May 24, 2024

Recipes with cheese are often high in protein and calcium.

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Let’s be honest: Cheese is just downright delicious. It’s gooey, salty and the epic cheese pull can take a dish from good to great. And while you might assume that cheese recipes aren’t the most nutritious, it is possible to enjoy it without throwing your health goals out the window.

Cheese is actually full of protein and calcium, which are both needed in a healthy diet. The key to enjoying cheese without going overboard is to do so in moderation. Instead of eating a cheese-laden dish for breakfast, lunch and dinner, consider enjoying it on occasion.

Plus, cheesy dishes with nutrient-dense ingredients like veggies and whole grains help you achieve a well-balanced diet.

With that in mind, we tapped two registered dietitians to get the scoop on the benefits of a few cheesy recipes for those of us who are obsessed with cheese. Mozzarella, cheddar, fontina and goat cheese, we say bring it on. Keep scrolling for 27 irresistible cheese recipes to make asap.

These cheese bites make for a great snack or side dish to any meal.

Image Credit:
Susan Marque/

  • 250 calories
  • 12 grams of protein

“Adding strong flavors like cheese to a vegetable like broccoli can make it more palatable for some people,” says May Zhu, RD of Nutrition Happens. To reduce the sodium in this recipe, adjust or omit the additional salt, as cheese has a natural saltiness.

2. Cauliflower Grilled Cheese

This grilled cheese only has 7 grams of carbs which is great for low-carb diets.

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Ozgur Coskun/adobe stock

  • 311 calories
  • 19 grams of protein

The combination of cheese, coconut oil and butter can make this dish high in saturated fat content, Zhu warns. If possible, omit some of these in the process. “It’s best to be mindful of how much saturated fat you’re taking in over time, as it can increase the risk of heart disease.”

3. Florentine Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Serve this sandwich alongside a plate of wilted greens or steamed veggies.

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okkijan2010/adobe stock

  • 439 calories
  • 28 grams of protein

This twist on a grilled cheese sandwich is loaded with flavor and nutrients. “Overall, this recipe has a relatively balanced profile of protein, fat and fiber for a complete meal that can help you stay satiated and full,” Zhu says.

4. Mac and Cheese and Peas

Consider swapping legume-based pasta if you need additional fiber and protein.

Image Credit:
Sherry Castellano/

  • 362 calories
  • 12 grams of protein

“The sauce used in this recipe is made from cashews, almond milk and nutritional yeast, which is a popular combination to make a vegan cheese alternative,” Zhu says. “Cashews provide fiber and heart-healthy fats, which both help stabilize blood sugar and slow down digestion to keep you fuller for longer.”

5. Instant Pot Cream Cheese Chili

Serve this chili alongside a side salad with your favorite vegetables.

  • 363 calories
  • 20 grams of protein

You can easily throw together this tasty Instant Pot meal for a quick weeknight dinner. “To decrease the fat in this recipe, use Neufchâtel cheese in place of cream cheese,” Zhu says. It can be used in the same way as cream cheese, but has less fat.

Pair this chicken with a side of vegetables or whole grains to make it a full meal.

  • 347 calories
  • 27 grams of protein

“Per serving, spreadable cheese like Boursin is lower in protein compared to other cheeses, such as cheddar or provolone,” Zhu says. “However, this recipe is still high in protein from the chicken.”

7. Makeover Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Casserole

Add this pumpkin mac and cheese to your next Thanksgiving spread.

  • 582 calories
  • 25 grams of protein

“Pumpkin can be a very nutritious addition to mac and cheese, adding nutrients like fiber and vitamin A,” says Zhu. Consider serving this as a side dish instead of the main course because it’s high in saturated fat and sodium.

8. Rainbow Superfood Grilled Cheese

Even picky toddlers will enjoy this colorful grilled cheese.

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  • 399 calories
  • 25 grams of protein

“Every one-ounce serving of mozzarella cheese provides around 20 percent of your daily value of calcium, which can help support hormone balance and bone health,” Zhu says. “It also provides a good amount of protein to help you stay full and satisfied.”

9. Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

Skip the greasy sandwich from your local restaurant and enjoy this better-for-you version.

Image Credit:
Lexi’s Clean Kitchen

  • 310 calories
  • 35.6 grams of protein

“This recipe is high in quality protein from the steak and cheese,” Zhu says. You’ll get to enjoy ooey gooey provolone cheese, which is made from milk and contains all the essential amino acids your body needs.

To boost the overall nutrition, consider serving it with a side of whole-grain bread and a side salad.

  • 243 calories
  • 10.5 grams of protein

“One serving of this soup provides over 150 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, coming mostly from the broccoli and potatoes,” Zhu says. “This soup is also fairly balanced, with protein and fat from the cheese and fiber from broccoli and potatoes.”

11. Grilled Sausage and Apple Pizza With Goat Cheese

Consider serving this pizza with a side of your favorite steamed or roasted vegetables.

  • 410 calories
  • 17.3 grams of protein

Goat cheese is rich in magnesium and B vitamins and every one-ounce serving provides 6 grams of protein, Zhu says. “Goats milk also has a different protein structure than cow’s milk, making it easier to digest for some people.”

12. Marinated Cheese and Olives

Enjoy this snack in moderation, as cheese and olives can be high in sodium.

  • 204 calories
  • 10 grams of protein

“This can be an easy way to taking in more protein for the day,” Zhu says. “Harder cheese like cheddar may be lower in lactose, which can be a good option for those who have a lactose intolerance.”

