Vegetarian Protein Sources

Whether you’re going veggie round-the-clock or want to swap some meaty meals for vegetarian ones (a smart choice for your health), choose one of these 10 vegetarian protein choices to satisfy you.

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These pale green soybeans, encased in fuzzy pods, are protein powerhouses that deliver 17 grams per cup. Keep them in your freezer for an easy-to-prepare snack. Just cook them according to directions and sprinkle them with a touch of salt. Or add shelled edamame to a veggie stir-fry or blend it up into a dip with this hummus recipe.

Peanut Butter

Two tablespoons of peanut butter give you 8 grams of protein. Look for natural peanut butter to avoid added sugars and partially hydrogenated oils. And it doesn’t matter whether you choose chunky or smooth — both have the same nutritional profile. Try a tablespoon of peanut butter on a banana or celery stalk for a snack with staying power.


Quinoa has become a wildly popular whole grain, in part because it has a bit more protein than many other grains. One cup of cooked quinoa gives you 8 grams of "complete" protein, meaning it has all of the essential amino acids packaged together. Try it in this Chicken and Quinoa Soup from Food Network Magazine.

Low-Fat Cottage Cheese

One cup of low-fat cottage cheese has 28 whopping grams of protein — half the amount many people need in a day! Cottage cheese can be quite high in sodium, so look for low-sodium varieties. Top it with berries and sliced almonds for a healthy breakfast or snack.


Canned beans are a quick and easy protein source, delivering 8 grams in just a 1/2 cup. Beans are also a good source of iron, another nutrient that you need to make an extra effort to get if you’re not eating meat. Tuck them into a quesadilla or add to a soup or pasta dish for an easy protein boost.

Nonfat Greek Yogurt

Ultra-thick Greek yogurt has even more protein than regular yogurt (23 grams per cup, compared to 13 grams). Top plain yogurt with a spoonful of honey, fresh sliced fruit and nuts. Try making your own Greek yogurt at home with this recipe.


Just 1 large egg gives you 6 grams of protein. Most of that comes from the white, so if you want to boost the amount of protein in your scrambled eggs without adding a lot of extra calories and saturated fat, add an extra egg white or two to a whole egg.


This nutty-flavored, nubbly-textured vegan ingredient has 15 grams of protein per 1/2 cup. It’s made from fermented soybeans, making it a slightly more nutritious alternative to tofu (it has more fiber and vitamins). Tempeh takes particularly well to a moist heat preparation, such as braising.


Often used in Asian cuisines as a meat replacement (you may have seen it on menus as mock duck or mock chicken), seitan has a chewy texture. It’s pure gluten — the protein component of wheat — so if you’re allergic or sensitive to gluten, this is not the choice for you. With 21 grams of protein per 1/3 cup, however, this is a protein-dense meat alternative that also delivers some iron.


Probably the best-known vegetarian protein, tofu is a versatile ingredient. Its mild flavor adapts well to a variety of seasonings and it comes in several different textures, from soft and creamy to sturdy and firm. Plus, it’s packed with protein: a 1/2 cup of tofu has 20 grams. Try silken tofu in this Dark Chocolate Mousse or 2 Alarm Tofu Dip or grill firm tofu in Bobby Flay's Barbequed Tofu recipe.