Top 10 High Protein Mexican Foods for Balanced Meals

Looking for high protein Mexican food? I’ve got you!

Sometimes people have a hard time believing that Mexican food can be healthy for you. 

They’ve been taught to fear carbs like tortillas, and aren’t aware of all the different vegetables in Mexican food. 

But as a Latina dietitian, it’s important to me that you know how easy it can be to make a balanced meal with your favorite Mexican foods. That includes finding a good variety of Mexican protein sources, which can help you feel full and manage your blood sugar. 

So if you’ve ever worried Mexican food is too high in carbs for you, keep reading for my list of high protein Mexican foods and my favorite high protein Mexican meals!

Let’s jump in!

collage of high protein mexican foods like ceviche, beef, chicken, and eggs.

Best Mexican Protein Sources

In some ways, the protein sources in Mexican food aren’t too different from any other cuisine. There are a variety of animal and plant proteins to choose from!

Here are some of the best protein sources you’ll find in Mexican food. 


Did you know Mexico is one of the biggest consumers of eggs in the world?

They’re affordable, nutritious, and super convenient! Which is why there are so many options for delicious egg dishes in Mexican food, including huevos ahogados, chilaquiles de huevos and more. 

1 egg provides about 6-7 grams of protein (1). For most people, 2 eggs is enough protein for a meal. 


Dairy is an interesting one, since an estimated 50-75% of Latinos experience lactose intolerance. 

But the good news is that having lactose intolerance doesn’t mean you can’t eat any dairy. Fermented dairy products like yogurt and cheese tend to work well for people with lactose intolerance. 

This might be why fermented dairy drinks like kefir and yakult have such a strong presence in Mexico.

Dairy is a convenient and affordable way to add protein, calcium, and potassium to your diet. 1 cup of fermented dairy like kefir can provide 9 g of protein (2). 

Fish & Seafood

It’s no surprise that Mexican food has plenty of seafood to choose from, with all its beaches!

Shrimp and tuna are two of the most popular seafood options in Mexican food. But you’ll also find crab, salmon, snapper, oysters, and more! 

Lean fish and shellfish are a great way to get a good portion of protein with minimal extra fat. Just 3 oz of shrimp provides 17 g of protein (and just 77 calories) (3). 

And fatty fish like salmon and tuna are full of heart-healthy omega-3 fats, in addition to protein!

Chicken and Turkey

Turkey is actually one of the most traditional protein sources in Mexico. Before chickens were introduced via colonization, turkey was a major protein source in Mayan food. 

Many dishes we eat with chicken today, like mole, were originally served with turkey. 

Whether you prefer chicken or turkey, both are good sources of protein and relatively low fat. 3 oz of chicken provides about 18 g of protein (4). 

Red meat (beef, pork, etc.)

In addition to beef and pork, lamb and goat are also popular red meat options in Mexican food. 

The most traditional birria recipes may feature goat instead of beef, for example (this is how I was introduced to birria). 

Most red meat is a good source of iron, as well as protein. While some people may wish to limit red meat due to concerns over saturated fat and more, there can be space for red meat in a healthy, high-protein diet. 

Organ meat/Offal

Like most other cultures, Mexican food often makes use of as much of the animal as possible. 

Tacos de lengua (tongue) are popular both in Mexico and in the United States. 

Tripe is found in menudo, one of the most iconic Mexican soups. A serving of tripe can provide 13 g of protein, including collagen (5).

Read more: Is Menudo Healthy?

These less-consumed meats, including options like pig’s feet, can be a good source of collagen and other nutrients that are hard to get in modern diets. 


There is a long history of eating insects in Mexican food, but crickets are the most common and accessible. 

Toasted crickets are often served as a bar snack or appetizer. And tacos de chapulines (cricket tacos) have been gaining in popularity in the United States. 

A serving of crickets provides about 13 g of protein and 2 g of carbs, making it a great high protein snack. 


There’s a myth that Mexican food is not vegetarian-friendly. This always strikes me as odd since Mexican food features beans so heavily. 

In fact, Latinos are the biggest consumers of beans in the United States (6). 

While plant-based proteins like beans may have more carbohydrates than meats, they are also a good source of fiber and very lean. A ½-cup serving of beans provides about 7 g of protein, and 5 g of fiber (7). 

This makes them worth including in your rotation of protein options!


There are so many nuts and seeds in Mexican food, but I wanted to highlight pepitas in particular. Pepitas are pumpkin seeds, and these little green seeds can be eaten as a snack or used in Mexican sauces like pipian. 

Pepitas are a good source of protein, fiber, iron, and heart-healthy fats. A 1-oz serving of pepitas provides 8 g of protein, along with iron and fiber (8). 

Chia seeds

Yes, chia seeds have been having a moment. But they’ve been a part of Mexican diets for thousands of years!

These tiny seeds are high in protein relative to their size, and they’re also a good source of fiber and heart healthy fats!

You have to eat a lot of chia seeds to get enough protein, which I don’t recommend because you also have to consider the fiber content. A 1-oz serving of chia seeds provides 4.5 g of protein, but 9 g of fiber (9).

This is why eating a variety of proteins is important!

But a quick agua de chia can be an easy way to add an extra boost of protein to your snack. 

High Protein Mexican Meals

Feel free to mix and match those high protein Mexican foods however you want! But if you’re looking for some recipe ideas for high protein Mexican meals, I’ve put together a list of my favorites for you!

Here are my favorite high protein Mexican meals: 


Serve with a tostada and some avocado slices for a light but nutritionally complete meal. 

Spicy chipotle shrimp

Serve with rice and beans for a hearty, high protein meal. 

Chicken Tinga

I love chicken tinga because it’s perfect for meal prep. Make a batch of tinga and then serve it with tostadas one day, on sopes the next, or even make a torta with it!

Chicken Pipian

Chicken pipian combines chicken with a high protein pumpkin-seed sauce. Plus, it’s delicious!

Huevos ahogados

One of the easiest egg dishes you’ll make, and so delicious too! I like to dip rolled-up tortillas in the salsa.

Mole poblano

In addition to being served over chicken, traditionally, mole itself is high in protein thanks to all the nuts and seeds. 

Bean and cheese burritos

Bean and cheese is the classic vegetarian option for a reason! It’s tasty, filling, and provides a good variety of nutrients!


Salpicon is one of my favorite easy, healthy ways to serve beef. It’s kind of like a taco salad! 

Final thoughts

Mexican food has so many high protein foods to choose from! From meats and seafoods to plant-based options like beans or nuts, you can easily meet your protein needs with Mexican food. 

As a Latina dietitian, I talk to clients every day who’ve been told our cultural foods aren’t healthy enough. Which is why I want to help Latinos learn about the health benefits of our traditional foods, and that includes plenty of high protein options. 

Looking for help eating a healthy diet that includes your favorite Mexican foods? Get started with my free 1-week Mexican meal plan! Get a copy when you sign up below.


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