13. Provolone Cheese Baked With Grapes and Walnuts

Walnuts are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid.

  • 250 calories
  • 15 grams of protein

This appetizer is cheesy and nutty and full of omega-3 fatty acids, thanks to the walnuts, according to Sarah Jackson, RD of Origin Nutrition. “Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fats that must be obtained from foods, since the body is unable to produce them on its own.”

14. Garlic Mac ‘N’ Cheese

Using almond milk lowers the saturated fat in this recipe.

  • 627 calories
  • 22.2 grams of protein

“Nutritional yeast is a nutrient-dense dairy alternative to cheese that contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein,” Jackson says. “It also contains a type of fiber called beta-glucans, which are believed to reduce cholesterol levels and strengthen immune function.”

15. Poached Eggs Salmon With Cheese Sauce

Add sauteed spinach to this dish to make it well-balanced.

  • 448 calories
  • 41 grams of protein

“Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fats, which are linked to lowering the risk of heart conditions as well as reducing inflammation in the body,” Jackson says.

16. Crunchy Strawberry Salad With Fried Goat Cheese

This strawberry salad is a great protein-rich meal for vegetarian diets.

  • 545 calories
  • 35 grams of protein

This filling recipe is loaded up with nutrient-dense ingredients. “Strawberries have prebiotic fibers that help feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut,” Jackson says. “And goat cheese is a great choice for those who have difficulty digesting dairy.”

Enjoy these chaffles for breakfast or for a protein-rich snack.

  • 335 calories
  • 30.3 grams of protein

“Unlike traditional waffles, this dish is an excellent source of complete proteins,” Jackson says. “Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, meaning that it will promote feelings of satiety between meals.”

18. Instant Pot Lazy Lasagna

Using ground turkey or chicken in this recipe will cut down the saturated fat and cholesterol.

  • 463 calories
  • 35 grams of protein

Ricotta cheese is an excellent source of protein, Jackson says. “It is also high in calcium and vitamin B12, which is a vitamin crucial for blood and nerve cell health, as well as DNA production.

19. Lemon Pesto Vegetable Pasta With Grilled Cheese

Halloumi cheese has 7 grams of protein per one-ounce serving.

  • 562 calories
  • 21 grams of protein

If you’re hankering for a refreshing pasta dish that’s full of nutrients, look no further. “Consider using pasta made from chickpeas or quinoa to increase the fiber and protein in this dish,” Jackson suggests. “These are also more easily tolerated by those with gluten sensitivity.”

Serve this foil-packet dinner with a side of green vegetables or a side salad.

  • 520 calories
  • 28 grams of protein

Cooking up a quick and nutritious dinner has never been easier thanks to this foil-packet dinner recipe. These yummy burgers are perfect for the summer, as they can be cooked on the grill. “Using sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes ups the fiber and vitamin A in this dish,” Jackson says.

21. Broccoli and White Cheddar Quinoa Mac and Cheese

Consider serving this as a side dish with lean meat and a side of vegetables.

  • 292 calories
  • 12.2 grams of protein

“Quinoa is an excellent source of dietary fiber, and it’s also a complete protein,” Jackson says. What’s more, it’s also naturally gluten-free, which makes it a great option for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities.

22. Three Cheese Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

Enjoy these cheesy shells for your next Meatless Monday meal.

  • 511 calories
  • 29 grams of protein

Butternut squash is an excellent source of potassium, which is important for regulating blood pressure, Jackson says. “It also contains more than 100 percent of the daily requirement for vitamin A, which has been linked to supporting a healthy immune system and reducing the risk of vision loss.”

23. Simple Egg and Cheese Tartlets

Enjoy these tartlets for breakfast, brunch or an afternoon snack.

  • 522 calories
  • 18 grams of protein

These yummy egg tartlets make a super nutritious breakfast option. “Adding sautéed onion and bell peppers to the tartlet gives you more vitamin C and prebiotic fiber,” Jackson says. To reduce cholesterol and saturated fat, consider swapping the puff pastry with a whole grain English muffin.

Using sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes gives your fries even more nutrients.

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  • 354 calories
  • 11 grams of protein

The cheese sauce in this recipe is made with nutritional yeast and cashews, and even has a bit of turmeric for extra anti-inflammatory power. “Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has been linked to reducing oxidative stress associated with inflammatory conditions, such as hyperlipidemia and arthritis,” Jackson says.

25. Cheesy High-Protein Twice-Baked Sweet Potato

Consider choosing a low-sodium cottage cheese for this recipe.

Image Credit:
Jenna Butler/

  • 221 calories
  • 27 grams of protein

“Sweet potatoes contain both soluble and insoluble fibers, which contribute to feelings of fullness and help to slow the breakdown of carbs so your blood sugar doesn’t spike,” Jackson says.

26. Instant Pot Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli and Rice

A one-pot wonder, this cheesy dish is simple and delicious.

  • 414 calories
  • 36 grams of protein

Chances are you likely have everything you need for this Instant Pot dish. Not only is it easy to make, but it’s full of nutrients you need. Using chicken breast as the main source of protein keeps the calories and fat to a minimum.

27. Cheesy Cauliflower and Farro Bake

To keep sodium levels down, use no-salt-added vegetable broth.

  • 466 calories
  • 24 grams of protein

Farro, cauliflower and, of course, cheese are the stars of this veggie casserole. Make this delicious dish as a side and serve with a lean protein. One serving has 7 grams of fiber.


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