15 Best Lean Protein Recipes
These top-rated recipes feature healthy, lean protein in main dishes. They'll keep you feeling full but without lots of saturated fat. We've gathered together lean chicken, turkey, pork, and beef recipes, along with plant-based proteins like tofu, quinoa, beans, and tempeh.
"This version of turkey meatloaf has a great texture and a surprisingly good flavor," says Drew. "The secret is the quinoa, which adds wonderful texture and is much nuttier than breadcrumbs."
This hearty fish stew features sea bass in a spiced broth with coconut milk and tomato. "My interpretation of Brazilian seafood stew (or moqueca) uses just fish, so I'm calling it the weeknight version," says Chef John. "It's ready to serve in less than 30 minutes."
3. Tempeh Gyros
A Greek favorite gets a delicious vegan makeover. "Traditional seasonings, traditional taste, traditional food," says veggiesdontbite. "A meal your whole family will love."
"This is a fresh, healthy, easy-to-make salad with a twist to the usual restaurant versions," says cookinmama. "It can be served in small portions as an appetizer salad, or in large portions as a whole meal. This recipe is for 4 larger salads."
"Chicken and veggie skewers marinated in cilantro, lime, and cumin," says CJ. "Serve with rice, salsa, and warm tortillas."
Tuna steaks are well-seasoned, quickly pan-fried, and served over fresh mango salsa. "This delicious and simple dish will make your dinner guests think you're a true gourmet chef," says AcadiaBoi. "It works great with fresh or frozen fish."
Cook strips of chicken in a little olive oil with garlic and onions, zucchini, broccoli, and tomatoes. Then top it off with feta cheese, fresh basil, and a splash of lime juice to brighten up flavors. "A quick recipe that can be adjusted to include whatever vegetables you have on hand," says kmo1070.
"This healthy, protein-packed tofu dish is filled with flavor," says Kiara Sexton. "This is a spicy dish. I don't find it overly spicy but I like heat in my faux-meat! I served this with wilted garlic spinach and a fresh salad on the side. Remember that tofu is a concentrated protein, so you don't need as much tofu as you would meat. This dish is great reheated!"
"This is one of my favorite 30-minute weeknight recipes," says Stephanie. "Turmeric (curcuma) is a bright yellow spice primarily found in India and Indonesia, and is one of the main ingredients in curry. It adds an exotic color and flavor to any dish."
10. Black Bean Tacos
"Tangy black bean and salsa verde tacos take only minutes to make and are flavorful and delicious,' says Courtney LeClaire. "Great vegetarian dish! Great by itself, but also wonderful with tomatoes, avocado, cheese, etc. Add any of your favorite taco toppings! Could also be served as a side dish with another meal."
"I like red snapper for this, but any white, flaky fish will work," says Chef John. "By the way, many Veracruz-style fish recipes call for pickled jalapenos, but I think there's plenty of acidity in this from the lime and tomatoes, so I like the fresh pepper a little more."
12. Red Lentil Curry
"This is a rich and hearty lentil curry, great as a main meal rather than as a side dish like the more traditional Indian dhal," says Emma Maher. "Don't let the ingredient list faze you, this really is an easy dish to make. This dish is great served with basmati rice."
"This is a Vietnamese-inspired soup, showcasing the fragrance of lemongrass," says Uncle Jeffy. "So good! Serve garnished with chopped cilantro. Depending on the curry powder you use, you may want to kick the heat up a notch with some chopped red chile peppers or hot sauce."
How do you make a burger that's 95-percent fat-free taste more delicious than a beef burger? Chef John uses shish-kebab seasonings and cooking techniques. "Out of this world delicious," raves Rob Broadhurst. "The Greek yogurt really keeps the turkey from drying out and the flavor is extremely satisfying."
15. Nicoise Salad
"With green beans, potatoes, olives, and tuna, this classic salad doesn't rely on lettuce for crunch," says SandyG.