Over the years, the Paleolithic Diet (aka the Paleo Diet, the Stone Age Diet, the Primal Blueprint, the Caveman Diet — the aliases go on) has gotten an inaccurate rep for being uber-restrictive, requiring people to cut out every carb and devour mountains of meat.
But there’s more to eating Paleo than turning into a hardcore carnivore. The diet is all about ditching sugar-loaded, highly processed food for the plant and animal foods of our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
So, no to grains, dairy, or legumes for dinner. But yes to poultry, meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. These 19 dinner recipes are essential for enjoying the Paleo diet.
1. Turkey sweet potato casserole with eggplant and tomato
No need to ditch all carbs when eating Paleo. Sweet potatoes give this protein-rich dish satisfying yet healthy carbs, making it a filling meal.
Serve it at a gathering or freeze six individual portions to serve one person for days.
2. Pizza soup
You can slurp down a pizza if you ditch the crust and cheese. And you won’t miss them when you dip a spoon into this bowl of goodness.
Simmering toppings like pepperoni, mushrooms, and chicken sausage (look for one with lower fat and lower sodium) in marinara sauce creates something between a slice and a stew.
3. Pumpkin chili
Make a big pot of this beanless chili on a Sunday. Full of protein from ground turkey and sweet flavor from pumpkin purée, it’ll take the thinking out of dinner during a busy workweek.
4. Creamy basil and tomato chicken
True to Paleo guidelines, this dish is dairy-free. The sauce’s velvety texture comes from a combo of sunflower seed pesto and coconut milk.
5. Ground turkey and spinach stuffed mushrooms
Take stuffed mushrooms from appetizer to entrée by filling sautéed portobello caps with a mixture of ground turkey, spinach, and tomatoes.
No baking or broiling necessary, either: This one-pan dish takes less than 30 minutes on the stovetop.
6. Shepherd’s pie with cauliflower topping
Shepherd’s pie is typically all about that creamy, fluffy potato topping. Zoom in to see what makes this version Paleo-friendly: It’s creamy, fluffy cauliflower to the rescue yet again. Yay!
7. Easy sweet-and-sour pork chops
It’s all about the glaze here. Pour this sweet, tangy, garlicky sauce over roasted pork chops and return them to the oven for 4 minutes. This could become your signature dish (just don’t tell anyone how easy it is).
8. Oven-baked Italian meatballs with marinara sauce
Everyone loves meatballs. These breadcrumb-free, baked spheres of pork and beef rest happily in homemade marinara sauce. And it only takes about 30 minutes to create this pan of goodness.
9. Spaghetti squash casserole
If you’re hankering for pasta, the no-grain Paleo policy offers tasty alternatives. Use spaghetti squash instead. Mix it with ground beef and veggies to make a casserole that will keep you pleasantly full.
10. Paprika salmon and green beans
We’re big fans of sheet pan recipes. Salmon fillets and green beans roast together for this low-maintenance meal. It’s an easy way to get in those omega-3s.
This recipe calls for canola oil, though in the paleo community, that’s a bit controversial. To play it safe, we say go for other paleo varieties, like olive, coconut, and avocado oils.
11. Spicy tuna and tomato burgers
There’s more to canned tuna than mayo-soaked salad. The fish, which is a good source of vitamin B-12 and niacin, makes an awesome burger. Wrap the burgers in lettuce or serve over salad. We also like to swap in canned salmon for the tuna.
12. Quick fish curry
Curry leaves, fresh ginger, turmeric, and curry powder season this creamy coconut milk sauce. Add your favorite fish and you’ll soon be spooning up a spice-filled dinner.
13. Garlic roasted shrimp with zucchini pasta
Garlic lovers will adore this scampi-like dish. Shrimp are roasted in a garlicky, lemony bath of olive oil and ghee (clarified butter). The sauce has a super-buttery flavor and coats the zoodles most deliciously.
14. Creamy lemon-basil spaghetti squash
Paleo may mean ditching the pasta, but who says you need to rule out the tasty sauces that go with it? Here, avocado and olive oil sub for dairy in a creamy lemon-basil sauce with six — yes, six — cloves of garlic.
Stir in spaghetti squash and kale and you just might forget about pasta.
15. Tomato-basil cauliflower rice
This vegan recipe reminds us why we love the ever-versatile cauliflower. Italian seasonings you’ve probably got in your pantry create a comforting dish of florets pulsed into rice-size pieces.
16. Paleo pineapple fried rice
Here’s another reason Paleo eaters need cauliflower in their kitchens 24/7. This fried rice, bright with red pepper, carrots, scallions, and juicy pineapple, uses coconut aminos as a Paleo-approved alternative to soy sauce.
Vegans can leave out the traditional eggs. You’re not going to find this on any takeout menu.
17. Peanut noodles
Peanuts are a Paleo no-no, so rest assured that this blogger actually uses almond butter to fit the diet’s requirements. The rich, slightly sweet and spicy sauce uses coconut aminos in place of soy.
We love how the sauce clings to the spiralized yellow zucchini noodles. Yum.
A special note about that sauce, the sriracha included in this recipe may or may not be paleo (depending on the ingredients). Always check the labels!
18. Butternut squash risotto
Cauliflower isn’t the only veggie that can sub for rice. Butternut squash, a vitamin A powerhouse, is a filling alternative. Substitute vegetable stock for the bone broth the blogger uses in this rich and satisfying risotto.
19. Paleo and vegan scalloped sweet potatoes
Thanksgiving? Birthday? Random Saturday evening? These sweet scalloped spuds will make any of them extra-special. This dish is incredibly creamy, thanks to the coconut-almond milk combo beneath a mouthwateringly golden-brown top.
This is the stuff that everyone — Paleo eaters, carnivores, vegans, or flexitarians — can agree on.
These 19 essential Paleo dinner recipes will help you eat deliciously while going primal. Revel in all you can eat using these easy recipes with poultry, meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. We’ve got Paleo-vegan covered too!