These homemade chocolate protein bars make a great snack for kids and adults, or a delicious post-workout treat. These are lightly sweetened with honey and made with healthy ingredients like flaxseeds and cacao powder. With only 15 minutes of prep, they are ready in no time.
There are many options for store-bought protein bars, but nothing as tasty or made with simple ingredients, like this no-bake chocolate protein bar recipe. Healthy, easy, and loved by kids and adults!
Each bar has roughly 10 grams of protein (depending on how big you cut the them). I love adding these to my girls' lunches and having them on hand for an easy and nutritious snack.
We are on the go a lot around here these days and having some homemade snacks when running out the door is a must. We do eat our fair share of packaged better-for-you snacks, but nothing can compare to homemade snacks made with real food.
- Added benefits of flaxseeds - The flaxseeds in this recipe add nutrients you won't find in most store-bought snack bars. Flaxseeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, good for digestion, and includes numerous beneficial vitamins and nutrients like vitamins A, B1 and B12, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron.
- Made with cacao - Whenever I need to add some chocolate-y flavor in my recipes, I use cacao vs. cocoa. Cacao goes through less processing, thus containing more of the minerals and antioxidants that chocolate is known for.
- Naturally sweetened - These healthy chocolate protein bars are naturally sweetened with raw honey and low in sugar. And you can totally skip the chocolate topping if you don't want the added sugars from the chocolate.
- Gluten free, grain free, dairy free - No oats, no grains, no dairy products here!
A complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below. Here are some specific notes and substitutions.
NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER - This recipe is written specifically for using natural peanut butter (ingredients should be just peanuts or peanuts and salt). Please don't use anything with added oils and sugars, or it won't turn out the same. Kirkland is my favorite.
PROTEIN POWDER - You can use any of your favorite chocolate protein powders. See section below on choosing the best protein powder.
CACAO - You can use either cacao or cocoa powder.
Clean food tip: Cacao is cleaner/more natural. It goes through less processing so it contains more nutrients and antioxidants. Navitas is one of my favorite brands.
HONEY - I recommend using raw honey, but regular honey works too.
Clean food tip: Raw honey does not go through as much processing as regular honey does. This means it retains more of the nutrients and antioxidants that honey is known for.
CHOCOLATE CHIPS - To keep these dairy free, make sure to use dairy-free semi sweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips. You can skip the chocolate topping to cut down on added sugars if you'd like.
Clean food tip: Look for chocolate chips that have no more than cane sugar, chocolate liquor/chocolate/cocoa powder and cocoa butter. Brands that are Fair Trade certified and/or organic are even better!
Choosing the Best Protein Powder
First and foremost, choose a protein powder you think tastes good! There are a lot of not-so-good protein powders on the market that are chalky and just taste bad. If you have one you love, use that. There really isn't a wrong or right protein powder to use in this recipe.
I have heard good things about Sprout Living protein powder (though I have not tried it) and have used Garden of Life chocolate protein in the past. I'm currently loving Truvani chocolate protein. It's truly clean and made without added flavors, fillers, or fake sugar substitutes.
Clean food tip: Whichever protein powder you use, look for one that is organic (to ensure there are no synthetic pesticides or GMO ingredients), is low in added sugars, doesn't have artificial flavors (or "natural flavors" if you can avoid it), and is free of soy protein concentrate or isolate. Most protein powders will be sweetened with an alternate sugar source such as stevia leaf (okay if actually stevia "leaf") or erythritol. Erythritol isn't ideal, but in minimal doses it's probably okay (just make sure it's organic).
How to Make Chocolate Protein Bars
As I mentioned, these are so easy to make! They will be prepped and ready to set in the fridge in 15 minutes. Just follow these simple steps.
Step 1: Add all ingredients, minus the chocolate chips and coconut oil, to a large mixing bowl.
Step 2: Mix until all ingredients are combined and a thick "dough" is formed.
