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10 Dairy-Free Protein Sources

April 13, 2024

Dairy-Free Protein Sources

When it comes to protein, it’s one of those macronutrients that has so many different usages in the body. Protein is essential for helping to keep the body functioning at its best. It helps us build muscle and organs, make hormones and antibodies, and provide us with the energy we need to maintain optimal performance.

Consuming healthy proteins can also help lower your risk of heart disease and stabilize blood sugars. 

The average person needs to get anywhere from 10% to 35% of their daily calories from protein. So if you’re on a 2,000 calorie diet, that means roughly 200–700 of your calories should come from protein (or about 50–175 grams) per day.

Milk and yogurt are some of the most convenient ways of getting enough protein, but some people follow a dairy-free diet or develop dairy intolerance as they age so they’ll need to get their protein from other milk alternatives. So today, I’m sharing a round-up of dairy-free protein sources you can incorporate into your meal plans when you’re on a dairy-free diet.

10 Dairy-Free Protein Sources

Looking for ways to get more protein into your diet if you’re living a dairy-free lifestyle, are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy? Here are a few dairy-free protein sources you’ll want to consider.


Nuts are a good source of protein and are pretty easy to incorporate into your diet. This plant based food works especially for those on a plant based diet. You can purchase nuts whole to eat as a snack or buy a nut butter to spread on a sandwich, use as a dip for veggies, spread on a banana, or add to your smoothie or protein shake. It’s also easy to find an assortment of nuts available in trail mix form.

Here’s the protein breakdown on some nuts with high amounts of protein.

  • Although technically not a “nut”, but rather a legume, peanuts contain 7 grams of protein per 1 ounce.
  • Almonds contain 6 grams of protein per 1 ounce.
  • Pistachios contain 6 grams of protein per 1 ounce.
  • Cashews contain  5 grams of protein per 1 ounce.
  • Hazelnuts contain 4 grams per 1 ounce.
  • Walnuts contain 4 grams per 1 ounce.


Seeds are another great source of plant based protein. They are also great sources of healthy fats and fiber. Some seeds with the highest protein content include the following:

  • Hemp seeds contain 9 grams in 3 tablespoons (30 grams).
  • Pumpkin seeds contain 8 grams per 1 ounce (28 grams).
  • Sunflower seeds contain 6 grams of protein per 1 ounce (28 grams).
  • Flaxseeds contain 5 grams per 1 ounce (28 grams).

Flaxseeds and chia seeds are also good sources of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. 


Fish has an excellent source of protein. It’s also jam packed with other key nutrients such as: omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), calcium, phosphorus and a great source of minerals like iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium.

Did you know? 

  • 3 oz of salmon contains 19 grams of protein 
  • 3 oz of tuna contains 24 grams of protein
  • 3 oz of trout contains 17 grams of protein


Poultry contains 26 grams of protein in 0.5 lb. You can also find a lot of other nutrients your body needs in poultry like chicken which contains a great source of iodine, iron, zinc, vitamins (especially vitamin B12) and essential fatty acids.


Although eggs are technically a “dairy” product, since they don’t contain milk we’re adding it to this list. Eggs offer an excellent protein source for those looking for milk free protein. They’re very nutrient dense and play a role in weight management, muscle strength, brain function, eye health and more. Eat them hard boiled, scrambled, in a quiche, or more. There are so many options. Because eggs are a high protein packed superfood, you definitely want to add them to your list!

  • In just 1 large boiled egg, you can find about 6 grams of protein. 


If you didn’t know, beans are high sources of protein! Prepare a batch of beans and rice, chili, or add beans to your salad or tacos for a way to bump up your protein intake. If you need another reason to eat more beans…

  • In 1 cup of pinto beans, you get 41 grams of protein
  • 1 cup of kidney beans contain 43 grams of protein
  • 1 cup of lima beans contain 15 grams of protein
  • 1 cup of soy beans contain 68 grams of protein


I know we just mentioned soybeans, which contain a great source of protein in just one cup, soy comes in many forms like soy milk, tofu, tempeh, and other soy-based dairy and meat alternatives.


Chickpeas are an easy add to salads, or if dried make a great crunchy snack, or if blended could work well as a hummus to dip in chips or veggies like carrots or celery.

  • 1 cup of Chickpeas contain 39 grams of protein


Quinoa is another great source of protein you’ll want to add to your diet. In fact, unlike many other plant proteins, it’s a complete protein source, meaning it contains all nine of the essential amino acids that our bodies need and cannot produce on their own. Quinoa is a starchy side that pairs well with a protein (like chicken) and vegetables (like broccoli). 

  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa contains about 8 grams of protein


In beef jerky, you can find about 9 grams of protein per ounce, which makes this the perfect high protein dairy free snack.

Dairy-free Protein powder

If you’re looking for additional sources of protein on a dairy free diet, you might also consider dairy-free protein powders for additional protein sources. Protein powders offer a great way to bump up your protein intake with a dairy free meal in between meals. While many traditional protein powders contain milk, some dairy free alternatives that work best for those with a milk allergy or dairy-free lifestyle include looking at protein powders that contain pea protein, collagen protein powder, and other plant based protein powders, which are great options for those seeking dairy free alternatives. These dairy free protein powders offer a great source of protein, especially for on the go.

Looking for more high protein meal prep ideas to try? Check out this list for inspo of things you can do with these different dairy free protein sources. 

You might also like this list of substitute for milk in mac and cheese.

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