Having a collection of high protein salad recipes is something I recommend every single person have!
I’m always down for a tasty salad, but there’s nothing more frustrating than feeling like you just ate a full meal only to be starving again an hour later.
I’ve been on the hunt for delicious salads that use both plant-based and animal protein to keep me full all the way until dinner or even work as a meal themselves.
Luckily, the internet is chock full of salad recipes that use beans, lentils, turkey, chicken, avocado, and more to give my body the protein it’s asking for.
Keep reading for the best high-protein salad recipes to get you through your day.
Common Protein Questions!
As soon as I start talking protein a few questions come up and I’ve answered many of them previously, so some quick links:
Today I want to combine my freggie love with my protein needs, which leads us to the dear old salad. Except these salads aren’t anything like the nasty romaine lettuce with a little shredded cheese that many place pass off…that…is…not…salad.
Salads are great for many reasons – obviously because it means we can eat more vegetables! But also because of the different ways we can get in protein: meat, seafood, beans, nuts, tofu – there are plenty of options and endless combinations.
Almost all of the recipes in this round up are ones that can be prepped ahead of time for you my meal prep lovers. Or pulled together quickly with a little thought for the rest of us.
Tips for Making the Best High Protein Salads
Salads might seem simple, but a good one takes effort. You don’t want a boring bowl of leaves and while there’s no single right or wrong way to build a salad, putting thought into it pays off.
The possibilities are endless, so don’t just throw together some greens and call it a day. Take the time to get creative and make each bite interesting.
Use a variety of textures colors, and flavors to make it taste good. Toss in mix-ins like seasoned nuts, tangy cheese, sweet dried fruit, crunchy veggies, beans, grains, chicken, shrimp – whatever sounds good.
Play with different dressings beyond just oil and vinegar too. A flavorful, vibrant salad is so much more appealing than a sad desk lunch. So instead of phoning it in, put care into your next salad. You’ll fall in love with salads, trust me!
Key Components of a Healthy Salad
- Greens: For the base, use some kind of leafy green. I like spinach or arugula for their slightly bitter taste and romaine is always a classic green for salads too. You could also try a mix of greens to add more flavor.
- Vegetables: Chop up any vegetables you want and throw them in raw or roasted. The crunch of raw veggies is nice, but roasting them brings out more sweetness. I’ll often do both raw tomato, bell peppers, and roasted zucchini or something. Get creative with whatever’s in season!
- Protein: Add some protein for staying power. Grilled chicken, beef, or salmon work great on salads. You could also go for beans, eggs, tofu, or nuts for plant-based protein. I’m a big fan of chickpeas and walnuts myself.
- Carbs: Mix in a whole grain or starch for extra heartiness. Brown rice, quinoa, and farro make salads into more of a meal. Things like potatoes or winter squash also add nice creaminess and natural sweetness. Lentils and other beans work too.
- Sauce/Dressing: A good dressing brings everything together and makes the salad tasty. Try something beyond just a simple vinaigrette (though totally go for it if that’s your thing!).
- Toppings: Get creative with crunchy toppings like nuts, seeds, herbs, pickled veggies, or cheese to keep things interesting. Adding some fresh or dried fruit can be nice too, and the key is texture – something crunchy like raw veggies like carrots or nuts keeps it from getting boring. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find fun combinations.
Easy Ways to Incorporate Protein Into Salads
Protein is the building block of life and essential to produce energy, maintain basic biological processes, and to sustain life.
We need protein to build, repair, and maintain our cells, tissues, and organs. It also helps to stabilize blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of carbs.
Without adding protein and some healthy fats to our salads, you won’t feel satiated and will probably want to eat again within an hour or two. So for anyone who has ever said that salads just aren’t filling enough for them, maybe they’re not adding enough protein to them.
Here are some animal and vegan protein options to consider adding to your favorite salads to give them a protein boost:
Animal Protein Options:
- Seafood and fish
- Deli meat
Plant-Based Protein Options:
- Beans and Legumes (e.g., chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, etc)
- Nuts and seeds
19 Best High-Protein Salad Recipes
Like I said, salads don’t have to be boring! In fact, there are so many creative ways you can make a salad into a hearty, delicious, and healthy meal that they should be anything but boring.
