At first glance, the Paleo diet seems restrictive, to say the least. No bread, grains, dairy, or sugar? What can you eat? Turns out, quite a lot. The list of Paleo diet–friendly foods is extensive, ranging from bacon and coconut oil to bison and bone broth.
Whether you’ve been eating primal for years or you’re just dipping your toe into Paleo waters, planning and executing meals that taste good and work with the diet can be challenging. Everyone knows that meat is good, carbs are bad—and in that mindset, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut of eating the same “approved” foods over and over again.
But don’t! Yes, the diet is based on eating clean, simple foods for overall better health, but it’s not as limiting as it sounds. In fact, it’s deceptively easy to make healthy, Paleo-approved food meals that taste really, really good. If you’re not convinced yet, the 60 recipes below should do the trick.
Stock your Paleo pantry
Once you go Paleo, you’ll be blown away by how good meals taste without sugar, processed seasonings, and cheese. But there are a few pantry staples—basic seasonings and oils—that every aspiring Paleo chef needs on hand. The beautiful thing about cooking with whole foods is that it’s really easy to make them taste good by adding a little fat like coconut oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.
- Coconut aminos
- Coconut vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Bone broth
- Coconut flour
- Raw honey
- Himalayan sea salt
- Tomato sauce
Basic Paleo recipe formulas
Okay, you’ve got the essential ingredients together and it’s time to start cooking. Feeling creative? Or cooking for picky eaters? Here are a few basic recipes you can build on to come up with dishes that are uniquely yours. These ideas work really well if you have a hodgepodge of foods in your fridge or pantry to use up—just plug whatever you have into the formula.
Roasted Root Veggies
Coat 1 to 2 cups of root veggies (sweet potatoes, beets, tubers, artichokes, Brussels sprouts) with a tablespoon of healthy fat. Roast in the oven at 350 until tender and cooked through.
Heat up the skillet for a super quick and satisfying meal. Cook any protein you like first—it’s easier to cook smaller pieces that are all about the same size—and then add any veggies to the pan. Tubers and cruciferous vegetables will take a little longer to cook through, while greens will only take a few seconds to wilt and saute. Season with coconut aminos, butter, or sriracha sauce.
Kitchen Sink Salad With Protein
Grab all the greens (lettuce, kale, spinach) and any other leftover veggies from the fridge to throw them into a large bowl. Add a protein like canned salmon or tuna, toss with avocado oil and coconut vinegar, and season with pepper, paprika, and ginger for a hearty, veggie-packed meal.
Protein With Vegetable Mash
Missing mashed potatoes? Veggies like cauliflower, sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, parsnips, and carrots all make excellent substitutes for the starchy and off-limits tuber. Just boil for a few minutes until soft, then mash like you would potatoes. Add butter or coconut milk for creaminess, and top with your choice of protein for a filling dish.
Anything With Bacon
When in doubt, add bacon. Seriously, everyone’s favorite cured meat is a staple in most Paleo kitchens because it adds so much flavor to just about anything.
The best Paleo dinner recipes
Not in the mood to wing it in the kitchen? There are so many incredible Paleo recipes out there, with difficulty levels ranging from Chef Boyardee–easy to slightly more gourmet. Here are our favorite recipes that absolutely anyone can make! Bonus: All the shelf-stable ingredients are available at Thrive Market for 25 to 50 percent off retail prices.
Beef + Lamb
Mustard Roast Beef
Dry, overcooked roast beef is the worst. Our simple and flavorful recipe keeps the meat moist and gives it an unexpected spicy kick.
Beef and Broccolini Stir-Fry
Missing Chinese takeout now that you’ve gone Paleo? Thanks to an easy beef and broccoli stir-fry, you’ll never need to order in again.
Steak Lomo Saltado
Go international with a Paleo take on this traditional Peruvian meat dish.
These meatballs give Grandma’s some competition. We promise, you won’t miss the noodles.
Ready for game day? Butter-drenched sliders will have your guests begging for more.
