7 Best Vegan Protein Bars That Are To Die For
Good vegan protein bars can be hard to find. The good news is that they don’t have to be hard to make. If you’re handy in the kitchen, you can make your own big batch of vegan protein bars that will hold up well in the refrigerator for a week or two. Incorporate your snacks into your meal prep. You’ll be thankful that you did.
The Best Vegan Protein Bar Ingredients
Most vegan protein bars utilize the same core set of ingredients, but all of the variables can be customized. Each set of ingredients can lend a specific flavor, and they can be matched up in hundreds of configurations to suit your personal taste.
Nut and Seed Butters
Peanut butter protein snacks are hearty, filling, and delicious. Almond butter, cashew butter, and pistachio butter each lend their flavor profiles and rich textures perfectly to vegan protein bars. Seed butters, like sunflower butter or chia, flax, pumpkin, and hemp blends are great alternatives for people with nut allergies.
The purpose of nut and seed butter in a protein bar is more than just its flavor. These butters pack a substantial amount of protein, healthy fats, and vital nutrients. In addition to their nutrition content, they also act as a kind of glue. They help to keep all the ingredients stuck together and formed into that perfect bar shape.
Powdered ingredients like raw chocolate, cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric add new flavors and new benefits to your vegan protein bars. A boost of antioxidants and natural anti-inflammatory ingredients will make workout recovery easier. This is a must if your protein bar is your post-gym snack.
Sticky natural sweeteners act as binding agents and sometimes provide trace minerals or other health benefits. Molasses holds like glue, and it’s full of great plant powered nutrients. Yacon syrup is derived from the root of the yacon plant, and may even help to improve digestion.
Oats and Grains
Rolled oats, quinoa, and amaranth are all wonderful additions to your vegan protein bar recipe. These healthy carbs add substance to the bar and help to keep blood sugar stable. They’re what make protein bars satisfying and filling, helping them carry you over to your next proper meal.
Dried fruits lend a ton of flavor to a protein bar, and some of them even help to bind the ingredients. Medjool dates are delicious, and their sticky texture will help your bars retain their shape. Freeze dried apples, bananas, and strawberries will add nutrients, flavor, and a little bit of crunch. Sprinkle them on top to keep them nice and crispy.
Plant-Based Protein Powders
You technically don’t need plant-based protein powder to make a vegan protein bar, but it certainly helps the bar’s nutritional profile. You’ll get protein from nut and seed butters, as well as powdered raw chocolate. A sprinkle of your favorite plant based protein will give the bar even more benefits per bite.
Forming Your Protein Bar Base
You can use the same base for every recipe. Simply swap out the butters, powders, and additives. Use 2 cups of oats or grains, ¼ cup protein powder, ¼ cup of sticky sweetener, and ¾ cup of nut or seed butter to form your base. Then, add in your other ingredients to taste.
Do You Have To Bake Vegan Protein Bars?
You don’t have to bake vegan protein bars. The ingredients will do a good enough job at binding themselves together. If you master the ratio of sticky ingredients to dry ingredients, all you need to do is pack them together neatly on a large sheet pan. An 8x8 pan should do the trick. Lining it with parchment paper makes for a very easy clean up.
All you do is push down the ingredients into the pan to form a giant slab of protein bars. You can stick it in the freezer for a few minutes to make the bars a little easier to cut into even portions. If you find they’re a little difficult to cut perfectly, try using a cheese knife. You’ll find that it slides right through.
Individual bars can be stored in reusable food storage bags or individually wrapped in tinfoil for easy transfer. You can keep them in the fridge for up to two weeks, since all of the ingredients are fairly shelf stable. Don’t be afraid to make a big batch, especially if you intend to share them.
1. Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars
We’re very fond of the chocolate peanut butter combination. It’s a winner every single time. To make the ideal chocolate peanut butter protein bar, combine powdered peanut butter or prepared peanut butter with rolled oats, a natural sweetener syrup, dates, salt, whole peanuts, and raw chocolate powder.
2. Chocolate Berry Cherry
Mix in ⅛ cup of raw chocolate powder, ⅛ cup of dried cranberries, and ⅛ a cup of dried cherries for a decadent chocolate covered cherry flavored protein bar. The cranberries are a great secret ingredient. They add antioxidants and support urinary tract health in addition to rounding out the flavor of the cherries.
Try to look for varieties made without any added sugar to avoid slipping empty calories into your recipe.
3. Crunchy Almond Protein Bars
Almonds provide a satisfying crunch to your vegan protein treat. Use almond butter in your base, and sprinkle ¼ cup of crushed almonds on top of your bars to keep them nice and crunchy. If you’re feeling up to it, consider adding ⅛ cup of raw chocolate powder and ¼ cup of coconut flakes to take your almond protein bars to the next level.
4. Pistachio, Rosewater, and Apricot Protein Bars
Here’s something absurdly delicious that you’ll never find on store shelves. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys macarons and exotic teas, this twist on a traditional vegan protein bar will really strike your fancy. Use pistachio butter in your base. Then, add ¼ cup of dried apricots and ½ a tablespoon of rosewater into the mix. You can top with a light sprinkling of roasted pistachios if you want a little more texture on top.
5. Apple Pie Crisp Protein Bars
Use almond butter in your base for a milder flavor that won’t upset the delicate notes of the apple pie. This recipe is a great opportunity to use molasses as a sweetener. Mix 1 tablespoon of powdered cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of powdered ginger into your base. Press freeze dried apples into the top of your bars, and lightly dust them with a little more cinnamon if you’re a big fan of the antioxidant powerhouse’s flavor.
If you’re willing to indulge a little, a light sprinkling of dark brown sugar wouldn’t hurt.
6. Reset and Recover Protein Bars
If you’ve been feeling under the weather, you probably want something to reduce your inflammation and improve your digestion. These recovery protein bars are great after a hard workout or after you had a little more wine than you’d originally intended.
Add a tablespoon of ginger and a tablespoon of turmeric into your protein base mix. They’re both naturally anti-inflammatory ingredients, and ginger can help to settle an upset tummy. Toss in some freeze dried bananas and shredded coconut flakes. Their high potassium content can help you rehydrate your body, because potassium is a vital electrolyte.
7. Tropical Twist Protein Bars
There are two types of people in this world: people who like the fruity candy, and people who like the chocolatey candy. If your favorite kind of sweet is the juicy, fruity kind, then this is the bar for you. It’s beachy, fun, and full of vitamins.
Use an almond butter in your base. Toss in ¼ cup of coconut flakes and ¼ cup of freeze dried mango. If you’re really feeling the tropical vibe, go down to ⅛ of a cup and add in freeze dried bananas and freeze dried pineapple. It’s basically a healthy pina colada.
Making your own vegan protein bars should be a fun experience. It’s a chance to get creative in the kitchen. Since it doesn’t involve any baking or timing, it’s an easy place for beginners to experiment in the kitchen. Don’t think you can’t do it -- all you need are some measuring cups and a little bit of patience.
If you’re not quite up to the challenge just yet, that’s fine, too. Mid-Day Squares is happy to be your healthy, protein-rich stand-in until you work up the gumption to put on your apron -- we have a lot of the same ingredients as the recipes above, so you can get all the deliciousness without all that extra work. We can’t promise you won’t get obsessed with us though, in which case your apron may never see the light. Sorry, apron.