Skeptical? Don’t be. Not only are salads a great vessel for experimenting in the kitchen, but most of the time they are great make ahead dishes for meal prep, and can be very filling for both lunch and dinner.
This list is perfect for those who are in training, trying to eat clean (eh hem minus our daily cookie), or even if you’re just looking to step up your game in the kitchen. Sneak a few more vegetables into your daily routine with a little more variety and some much needed protein as well.
Best High Protein Chicken Salad Ideas
Chicken is one of the most versatile proteins to cook with! You can grill it, shred it, marinate it – the healthy possibilities are endless.
Plus, it goes with just about everything- so pack it in those salads! Best of all, if you like to meal prep, it can easily be made ahead of time and get you through the week.
This pesto chicken salad by Primavera Kitchen (pictured above) is so tasty and good for you! It’s chock full of leafy greens, sweet little cherry tomatoes, rich creamy avocado slices, spicy red onion slivers, and crumbly feta cheese.
Just toss everything together and drizzle some of the bright, lemony dressing on top. You can totally eat this as a main dish for lunch or a light dinner cause it’s super filling and it makes an awesome side salad too!
Plus, it has 28 grams of protein per serving!
Who said you need to add mayonnaise to your chicken salad for it to be tasty? This chicken salad without mayo recipe by Wholly Tasteful definitely busts that myth! It has celery and cranberries to make it crunchy and Greek yogurt to make it creamy.
There’s a lot of protein in there too, thanks to the yogurt. Plus, you’d think it would be kind of bland without mayo, but they found a good way around that. It uses Dijon mustard, some lemon juice, and vinegar to spice it up. So it’s definitely got flavor, even without the mayo.
I’d say this chicken salad is worth a try if you want something protein packed that doesn’t just taste like plain chicken. The cranberries add a nice sweetness to balance the mustard and vinegar. Plus, it’s creamy enough that you won’t miss the mayo!
And the best part? It has 25 grams of protein per serving!
This tasty salad with quinoa, chicken, spinach, mandarin oranges, walnuts, and a sweet and tangy dressing comes together in only 20 minutes. You’re going to love this recipe by Family Food On The Table.
It makes a filling main dish salad with complex flavors from the mix of textures and ingredients. The honey-lime vinaigrette provides a nice balance of sweet and tart, while the walnuts add crunch, and the chicken and quinoa provide protein.
I like to add a drizzle of sriracha too, for a little kick, but it’s optional. This salad really has it all – flavor, nutrition, and quick prep time. It’s become a go-to weeknight meal in my house!
And best of all, it contains 27 grams of protein per serving!
If you’re looking for a flavor-packed high protein salad, then this curry chicken salad by Chef Savvy is perfect! Chicken salad usually seems kind of boring to me, but this curry version proves it can be reinvented into something delicious.
The curry powder is the star ingredient that takes this chicken salad to the next level! I can already tell this recipe is going to be on constant rotation in my meal planning because it’s just so delicious and easy. The flavor combinations here are simply to die for.
Plus, it contains 27 grams of protein per serving!
This chicken avocado salad by Beauty Bites seriously packs a punch! It has corn, chicken, avocado, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, and is versatile enough that you can add just about whatever you like to it (or what you have in the fridge) and it’ll taste great!
It’s my go-to salad when I have a bunch of leftover veggies in the fridge but want to make a delicious chicken salad.
Plus, it contains 19 grams of protein per serving!
High Protein Meat Based Salad Ideas
Whoever came up with the idea to put steak on top of a bed of greens is truly a genius!
These salads are packed with all the healthy proteins and fats – such a great option for those training days or after a long run when you need something filling!
Here we have one of my absolute favorite steak salads ever! This California steak salad with chimichurri dressing by Joyful Healthy Eats (pictured above) is absolutely delicious.
All you have to do is throw some flank steak on the grill until it’s nice and tender. Then serve it up on some lettuce with grilled onions, asparagus, avocado and cherry tomatoes, and top all that off with a drizzle of tangy chimichurri dressing.
It’s delicious, easy, and packs in 36 grams of protein per serving!
