10 Of the Most Creative Ways to Use Protein Powder (+ Recipes!)

(Photo: Nutrition Starring You)

You’re probably used to adding protein powder to your morning or post-workout smoothie. But protein powder is more versatile than you’d think. You can add it to batters, breakfast-fare of the non-smoothie variety, and even dessert to help jack up the protein.

These 10 recipes call for all kinds of protein powders: whey, hemp, vanilla-, and chocolate-flavored. You can always substitute another kind of protein powder if you like. Just make sure your protein powder doesn’t have added vitamins, minerals or herbs. These added ingredients can potentially interact with certain medications you may be taking. If you’re unsure on which to choose or have a question about an ingredient, speak to your registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) or physician.

(Photo: To Live & Diet in LA)

1) Recipe: Strawberry Protein Pancakes

This batter is made of a total of four ingredients and cooks up quickly. It’s a fast and easy high protein breakfast you can make any day of the week.

Skill level: Beginner
Serves: 1
Start to Finish: 16 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 6 minutes

Ingredients:
½ ripe banana
4 large strawberries
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 egg

Instructions:

1. Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl, mashing the banana and strawberry. For thinner pancakes, blend the ingredients together.
2. Pour on a greased skillet and cook on medium-high for about 2-3 minutes per side. Be careful when you flip them as the pancakes can be delicate if you blended the batter.
3. Add your favorite toppings — I used coconut oil as butter, maple syrup, and sliced strawberries.

Nutrition Information (per serving, without optional toppings):
Calories: 217; Total Fat: 6 grams; Saturated Fat: 2 grams; Protein: 23 grams: Carbohydrates: 20 grams; Sugar: 12 grams; Fiber: 3 grams; Cholesterol: 189 milligrams; Sodium: 112 milligrams

Recipe and photo by Whitney English of To Live & Diet in LA

(Photo: A Clean Bake)

2) Recipe: Superfood Protein Bars

These gluten-free, naturally sweetened vegan protein bars are made from superfoods like flax, coconut oil, dates, and cacao nibs. They’re a great mid-afternoon snack or grab-and-go breakfast.

Skill level: Beginner
Serves: 20
Start to Finish: 20 minutes, plus refrigerator time
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes

Ingredients:
2 cups unflavored hemp protein powder
½ cup ground flax meal
½ cup cacao or cocoa powder
¼ cup granulated monk fruit sweetener (like Norbu) or granulated Stevia (like Natvia) - Optional
2 cups nut butter of choice (like peanut butter)
½ cup coconut oil, melted
10 pitted medjool dates
1 cup cacao nibs, plus more for garnish
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

1. Lightly grease a 14-inch rectangular pan and set aside.
2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “s” blade, pulse the protein powder, flax meal, cocoa powder and sweetener (if using) together a couple times to combine.
3. Add the nut butter, coconut oil and dates and process until the batter comes together in a large mass and there are no clumps of date left. You may need to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl a couple times to make sure everything gets incorporated.
4. Add the cacao nibs and pulse 2-3 times to incorporate (or transfer to a bowl and fold them in by hand).
5. Turn the dough into the prepared pan and use your hand or a spatula to press into a single, tightly-packed layer.
6. Sprinkle additional cacao nibs and shredded coconut on top, if you want, for added texture and flavor.
7. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting into bars.

Nutrition Information (per bar, without optional ingredients):
Calories: 335; Total Fat: 24 grams; Saturated Fat: 10 grams; Protein: 13 grams: Carbohydrates: 18 grams; Sugar: 6 grams; Fiber: 8 grams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Sodium: 122 milligrams

Recipe and photo by Nora Schlesinger of A Clean Bake

(Photo: The Healthy Fit Foodie)

3) Recipe: Thin Mint No Bake Protein Balls

You’ll need to make a double batch of these babies in order to keep up with the demand. They’re naturally sweetened with dates and that thin mint flavor comes from a combo of unsweetened cocoa powder and peppermint extract.

