No Bake Protein Balls | Without Oats

No Bake Protein Balls | Without Oats

These no bake protein balls are made completely without oats or any grains, and can be modified to use the ingredients you have on hand. This is another recipe where substitutions are encouraged!

Protein Bites chocolate chip cookie dough bite being taken from a serving dish.

What makes these protein balls unique

We’ve been down similar recipe roads before. But these protein bites are made with very different ingredients, and are truly protein-packed as opposed to just being packed with “energy.”

These no bake protein balls  smooth in texture and much softer than other recipes. Plus, they’re naturally grain free, unlike our homemade protein bars.

Peanut butter energy bites

First, we made peanut butter energy bites before, and they quickly became a staple recipe in my house for both busy school mornings and after school snacks. They’re packed with texture from coconut flakes, seeds, oats and held together with honey, peanut butter and oat flour.

Grain free peanut butter energy bites

In response to the desire of some to avoid oats, we then made grain free energy bites, with lots (and lots) of different chopped nuts, coconut, and seeds, without any oats at all. They’re very textured, like their oat-containing cousins.

No bake protein bites in a jar, chilled and ready to serve.

How to make protein bites when the cupboards are nearly bare

If you’re staying inside more these days, or you’re just kind of a homebody ?‍♀️, you may not have all the ingredients to make whatever your heart desires. I wouldn’t want you to have to go without just because you don’t have exactly the ingredients the recipe calls for.

These soft, chewy, and satisfying no bake protein balls can be made in lots of different flavors with only a few ingredient swaps. The only 3 absolutely essential elements are:

  • Nut butter (with a possible substitution discussed below)
  • Liquid sweetener
  • Protein powder

Each ingredient has an important role to play, but they can be combined in many different ways. I’ve provided three specific flavor variations in the recipe card below.

They are:

  • chocolate peanut butter (with peanut butter and cocoa powder),
  • peanut butter (peanut butter and powdered peanut butter), and
  • chocolate chip cookie dough (cashew butter and molasses).

So take a look in your cupboards, and see what you can create!

No bake protein bites just having been scooped, ready to be shaped into balls and chilled.

(More) Ingredients and substitutions

These no bake protein balls are made to be almost endlessly customizable, so you can use what suits your tastes and the state of your pantry stock. The ingredient notes below are designed to help you avoid additional allergens, if need be.

Protein bites chocolate peanut butter bite being taken from a serving dish.

Dairy: Whey protein isolate is my favorite protein powder to use, not only for the most authentic gluten free bread recipes, but for protein-rich snacks like our protein cookies. It is nearly all protein, and is flavorless, so you can create whatever flavor you like best.

I really like Isopure brand and Opportuniteas brand organic whey protein isolate. I have found both on Amazon.com, as well as my local health food store.

If you can’t have dairy, you can use your favorite protein powder. The recipe would work with Vega brand protein powder, which I’ve used many times in the past and is very widely available (including in many drug stores). But that style of protein powder is flavored, so it limits the adaptability of this recipe.

Nuts: Nut butter, mostly peanut butter, is the base of every variety of these protein balls. We use cashew butter in the chocolate chip cookie dough variety because it’s the most neutral nut butter in flavor.

I’m not that optimistic about using a nut-free butter, like sunflower seed butter, since it tends to be quite runny. You could try using that, and adding more coconut flour to help bind them together. You won’t be able to make the straight peanut butter variety, as cocoa powder is the only alternative to powdered peanut butter.

Honey/liquid sweetener : In place of honey, you can use pure maple syrup, but it’s a lot more expensive. It’s also a bit thinner and less viscous, so don’t skip the coconut flour.

The cookie dough variety calls for 1 tablespoon of unsulphured molasses (which is just standard molasses, like Grandma’s brand). It really helps them taste like chocolate chip cookie dough, which is made with molasses-containing brown sugar. You can use more honey if you prefer, but you will sacrifice flavor.

Miniature chocolate chips: You can leave the chips out, or use chopped nuts in their place. Resist the urge to overload them with more and more chips, which would inhibit the balls’ ability to hold together.

These no bake protein balls are made completely without oats or any grains, and can be modified to use the ingredients you have on hand.

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Yield: 20 protein balls


(Chocolate) Peanut Butter variety
1 cup (256 g) no-stir smooth peanut butter

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (105 g) honey

1 scoop (30 g) whey protein isolate

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (30 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (or powdered peanut butter, by weight)

1 tablespoon (8 g) coconut flour (optional)

2 ounces miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough variety
1 cup (256 g) cashew butter

1/4 cup (84 g) honey

1 tablespoon (21 g) unsulphured molasses

1 1/2 scoops (45 g) whey protein isolate

1 tablespoon (8 g) coconut flour (optional)

2 ounces miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips


  • Line a small rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper or another nonstick liner, and set it aside.

