The microalga Dunaliella salina has been widely studied for carotenogenesis, yet its protein production for human nutrition has rarely been reported. This study unveils the effects of growth phase and light regime on protein and essential amino acid (EAA) levels in D. salina. Cultivation under 24-h continuous light was compared to 12-h/12-h light/dark cycle. The essential amino acid index (EAAI) of D. salina showed accumulating trends up to 1.53 in the stationary phase, surpassing FAO/WHO standard for human nutrition. Light/dark conditions inferred a higher light-usage efficiency, yielding 5-97% higher protein and 18-28% higher EAA mass on light energy throughout the growth, accompanied by 138% faster growth during the light phase of the light/dark cycle, compared to continuous light. The findings revealed D. salina to be especially suitable for high-quality protein production, particularly grown under light/dark conditions, with nitrogen limitation as possible trigger, and harvested in the stationary phase.