How to Make Homemade Protein Bars: 7 Yummy Recipes for Runners

Most runners love protein bars. They’re an easy way to refuel after a workout and make for a convenient snack between meals when you’re on the go. But what about homemade protein bars?

A couple of decades ago when protein bars hit the sports nutrition market, they were dry, chalky, and borderline inedible. However, now, protein bars for runners are not only pleasant from a textural standpoint, but also come in irresistible—and convincingly realistic—flavors like chocolate fudge brownie, cinnamon bun, oatmeal cookie, and peanut butter.

However, store-bought protein bars aren’t always particularly nutritious. They are often high in sugar or contain artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols, which can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea, and frankly aren’t something we really should be feeding our bodies

After all, artificial sweeteners are, by definition, artificial, rather than real food, so the body is not designed to readily digest them. 

Homemade protein bars are free from preservatives, hydrogenated oils, and artificial flavors, and you can fully customize the recipe so that you’re putting just the best runner-friendly ingredients into your body.

How to Make Homemade Protein Bars

Finally, homemade protein bars can be a more affordable long-term solution to your post-run fueling strategy. Ready to try your hand making your own protein bars? 

Keep reading for how to make protein bars with our seven original homemade protein bar recipes for runners.

Related: The 7 Best Tasting Protein Bars For Runners in 2022

What Kind of Protein Powder Should I Use In Homemade Protein Bars?

You can use any type of protein powder, though the cleaner the blend (fewer ingredients, no artificial sweeteners, minimal sugar), the better. Whey, collagen, and egg white protein powder are some of the best protein powders for runners because the protein in them is more bioavailable.

Vegan runners often use rice, pea, hemp, or soy protein powder. Rice protein powder works best for these homemade protein bars for vegan runners because it has a more mild inherent flavor. 

Now, on to the recipes!

How to Make Homemade Protein Bars

#1: Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars

It’s hard to argue against the classic chocolate peanut butter cup flavor. These simple peanut butter protein bars require no baking and require just five basic ingredients. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey, optional
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Warm the peanut butter in the microwave until it is loose but not liquid (15-20 seconds).
  2. Stir in protein powder, salt, and optional honey and combine thoroughly until a dough has formed.
  3. Press the dough into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Melt chocolate chips over a double boiler or in the microwave. If you are using the
    microwave, stop it and stir every 30 seconds. Remove the chocolate from the heat before it is fully melted. The residual heat will work its way through the chocolate. 
  5. Stir the chocolate until smooth.
  6. Drizzle the melted chocolate on top of the homemade protein bars.
  7. Use a spatula to spread an even layer of chocolate.
  8. Cover loosely with parchment paper.
  9. Chill for 30 minutes.
  10. Slice and serve or store.
How to Make Homemade Protein Bars

These homemade gluten-free protein bars have all the familiar flavors of classic gingerbread cookies with a nutritious, chewy bite. They can be made vegan if you use vegan protein powder.

Although the list of ingredients is rather long, the actual recipe is quite simple.

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2/3 cup plain or vanilla pea or rice protein powder
  • 1/4 cup dark molasses or pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top (optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl until fully mixed and sticky. Add more almond milk if it is too dry to hold together.
  2. Press the mixture firmly into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Chill fully before cutting. 
  4. Store up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
How to Make Homemade Protein Bars

#3: Gluten-Free Strawberry Bliss Homemade Protein Bars

Not everyone is a fan of chocolate or peanut-forward protein bars, so these bright strawberry protein bars are a welcomed alternative.

These homemade protein bars are reminiscent of RX Bars. They are best with egg white protein powder (berry flavored, if possible), but other forms of protein powder will work as well. 

However, use only plain, vanilla, or berry-flavored protein powder. Chocolate will overpower the strawberry flavor.