  • In a large heat-safe bowl, place the nut butter and honey (or honey and molasses for the cookie dough variety), and mix well. If the nut butter seems too thick to mix, place the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds or place over a simmering pot of water until warmed and loosened. Add the whey protein isolate and mix to combine. The mixture will thicken quickly. Add the cocoa powder for the chocolate peanut butter variety, or powdered peanut butter for the peanut butter variety, and mix to combine. For a thicker, more stable protein ball, add the coconut flour and mix to combine well. Add the chocolate chips and mix until they’re evenly distributed throughout the dough.

  • Using a spring loaded ice cream scoop (ideally, a #70 scoop) or similar-sized spoon and scoop mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Shape each piece of dough into a round between your palms and return to the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill until firm. Once firm, you can pile the protein balls into a jar for storage in the refrigerator. Freeze on the baking sheet for longer storage.

Much love,

Comments are closed.

  • Julie L
    March 22, 2020 at 6:19 PM

    This was another hit with my family. My husband and I remember the days when a “Powerbar” was a new and wonderful candy (HFCS was the second ingredient, I think) and though it wasn’t good for us we both loved the texture. This comes pretty close, but much softer and actually food-flavored.
    I’m thinking of putting a spin on these with softened coconut butter subbed for the peanut butter, and making a cocoa & mint chip variation. I might even sub Lyle’s Golden Syrup for the honey, because Amazon sells them in 4 packs and I’ve got more of that than honey.
    At any rate, thanks for another winner!

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 23, 2020 at 9:02 AM

      Oh my gosh, Julie, my husband and I used to eat a ton of Powerbars!! I hadn’t thought about those in a million years until you mentioned them. They all kind of tasted the same, just with a different aftertaste or something, and they were alllllmost plastic-like. But we really liked them somehow. I know exactly what you mean about their comparison to this recipe. I take it as a compliment. :) Your subs sound interesting. Let us know how it goes!

  • Peggy
    March 22, 2020 at 11:50 AM

    Thank you so much for making these without oats! I am one of the Celiac people who cannot eat them and I am so happy to have a delicious recipe that I can use!

  • Rosemary Burrage
    March 22, 2020 at 11:37 AM

    Hi Nicole, thanks for these lovely recipes. Is there anything I could use instead of the whey protein isolate as I’m dary free. BTW I’m so glad there are no oats in them. Many thanks.

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 22, 2020 at 12:35 PM

      Please see the ingredients and substitutions section, Rosemary!!

  • Leslie Pennington
    March 22, 2020 at 11:12 AM

    Would this work with collagen protein?

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 22, 2020 at 12:35 PM

      Please see my response below to Belle, Leslie. I think maybe? :)

  • Belle
    March 22, 2020 at 10:49 AM

    I don’t have the whey available in my pantry, do you think that powdered collagen would work as a suitable substitute?

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 22, 2020 at 11:09 AM

      That’s an interesting question, Belle. If you don’t have any other protein powder available to you, I think collagen might be worth a try. I would cut the recipe down to a quarter of the original so you don’t waste many ingredients if it doesn’t work/doesn’t taste good. I would add the collagen slowly, too, to see what it does to the texture. Let us know how it goes!!

  • Colleen
    March 20, 2020 at 3:48 AM

    Where’s the nutrition info? Am I missing it?

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 20, 2020 at 9:56 AM

      I don’t provide nutrition information, Colleen, as a general rule. Please feel free to plug the few ingredients into an online nutrition calculator. That’s all I would do!

  • Jess Bratcher
    March 18, 2020 at 4:25 PM

    I know these are specifically created to be made without oats, it’s in the name :) With the invitation to make them my own, though, I couldn’t resist. I like peanut butter, and so do my kids, but I’m kind of tired of it, so I replaced the nut butter with certified gluten-free oats, processed into flour (1 cup 120 g). I added 1 tsp of vanilla to make them taste a little more like cookies, 1/4 tsp of salt for flavor, and 1 tsp of milk for liquid (left out the coconut flour). Nicole, I can’t believe it worked. So simple, and so good! Again, I know these are supposed to be grain-free, but in case anyone wants proof that these bites really are customizable, I’m here to tell you that THEY ARE! Thank you for another yummy snack.

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 19, 2020 at 2:49 PM

      That’s really an entirely different recipe, Jess! Glad you found something that suits your needs, though. :)

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