The 20 Highest Protein Veggies (And Other Plant-Based Foods) You Can Eat

Maybe you’re jumping on the vegan bandwagon, trying to lighten your carbon footprint, or simply scaling back on meat because you’re sketched out by the factory-farmed stuff. Whatever your reason, relying less on animal products can be a great first step in upping your intake of nutrient-rich whole foods and crowding out overly processed crap. But how are you going to get enough protein? Don’t sweat it—we did the math for you. Here, we’ve ranked 20 of the highest-protein veggies, legumes, and minimally processed meat alternatives, like tempeh, for your convenience.


1) Organic Edamame


Protein: 18 g per 1-cup serving (cooked)
Talk about healthiest appetizer ever—just a cup’s worth of edamame (or cooked soybeans) packs a huge protein punch. Be sure to pick an organic variety, though, as most soybeans in the US are genetically modified and heavily treated with pesticides. Try edamame in this stir-fry: Edamame with Asparagus, Scallions, and Egg.

2) Organic Tempeh


Protein: 16 g per 3 oz serving
Tempeh is made by fermenting cooked soybeans and shaping it into a dense cake that can be sliced and pan-fried like tofu. It’s nutty, chewy, and packs significantly more protein and fiber than tofu—and because it’s fermented, it’s easier to digest for some. Try it in these awesome Tempeh Meatballs.

3) Organic Tofu


Protein: 8 to 15 g per 3 oz serving
Ah, tofu, the classic vegetarian blank slate made from curdled soymilk that’s wonderful pan-fried, sautéed in a stir-fry, and even scrambled. Though it’s not quite as protein-packed as tempeh, its taste may be more tolerable. Opt for organic varieties to avoid genetically modified soy and funky pesticides. Learn how to pan fry tofu (the right way!) here.

4) Lentils


Protein: 9 g per ½-cup serving
Low-cal, high-fiber, and high-protein lentils can be morphed into a nutrient-dense side dish, veggie burger, or even whipped into a hummus-like dip. Bonus: They’ve been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease. Try this deliciously “meaty” Wild Mushroom Lentil Burgers.

5) Black Beans

black beans

Protein: 7.6 g per ½-cup serving (cooked)
Black beans are also packed with heart-healthy fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, and a range of phytonutrients. They also make a killer batch of black bean brownies!

6) Lima Beans

lima beans

Protein: 7.3 g per ½-cup serving (cooked)
What, you haven’t had these since you were 10? Well, good news: In addition to filling protein, lima beans contain the amino acid leucine, which may play a big role in healthy muscle synthesis among older adults.

7) Peanuts or Peanut Butter

peanut butter

Protein: 7 g per ¼-cup serving (or 2 Tbsp peanut butter)
Not only are peanuts and peanut butter great for munching and whipping up classic childhood comfort food, they’re also super versatile—really, you can even use them in a pizza! They’ve also been shown to help you eat less at lunch if you consume them at breakfast—aka the second-meal effect. PB and banana, anyone?

MORE: 10 Ways to Eat More Vegetables at Breakfast

8) Wild Rice

wild rice

Protein: 6.5 g per 1-cup serving (cooked)
Move over, quinoa. Wild rice is the protein-rich grain you should be gravitating toward. With a nutty taste and slightly chewy texture, it’s way more satisfying, too. For a comforting (but clean) cold-weather meal, try this wild rice casserole with cranberries and goat cheese.

9) Chickpeas


Protein: 6 g per ½-cup serving
Permission to eat all the hummus—well, maybe not all of it, but chickpeas’ combo of protein and fiber make for one healthy dip. Try it slathered on sandwich bread in place of mayo, or serve up one of these four ridiculously tasty hummus recipes with veggie slices.

10) Almonds


Protein: 6 g per ¼-cup serving
Along with protein, almonds deliver some serious vitamin E, which is great for the health of your skin and hair. They also provide 61% of your daily recommended intake of magnesium, which can help curb sugar cravings, soothe PMS-related cramps, boost bone health, and ease muscle soreness and spasms.

11) Chia Seeds

chia seeds

Protein: 6 g per 2 Tbsp
Chia packs a ton of protein in those pint-sized seeds, which are also a great source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. Bonus: Omega-3s help stimulate the satiety hormone leptin, which signals your body to burn these fats instead of storing them.

12) Steel-Cut Oatmeal

steel cut oats

Protein: 5 g in ¼-cup serving (dry)
Steel-cut oats aren’t just a solid source of protein; they also have a lower glycemic index than rolled oats. This means they don’t spike blood sugar as much, so you’re likely to be more satisfied and experience fewer cravings after eating them. Try them in this Peach Crumble Steel-Cut Oatmeal, or for a veggie protein double-whammy, make this Chickpea Veggie Soup.

13) Cashews


Protein: 5 g per ¼-cup serving
In addition to a decent protein punch, cashews contain 20% of the recommended intake of magnesium, along with 12% of the recommended intake of vitamin K—two essential bone-building nutrients. Want more in your life? Check out these 8 Delicious Things You Can Do with Cashews.

14) Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin seeds

Protein: 5 g per ¼-cup serving
Pumpkin seeds aren’t just a super convenient way to get a dose of satiating protein, they’re total nutrient powerhouses, packing about half the recommended daily intake of magnesium, along with immune-boosting zinc, plant-based omega-3s, and tryptophan—which can help ease you into a restful slumber. Try these 7 Delicious New Ways to Use Pumpkin Seeds.

MORE: Cheat Sheet: Increase the Nutrition of  Seven Vegetables (Almost) Instantly

15) Potatoes


Protein: 4 g in 1 medium white potato
Another stealth source of protein! Despite having a reputation for being pretty much devoid of all nutrition, a medium-sized spud actually contains 4 g of protein, along with about 20% of the recommended daily intake of heart-healthy potassium. Need some fun topping ideas? Try these 10 Mind-Blowing Baked Potato Recipes.

16) Spinach


Protein: 3 g per ½-cup serving (cooked)
Sure, 3 g may not sound like a lot, but for a green veggie it is. Still, don’t just make a salad and call it a day. Cooking this green is the secret to upping its protein content. Try it out in this Spinach Mac ‘N Cheese.

17) Organic Corn


Protein: 2.5 g per ½-cup serving
Like potatoes, corn often gets put into the “plants with no redeeming qualities” category, but paired with protein-rich veggies and legumes, it can nicely round out a protein-packed plant-based dish. Pick organic or non-GMO fresh or frozen varieties, though, as most conventional corn has been genetically modified. Try it tonight in this easy Sweet Corn and Butternut Squash Succotash.

18) Avocado


Protein: 2 g per ½ avocado
This fruit is creamy, dreamy, and super filling, thanks to its bend of monounsaturated fatty acids and a bit of protein. For a new spin on everyone’s favorite guacamole ingredient, try it in this Avocado Mojito Smoothie.

19) Broccoli


Protein: 2 g per ½-cup serving (cooked)
Broccoli’s not only an awesome source of fiber, its protein content is surprising, too (for a veggie anyway). And you can’t go wrong with a vegetable that’s been proven to deliver cancer-fighting compounds like sulforaphane. Up your intake with this Broccoli Peanut Salad, which combines two protein-packed plants in one simple recipe.

20) Brussels Sprouts

brussels sprouts

Protein: 2 g per ½-cup serving
These little green guys get a bad rap in the taste department—especially the frozen variety—but they’re actually nutritional superstars. In addition to protein, brussels sprouts pack hefty doses of potassium and vitamin K.


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