Skill level: Beginner
Serves: 12
Start to Finish: 15 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes

Ingredients:

8 dates pitted
1 cup cashews
1 tablespoon chia seeds
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon pure peppermint extract
2 servings chocolate protein powder
2 tablespoons almond milk

Instructions:

1. Toss all the ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth.
2. Form into twelve 1.5-inch balls.
3. Enjoy! Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Information (per 1.5-inch piece):
Calories: 136; Total Fat: 6 grams; Saturated Fat: 1 gram; Protein: 5 grams: Carbohydrates: 18 grams; Sugar: 11 grams; Fiber: 2 grams; Cholesterol: 1 milligram; Sodium: 11 milligrams

Recipe and photo by Lara Clevenger MSH, RD, LD/N, CPT of The Healthy Fit Foodie

Related: The Best Fat-Burning Fruits

(Photo: Amee’s Savory Disk)

4) Recipe: Peaches and Cream Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a wonderful way to take in your recommended daily whole grains. Adding protein powder means you’ll get both fiber and protein so you’ll stay satisfied all morning long.

Skill level: Beginner
Serves: 2
Start to Finish: 16 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked steel cut oats (can prepare these the night before and refrigerate)
¾ cup frozen sliced peaches, thawed overnight in the refrigerator
2 tablespoons real maple syrup, divided [cut in half or omit to reduce sugar content*]
1 scoop unflavored whey protein powder 
½ cup organic, whole milk (can sub almond, hemp or soy milk)
Cinnamon, to taste
*optional add-ons: hemp seeds, flax seed, chopped nuts

Instructions:

1. For the Peach Puree: In a small food processor, combine ½ cup peaches and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Pulse until blended and smooth.
2. In a separate bowl combine milk, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, dash cinnamon and 1 full scoop protein powder. Whisk until smooth and combined.
3. Stir peach puree into milk mixture.
4. Stir oats into the milk mixture until blended. Divide oats evenly between two bowls.
5. If you prepared your oats the night before, microwave the oats for 40-45 seconds until heated through.
6. Garnish oatmeal with remaining sliced peaches

Nutrition Information (per serving):
Calories: 304; Total Fat: 5 grams; Saturated Fat: 2 grams; Protein: 17 grams: Carbohydrates: 50 grams; Sugar: 19 grams*; Fiber: 5 grams; Cholesterol: 10 milligrams; Sodium: 51 milligrams

Recipe and photo by Amee Livingston of Amee’s Savory Dish

Related:  6 Non-Boring Ways to Eat Your Steel-Cut Oats

(Photo: Nutrition Starring You)

5) Recipe: PB&J Smoothie Bowl

This smoothie bowl uses a combo of vanilla protein powder and peanut butter powder to add protein. Compared to traditional peanut butter with has 200 calories and 7 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons, powdered peanut butter has only 45 calories and 5 grams of protein for the same serving. It’s a nice way to add protein and the beloved peanut butter flavor without all the calories.

Skill level: Beginner
Serves: 1
Start to Finish: 10 minutes, plus overnight in refrigerator
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes

Ingredients:

¼ cup 100% grape juice [sub for another liquid to reduce sugar content*]
2 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/3 cup low fat cottage cheese
½ scoop vanilla whey protein powder (approximately 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon chia seeds
3 tablespoons powdered peanut butter
1 tablespoon old fashioned oats
¼ medium banana for garnish

Instructions:

1. Place all ingredients except banana into a blender and blend until desired consistency is achieved.
2. Pour into a bowl and place in the refrigerator overnight.**
3. When ready to serve, slice banana into VERY thin slices and place on top of the smoothie bowl. Dust with cinnamon and a few chia seeds for garnish and crunch.