Paleo Burrito Bowl
Satisfy your Chipotle craving the healthy way with our grain-free burrito bowl.
Lamb Meatballs with Tahini Dipping Sauce
These lamb meatballs are so satisfying—and make great next-day leftovers!
Turkey-Sage Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash
Sage makes an unexpected appearance in this Paleo take on spaghetti and meatballs—and it works.
Whole Roast Turkey with Paleo Gravy
Got the nomination to host Thanksgiving/Christmas/Easter this year? Trick your family into going Paleo with a coconut oil–roasted bird.
Coconut Chicken Stir-Fry
A low-calorie, sweet stir-fry of coconut, kale, chicken will become a new weeknight favorite.
Coconut Flour–Fried Chicken Wings
Coconut flour takes a little bit of the guilt out of fried chicken wings.
Nutty tahini chicken will wow guests and requires just a few minutes in the oven!
Chicken and Herb Salad
No more sad salads for lunch. Chicken laab—a traditional Laotian version of minced meat—livens up herbs and greens.
Coconut Chicken Curry
We gave a classic curry recipe a Paleo makeover.
Roast Chicken with Orange and Fennel
Orange and fennel make this roasted chicken recipe stand out from the rest. The orange marinade also keeps the meat moist and tender.
Apricot Almond Chicken Tagine
You don’t need any special equipment to make this spicy stew—and the longer the flavors cook and meld in the pot, the more delicious it becomes. It’s perfect to make ahead of time for entertaining! Here, we've swapped cauliflower in for couscous to make the dish Paleo-friendly.
Pork Chops with Walnut Romesco
Simply cooked pork chops topped off with a Spanish walnut romesco sauce makes an elegant dinner—one that takes less than an hour to pull off.
Rainbow Chard with Bacon
Rainbow chard is a garden's biggest show-off—the dark leafy green and its contrasting bright pink, yellow, and red stems look beautiful on any plate. Here, we've sauteéd chard with bacon, leeks, and bright apple cider vinegar for a show-stopping side.
Fish + Seafood
A bit wary of cooking seafood? There's no need to be—especially with a recipe as foolproof as this one.
Onion and Anchovy Tart
Over the years, anchovies have acquired a bad reputation as a stinky, overpowering fish. But here their briny flavor shines, complemented with equally salty kalamata olives and heaps of caramelized onions.
Honey Mustard Salmon With Root Veggies
Our combo of simply roasted beets and fennel topped with a honey mustard–glazed salmon looks restaurant-worthy, but comes together in less than half an hour.
Halibut and Mushrooms in Pepper-Ginger Broth
This umami broth with a peppery kick has such a depth of flavor that you'd never guess it takes only 25 minutes to make. If you'd like to keep things strictly Paleo, make sure to use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.
Whole-Roasted Sea Bass
Fancy whole-roasted sea bass is surprisingly easy—skip the side of lentils to go full Paleo.
Ahi Grapefruit Poke
For our Hawaiian poke (pronounced poke-ay), we combined sashimi-grade ahi tuna with a bright citrus and ginger marinade.
Thai Red Curry Salmon Bowl
Kelp noodles stand in for rice as a base for spicy salmon, which means you get all the flavor without the carbs.
Grilled BBQ Salmon Kebabs
Grilling salmon filets on cedar planks imparts a subtle smoky flavor that pairs perfectly with skewers of eggplant, squash, and Shishito peppers.
Shrimp Vietnamese Noodle Bowls
Fresh, crunchy cucumber noodles stand in for rice noodles in a light, summery version of a classic Vietnamese hot-cold dish.
Paleo Crab Cakes
What's the secret to the moist, tender texture of our Maryland-style crab cakes? Coconut flour, which holds the cakes together without the heaviness of breadcrumbs.
Tuna Hand Rolls
You can still do sushi on the Paleo diet! Water-packed tuna stands in for the raw variety, and we've kicked up the flavor with coconut aminos and wasabi paste.
