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Homemade Protein Bars

Homemade Protein Bars

These homemade protein bars are no-bake, endlessly customizable energy bars. Just like Luna and Power bars, and made with your favorite protein powder.

This recipe is not like those other fussy, confusing recipes out there! Press play ▶️ below and see for yourself.

The case for protein bars

My 3 kids play a lot of sports. That means that we’re often on the run, so they eat a lot of protein bars. And of course, each kid has his or her own favorite variety of bar. But they all have one thing in common: they’re crazy expensive.

This recipe for homemade protein bars started out as something I was just making for my family, and that was that. After much hesitation, I had finally purchased some Vega Essentials protein powder (I mean, they even sell it at CVS now! I could use a coupon!) and was just playing around with it.

That’s the kind of experimenting I rarely get to do anymore, where I just throw a bit of this and a bit of that into a recipe. Very few notes, even fewer apologies.

These homemade protein bars are no bake, endlessly customizable energy bars. Just like Luna and Power bars, and made with your favorite protein powder.

But my kids couldn’t get enough of these bars. They had even gotten good enough that my husband mentioned them out of the blue one day.

“You know, those protein bars were really good.” That’s high praise for him. My kids had started asking, “Are those bars hard to make?” That’s code for “please make them again.” These bars have the soft texture of a brownie, and they’re not too sweet.

These homemade protein bars are no bake, endlessly customizable energy bars. Just like Luna and Power bars, and made with your favorite protein powder.

Two recipes, endless options

Have you ever noticed that most of the recipes out there for homemade protein bars are so specific? They either rely on one specific type of protein powder, call for a million different funky ingredients I’ve never heard of, or they are one flavor and one flavor only. So frustrating!

So I’ve included two basic recipe formulas for homemade protein bars below. One is made withsuper soft, packed-with-fiber, deliciously sticky Medjool dates to hold the bars together and sweeten them, of course. I buy those dates by the pound at Trader Joe’s, and they’re essential for recipes like my healthy Paleo fudge.

You can include unsweetened melted chocolate in the mixture, or not. It really helps the bars hold their shape and gives them a richer flavor. If you prefer a more neutral-tasting bar, use a vanilla or unflavored protein powder, and leave out the melted chocolate.

These homemade protein bars are no bake, endlessly customizable energy bars. Just like Luna and Power bars, and made with your favorite protein powder.

But I realize that you may not know where to buy Medjool dates. Or you may think they’re too sweet. So I’ve also formulated another recipe with nut butter and no dates.

I like it best made with cocoa powder and melted chocolate, but I include plenty of options for making it more neutral-tasting (including making it with cashew butter). I’ve tried these bars with every single variation I recommend. They all work.

These homemade protein bars are no bake, endlessly customizable energy bars. Just like Luna and Power bars, and made with your favorite protein powder.

Options

My favorite way of making these bars is the “date version,” including the melted unsweetened chocolate—and with just a drizzle of melted chocolate on top, at most. Without the full chocolate coating, the bars are much easier to handle and transport. Including the melted chocolate in the bar itself makes the bar richer in taste and more firm for easy handling.

You can use any flavor protein powder you like in the date version and leave out the melted chocolate, and you’ll change the flavor profile to suit your tastes. If you have another favorite protein powder, use that!

If you prefer a dairy protein powder, try whey protein. For now, yes, you do need to include the oats. There’s no substitute!

Some flavor suggestions:

  • Try using cashew butter as the nut butter for a more neutral flavor that really lets the chocolate flavor shine.
  • Try replacing the cocoa powder with a freeze-dried fruit powder. You can either buy it as a powder, or buy freeze dried fruit by the bag and grind it into a powder. If you have a dehydrator, the sky’s the limit!
  • Instead of protein powder, try using collagen powder for a huge nutritional boost with no added flavor at all. I really like Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. That’s an affiliate link, feel free to shop around for the best price!
These homemade protein bars are no bake, endlessly customizable energy bars. Just like Luna and Power bars, and made with your favorite protein powder.
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Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 10 to 12 bars

