Best Homemade Protein Bars (PB + Chocolate)


Our homemade peanut butter protein bars are truly the best on the internet. They’re made in a food processor with ingredients you can pronounce such as with peanut butter, dates, oat flour, and protein powder.

protein bars on wire rack

If you love our peanut butter protein balls, you’re going to absolutely adore these peanut butter protein bars! They taste exactly like a Perfect Bar, but without all of the obscure ingredients.

I love making a batch of these protein bars and storing them in the freezer for an effortless post-workout snack. They even make for a healthy dessert at any time of day.

What is this protein bar recipe?

  • Medjool dates– always make sure your dates are soft. If they are hard or stale, you can soak them in warm water for a few minutes to soften.
  • all-natural peanut butter – use a drippy, all-natural peanut butter such as Smucker’s or Trader Joe’s brand.
  • honey – honey is important because it not only adds sweetness but helps with stickiness. Unfortunately, we don’t recommend swapping for maple syrup or agave because honey is so sticky. 
  • vanilla protein powder – we used whey protein, but you can use any kind. Protein powder obviously adds protein, but also sweetness.
  • ground oat flour – ground oat flour is a whole grain and can easily be made by pulverizing oats in a food processor until flour-like.
  • vanilla extract – adds great flavor!
ingredients

Ingredient Swaps and Substitutions

The most obvious swap you can make in this recipe is nut butter. If you can’t do peanuts or don’t have peanut butter, try cashew butter or almond butter.

While we prefer whey protein powder, any kind will work. You can even use a flavor such as chocolate.

If you’re feeling lazy, you can turn your protein bars into protein balls instead! Simply use a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop batter into your hands and roll into balls.

ingredients in food processor

Top Tips for Homemade Protein Bars

Use a good food processor – this has to be our #1 tip. A high-speed food processor is so important for not only pulverizing your dates but combining all of your ingredients into a smooth consistency.

Consistency is key – all said and done, you’re looking to get a cookie dough-like consistency out of your batter. This is why this recipe calls for drippy peanut butter and honey. They will help your ingredients stick!

  • too dry: add more water
  • too wet: add more oat flour

Any size pan works – don’t have a 9×13-inch pan? No worries! Since these are no-bake protein bars, you can use any size pan. Use a square pan or even 2 loaf pans. You can cut your bars smaller, longer, thicker, etc. The world is your oyster.

a tip from the comment section

Great bars. I’ve made them four or five times. I recommend pitting and then soaking the medjool dates in warm water for 10 minutes, grind up your oats to make flour, transfer the flour to a bowl, and then grind up the medjool dates before adding anything else. Makes it much easier.– Josh

protein bar dough in food processor

Optional Chocolate Topping

When there is an optional chocolate topping, the answer is always YES! All you need is 2 ingredients: chocolate chips and coconut oil.

Melt the two together and mix until smooth. Then, pour on the top of your bars and use a spatula to spread it out evenly. Then, sprinkle on coarse sea salt.

Let set in the freezer for 30 minutes to harden before slicing into bars!

pouring chocolate topping on homemade protein bars

FAQ

Why are protein bars so sweet?

Most protein bars are so sugary because artificial sweeteners are used to mask the flavors of protein powder. If you make homemade protein bars, you can control the sweetness.

Are protein bars good for building muscle?

In order to build muscle in your body, protein is needed to do so making protein bars a good option for fueling after a workout.

Are protein bars a good meal replacement?

If you’re in a pinch and can’t eat a meal, protein bars are a good option every once in a while.

Can I have two protein bars a day?

There is nothing wrong with eating two protein bars in a day, but our motto is everything in moderation!

Is it cheaper to make your own homemade protein bars?

Homemade protein bars are much more cost-effective than buying protein bars at the store. A single protein bar can range from $.99 to $3.99. This entire recipe (for 16 bars) will cost you less than $5 and you likely already have these ingredients on hand!

Is it okay to eat a protein bar every day?

Homemade protein bars are okay to eat every day because they’re made with whole grains and are naturally sweetened. But, as always, everything in moderation is our motto!

Storage

Once your protein bars have been sliced and the chocolate has hardened, transfer into an airtight container or gallon-size plastic bag and store in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Freezer Instructions

We actually prefer to store homemade protein bars in the freezer because they last longer.

Transfer sliced bars into a freezer-safe gallon-size bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

protein bars sliced
peanut butter protein bars.

Homemade Protein Bars

These peanut butter protein bars are seriously the best homemade protein bars! Naturally sweetened and made with simple ingredients, this recipe is easy to make and cheaper than store-bought protein bars!

Prep:1 hour

Cook:0 minutes

Total:1 hour

Instructions 

  • First, line either a 9×9-inch baking dish or a 9×13-inch baking dish with parchment paper. Really any size will work, but the smaller the dish, the thicker the bars will be.

  • Next, place Medjool dates, peanut butter, oat flour, honey, vanilla extract, and protein powder into a high-speed food processor.

  • Process on high for 2-3 minutes, stopping to scrape the sides as needed.

  • Add water by the tablespoon and continue to process on high until a cookie dough-like batter has formed and the Medjool dates have disappeared into the dough. You want your batter to be able to hold shape and be similar to cookie dough, but not be too runny. This is all dependant on how drippy your peanut butter is. You may need to use less than 1/4 cup or more than 1/4 cup of water. 

  • Once your dough has formed, transfer it into a parchment-lined 9×9-inch square baking dish (for thicker bars) or a 9×13-inch baking dish (for thinner bars). Either work! Set aside.

  • Prepare chocolate topping by placing dark chocolate chips and coconut oil into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in increments of 15 seconds and stir until melted.

  • Pour chocolate topping onto protein bars and use a spatula to evenly spread it out. Then, sprinkle on coarse sea salt.

  • Place bars into the freezer to set for 30 minutes to an hour or until the chocolate has fully hardened.

  • Slice and store in the fridge for up to 7 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Tips & Notes

  • This recipe was updated on January 16, 2021. Click HERE for the original recipe. 
  • Medjool Dates: make sure your Medjool dates are soft or they will not break down. If your dates are hard, you can soak them in hot water to soften them.
  • Peanut butter: the peanut butter we used was very drippy. We suggest using the following brands: Kirkland, Smucker’s All-Natural, or Good and Gather All Natural.
  • Nutrition information does not include chocolate topping.
  • Use a good food processor – this has to be our #1 tip. A high-speed food processor is so important for not only pulverizing your dates but combining all of your ingredients into a smooth consistency.
  • Any size pan works – don’t have a 9×13-inch pan? No worries! Since these are no-bake protein bars, you can use any size pan. Use a square pan or even 2 loaf pans. You can cut your bars smaller, longer, thicker, etc. The world is your oyster.
  • Consistency is key – all said and done, you’re looking to get a cookie dough-like consistency out of your batter. This is why this recipe calls for drippy peanut butter and honey. They will help your ingredients stick!
    • too dry: add more water
    • too wet: add more oat flour

Nutrition facts

Calories: 199kcal Carbohydrates: 25g Protein: 6g Fat: 8g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 13g



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