Dri
Olive Garden operator Darden pays a solid dividend. Image source: Darden Restaurants.

Large-cap stocks get most of the attention from investors, but mid-cap stocks often offer a better risk-reward profile. With a demonstrated history of success but plenty of room to grow, mid caps can offer superior returns, and mid-cap stocks with large dividend yields can be especially attractive. Let's look more closely at three high-yield mid-cap stocks to see whether they deserve a spot in your portfolio.

Income investors eat up this stock
Restaurant chain Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) has had a long history of struggles, but it seems to be turning things around. Its Olive Garden chain recently reported higher comparable-restaurant sales for the fourth quarter in a row, and other concepts like its LongHorn Steakhouse and YardHouse chains have even greater potential for growth.

Darden has historically paid a quarterly dividend of $0.55 per share, but with the recent spinoff of its Four Corners Property Trust (NYSE: FCPT) REIT, Darden's dividend is likely to fall. Yet the company has said it will pay a minimum quarterly dividend of $0.4375 per share going forward, and Four Corners is expected to yield between 6% and 7% based on current prices. With the spinoff having finalized earlier in November, investors can pick and choose either or both of the Darden-related businesses based on their income needs and their views on the prospects for each entity going forward.

Dividends calling
Telecom company Frontier Communications (NASDAQ:FTR) has long been a dividend favorite among investors, with a current yield of around 9%. The telecom is known for its service of rural locations, but Frontier has gotten more aggressive about making acquisitions in higher-growth areas of the country. Its pending acquisition of customers in Texas, Florida, and California could boost Frontier's scope dramatically in one fell swoop.

In fact, Frontier executives believe that its pending acquisition could lead to higher dividends in the future. Although longtime shareholders have gotten burned by dividend cuts in the past, Frontier appears to have gotten itself to a point at which its payouts are sustainable. If it can build up its broadband and enterprise businesses as much as it wants, then Frontier could deliver share-price appreciation as well as increasing dividends to its investors.

Healthy payouts for mid-cap investors
Healthcare real estate investment trust Sabra Health Care REIT (NASDAQ:SBRA) has jumped onto the trend toward providing an aging population with the senior housing it needs, with a portfolio that includes skilled nursing homes, assisted living locations, and independent living and continuing-care communities. The REIT currently yields more than 8%, and in its most recent quarterly report, the company reported improving rental income and further expansion beyond the U.S. into the Canadian senior housing market.

Sabra faces plenty of competition, with a number of larger REITs focusing on the healthcare market. Yet the company continues to make acquisitions in order to grow, and liquidity levels remain sufficient to spur further growth into the future. With conditions favoring the senior REIT niche, Sabra has a great opportunity to work toward becoming a leader in the space in the long run.

Mid-cap stocks can give investors the best of both worlds. They have room to grow into large-cap giants, yet they also are mature enough to have survived past difficulties and demonstrated their ability to perform over the long run. When you add dividends to the mix, mid caps can be attractive investments to look at more closely, especially for those investors who tend to overemphasize blue-chip large caps in their portfolios.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.