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup freeze dried strawberries
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1 1/4 cup dates
  • 3/4 cup strawberry egg white protein powder 
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil 
  • 1/4 cup strawberry purée or 100% berry juice

Instructions

  1. Use a food processor to create a powder from the freeze-dried strawberries.
  2. Add all the other ingredients to the food processor and pulse until thoroughly combined and smooth. The mixture will be very sticky and firm.
  3. Use a rolling pin greased in melted coconut oil to roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper until it is about 1/4-inch thick.
  4. Slice into bars and store in the fridge for up to one week or enjoy right away.
How to Make Homemade Protein Bars

#4: No-Bake Gluten-Free Homemade Pumpkin Pie Protein Bars

These easy no-bake pumpkin pie protein bars are not only gluten-free but free from dates, which are high in sugar. These flavorful homemade protein bars for runners do contain a little maple syrup, but it’s a minimal amount of sugar overall.

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups cashew butter, almond butter, or sunflower seed butter
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 cup plain or vanilla protein powder
  • Rolled oats or almond flour (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan over low heat or in a microwave-safe bowl, heat the nut butter and maple syrup until melted and smooth. Whisk until combined.
  2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the rest of the ingredients, stirring until thoroughly combined and a thick, firm batter has firmed.
  3. If the dough is too loose, add rolled oats or almond flour, a little at a time until firm.
  4. Press the dough firmly into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Chill in the refrigerator until firm.
  6. Enjoy!
How to Make Homemade Protein Bars

#5: Easy Banana Bread Homemade Protein Bars

We created this homemade protein bar recipe for runners who want an easy and healthier way to enjoy the flavors of banana bread after a long run in the morning or on your drive into work following a strength training workout.

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 cup cashew butter, peanut butter, or other nut butter
  • 3/4 cup plain or vanilla protein powder 
  • 1 large, ripe mashed banana 
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Optional: chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Mash the banana thoroughly. 
  2. Add all other ingredients to the bowl and combine thoroughly until a dough has formed.
  3. Press the dough into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and chill.
  4. Slice and serve or store.
How to Make Homemade Protein Bars

#6: Zesty Coconut Cranberry Homemade Protein Bars

These homemade protein bars have chewy cranberries, nutty coconut, and a bit of orange zest for a tart and sweet flavor that’s perfect for recovering after morning workouts.

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup natural almond butter or cashew butter, warmed
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup plain or vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • Zest of two oranges

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the oats, protein powder, orange zest, cranberries, nut butter, 1/2 cup of shredded coconut, and melted coconut oil until a dough is formed.
  2. Press the mixture firmly into a lined baking sheet and top it with shredded coconut, pressing the coconut in with the backside of a spoon.
  3. Chill for 20 minutes before cutting.
  4. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator or freezer.
How to Make Homemade Protein Bars

If chocolate with mint is your favorite flavor combination, you’ll love these tasty homemade chocolate mint cookie protein bars. 

They taste decadent and indulgent but are a much healthier alternative to store-bought protein bars or chocolate mint cookies. 

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup almond butter or sunbutter
  • 2/3 cup chocolate protein powder
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 3 tbsp almond milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped Andes mints, York Peppermint Patties, or other high-quality chocolate mint candy

Instructions 

  1. Add all the ingredients except the chocolate mint candy to a large mixing bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.
  2. If the dough is too dry, add more almond milk. If it is too wet, add another tablespoon or two of protein powder.
  3. Add the chopped chocolate mint candy until evenly combined. 
  4. Press the mixture firmly into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Chill the protein bars in the fridge 20 minutes or until firm.
  6. Slice and enjoy or store for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
How to Make Homemade Protein Bars

Now that you know how to make protein bars on your own with our seven yummy recipes, you’ll never need to buy store-bought ones again!

If you would like to check out some recipes for homemade juices, take a look at The 9 Best Juicing Recipes For Runners!

Amber Sayer

Amber Sayer

Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, and contributes to several fitness, health, and running websites and publications. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

4 thoughts on “How to Make Homemade Protein Bars: 7 Yummy Recipes for Runners”

  1. No good for someone with high cholesterol and diabetes, body naturally makes bad cholesterol, inherited both of these, didn’t get them as bad lifestyle choices, any recipes? I am not overweight and have eaten clean for the last 25 years

    Reply
  2. All the recipes that I found on line are no bake .I would like to bake the protein bars so they last much longer .Still I would like to add protein ,is this a problem and could you please direct me to some recipes

    Thanks in advance

    Reply

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