These simple, homemade no bake protein bites are easy to make, customizable, and require minimal prep. No fancy ingredients here!.This small-batch protein bite recipe cuts down on ingredients, and is super customizable. Perfect for a hike or a long car ride!
In the summer of 2021, I spent a lot of time hiking in the mountains. I was tackling the NH 48 4000-footer list, and so most of my weekend mornings were spent at the trailhead.
I was looking for an easy, healthy, protein bar recipe that I could make with ingredients on hand. I needed a recipe that would hold together and not crumble in my backpack. I wanted something that was high in protein, but lower in fat than some of the recipes I was looking at.
I stumbled upon Gluten Free on Shoestring’s Gluten Free Homemade Protein Bars and fell in love with her method of making bars. Easy ingredients and easy prep.
The problem was that I wanted to use BOTH the date version AND the peanut butter version, and I wanted to keep these a bit healthier by skipping the chocolate coating. I took the components of her recipe that I enjoyed the most, and created my own version, adjusting proportions and ingredients.
Protein Bites vs. Protein Bars
I call these protein bites because they are more bite-sized than their protein bar counterpart. This recipe is a small-batch recipe, made in a 9×5 loaf pan, that yields small squares rather than full on bars. Unlike some protein bite recipes, these are bar-like rather than ball shape.
In my hunt for a protein bar recipe, I wanted something that was going to use less ingredients, and yield a snack bar that was small and portable. I prefer the square size of these bites over their counterpart, the protein ball.
As far as the protein content – these bites have real protein mixed into them, and don’t rely exclusively on the peanut butter to pack the punch.
What’s In This Protein Bite Recipe?
- Rolled oats – I haven’t tried these with instant oats. It probably would work just fine, but I always use rolled oats for baking or other bar recipes.
- Creamy natural peanut butter – I like to make homemade peanut butter in the food processor right before making these bars (less clean-up!).
- Pitted dates – These are easier to find and less expensive than Medjool dates! Medjool dates are so delicious, that I would prefer to snack on them.
- Vanilla whey protein powder – Most any whey protein powder works for this recipe. I recommend using vanilla, because the flavor melds well with the recipe. I’ve tried these with a number of varieties, and I typically use Pure Protein powder.
- Ground flaxseed – High in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Molasses – I love adding molasses to recipes because of the deep, rich flavor it provides. This natural sweetener is packed with vitamins and minerals like Iron.
- Honey – (or maple syrup) A delicious natural sweetener that adds another layer of flavor and helps to bind them.
- Vanilla extract – I love the flavor that vanilla adds.
- Diamond Crystal Kosher salt – Don’t leave this out! If you’re using Morton’s, cut the salt in half.
- Cinnamon – I could add cinnamon to just about anything. It’s loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Almond milk – A few tablespoons, as needed, to thin the batter out and make it spreadable.
Why You’ll Love These Protein Bites
- Simple, inexpensive ingredients – Nothing fancy, nothing you can’t find at a local grocery store.
- Small batch – Enough for a week or two, and easy to double the recipe.
- Quick to make – No bake!
- Healthy – Full of vitamins, minerals, and protein.
- Chewy and delicious – No crumbly bars over here!
- Honey vs. Maple Syrup – Swap out the honey for maple syrup if that’s all you have on hand (or if you are vegan).
- Pitted dates vs. Medjool dates – If you use Medjool dates, scale back the number of dates to 8 or so. Medjool dates are larger than their counterpart. Make sure to soak your pitted dates!
- Different flavors of protein – I haven’t tried these with any flavor besides vanilla. Other flavors that likely would accompany the protein bites well are cinnamon, peanut butter, or even chocolate. If you use unsweetened protein powder, expect the end result to be less sweet.
- Smooth vs. chunky peanut butter – You can probably get away with using chunky peanut butter, since you are blending the mixture in the food processor anyhow. You may end up with a few chunks of peanuts in the end result.
