13 Surprising Foods that Are High in Protein

Need a little extra protein in your diet? These high-protein foods pack in essential nutrients—and they aren't red meat.

Assortment of beans and lentils in wooden spoon on wooden background. mung bean, groundnut, soybean, red kidney bean , black bean ,red bean and brown pinto beansKerdkanno/Shutterstock

Meat is high in protein, but there are actually so many more ways to get protein into your diet. These protein-rich alternatives can be cooked and consumed in a multitude of ways and are perfect whether you eat only vegan recipes or are just looking to be more aware of what nutrients you’re eating.

Not vegetarian, but still want to eat healthy? Try these protein-packed salads.

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tomato garlic lentils bowls
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Lentils

Lentils can be added into just about any dish—from hearty stews to burritos—and pack 9 grams of protein per 1/2-cup serving. These legumes come in red, black, brown and green varieties. They’re all nutrient-dense with a list of impressive benefits—including being high in fiber and low in calories. Try these easy lentil recipes to get started.

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Cooked Chickpeas on a bowl. Chickpeas is nutritious food.
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Chickpeas

You might already love chickpeas in hummus, but there’s so much more that these little beans can do! If you can believe it, just one cup of these tasty beans have 39 grams of protein packed in them. Try roasting them with your choice of spices for a light and crunchy snack or make them the center of dinner in a coconut ginger stir-fry. Here are dozens more recipes to make with chickpeas.

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Creamy peanut butter on wood table
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Peanuts and Peanut Butter

Popular in your classic PB&J, Thai dishes and, of course, peanut butter dessert recipes, peanuts and peanut butter are a great source of protein. Just make sure your peanut butter in the jar is 100% nuts without any additives so you’re getting all the nutritional benefits! While a cup of peanuts has 28 grams of protein in it, two tablespoons of peanut butter has 8 grams of protein packed into it.

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Black Beans in wooden spoon with ceramic bowl
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Black Beans

Black beans are super versatile and delicious, and they have 8 grams of protein per serving. Aside from being high in protein, they are also jam-packed with fiber and potassium. Health-ify your brownies by adding a can of black beans or try classic black bean enchiladas or black bean burgers for dinner.

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Wild rice
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Wild Rice

Swap out your regular jasmine or brown rice for something on the wild side. Wild rice is higher in protein than other rice grains at 6.5 grams per 1-cup cooked serving. Its slightly chewy texture and nutty flavor is delicious as a side dish with mushrooms or in a hearty bowl of soup.

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Chia seeds
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Chia Seeds

Chia seeds may be little, but they are definitely mighty! For reference, a single serving of these seeds equal 4.7 grams of protein. Add them onto your morning bowl of oatmeal for some extra protein and omega-3 fatty acids, or layer them up in a parfait with berries for a sweet treat at home. There are so many ways to power up with chia seeds!

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Steel cut oatmeal porridge with banana and blueberry for breakfast
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Oats

Relatively speaking, oats are a decent source of protein for a grain. One cup cooked has about 6 grams of protein. Stir in a little peanut butter, sprinkle with some chia seeds and you’re on your way to a meatless breakfast with enough protein to keep you feeling full all morning long.

Here are some other ways to add flavor to oatmeal!

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Almonds in brown bowl on wooden background
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Almonds

Aside from protein, almonds are high in vitamin E, which is great for skin and hair health, as well as magnesium! Grab them by the handful for a snack on-the-go, add them to fresh salad recipes instead of croutons or sprinkle toasted almonds over your after-dinner ice cream. Almonds will provide you with 7 grams of protein per 1/4 cup. Looking for more ideas? Here’s our collection of scrumptious high-protein meals.

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Bowl with pumpkin seeds and a wooden spoon on a wooden table.
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Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are a tasty and easy snack you can enjoy all year round. One cup of these yummy seeds have 12 grams of protein for you. When it’s fall, roast your own pumpkin seeds at home for a special treat. They’re also great sprinkled on soups, stews and casseroles.

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High Angle View Of Fried Egg In Frying Pan
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Eggs

Eggs are a quick and easy way to add protein to your diet whether you’re on the go or looking for a quick and fulfilling snack. In one egg there is 6 grams of protein, so you don’t need many to reap the benefits. If you’re in a hurry, hard-boiled eggs are an excellent choice. For breakfast options, you can’t go wrong with scrambled eggs, omelets or huevos rancheros.

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platter of grilled chicken
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Chicken

Chicken is a wonderful and popular meat to add to any meal—from salads to sandwiches. It’s the perfect protein-packed addition to add to your diet, boasting 38 grams of protein per cup. Try chunky chicken salad in the summertime for a lunch idea, or enjoy sweet and spicy chicken sandwiches for a delicious and nutritious dinner. Whether you’re boosting protein to support weight loss or build muscle, this 7-Day high-protein meal plan provides a foundation.

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Fresh salmon
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Salmon

Salmon is one of the tastiest fish in the sea, and it’s just as good for you too. In just one half of a fillet, you’ll be able to get a whopping 39 grams of protein! As the weather warms up, try out a refreshing salmon salad. If you want something a little bit heartier, you’ll be sure to love our brown-sugar glazed salmon.

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Grilled shrimps
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Shrimp

Aside from being high in protein, shrimp has 4% of a person’s daily value of needed vitamin A and C. Shrimp also boasts a generous 24 grams of protein per 100 grams. If you’re a pasta lover, shrimp scampi would be a lovely dinner option. For something lighter, garlic butter shrimp would be an equally tasty recipe to try.

Jacqueline Weiss
Jacqueline is a blogger and writer, passionate about sharing the latest in helpful tips and trends in food and cooking. In her spare time, you’ll find her trying new restaurants and experimenting in the kitchen.
Lauren Jarvis-Gibson
Lauren has spent more than eight years writing lifestyle, health and wellness content for publishers like Allure, Teen Vogue and Thought Catalog. As Taste of Home's assistant editor, she ran the Holiday, Healthy and Desserts newsletters, and wrote and edited everything from recipe tutorials to healthy eating tips. After work hours, you can find Lauren trying out new pasta recipes, obsessing over her dog, Andre, and working on her third book of poetry.