You’ve heard it before, you’ll hear it again — protein is a crucial part of your diet, and the more you’re able to eat, the better. Especially if that means doubling down on healthier sources of protein, from lean meats to plant-based powerhouses. While the average American diet often includes twice the amount of protein currently recommended by federal guidelines (which shake out to be around 50g a day for women, depending on your weight), much of it comes from highly caloric, fatty and overly processed foods. Your protein doesn’t only need to come from burgers or steak — there are so many better-for-you sources of protein that can keep you full while massaging your arterie. And there’s no better time to enjoy them than at breakfast.
For those who eat it, breakfast is the fuel needed to power through hectic mornings and busy work (or school!) schedules. And there are even more benefits to a high-protein breakfast, besides energizing you. Since protein takes longer to digest than meals heavy in carbohydrates or other nutrients, breakfasts that are organically stacked with healthy proteins can keep you full right up until lunchtime; and, if you’re somebody who regularly works out, it’s a smart way to support your fitness goals and grow strong, lean muscle.
“Many traditional breakfast items are packed with sugar, refined carbohydrates, sodium and trans fats but little to no protein; this type of meal can cause an immediate blood sugar spike and a subsequent crash throughout your morning,” explains Registered Dietitian Stefani Sassos, MS, RDN, CSO, CDN, NASM-CPT, deputy director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Lab. This can lead to symptoms like fatigue and irritability, but prioritizing protein at breakfast can help stabilize both energy and blood sugar levels.
There are so many options to break the fast, but these breakfast foods are some of the highest in protein: eggs, a nutrient-rich AM staple; Salmon and other seafood; yogurt and unsweetened dairy products; nuts and seeds folded into whole grains; and legumes, beans and chickpeas.
Follow along as we share the best high-protein breakfast ideas.
Raisin-Walnut Coffee Cake
Who knew that coffee’s perfect match could also help get you the protein and fiber you need to tackle the day. Walnuts are a good source of both, and the sour cream and eggs lend a little more protein. Enjoy your slice with about 1/2 cup yogurt topped with fruit and optional more chopped nuts to hike your protein content even more.
Get the Raisin-Walnut Coffee Cake recipe.
Chilled Overnight Chia
Finding a vegan grab-and-go breakfast that is packed with protein (and made ahead!) is no easy feat; this jar packs in 12g in total. Soaking your chia seeds in plant-based milk makes them delectably soft overnight.
Get the Chilled Overnight Chia recipe.
Since granola is often quite high in fiber, it makes for an excellent breakfast base on most days. Serving it with dairy (yogurt for the win!) or even with purées is a great way to also add protein into the mix.
Get the Best-Ever Granola recipe.
Trout Scrambled Eggs
The humble egg reigns supreme when it comes to a savory protein-rich morning pick. One large egg averages about 6g protein, and this yummy creation ups the protein ante by introducing flaked fish (and an optional dollop of crème fraîche) to the mix.
Get the Trout Scrambled Eggs recipe.
Jammy Egg Toasts
Avo isn’t the only acceptable toast topper! Whole grain mustard and a light layer of mayo give this gooey egg toast egg salad vibes—and plenty of protein!
Get the Jammy Egg Toasts recipe.
Roasted Potato and Chorizo Hash
Get your protein four (yes, count ’em—four!) ways: chorizo, eggs, and both yellow and sweet potatoes all boast protein. Plus you get fiber, another component to the energy puzzle thanks to its ability to help keep blood sugar levels stable.
Get the Roasted Potato and Chorizo Hash recipe.
PB Chocolate Sheet Pan Pancakes
Yep, chocolate and peanut butter are perfectly acceptable for breakfast — especially when it’s in the form these squares that get their peanut-y flavor and protein hit from peanut butter powder. Make it super protein heavy by enjoying it with a scoop of Greek yogurt (hello, diner stack vibes!) and even a swirl of peanut butter to really drive that flavor (and protein intake) home.
Get the PB Chocolate Sheet Pan Pancakes recipe.
Slow Cooker Porridge
Protein: 12g + toppings
Oats are already a good source of protein, and this base for both savory or sweet bowls boosts the protein content even more with the addition of quinoa, brown rice, and barley. Bonus: You can layer on even more protein by choosing toppings like nuts or smoked salmon.
Get the Slow Cooker Porridge recipe from Country Living.