Ingredients

For the date version
2 1/2 cups (250 g) old-fashioned certified gluten free rolled oats (if gluten free isn’t necessary, use any oats)

1 scoop (36 g) gluten free protein powder (I like Vega essentials chocolate flavor protein powder, but you can use whey protein, or your favorite protein powder (vanilla or chocolate))

10 pitted soft Medjool dates (150 g, as pitted)

1/4 cup (84 g) pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) milk (any kind), plus more as necessary

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped and melted (optional)

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped and melted (optional, for coating)

For the nut butter version
2 1/2 cups (250 g) old-fashioned certified gluten free rolled oats (if gluten free isn’t necessary, use any oats)

1 1/2 scoops (54 g) gluten free protein powder (I like Vega essentials chocolate flavor protein powder, but you can use whey protein, or your favorite protein powder (vanilla or chocolate))

1/2 cup (40 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed) (can replace with more protein powder)

3/4 cup (192 g) smooth natural nut butter (I have used peanut butter, almond butter and cashew butter—all work well)

1/4 cup (84 g) pure maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) milk (any kind), plus more as necessary

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped and melted (can replace with 2 tablespoons more nut butter + 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup)

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped and melted (optional, for coating)

Directions

  • Line an 8-inch square baking pan or standard 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.

  • To make the date version, place the oats in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until ground into a flour. Add the protein powder, dates, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, 1/4 cup milk and (optional) melted unsweetened chocolate. Process until the mixture is well-combined and is tacky (but not sticky) to the touch. Add more milk by the teaspoonful and process, only as necessary for the mixture to reach the proper consistency. If you opt not to use the melted unsweetened chocolate, you will have to add more milk, and the bars will not hold together as firmly when shaped.

  • Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press firmly into an even layer, smoothing the top as much as possible. Cover with parchment and place in the refrigerator or freezer to chill until firm (about 1 hour in the refrigerator, or 20 minutes in the freezer). Remove the bars from the pan and slice into 10 or 12 equal-sized rectangular bars. Dip in the optional melted bittersweet chocolate to coat and allow to sit at room temperature until set. Store the bars in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

  • To make the nut butter version, place the oats in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until ground into a flour. Add the protein powder, cocoa powder (or more protein powder), nut butter, maple syrup, salt, 1/4 cup milk and melted unsweetened chocolate (or more nut butter and maple syrup). Process until the mixture is well-combined and is tacky (but not sticky) to the touch. Add more milk by the teaspoonful and process, only as necessary for the mixture to reach the proper consistency.

  • Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press firmly into an even layer, smoothing the top as much as possible. Cover with parchment and place in the refrigerator or freezer to chill until firm (about 1 hour in the refrigerator, or 20 minutes in the freezer). Remove the bars from the pan and slice into 10 or 12 equal-sized rectangular bars. Dip in the optional melted bittersweet chocolate to coat or simply drizzle some melted chocolate over the top, and allow to sit at room temperature until set. Wrap the bars individually in waxed paper, and store in the refrigerator.

  • Post originally published on the blog in 2016. Video and some photos added, text changed somewhat, recipe unchanged. 

Love,
Nicole

Comments are closed.

  • Maria
    May 15, 2017 at 6:06 AM

    Me too. I can’t tolerant oats. Would rice flakes or buckwheat flakes work?

    • Nicole Hunn
      May 15, 2017 at 9:46 AM

      I’m afraid I don’t know, Maria. Feel free to experiment!

  • Terry Lamoureux
    May 14, 2017 at 9:09 AM

    Have you considered trying this recipe with quinoa flakes? They are similar in texture and taste to oats and I have used them to replace oats in my oatmeal cookie recipe. (I have a problem with oats, gluten free or not).
    Terry

    • Nicole Hunn
      May 15, 2017 at 9:44 AM

      I haven’t Terry, but I have baked with quinoa flakes. They might work in this recipe, but I’m afraid I’m not very optimistic unless you make other modifications, basically turning it into a new recipe. Quinoa flakes are very soft, and not chewy. Oats are much more substantial and chewy.

