Cooking dinner for one isn't easy. It's hard to find the motivation to devote more than 15 minutes to a meal that you—and you alone—are going to gobble up in about five. Most recipes are crafted to feed multiple people, and while leftovers are great, variety is the spice of life. Some meals are meant to be just one and done, you know?
Each of the "dinner for one" recipes below is so packed with protein that it's the only dish you need to make. The nourishing ingredients are carefully selected for a completely satisfying meal for one. You might not be cooking for anyone but yourself, but feeding yourself is an important act of self-care. So let's get cooking, shall we?
The best high-protein 'dinner for one' recipes
1. Baked feta salmon
You still have some feta leftover from the baked feta pasta craze, right? In this recipe, Feel Good Foodie creator Yumna Jawad combines high-protein feta with high-protein salmon. Cherry tomatoes, green pepper, red onion, garlic, kalamata olives, oregano, basil, and lots of olive oil make this one of the best recipes when you're cooking dinner for one—all those delicious ingredients, but you'll only have to wash a single dish.
6 oz MOWI Essential Fresh Atlantic Salmon
1 cup cherry tomatoes quartered
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese
2 Tbsp pitted kalamata olives
1 garlic clove pressed
1/4 tsp salt divided
1/4 tsp oregano divided
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
Fresh basil for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Pat the salmon dry.
2. In an oven safe dish, place the cherry tomatoes, green peppers, red onions, feta cheese, kalamata olives, garlic, half the salt and half the oregano oregano. Pour the olive oil on top, and toss until well combined.
3. Place the salmon in the middle of the baking dish surrounded by all the vegetables. Add the remaining oregano and crushed red pepper on top of the salmon. Drizzle more olive oil if desired.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, until the tomatoes soften and the salmon is cooked through.
5. Add fresh basil leaves and serve with a side of your choice, if desired.
2. Turkey chili for one
Full of turkey and beans, this delicious turkey chili recipe from One Dish Kitchen creator Joanie Zisk is chock-full of protein—and the beans double as a good fiber-source, too. Like with any good chili, spices are key. Here, paprika, Italian seasoning, and garlic are all used. This hearty meal comes together in just 30 minutes.
2 tsp olive oil
2 oz. chopped onions
1 yellow or red pepper , chopped
1 clove garlic , minced
5 oz. ground turkey
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 kosher salt
1/8 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
10 oz. canned tomatoes (with their juices)
2 oz. canned black beans , rinsed and drained
For topping: cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, or cilantro (optional)
1. Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat.
2. Add the chopped onions and peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally for two minutes.
3. Add the minced garlic and cook for one minute longer.
4. Next, add in the ground turkey and break up the meat; stir occasionally and cook until no longer pink, about eight minutes.
5. Add the Italian seasoning, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper; stir for about 10 seconds.
6. Next, add in the tomatoes and black beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
7. Taste and adjust seasonings and salt as necessary. Garnish with Parmesan cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, or cilantro.
3. Chicken tostadas for one
These chicken tostadas from Eat Mexico author Lesley Téllez are high in protein and also entirely gluten-free. The secret to making them full of flavor is in a tangy cabbage slaw and a dressing made with olive oil, salt, and pineapple vinegar. Don't forget to top it all off with hot sauce.
1/4 small cabbage
1/4 carrot, grated
1/4 handful cilantro, coarsely chopped (leaves and stems)
1/4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or Rancho Gordo’s pineapple vinegar)
3/4 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 peeled garlic clove
1/4 small white or yellow onion
1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 tsp ground cumin
For garnish: 1/4 lime, quartered
Hot sauce of choice
1/4 container Mexican crema
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. Cut cabbage in half and slice thinly. Place in a bowl with the grated carrot and chopped cilantro.
3. Salt everything generously and toss to combine.
4. In a small cup or bowl, whisk together a quarter tablespoon olive oil and the pineapple or apple cider vinegar. Pour over the slaw and toss again to combine. Cover the slaw with an airtight lid and chill in the refrigerator while you finish the remaining items.
5. Place the chicken thighs in a medium bowl and add a quarter tablespoon olive oil, kosher salt, and the ground black pepper, and mix until the meat is evenly coated.
6. Arrange the meat on the baking sheet and bake until tender and browned at the edges, about 20 minutes.
7. While the meat cooks, heat the remaining olive oil (or any other neutral cooking oil) in a medium frying pan, over medium heat. When hot, add the peeled garlic clove and onion wedge and cook until blistered and golden brown, about four minutes.
8. Add the drained beans in one quick pour, along with a quarter cup of water. (Lower the flame if the beans start to jump and splatter too much.)
9. Mash the beans until they’re half smooth, half lumpy, adding more water if the beans look too pasty or dry.
10. Stir in the cumin and salt to taste and reduce heat to low.
11. Cover and cook for five minutes, stirring once or twice to make sure they don’t stick.
12. Once the chicken is done, let it cool for a few minutes, then chop it into small, bite-size pieces.
13. To prepare tostadas, place one tostada on a plate and add a slather of refried beans. Top with chicken and a hefty serving of the chilled slaw. Garnish with dollops of crema, a spritz of lime and a drizzle of hot sauce.
4. Crispy baked tofu with sweet chili sauce
For a meat-free "dinner for one" recipe, look no further than this recipe from Felicia's Fab Foodz. The secret to getting the tofu perfectly crispy is patting it completely dry before baking it. (Even better is if you freeze it overnight.) The sweet chili sauce is made with maple syrup, crushed red pepper, green onion, and garlic—the perfect mix of savory and tang.