**Chef’s note: If consuming right away, add a few ice cubes to the smoothie before blending

Nutrition Information (per serving)

Calories: 292; Total Fat: 5.7 grams; Saturated Fat: 1.1 grams; Protein: 28.1 grams: Carbohydrates: 36.4 grams; Sugar: 21.4 grams*; Fiber: 6 grams; Cholesterol: 9 milligrams; Sodium: 420 milligrams

Recipe and photo by Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN of Nutrition Starring You

(Photo: No Nonsense Nutritionist)

6) Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Cookies

You can have cookies for breakfast so long as you use healthy ingredients! These cookies are made using oat flour, pumpkin puree, protein powder, and spices. If you don’t have oat flour (or don’t want to spend the money on another ingredient) grind oats in a food processor instead. 

Skill level: Beginner
Serves: 6
Start to Finish: 45 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

¼ cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats ground in food processor)
¼ cup vanilla protein powder
¼ cup baking stevia (like Truvia) or granulated sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit and line cookie sheet with parchment or nonstick baking mat.
2. Whisk together dry ingredients. In separate bowl, whisk together puree and egg.
3. Combine the mixture and stir in vanilla extract.
4. Spoon out mixture and form into 12 cookies. Place about 1-inch apart on prepared cook sheet.
5. Bake 25-30 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown and the top springs back.

Nutrition Information (per 2 cookies)

Calories: 65; Total Fat: 1.5 grams; Saturated Fat: 0 grams; Protein: 5 grams: Carbohydrates: 6 grams; Fiber: 1 gram; Sugar: 1.5 grams

Recipe and photo by Jamila René Lepore, MS, RD/N of No Nonsense Nutritionist

Related: Whey Protein Buyer’s Guide

(Photo: Corbis)

7) Recipe: Date Protein Cranberry Truffles

These truffles are a delicious dessert made with coconut, cranberries, and cocoa powder, and sweetened with dates. It’s a much healthier way to satisfy your sweet tooth and provides a boost of fiber and protein.

Skill level: Beginner
Serves: 7-8
Start to Finish: 20 minutes, plus refrigeration time
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
¼ cup protein powder (I prefer Pure Pharma PR3)
3 tablespoons coconut sugar
4 teaspoons coconut milk, full-fat (plus a tad more, if necessary)
2 teaspoons coconut oil
5 dried pitted dates
1 tablespoon dried cranberries
⅔ cup pure cocoa powder

Instructions:

1. Mix coconut, protein powder, sugar, coconut milk and coconut oil thoroughly. You can use a food processor and pulsed until well combined.
2. Chop the dates and cranberries and stir into mixture.
3. Add a little more coconut milk, if necessary. The mixture should be just wet enough to stick together
4. Chill in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes, until the mixture becomes firm and solid enough to work with.
5. Pour cocoa powder into a small bowl.
6. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and roll in cocoa powder until covered.
7. Enjoy! Store remaining balls in a sealed container in the refrigerator

Nutrition Information (per truffle):
Calories: 173; Total Fat: 10 grams; Saturated Fat: 8 grams; Protein: 5 grams: Carbohydrates: 18 grams; Sugar: 10 grams; Fiber: 4 grams; Cholesterol: 1 milligram; Sodium: 11 milligrams

Recipe by Pure Pharma’s performance nutrition expert, Umahro Cadogan.

(Photo: Dishing Out Health)

8) Recipe: Maple Frosted Banana Bread Protein Donuts with Caramelized Bananas

Check out the ingredients in these donuts that are baked, not fried! Each provides 110 calories, which is a fraction of the calories you’ll find in store bought donuts. Plus, these contain 7 grams of protein each.

