Over the years, the Paleolithic Diet (aka the Paleo Diet, Stone Age Diet, the Primal Blueprint, Caveman, aliases go on) has gotten an inaccurate rep for being uber restrictive, cutting every carb out there, and devouring 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 chicken, meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. These 21 dinner recipes are essential for enjoying the Paleo diet.

1. One skillet chicken thighs with butternut squash

We love cooking with chicken thighs because they have more flavor and are juicier than breasts. The one pan method of first cooking nitrate-free bacon, then butternut squash, then chicken, adds layers of flavor.

And cleanup’s so easy.

2. 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.

Baked in a casserole dish, the six-portion yield is perfect for a gathering or for a big batch meal that can serve one for days (freeze individual portions).

3. 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.

Toppings like pepperoni, mushrooms, and chicken sausage (try getting one with lower fat and lower sodium) simmered in marinara sauce becomes something between a slice and a stew.

4. Pumpkin chili

Make a big pot of this beanless chili on a Sunday. Full of protein from ground turkey and sweet flavor of pumpkin puree, it’ll take the thinking out of dinner during a busy workweek.

5. Creamy basil and tomato chicken

True to Paleo guidelines, this dish is dairy-free. The velvety texture of the sauce comes from sunflower seed pesto, combined with coconut milk.

6. Ground turkey and spinach stuffed mushrooms

Take stuffed mushrooms from appetizer to entrée by filling sauteed portobello caps with mixture of ground turkey, spinach, and tomatoes.

No baking or broiling necessary, either: This one-pan dish is ready in less than 30 minutes on the stovetop.

7. Shepherd’s pie with cauliflower topping

Admit it, shepherd’s pie, is all about that creamy, fluffy, potato topping. Zoom in to see what makes this version Paleo friendly. Creamy, fluffy cauliflower to the rescue, again. Yay!

8. 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 to the oven for 4 minutes. This could become your signature dish (just don’t tell anyone how easy it is).

9. Oven-baked Italian meatballs with marinara sauce

Everyone loves meatballs. These breadcrumb-free, baked-not-fried, pork- and-beef spheres, rest happily in homemade marinara sauce. And it only takes about 30 minutes to create this pan of goodness.

10. 15-minute zucchini beef skillet

There’s no such thing as “there’s nothing in the house for dinner” in the hands of a blogger. This eggs-for-dinner skillet sizzles with ground beef and zucchini (or any leftover veg). Just 15-minutes to make it.

11. Spaghetti squash casserole

If you’re hankering for pasta, the no-grain Paleo policy offers tasty alternatives. Use spaghetti squash instead. Mix with ground beef and veggies to make a casserole that will keep you pleasantly full.

12. Paprika salmon and green beans

We’re big fans of sheet pan recipes. Salmon filets and green beans roast together for low maintenance meal. That’s an easy way to get in those omega-3s.

13. Spicy tuna and tomato burgers

There’s more to canned tuna than mayo-soaked salad. The fish, which is a good source of vitamin B12 and Niacin, makes an awesome burger. Wrap the burgers with lettuce or serve over salad.

We also like to swap in canned salmon for the tuna.

14. 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.

15. Garlic roasted shrimp with zucchini pasta

Garlic lovers will adore this scampi-like dish. Here shrimp are roasted in a garlicky, lemony bath of olive oil and ghee (clarified butter). It gives the sauce a super buttery flavor that coats the zoodles most deliciously.

16. Creamy lemon basil spaghetti squash

Paleo may mean ditching the pasta, but who says you need to rule out the decadent 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.

Stirred into spaghetti squash and kale, and you just might forget about pasta.

17. Tomato basil cauliflower rice

This vegan recipe reminds us why we love the ever versatile cauliflower. Here, Italian seasonings you’ve got in your pantry create a comforting dish of florets pulsed into rice-sized pieces.

18. 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, green onions, and juicy pineapple, uses coconut aminos for a Paleo-approved alternative to soy.

Vegans can leave out the traditional eggs. You’re not going to find this on any takeout menu.

19. Peanut noodles

Yes, peanuts are a Paleo no-no, but rest assured that the blogger actually used almond butter to fit the diet’s requirements. The rich, slightly sweet and spicy sauce subs coconut aminos for soy.

We love how the sauce clings to the spiralized yellow zucchini noodles. Yum.

20. Butternut squash risotto

Cauliflower isn’t the only veggie that can sub for rice. Butternut squash, a vitamin A powerhouse, is a filling alternative. Swap in vegetable stock for the bone broth this blogger uses in this rich and satisfying risotto.

21. Paleo and vegan scalloped sweet potatoes

Thanksgiving? Birthday? Random Saturday evening? These sweet scalloped spuds will make any of them extra special. It’s incredibly creamy from the coconut-almond milk combo beneath a mouth-wateringly golden-brown top.

This is the stuff that everyone, Paleo eaters, carnivores, vegans, or flexitarian, can agree on.

These 21 essential Paleo dinner recipes will see you through the diet without any sense of restriction. Revel in all you can eat using these easy recipes for chicken, meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. We’ve got Paleo-vegan covered too!