- Almond milk vs. other milk – Any milk works just fine for this recipe! Soy, regular milk, oat milk.
- Mix-Ins – Add up to a third of a cup of mix-ins (nuts, coconut, dried fruit, chocolate). Too many mix-ins may make it difficult for these bars to stay together.
How to Make Peanut Butter Protein Bites:
- Start soaking your dates. Pitted dates need to be soaked in water for about ten minutes to make them soft. Drain them and set aside.
- Line your baking pan (in this case, a 9×5 bread loaf) with parchment paper. This helps the bars from sticking. I like to add just a strip of parchment paper the long way, with two “handles” on either side to lift it out.
- Pulse your oats in your food processor FIRST. Don’t try to blend everything at once (trust me, it doesn’t work…).
- Blend the protein powder, dates, peanut butter, molasses, honey, vanilla extract, and salt (leave the chocolate aside) until mostly combined. The mixture will be chunky, but should start to hold together.
- Add a tablespoon of milk at a time and blend. The mixture needs about 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk, but you can adjust it as needed. The batter should stick together when you press it between your fingers. If it is still crumbly, add another half a tablespoon and blend again.
- Remove the mixture from the food processor and stir in 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of mix ins (like finely chopped chocolate, coconut, or toasted chopped nuts).
- Press the mixture into your prepared pan. Using another piece of parchment paper, press the mixture with your fingers until smooth. You want to make sure it is even and packed tightly so the bars stay together.
- Let the bars chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before cutting into 8 protein bites!
How to Store Protein Bites
They can be left out at room temperature for.a few hours, but any longer than that and they need to be refrigerated. Protein bites will last in the refrigerator for up to a week.
To freeze the protein bites, simply double wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store in a gallon-size freezer bag where they will last for about 3 months. Just let them defrost in the refrigerator or at room temp before eating!
Tips and Tricks
Rest time – Don’t skip this part. You might not be able to cut them and wrap them individually if you don’t allow them to chill in the refrigerator for the full hour.
Doubling the recipe – This recipe can be easily doubled. Just use an 8 x 8-inch or 9 x 9-inch pan.
No crumbly bars – Don’t be afraid to add more liquid if it needs it. The dough should be wet enough that when you squeeze it between your fingers it sticks together. You want to make sure you press it firmly in the pan so they cut into bars.
Customizations – Don’t skimp on the main ingredients and proportions (i.e., peanut butter or oats), but feel free to modify the recipe to your taste. Add different spices, extracts, mix-ins, or flavors of peanut butter.
No Bake Protein Bites
- 9 x 5 inch loaf pan
- Food processor
- 1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 10 pitted dates, soaked in water and drained
- 1 scoop (30g) vanilla whey protein powder (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- 1 tablespoon molassess
- 1/2 tablespoon honey or maple syrup, adjust to taste
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons almond milk (or non-dairy milk of choice), adjust as needed
Optional Mix-Ins & Ideas
- 1 ounce dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, chopped finely
- 1/4 cup chopped dried figs
- Line a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil lightly coated in cooking spray and set aside.
- In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse the oats until ground into flour. It is okay if there are still some chunks of oats.
- To the food processor, add the peanut butter, ground flax, dates, molasses, honey, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, and protein powder. Pulse to combine. Add 1 tablespoon of almond milk at a time. The mixture should start to come together. Add more almond milk as needed. When you pinch the mixture, it should stick together but not be too sticky.
- Remove the mixture from the food processor. Select 1/4 to 1/3 cup of your favorite mix-ins (optional) and stir to combine. Press the mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Cut into 8 bars (I cut little squares) and enjoy!
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or up to three months in the freezer (see notes for tips).
- This recipe can be double and made in an 8 x 8 inch baking pan.
- Protein powder - This recipe calls for whey protein powder. Other types of protein powder may be used, but they might alter the flavor.
- Storing tips - I like to wrap each individual bar in plastic wrap, store them in a large freezer bag, and take them out to enjoy them as needed.