  • Erin
    May 11, 2017 at 5:33 PM

    Hi! Do you gave nutritional information, depending on each bar size? Thanks!!

    • Nicole Hunn
      May 12, 2017 at 12:37 PM

      I don’t provide nutritional information, Erin, but feel free to plug the ingredients into an online recipe calculator. That’s all I would do anyway!

  • Rensing
    May 8, 2017 at 10:46 AM

    Greetings from Singapore! Juz made this n they r super yummo. Kids tested n approved!! Thanks much!

    • Nicole Hunn
      May 8, 2017 at 1:18 PM

      So glad, Rensing! Thanks for letting me know. :)

  • Julie Cataline
    May 16, 2016 at 5:17 PM

    Can I use deglet dates in place of the medjool?

    • July 24, 2016 at 7:07 PM

      Hi, Julie,
      Definitely. They’re slightly less sweet and a little less sticky, so just watch for the proper consistency as described in the recipe. :)

  • Deb
    May 16, 2016 at 4:15 PM

    Sounds wonderful! Have you tried to add cranberries or coconut flakes?

    • July 24, 2016 at 7:08 PM

      I haven’t, Deb. You might be able to add some coconut flakes in place of some of the oats, and some dried cranberries in place of some of the dates. Since these aren’t baked, it’s all about the consistency so it holds together properly.

  • Jennifer S.
    May 16, 2016 at 4:12 PM

    Oh boy – can’t wait to make these babies!!

  • loussin
    May 15, 2016 at 7:00 PM

    Just made the nut protein bar, its delicious. is there any was we can have the nutrition value ?

    • July 24, 2016 at 7:09 PM

      I’m afraid I don’t provide nutrition information loussin, but feel free to use one of the online calculators. That’s all I’d do!

  • Kathi Robards
    May 15, 2016 at 6:19 PM

    Are the Trader Joe’s Medjool Dates really gluten free? I haven’t been able to confirm that.

    • July 24, 2016 at 7:09 PM

      Since they’re a single ingredient, Kathi, and there is no allergen warning on the label, I use them. If you’re at all concerned, definitely submit a question through their website. I’ve done that before and they always provide good information in response.

  • Jennie
    May 13, 2016 at 4:26 PM

    Yes, me too. I don’t think we have gluten-free oats available in Australia.

    • josie
      May 15, 2016 at 5:25 PM

      yes we do hard to find but specialty health food stores do sell them

    • Josie
      May 15, 2016 at 5:27 PM

      if your from Sydney MR VITEMINS @ chatswood

    • Victoria Donaldson
      May 16, 2016 at 2:42 AM

      They can be found in some chemist warehouses or on chemist warehouse online. A little ex’y but worth it if you want to try stuff like this.

  • Laura E
    May 13, 2016 at 3:23 PM

    I, too, would like to see a version without oats – they do not sit well with me at all.

    • July 24, 2016 at 7:10 PM

      Working on it, Laura!

  • May 13, 2016 at 2:49 PM

    I would love to see grain free. I wonder if buckwheat would work as well as oats. I am allergic to all grass grains…which includes oats. Usually, that means GF will work for me. But even GF oats is a no go.

  • K Yankovich
    May 13, 2016 at 2:12 PM

    Are any major brands of oats (in normal grocery stores) gluten-free?

    • Faith
      May 14, 2016 at 9:32 AM

      I find Bob’s Red Mill certified gluten free oats in most major grocery stores now. The come in both quick oats or rolled oats. Depending on the store, it may be in a separate gluten free section or with the organic section. The other brands you usually see, like Quaker, etc. are not g.f.

    • Laurie
      May 15, 2016 at 1:01 PM

      BTW, Quaker recently released GF oats and I’ve found them in my local grocery stores in Southern California. Trader Joe’s GF oats is still the one I purchase the most.

  • Mare Masterson
    May 13, 2016 at 11:55 AM

    Looking forward to the grain free versions!

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