For the tofu:
5-6 oz extra firm tofu
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp maple syrup
3 Tbsp cornstarch
For the sweet chili sauce:
3 Tbsp maple syrup
3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 large garlic clove (minced)
1 tsp green onion (finely chopped)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (or to taste)
Prepare the tofu:
1. Press the tofu with paper towel, removing as much liquid as possible.
2. Optional (but recommended): Freeze tofu overnight. The next day, let the tofu thaw, then press with paper towel again. This will help remove even more of the liquid.
3. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
4. Cut the tofu into small cubes.
5. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, soy sauce and maple syrup. Toss the tofu in this mixture until fully coated.
6. Toss the tofu in cornstarch until fully coated.
7. Transfer to a parchment lined baking tray and bake at 400°F for about 25 minutes or until lightly browned and crispy.
Prepare the sweet chili sauce:
1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
2. Transfer to a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
3. Cook until bubbly and thick.
4. Remove from heat and serve over baked tofu.
5. Vegan Italian meatball soup
Looking for vegan dinner recipes for one? Maybe a meatball soup without the meat? Yep, it's possible—and you won't be missing out on any of the protein either. Here, the meatballs are made with lentils. Almond flour helps find them together while garlic, Italian seasoning, and nutritional yeast gives tons of flavor.
For the meatballs:
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium shallot (minced)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1 Tbsp flaxseed meal
1 Tbsp of olive oil,
1 1/2 cups cooked + cooled lentils (cooked in vegetable stock)
1 1/2 Tbsp dried Italian seasonings
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
5-6 Tbsp vegan parmesan cheese (plus more for coating)
1/4 tsp sea salt and black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp of almond flour
For the soup:
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion,
1 cup quarter-inch diced celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups vegetable broth
2 (14.5 ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 rosemary sprig
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp minced fresh basil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 zucchinis, zoodled
Pink himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper
Prepare the meatballs:
1. In a frying pan, sauté garlic and shallots in one tablespoon of olive oil.
2. Pulse lentils, one teaspoon olive oil, sautéed garlic and shallot, Italian seasonings, flax meal, parsley and tomato paste.
3. Roll into balls and dust with almond flour. Sauté balls in a frying pan until golden brown, six to eight minutes. Add sauce and heat over meatballs.
Prepare the soup:
1. Preheat over to 400°F.
2. To prepare the soup, in a dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and saute until tender and fragrant, four to six minutes.
3. Add the broth, tomatoes, rosemary, bay leaves, basil, and parsley. Cover, bring to a simmer over medium-high, turn the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary. Add the meatballs and zoodles, cover and simmer for five minutes, until the meatballs and zoodles are heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
6. High-protein chicken bowl with cashew lime crema
The chicken isn't the only high-protein ingredient in this colorful bowl. Black beans and toasted pumpkin seeds also majorly up the nutrient quantity, too. Created by A Sweet Pea Chef's Lacey Baier (who's also a nutrition coach), this dish also includes roasted sweet potatoes and cilantro rice. Topping it all off is a creamy sauce, made in minutes with cashew nuts, lime, avocado, milk (or alt-milk), and garlic.
For the cashew lime crema Sauce:
3/4 cup raw cashews
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup organic whole milk plus more as needed
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice (approx. 2 limes)
1/4 large avocado
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
For the roasted sweet potatoes:
2 sweet potatoes, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
For the cilantro lime rice:
2 cups brown rice, uncooked
1 1/2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (approximately 1 lime)
4 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
For the Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:
1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), raw
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp lime juice (approximately 1/2 lime)
For the chicken:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp powdered garlic
1/4 tsp granulated onion
1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
Prepare the cashew lime crema sauce:
1. Add the cashews into a small bowl and cover with the boiling water. Soak for one hour, then drain.
2. Add all of the cashew cream ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. Add enough milk to get desired smooth consistency.
Prepare the roasted sweet potatoes:
1. To roast the sweet potatoes, preheat oven to 425°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil and seasonings. Place on the prepared baking sheet and roast in preheated for 20-25 minutes, or until tender.
Prepare the cilantro lime rice:
1. To make the cilantro lime brown rice, combine the brown rice, low sodium chicken broth, sea salt, and freshly squeezed lime juice in a deep stock pot and bring to a simmer.
2. Cook until the liquid is completely absorbed by the rice and the rice is tender, about 25-30 minutes. Then, toss in freshly chopped cilantro and stir to combine.
Prepare the roasted pumpkin seeds:
1. Reduce heat from 425°F to 350°F once the sweet potatoes are done, and line another rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine the ingredients for the pepitas in a small mixing bowl. Mix until fully combined, and then spread over the prepared baking sheet.
3. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring halfway. Then, remove from oven and cool.
Prepare the chicken:
1. Make the seasoning blend for the chicken in a mixing bowl by combining the cumin, paprika, chili powder, powdered garlic, and granulated onion in a small bowl. Coat the chicken well.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the seasoned chicken and cook until golden-brown on both sides and cooked through, about four to six minutes per side. Then, remove from the skillet and allow to rest for five minutes before slicing into thin slices.
Prepare the bowl:
1. Start with filling the bottom of a bowl with the cilantro lime rice, then add the cooked black beans, roasted sweet potatoes, and sliced chicken over the top.
2. Drizzle with the crema and top with the pumpkin seeds.
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