Skill level: Beginner
Serves: 5
Start to Finish: 36 minutes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 16 minutes

Ingredients:

1 large banana
1/3 cup old fashioned oats (For gluten free, use gluten-free rolled oats, such as Bob’s Red Mill)
1 scoop vanilla, plain or cinnamon-flavored protein powder (I used Snickerdoodle Select Protein)
1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/3 cup liquid egg whites
1 tablespoon coconut flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon coconut oil (or grass-fed butter)
1 tablespoon honey peanut butter or cinnamon-raisin peanut butter (I used Jif Whip’s Maple Brown Sugar Peanut Butter)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 5 holes of a donut tin with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Combine ½ banana, oats, coconut flour, almond milk, egg whites, baking powder and cinnamon in a food processor. Process until pureed consistency.
3. Fill donut holes with batter and bake for 10 minutes.
4. In the meantime, heat coconut oil stove-top in a small, non-stick skillet. Slice remaining half of banana into slices and add to skillet. Cook 3-4 minutes on medium heat, until caramelized. Flip and cook for remaining 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and cut slices in half.
5. In a small bowl, whisk peanut butter with enough water to form a paste. Start with about 1 teaspoon of water and gradually add in more as needed.
6. Frost donuts with peanut butter paste and add caramelized banana slices. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information (per donut):
Calories: 110; Total Fat: 3 grams; Saturated Fat: 1 gram; Protein: 7 grams: Carbohydrates: 13 grams; Sugar: 5 grams; Fiber: 2 grams; Cholesterol: 1 milligram; Sodium: 105 milligrams

Recipe and photo by Jamie Vespa MS, RD, LD/N of Dishing Out Health.

(Photo: The Lean Green Bean)

9) Recipe: Almond Butter Protein Balls

These protein balls are pretty open for experimentation. Don’t want to use seeds? Use finely chopped nuts instead. Don’t have almond butter in the house? Use peanut or walnut or soy nut butter. And if you need to make these bad boys gluten-free, make sure to use gluten-free protein powder.

Skill level: Beginner
Serves: 20
Start to Finish: 15 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes

Ingredients:
3½ cups Chex cereal
1 cup seeds (I used a mix of pumpkin, sunflower and chia seeds)
⅓ cup raisins (or your favorite dried fruit)
⅔ cup protein powder (I used vanilla)
1 cup almond butter
¼ cup honey

Instructions:

1. Crush the Chex in a large bowl with your hands. They don’t have to all be crushed but most pieces should be fairly small.
2. Add the seeds, protein powder and dried fruit and stir to combine.
3. Add almond butter and honey and use your hands to mix well and combine. (Note: if your almond butter isn’t very liquidy, you might want to microwave it first).
4. Form mixture in balls, squeezing firmly to help them keep their shape.
5. If you find you have a little of the mixture left at the end that won’t stick together, just add a little more almond butter.
6. Store in the fridge.

Nutrition Information (per piece):
Calories: 151; Total Fat: 9 grams; Saturated Fat: 1 gram; Protein: 6 grams: Carbohydrates: 14 grams; Sugar: 6 grams; Fiber: 3 grams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Sodium: 67 milligrams

Recipe and photo by Lindsay Livingston, RD of The Lean Green Bean.

(Photo: Simple Swaps)

10) Protein-Packed Pancakes

These high protein pancakes are made using a more traditional batter with flour, milk, egg, and spices. It’s just another way to showcase how protein powder can be used in all types of batters.

Skill level: Beginner
Serves: 2
Start to Finish: 21 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 6 minutes

Ingredients:

¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup almond milk
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 egg white
2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

1. Mix all dry ingredients together. Gradually add dry into wet and mix until smooth.
2. Heat griddle on stove top and spray lightly with cooking spray.
3. Pour 1 scoop of batter onto pan. Allow to cook several minutes on each side, but keep an eye on them as they cook faster than traditional pancakes.

Nutrition Information (per serving):
Calories: 269; Total Fat: 2 grams; Saturated Fat: 0 grams; Protein: 17 grams: Carbohydrates: 47 grams; Sugar: 13 grams; Fiber: 6 grams; Cholesterol: 2 milligrams; Sodium: 333 milligrams

Recipe and photo by Elizabeth Ann Shaw of Simple Swaps

By Toby Amidor, MS, RD

More from Men’s Fitness:

12 Great Uses for Protein Powder

5 Benefits of Casein Protein

5 Fats You Shouldn’t Fear