Ham, Cheddar, and Red Onion Bread Pudding
Protein Punch: 12g
To be honest, we could eat this protein-centric bread pudding for breakfast or dinner (or lunch or a snack!). Ham, eggs, cheese, and milk all lend protein, and the red onion adds a little fiber, another component to energy production and appetite satisfaction. Feel free to top your portion with a poached or fried egg for more protein.
Get the Ham, Cheddar, and Red Onion Bread Pudding recipe.
Old Bay Scrambled Eggs
This Old Bay-scented twist on classic scrambled eggs will satisfy your protein and Southern flavors fix—you get protein via the eggs, russet potato, and kielbasa.
Get the Old Bay Scrambled Eggs recipe.
Smashed Avocado Toast with Egg
No, it’s not too good to be true—your beloved avocado toast is the perfect protein delivery vessel. By now you know that eggs are rich in this keep-you-full-while-you’re-on-the-go nutrient, but if you choose whole grain bread as your base, you’ll sneak in a few extra grams of protein, plus fiber.
Get the Smashed Avocado Toast with Eggs recipe.
Ham and Spinach Quiche
Very Berry Quinoa Muffins
A must-keep recipe for any vegetarian, these muffins have a protein-edge thanks to the inclusion of quinoa and almond flour. You can make a batch in 30 minutes, and enjoy them throughout the week with fresh fruit. Add a side egg, turkey bacon, or bit of yogurt to up the protein ante.
Get the Very Berry Quinoa Muffin recipe.
Super-Simple Summer Smoothies
A smoothie is a natural vessel for your favorite protein powders (especially after a morning workout). Try any of these fruit-forward recipes for quicker (yet delicious!) smoothies in your morning routine, and be sure to use the milk+yogurt base to get some initial protein, or really ratchet things up by adding a scoop of protein powder.
Get the Super-Simple Summer Smoothies recipe.
RELATED: 12 Best Protein Powders You Can Buy Online
Crustless Quiche Lorraine
Eggs and bacon are a classic breakfast combo, one that manages to amp up your protein intake in the morning (each slice of this breakfast contains 22g of protein). But ditching the crust on this quiche and adding in some fresh greens makes this savory breakfast so much better for you.
Get the Crustless Quiche Lorraine recipe.
Spinach and Cheese Breakfast Pockets
Protein Punch: 8g
The spinach filling in this gourmet, home-cook-style “hot pockets” is enough to get each up to 8g of protein. You can add more ingredients (like broccoli and asparagus) to push them closer to 12g easily.
Get the Spinach and Cheese Breakfast Pockets reicpe.
Perfect Scrambled Eggs
They’re a classic at breakfast time for a reason — soft scrambled eggs are insanely delicious, downright simple to make, and pack in a lot of protein alongside other veggies or sides of your choice. Our test kitchen experts take you through a quick 6-step process to ensure your eggs are perfect every time.
Learn how to make the perfect scrambled eggs »
Spinach and Prosciutto Frittata Muffins
These overstuffed burritos are for the days when breakfast is leaning into lunch — or, for days when you know you won’t have lunch. You’ll need two hands (and some napkins!) to chow through this delicious meal.
Get the Breakfast Burritos recipe.
Sweet Potato Kale Frittata
There’s plenty to love about this North African dish; it’s base layers of tomatoes and onions are simmered in fragrant spices you’ll love, a perfect base for protein-packed eggs. Folding in legumes or pulses of any kind will pack more protein into the mix if you choose to riff on this recipe.
Get the Shakshuka recipe.
Gruyère, Bacon, and Spinach Scrambled Eggs
A plate of indulgent bacon and eggs isn’t something to scoff at, especially if you elevate it with fresh cheese and bright greens. The trio in this egg scramble brings a hearty bite and a burst of energy for a full day ahead.
Get the Gruyère, Bacon, and Spinach Scrambled Eggs recipe.
Skillet Eggs With Mustard Greens and Hollandaise
There are so many nutrients in this one bowl, from a heavy dose of zinc to iron and vitamin E, alongside other things that boost your immunity. Enjoy it with milk or yogurt to boost your protein intake.
Get the Cashew Granola recipe from Woman’s Day.
Instant Pot Breakfast Casserole Fritatta
You’ll love the protein-rich base of cheese and bacon in this egg-heavy dish — but the addition of a medley of fresh tomatoes, spinach, and onions makes it almost too good to be true. Another bonus? Using your Instant Pot saves the mess and fuss!
Get the Instant Pot Breakfast Casserole Fritatta recipe from Delish.
Sausage, Egg and Cheese Waffle
Chicken sausage swapped out for full sausage saves you from fat and calories, but this keto-friendly breakfast is also packed with spinach to up the protein factor.