Step 3: Line a loaf pan, or 8x8 square dish, with parchment paper (this will help when pulling the bars out of the pan). Add protein bar mixture to pan and evenly push mixture into pan.
Step 4: If adding the chocolate topping, melt chocolate and coconut oil in microwave in 45-second intervals, until chocolate is melted. Spread melted chocolate over bars.
You can add sprinkles to the top if you'd like. I like to add dye-free sprinkles when making for my kids. There is just something about those dang sprinkles that take these bars to a whole new level!
Lastly, place in fridge to allow bars and chocolate to set. Once set, remove from pan by pulling up on the parchment paper (you may need to run a knife around the edges that aren't lined with paper). Cut into desired sized bars and store in refrigerator.
After the chocolate has set in the fridge, let the bars sit at room temperature for 10/15 minutes before cutting. Allowing the chocolate topping to come to room temperature will help the chocolate from cracking when you cut the bars.
For a fully refined sugar-free bar, skip the chocolate topping. Or you can use Hu Chocolate Gems, which are sweetened with coconut sugar.
If the "dough" seems too dry after mixing, you can add another tablespoon or two of peanut butter. The "dough" should be thick and easily moldable, but not dry and crumbly.
Are Chocolate Protein Bars Healthy?
Well, that depends on the bar. "Healthy" is also a very subjective term, but I consider my chocolate protein bar recipe very healthy. These are made with all whole foods and ingredients that will nourish your body.
These bars are a good source of healthy fats (peanut butter, flaxseed meal), antioxidants (flaxseed meal, cacao, raw honey), protein (peanut butter, protein powder), and many other vitamins and minerals.
So store: These chocolate protein bars should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and will stay good for up to 2 weeks... though I doubt they will last that long.
To freeze: You can also store the leftovers in the freezer in a freezer safe container. They will stay good in the freezer for 3 months. I like to double the batch and freeze half.
More High Protein Recipes
If you make this recipe, please let me know what you think! I would so appreciate you leaving a star rating and/or comment below. And don't forget to share a photo on Instagram or Facebook and mention @CleanPlateMama!
Chocolate Protein Bars
- 1 large mixing bowl
- 1 large loaf pan or 8x8 square dish
Ingredients for Protein Bars
- 1 ¼ cups natural peanut butter (see notes)
- 3 tbsp. honey
- ¼ cup flaxseed meal
- ½ cup chocolate protein powder
- 2 tbsp. cacao powder (see notes)
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ tsp. fine sea salt
Ingredients for Chocolate Topping (optional)
- ½ cup dairy-free chocolate chips (semi-sweet or dark chocolate)
- 2 tsp. coconut oil
- Line a large loaf pan (9x5) or 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two ends. This allow you to pull the bars out of the pan when done. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the ingredients for the bars (peanut butter, honey, flaxseed meal, protein powder, cacao, vanilla, salt). Mix until well combined and a "dough" has formed. The final mix should resemble cookie dough.
- Add protein bar "dough" to the loaf pan and evenly press mixture into pan.
- Add chocolate and coconut oil to a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 45-second intervals, stirring in between. Stop microwaving once chocolate is almost melted; continue stirring to melt the final pieces of chocolate.
- Spread melted chocolate over bars. If desired, you can add some sprinkles (my kids like the sprinkles).
- Place bars in fridge to allow bars and chocolate to set. This should take about 30 minutes.
- Using parchment paper, remove bars from pan and cut into desired sized bars or squares.
- Natural peanut butter should be used for these bars. Natural peanut butter is peanut butter that is just made from peanuts or peanuts and salt. The recipe won't turn out the same if made with peanut butter with added oils and sugars.
- I use cacao powder because of the added health benefits and it's less processed compared to cocoa, but either can be used.
- The chocolate topping is optional and omitting the chocolate cuts down on the total sugar in these bars. Don't worry, the bars are still delicious even without the chocolate topping.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. These can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.