Start the Day Right With These 5 Protein-Packed Breakfasts

Even notorious breakfast-skippers will come to the table for these meals

January 3, 2024 6:41 am
veggie frittata in a cast iron skillet with a slice cut out
Frittata with Spinach, Feta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
The Washington Post via Getty Images

We’ve all heard the adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, which is scientifically backed by the Institute of Food Science and Technology. This is doubly true as we begin a new year, a classic time to reconsider the non-ideal habits that have crept into our lives. For most of us, breakfast becomes an afterthought, a casualty of our busy lives. But maybe we’re just bored with the morning meal, which is why we created these high protein breakfast ideas that will hopefully excite the taste buds of even notorious breakfast-skippers. These recipes were created with both ease of cooking and nutrition in mind, leaving us no excuse to level-up the first meal of the day.

The word frittata comes from the Italian verb “friggere,” which means to fry. Modernly, a frittata is an egg-based dish that combines beaten eggs with things like vegetables, meat, cheese and herbs. This recipe is ideal for brunch, as it’s easy to prepare and feeds up to eight. The ingredient list is deceptively simple, and each element brings big flavor to the party. Frozen spinach is great here — just defrost and wring out to remove excess moisture before baking.

Frittata with Spinach, Feta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Servings: 8

  • 12 eggs
  • .5 cup milk
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • .5 cup feta cheese
  • .5 cup cooked spinach
  • .25 cup sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • .75 tsp. salt
  • .25 tsp. black pepper
    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Combine the cornstarch in milk to dissolve, then incorporate it into the eggs. Once well combined, add the feta, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.

    2. Generously coat a 12-inch cast iron pan with non-stick spray. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Be cautious not to open the oven before 15 minutes to ensure the frittata rises properly. Once cooked, serve warm or at room temperature.

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An excellent dish for a crowd, this hash is a powerhouse of a breakfast. The combo of sweet potatoes, black beans and turkey sausage brings three protein sources into the equation for a well-rounded dish. Adding a poached egg on top of each serving is also a welcome addition. Note: most grocery stores sell sweet potatoes pre-diced, which is an excellent time saver.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Hash with Turkey Sausage

Servings: 4

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into half-inch cubes
  • 1 can (15 oz.) low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lb. bulk turkey sausage
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • .5 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
  • Avocado slices, for garnish
    1. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the olive oil, then add the diced sweet potatoes, paprika and salt to the skillet and cook until they start to soften, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the onion, garlic and bell pepper and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.

    2. Once the sweet potatoes and veggies are cooked, remove from the pan and add the turkey sausage to the skillet to brown, crumbling to ensure even distribution. Cook for another 8 to 10 minutes.

    3. When the turkey sausage is browned and cooked through, add the sweet potato and veggies back into the pan and stir in the black beans. Turn heat to low, cover and cook for 5 minutes to let the flavors meld.

    4. Serve the hash warm, garnished with fresh cilantro and avocado.

quinoa with boiled egg, avocado, tomato, arugula. healthy breakfast
Quinoa Breakfast Bowl With Eggs
Getty Images

The beauty of this recipe lies in both its versatility and speed of cooking, especially if using leftover or steam-in-bag quinoa, which is recommended here. The combo of quinoa and eggs brings 20 grams of protein and five grams of fiber to the plate, an excellent way to start the day. Feel free to experiment with the add-ons — the neutral flavor of the quinoa lends well to many directions.

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl With Eggs

Servings: 2

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • .5 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • .5 avocado, sliced
  • .25 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • .25 cup fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper
    1. Ensure the quinoa is hot if using leftovers or frozen. Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Crack the eggs into the skillet, cover and cook to your preferred level of doneness — for a runny yolk, about 2 to 3 minutes should suffice. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

    2. In a serving bowl, add the cooked quinoa as the base. Place the fried eggs on top of the quinoa, then add the halved cherry tomatoes and sliced avocado around the eggs. Sprinkle the crumbled feta cheese over the bowl and garnish with fresh cilantro.

    3. Tip: to make this meal even easier, hard boil the eggs in advance — simply slice and serve before eating.

This burrito is a breakfast game changer. Chicken is generally overlooked during the day’s most important meal, which is a real shame. Versatile and affordable, this protein source is unrivaled in the mornings, especially when paired with Tex-Mex flavors. These burritos are perfect to make-ahead, too — simply prepare as directed below, then tightly wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for up to two weeks. Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes to reheat.

Spicy Chicken Breakfast Burrito

Servings: 4

  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (store-bought works well)
  • 4 large eggs
  • .5 cup bell peppers, diced
  • .25 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • .5 tsp. cumin
  • .5 tsp. chili powder
  • .5 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
    1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add red onion, bell peppers and jalapeño to the skillet along with a pinch of salt. Sauté until vegetables are tender, 5 to 6 minutes.

    2. In a separate bowl, crack the eggs, add the cornstarch and whisk them together. Once veggies are cooked, add to the skillet and stir to scramble, 2 to 3 minutes.

    3. Add shredded rotisserie chicken to the skillet, along with cumin, chili powder and salt. Mix well and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes until heated through.

    4. Warm the flour tortillas in a dry skillet or microwave for 30 seconds. Divide the chicken and egg mixture evenly among the tortillas. Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese over the chicken and egg mixture. Fold the sides of the tortilla over the filling, then roll it up tightly to form the burrito.

    5. Serve immediately or wrap tightly in plastic wrap to freeze for up to 2 weeks.

Oat pancakes with peanut butter, chia seeds and banana on a white plate
Stuffed Almond Butter and Banana Pancakes
Getty Images

At just less than 4 grams of protein per tablespoon, almond butter a great way to quickly bring protein and fiber to a meal. Here, we pair it with banana and pancakes, creating a flavorful, hearty breakfast. The use of buttermilk brings more than tangy flavor, as it too is an excellent source of protein and calcium. Up the ante even more by subbing in a protein-heavy pancake mix and adding a sprinkling chia seeds.

Stuffed Almond Butter and Banana Pancakes

Servings: 2

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • .5 tsp. baking soda
  • .25 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • .25 cup almond butter, divided
  • 2 ripe bananas, sliced
  • Maple syrup, for serving
    1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, melted butter, 2 tablespoons of almond butter and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently stir until just combined. Small lumps are perfectly acceptable.

    2. Heat a griddle or non-stick skillet over medium heat. Lightly grease with cooking spray or a bit of butter. Pour .25 cup of batter onto the griddle for each pancake; most pans can cook 3 to 4 at a time. Cook until bubbles form on the surface (2 to 3 minutes), then flip and cook until the other side is golden brown. Store pancakes in a 250-degree oven while the remainder of the batch is prepared.

    3. Once the pancakes are cooked, spread a layer of the remaining almond butter on one side of a pancake. Place banana slices on the almond butter, then top with another pancake. Serve the stuffed pancakes warm with a drizzle of maple syrup.


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