Cod With Ginger Bok Choy
Lemongrass gives this dish its signature Thai-inspired flavor. It takes less than 30 minutes to put together, but it’s elegant enough to serve at a dinner party.
Herb Deviled Eggs
A crowd-pleasing appetizer or easy dinner option, herb deviled eggs are perfect atop a simple salad.
Sweet Potato Spanish Omelette
Who says omelettes need to be relegated to breakfast? Our filling Spanish-style version makes a complete dinner!
Eggs in Purgatory
Soft-baked eggs in spicy tomato sauce are even easier to make than scrambled eggs—but look and taste incredible.
Brussels Sprouts Winter Salad
Brussels sprouts prepped slaw-style keep their crunch and fiber, while pistachios and a tangy apple dressing add depth of flavor.
Go gourmet with this classic salad of salmon, eggs, and fresh vegetables.
Lemon-Fennel Sardine Salad
Refreshing and crisp, this salad makes use of the whole lemon to add brightness that balances the richness of sardines.
Kabocha Squash Soup with Pancetta
The sweetness of roasted kabocha squash and saltiness of pancetta come together in a truly lovely fall soup.
Cauliflower Braised in Tomato Sauce
Braise an entire head of cauliflower in tomato sauce for a flavorful and hearty meal.
Sweet Potato Latkes
These veggie pancakes are so savory you’ll forget that they’re totally meatless.
Roasted Butternut Squash With Bee Pollen Vinaigrette
Bright butternut squash gets a big dose of flavor from a bee pollen vinaigrette.
Caramelized Leek, Onion, and Mushroom Stuffing
Tasty stuffing doesn’t have to be a bread bomb—this creative leek, onion, and mushroom version ditches the carbs altogether.
A slightly sweet combo of parsnips and apples easily replaces regular mashed potatoes. Topped with grass-fed butter or served below roast beef, it’s the perfect side.
Pan-Roasted Broccolini with Anchovies
Anchovies are the fatty-fish fave among many Paleo eaters. Here their saltiness adds depth to green broccolini.
Paleo Parsnip Fries
McDonald’s famous French fries don’t stand a chance against these lard-fried parsnip babies dipped in aioli.
A southern delicacy that’s usually breaded in white flour and spices, okra gets a Paleo spin thanks to coconut flour.
Coconut Creamed Spinach
Although heavy cream is strictly off-limits on the Paleo diet, rich coconut milk is totally approved—and it’ll have you drooling in this creamed spinach recipe.
Kelp Noodle Stir-Fry
This updated version of a quick Korean noodle stir-fry uses kelp noodles instead of the traditional rice variety.
Paleo Mac and Cheese
Cauliflower makes a sneaky sub for pasta in this mac and cheese.
Chocolate Paleo Scotcheroos
Sink your teeth into chewy almond-butterscotch cookies topped with dark chocolate.
Coconut Creme Brulee
This gorgeous creme brulee will impress all your friends—whether they’re all about the Paleo diet … or just all about dessert.
Maple Pumpkin Pie
No need to politely reject the pumpkin pie at your next holiday gathering. This recipe is totally Paleo-friendly, and so good guests will beg for the recipe!
Chocolate Pecan Pie
Paleo. Chocolate. Pecan. Pie. We rest our case.
Paleo Twix Bars
Sure, they’re a little more work than ripping open a candy bar. But our Paleo “Twix” bars don’t disappoint, and you’ll have plenty of leftovers.
Paleo Kit Kat Bars
Break me off a piece! Part chocolate, part “wafer,” all delicious.
Paleo Recipe Resources
As you can see, recreating your favorite recipes with primal-friendly ingredients is totally possible. Want even more Paleo recipe inspiration? Check our blog daily, or do a quick search on these fantastic sites. You’ll break out of your cooking comfort zone in no time.
Finally, the best thing that you can do when prepping a Paleo-friendly dinner? Experiment! Use flavors that you love and crave, and you’re bound to start cooking up meals that you’ll truly enjoy eating.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont