Homemade protein bars are an affordable way to combat any late-afternoon energy crash. Simply tuck one into your purse or briefcase for a quick power boost throughout the day.
It might be tempting to grab a box of protein bars from your local grocer, but once you realize how easy they are to make at home, you may never go back to store-bought again.
Plus, making your own homemade rendition is better for you since it doesn’t contain additives commonly found in the commercial variety.
If that’s not enough to convince you, these homemade protein bars taste absolutely divine, with a texture that’s halfway between a cookie and a granola bar.
Give these homemade protein bars a shot if you’re ready to elevate your snack selection.
What are Protein Bars?
Protein bars are nutrition-packed snacks with large amounts of protein and calories per serving.
You can use them for post-workout replenishment or as an easy fix when your stomach is growling. They’re an effortless source of energy and protein without preparing a whole meal.
Since these bars generally come in small rectangular shapes, they’re easily transportable and make a great snack on the go. Whether you need a quick pick-me-up between work meetings or something to munch on after a soccer game, protein bars are a convenient sidekick.
Many commercially produced protein bars are highly processed and contain high sugar levels to offset the gritty texture. Some have dubbed store-bought protein bars as “candy bars in disguise.”
It all depends on the type of protein bar you buy. You’re better off finding ones made up of fruit and nuts, like the KIND brand, rather than protein bars completely coated in chocolate.
How to Make Them at Home
The best solution to finding a healthy, hearty protein bar is to make your own. Below we show you how to make delicious, nourishing protein bars using simple, whole ingredients.
Organic Raw Oats: Besides being among the healthiest grain on the planet, oats are also super cheap and easy to buy in bulk. We like the Bob’s Red Mill Brand for the highest quality oats, just make sure to purchase the regular rolled version.
Organic Unsweetened Shredded Coconut: Make sure you purchase unsweetened coconut, or else you’ll end up with sickly-sweet protein bars. Unsweetened coconut still adds a nice, gentle sweetness without any added sugar.
Greek Yogurt: If you haven’t tried baking with Greek yogurt before, this simple ingredient will change your life. Greek yogurt adds a moist texture to baked goods and a healthy amount of protein.
Organic Coconut Oil: The Garden of Life brand is our favorite for pure, unrefined coconut oil. You’ll need to liquefy the oil before baking on the stovetop or microwave.
Nut or Seed Butter: We find that using peanut butter adds a delicious salty-sweet taste to these protein bars, but you can also swap it out with a different nut or seed butter.
How to Make Homemade Protein Bars:
Ready to get started? Below you’ll learn the step-by-step process that will guide you to making your own homemade protein bars.
Start by preheating your oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with a little coconut oil or organic butter.
Combine oats, sesame seeds, coconut, cinnamon, salt, and brown sugar in a large bowl. Stir until the dry ingredients are mixed.
In a separate bowl, combine Greek yogurt, maple syrup, peanut butter, vanilla extract, and liquified coconut oil. Stir until blended.
Combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then stir until thoroughly combined. Mix in the chocolate chips. Do a taste check. If it lacks flavor, try adding more peanut butter or optional nuts. If it needs a bit more sweetness, try adding more brown sugar or optional dried fruit.
If you want to include protein powder, add it now. Mix with your hands (Warning, it will get sticky!).
Spread the mixture into your prepared dish, then bake for 15 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and let it cool.
Slice your bars into squares or rectangles, then transfer them onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 more minutes.
Remove the cookie sheet from the oven, then wrap your bars and store them in the refrigerator.
Add protein powder. If you want your bars to be extra protein-packed, then try adding up to a cup of protein powder. Add half a cup if you don’t like the taste but still want the extra punch. We like the Garden of Life brand for a vegan, unflavored protein powder that disguises well in recipes.
Include dried fruit. You can toss a half cup of dried chopped dates, raisins, or figs to add more fiber and calories to your protein bars. Plus, they help bring some sweetness without any refined sugar.
Substitute other seeds. If sesame seeds aren’t your jam, you can easily swap in other options like sunflower or hemp seeds.
Try a flavored Greek yogurt. We use plain Greek yogurt in our homemade protein bars recipe since the flavor is undetectable. If you want to add more sweetness, you can use vanilla, strawberry, or banana Greek yogurt instead.
After making your homemade protein bars, individually wrap them, or they may stick together. You can easily cut slices of parchment paper and wrap them up with tape or string.
Place the wrapped protein bars in a container, then store them in the fridge for best results.
Your homemade protein bars should keep up to 4-6 days when stored properly. You can also tuck them away in a freezer bag or airtight container and freeze them for up to 2 months.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is it cheaper to make homemade protein bars?
Absolutely! We use a base of oats in this recipe, which helps cut costs without sacrificing quality or protein content. Since our recipe is incredibly versatile, you can also swap out ingredients that break the bank. For example, you can easily omit dried fruit or nuts if it’s not within budget.
What ingredients should be in a protein bar?
As mentioned earlier, we like to start off with a base of oats, which have a very high protein and fiber content. Greek yogurt is another must-have for adding a moist texture and essential protein. You’ll also need a way to sweeten your bars. We like using a combination of peanut butter, maple syrup, and brown sugar, but you can also use stevia or agave.
What makes protein bars chewy?
If you find your homemade protein bars are lacking in texture, try adding more coconut to increase the chewiness. You can also up the amount of peanut butter or Greek yogurt, which helps prevent the bars from drying out.
How do you make protein bars stick together?
Are your protein bars falling apart? You may need to increase the binding agent to help keep the pieces sticking together. We find that honey acts as a glue and helps keep the protein bars intact, so try adding a little more to your batch. You may need to offset the sweetness by adding less sugar or removing the dried fruit.
Try These Other Oat Recipes:
- Oatmeal Scones with Dried Cherries and Dark Chocolate – A nutrient-packed twist on the classic pastry
- Savory Oatmeal with Figs, Pine Nuts, and Feta – A unique, savory take on the traditionally sweet breakfast
- Irish Oat Broth with Leeks and Dandelion Greens – A warm, savory stew that uses thick rolled oats as a hearty base
Homemade Protein Bars
- *3 cups organic raw oats
- *1/2 cup whole sesame seeds sunflower seeds, or hemp seeds
- *1/2 cup unsweetened organic shredded coconut I prefer this one
- *1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- *1 teaspoon Himalayan salt or sea salt
- *1/4 cup organic brown sugar
- *1 cup Greek yogurt preferably organic (I use plain; vanilla would make the bars a little sweeter)
- *1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey preferably local/raw
- *1 cup organic peanut butter or use almond butter or the nut/seed butter of your choice
- *1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
- *1/4 cup organic coconut oil liquified if solid (coconut oil will be solid at room temperature in cooler weather…this one’s my favorite)
- *1/2 cup chopped organic dark chocolate or chocolate chips 70% dark (or more is the healthiest; use fair-trade chocolate, possible)
- *1/2 cup chopped seeds or nuts or a combination ex. sunflower pumpkin, or sesame seeds or almonds, walnuts or pecans (or use additional peanut or other nut butter)
- *1/2 cup chopped dates raisins, figs or other dried fruit–optional (if you want the bars sweeter but you don’t want to add more sweetener; I don’t typically add these)
- *up to 1 cup vanilla or chocolate whey protein powder–optional (go with 1 cup if you want the bars to have significant protein content; use 1/2 cup or omit if you dislike the taste or the idea of protein powders; I am not a big protein powder fan but Garden of Life Raw Protein is the one I like for this purpose
- 1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with a little coconut oil or organic butter.
- 2. Combine dry ingredients (oats through brown sugar) in a large bowl.
- 3. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients (Greek yogurt through coconut oil).
- 4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined, and then mix in the chocolate.
- 5. Taste a little of the homemade protein bar mixture. Is it tasty? You can add more peanut butter or the optional nuts at this point if you like. Is it sweet enough? If not, you can add some additional sweetener or some of the optional dried fruit. Now is also the time to add in the protein powder if you are going to use it. Mix well using very clean hands (warning–it will be sticky!)
- 6. Spread the mixture into your prepared dish and bake for 15 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven, let them cool a little, and then slice the bars as you desire. Your homemade protein bars can be sliced into squares, or into the more typical bar shape you would purchase, if you prefer. Spread the bars out onto a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes more. Allow to cool, and then wrap and store in the refrigerator.