This Thai beef salad by Platings and Pairings really hits all the right notes – it’s tangy, a little bit spicy, and so tasty you’d never believe it was so easy to throw together in just half an hour.
The dressing packs some zing, and the toasted rice powder on top adds a fun crunch to every bite. Even though this hearty salad is packed with good-for-you ingredients like lean beef, fresh herbs, and veggies, it definitely doesn’t skimp on flavor and in fact, it tastes downright indulgent.
The best part is, it has 27 grams of protein per serving!
This steak salad by Self Proclaimed Foodie features juicy steak, crispy potatoes, sweet corn, greens and a creamy homemade dressing. It’s not only delicious, but also filling!
This salad really has everything going on to create a delicious, satisfying meal. I’d honestly eat this any night of the week! Its got protein, veggies, and starch – a complete dinner in one bowl.
Plus, it has 19 grams of protein per serving!
This steak salad is so tasty and filling that you’d never guess it’s actually Whole30-approved! The Cajun-spiced steak is cooked to a perfect medium-rare, there’s a creamy garlic ranch dressing, and the rich soft-boiled eggs make it feel downright indulgent.
Forget going out to a fancy steakhouse – with a salad this delicious, I’m staying in! The steak is so juicy and flavorful, and when you add the crisp greens, creamy dressing, and eggs, it’s just perfection.
It has that steakhouse vibe but is totally paleo-friendly. I love finding ways to make diet food feel special and indulgent. This salad definitely delivers on that!
At 36 grams of protein per serving, it’s a delicious high-protein salad you’re going to fall in love with.
High Protein Seafood-Based Salad Ideas
If you’re a seafood fan – these salads are the ones for you! High in protein, omega-3, and low in fat and cholesterol – there are so many healthy benefits of incorporating fresh seafood into your diet. These salads will fill you up without making you feel overly full.
This grilled shrimp salad with quinoa, broccoli, and roasted asparagus by Eating Bird Food is absolutely delicious and super easy to make. Get everything ready ahead of time and toss it together for a fast, easy lunch or dinner.
You don’t have to hit the drive-thru on busy summer weeknights. Do a little prep work, and you can make this shrimp salad – marinated and grilled shrimp, hearty quinoa quick-cooked broccoli and oven-roasted asparagus – in no time.
It’s a healthy meal packed with protein and flavor that will fill you up without a lot of fuss. And it has 28 grams of protein!
This tuna salad with avocado and quinoa by Inspiralized (pictured above) is absolutely delicious! It’s perfect for meal prepping and the spiralized cucumbers add a delicious touch to the salad that seriously takes it to the next level.
The dressing is tangy, savory, and super easy to make and stores pretty well too! It’s the perfect side dish for just about any main. But the best part is that this salad has 24 grams of protein per serving!
This fast and easy salmon salad by Skinny Fitalicious is a great meal prep option that comes together in just 15 minutes.
Start by cooking up some skillet salmon in about 10 minutes for a hearty protein. While the salmon is cooking, throw together a crunchy cucumber chickpea salad.
The light and fresh cucumber salad has a little kick from some spicy seasonings. Toss the perfectly cooked salmon on top of your salad for a complete and satisfying gluten-free meal that’s surprisingly low-calorie too.
With minimal prep time required, this is a meal prep win in my book! The combo of flaky salmon, crisp cucumber, and nutty chickpeas makes this salad feel special enough for a weekend dinner but easy enough for a busy weeknight.
And it has a whopping 36 grams of protein per serving!
This detox salad by Pinch of Yum with grilled romaine, tomatoes, shrimp, avocado, cilantro, and lime has become my new favorite. It had everything you want in a summer salad – light, fresh tasty.
The romaine gets a nice char from the grill which gives the salad a bit of smoky flavor. The tomatoes and avocado make it nice and juicy, and the shrimp, cilantro and lime give it a kick of protein and brightness.
I could eat this salad on repeat all summer long! It’s the perfect meal when it’s too hot to cook but you still want something satisfying and nutritious. Plus it has 27 grams of protein per serving!
