolutely protein packed. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your apron, pick your favorite dish and get some vegetarian goodness inside of you! We are literally salivating over how epic these meals look right now.