Get the Sausage, Egg and Cheese Waffle recipe from the Hungry Blonde.
Pumpkin Protein Pancakes
Making these pancakes is a breeze, as you can whip up the batter in a blender. And while this recipe packs 16g of protein in each serving, you won’t need protein powder here — it draws power from eggs and cottage cheese.
Get the Pumpkin Protein Pancakes recipe from Dishing Out Health.
Buckwheat Crêpes With Chicken, Mushrooms and Leeks
Smoked Salmon, Dill and Goat Cheese Quiche
Ham and Cheese Breakfast Bake
This meal is definitely heavier than others on this list, but the ample amount of cheese, ham, and milk in this spin of a brunch casserole certainly packs a punch. It’s a warm hug on a cold day.
Get the Ham and Cheese Breakfast Bake recipe from Country Living.
This vegan alternative to scrambled eggs is loaded with 12g of protein and is made cheesy with the addition of nutritional yeast.
Get the Tofu Scramble recipe from Jessica in the Kitchen.
Bacon and Egg Breakfast Salad
There’s definitely a protein kick in bacon and eggs, but fresh spinach silently adds a touch more, plus a whole suite of nutrients you’ll love first thing in the a.m. You won’t need salad dressing here; this quick bacon vinaigrette does the trick.
Get the Bacon and Egg Breakfast Salad recipe from Delish.
Low-Carb Quiche Biscuits With Bacon, Cheddar and Chives
Sous Vide Egg Bites
Chock full of protein-heavy ingredients, this grab-and-go friendly breakfast is an even better fast food copycat than you may think. You can eat them cold or hot throughout the week after meal-prepping a few batches on Sunday.
Get the Sous Vide Egg Bites recipe from Blue Jean Chef.
Corned Beef Hash
This is not the lightest recipe on this list by any means, but it’s certainly heavy on the protein thanks to cubed corned beef. On a winter’s morning, this hearty breakfast will certainly power you through.
Get the Corned Beef Hash recipe from Simply Recipes.
Keto Sausage Breakfast Sandwich
Cauliflower Veggie “Toast”
Ditch the bread and tuck it into a toast made from cauliflower steaks and protein-rich eggs. The vegetarian breakfast is ready in just 12 minutes!
Get the Cauliflower Veggie “Toast” recipe from Salt Pepper Skillet.
Southwest Tofu Scramble Tacos
Cumin, paprika, and oregano transform a skillet of chopped tofu into a zesty egg substitute. The best part? Each taco packs in 8g of protein on its own.
Get the Southwest Tofu Scramble Tacos recipe from Jessica in the Kitchen.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Overnight Oats
A protein-rich, fiber-packed, gluten-free breakfast in a grab-and-go jar that tastes like a peanut butter cup?! Oh, and it can be made ahead, too.
Get the Chocolate Peanut Butter Overnight Oats recipe from Dishing Out Health.
Avocado & Kale Savory Oatmeal
What’s the best way to eat oatmeal, you ask? If you’re on the hunt for a big protein boon, topping it with creamy avocado, nutrient-packed kale, and a runny egg is definitely the way to go.
Get the Avocado & Kale Savory Oatmeal recipe from Planting and Pairings.
Protein-Packed Breakfast Burritos
Low-carb tortillas are packed with 7 ingredients all high in protein, stacking up to 25g of protein in each burrito. Plus, they’re a great option for meal prep.
Get the Protein-Packed Breakfast Burritos recipe from Fit Foodie Finds.
Sausage, Sun-Dried Tomato, and Spinach Sandwiches
Pumpkin Energy Bites
Just as fibrous as they are protein-rich, you can eat three of these scrumptious bites and clock in at 9g protein. We love how Jessica Hylton of Jessica in the Kitchen worked this fast breakfast into only 10 minutes of total cook time!
Get the Pumpkin Energy Bites recipe from Jessica in the Kitchen.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes Protein Bowls
This bowl is loaded with avocadoes, chickpeas and kale, all piled onto roasted sweet potatoes. Talk about hearty and healthy!
Get the Roasted Sweet Potatoes Protein Bowls recipe from Jessica in the Kitchen.
Low-Carb Breakfast Enchiladas
A medley of cheese, bacon, and a mound of fresh vegetables and zesty spices are the basis of these delicious ‘enchiladas.’ Rather than use tortillas, you’ll reach for a protein-heavy egg wrap instead.
Get the Low-Carb Breakfast Enchiladas recipe from Delish.
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