If you’re trying to upgrade your diet with healthier swaps, definitely give this smoked salmon salad by The Fit Cookie a shot. It won’t leave you missing the not-so-good-for-you stuff. This bowl totally satisfies my cravings for something tasty and nutritious.
This salad’s like a tasty sushi bowl full of good fats and vegetables. It’s also gluten-free and dairy-free. The smoky salmon really gives it a nice flavor alongside the crispy veggies.
And that dressing? It takes it to the next level. The rice vinegar and garlic make for a tangy, savory combo that perfectly complements the fish and greens. I could drink that stuff, it’s so good!
Plus, it has 19 grams of protein per serving!
High Protein Vegetarian Salad Ideas
Don’t be fooled by the lack of meat – these salads are still packed with tons of protein! Even if you may not be a strictly-vegetarian, you should still give these recipes a shot, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out just how much you’ll be filled up. Plus, there is no such thing as eating too many vegetables – right?
This tasty lentil salad with roasted cauliflower and mushrooms by Well Plated (pictured above) packs a serious punch when it comes to flavor, nutrition, and textures.
I whipped up this hearty lentil salad recipe for lunch a while back. I was hoping it would be pretty good, but I totally wasn’t expecting it to hook me and fill me up the way it did!
The ingredients are super simple–lentils, cauliflower, and a basic mustard dressing aren’t really attention grabbers–but after one forkful, all three ingredients had my full attention.
Plus, it has 18 grams of protein per serving!
This high protein vegan salad with hummus by The Live-In Kitchen will definitely fill you up, and you don’t need any soy or fake meat products.
It’s packed with plant-based protein from whole foods, so it’s great for meal prepping, lunch or just getting more veggies in your daily eats! Plus, you don’t need an oven to make it!
This protein-loaded veggie salad with hummus is a guaranteed way to feel full and satisfied without relying on soy or fake meat products.
Since it is chock full of protein from whole, plant-based foods, it’s perfect for meal prepping lunch on-the-go, or any time you want to up your vegetable game. And no oven required means it’s simple to throw together anytime.
But the best part is that it’s packed with a whopping 31 grams of protein per serving!
17. Brown Rice Salad
This brown rice salad with chickpeas, kale, beets and orange ginger dressing by Green Healthy Cooking is delicious! Whether you eat it cold or warm, this salad is super tasty.
Rice is definitely my favorite grain. I like it plain but mixing it in a bowl with veggies and a flavorful dressing or sauce is the best.
The protein from the chickpeas plus all the veggies make this brown rice salad hearty enough to be a main dish. And it packs in 14 grams of protein per serving!
This creamy chickpea kale salad by Minimalist Baker is so tasty! It’s got crispy chickpeas, fried shallots, and a creamy tahini dressing that makes it incredibly delicious.
The salad is totally vegan and gluten-free too, which is awesome. You can throw this together in just 30 minutes for a quick weeknight meal.
I love the combo of flavors and textures in this salad. The kale gives you some nice greens while the chickpeas add protein and crunch. Frying the shallots brings out their sweetness and the creamy tangy tahini dressing ties everything together. It’s a super satisfying meatless dinner.
If you’re looking for a fresh new salad to add to your rotation, give this kale chickpea salad a try. The recipe is simple but innovative. It feels indulgent but its actually healthy and light. You can easily customize it by swapping in your favorite greens or protein too.
Plus, it has 22 grams of protein per serving!
This warm vegan roasted veggie lentil salad by Running On Real Food is just the thing for chilly weather comfort food cravings. With its mix of roasted vegetables, soft green lentils, and easy maple balsamic dressing, it’s a beautiful and tasty lentil salad.
The recipe works well for vegetarians is pretty simple to throw together, and you can customize it with different veggies, dressings, and add-ins. It makes a great warmer weather salad for fall and winter but it’s also nice served cold for a light summer meal.
For those nights when you want something healthy but satisfying without much effort, this salad is perfect. And it has 19 grams of protein per serving!
If you’re feeling up for it – try to make your own salad dressings too! Not only are they fairly simple to make (for the most part!) – but it’s a good way to avoid some of the hidden unhealthy fats or additives in store-bought dressings
What are some of your favorite protein-packed salad recipes?
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