These homemade cookie dough protein bars are so easy to make that you will be wondering why you haven’t made them sooner! They’re no-bake, gluten free, vegan, and nut-free using SunButter. Just mix, press, chill, and you have a fresh batch of protein bars that will last all week!
Why make homemade protein bars
Let’s be honest, a majority of store bought protein bars are not that good. Especially when trying to find one with minimal ingredients that you can actually read.
The obvious alternative is to make them yourself, but is it worth the extra effort to do so? Luckily, this recipe is VERY quick and easy to make using only 7 ingredients. Making the bars takes a total of maybe 15 minutes, and then they just have to chill for about an hour before eating.
It’s really that simple! You don’t need any special equipment like a food processor or blender. Just mix everything in a bowl by hand and press into a baking dish.
Not to mention the flavor. I call these cookie dough protein bars because they taste exactly that. The texture is also soft, thick, and tender like cookie dough. You’ll be surprised just by how good homemade protein bars can be!
How to make nut-free cookie dough protein bars
When going the store-bought route, it’s hard to find protein bars that don’t use some sort of nut product. That’s why I wanted to make this a nut-free protein bar recipe – whether you’re allergic or just trying to avoid nuts, this recipe will be your new go-to.
So, what’s the secret? SunButter! I absolutely love SunButter both for baking and for daily consumption. It’s super rich and is made up of sunflower seeds. It’s also savory just like any other nut butter but, in my opinion, is way creamier.
Not only does it help hold these protein bars together, but it also adds to the cookie dough flavor. SunButter has a mellow flavor that pairs perfectly with the chocolate chips in these bars.
Since these bars are mixed by hand, the ultra creamy SunButter consistency also ensures that each bite of these protein bars is soft and smooth. It really is the MVP of this recipe.
What makes these vegan protein bars?
Besides being both gluten free and nut-free, these protein bars are also vegan using pea protein powder. The protein I used is pure pea protein with natural vanilla flavor and that’s it! My goal was to make these bars with very minimal ingredients, and pea protein allows just that.
But feel free to use your favorite protein powder whether it’s plant-based or regular. The beauty of this recipe is its versatility and can easily be customized to your liking.
How to make oat flour
I recommend using store-bought oat flour as it has the finest grain, but if you’re in a pinch it’s easy to make your own from whole oats. Just blend the oats in a food processor on high speed for a few minutes. Try to ground it as fine as possible for the best protein bar consistency.
Are the flaxseed and chia seeds optional?
Flaxseeds and chia seeds are used in this recipe to boost the nutrients and protein. If you don’t have these or don’t prefer to use them, they can be left out of the recipe.
How to make protein bars into energy bites
The dough for this recipe is very soft and moldable, which means the options are endless! Instead of making full blown protein bars, here are some other options for this recipe:
- Energy Balls – Roll into 2 tablespoon-sized balls and roll in cocoa powder. Store in the refrigerator and grab a few as a quick snack.
- Cookie Dough Bites – Press the dough into the baking dish and once chilled, cut into tiny bite-sized squares. These can then be added to banana nice-cream or a morning bowl of oats.
- Protein Bar Minis – Cut the bars into 24 mini bars and dip in chocolate. Then chill again to set the chocolate in place.
Optional protein bar toppings
Sticking with the cookie dough theme, these bars are topped with even more chocolate chips. Here are a few other options:
- Sunflower Seeds – SunButter is used in the protein bars, so accompany it with a sprinkle of sunflower seeds on top! They add a nice crunch and a bit of saltiness to balance out the sweet.
- Melted Chocolate – If you prefer chocolate but want to use a bit less, melt it down with some coconut oil and drizzle on top of the bars before chilling.
- Coconut – Shredded coconut flakes and also be pressed into the surface of the bars before chilling.
How to store cookie dough protein bars
After the bars are chilled and sliced, they can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator where they will keep for up to 10 days. The longer they chill, the more firm the texture.
By firm, I do not mean hard or stiff. The protein dough will just continue to thicken as they chill, but will still remain a soft consistency.
For more healthier dessert recipes, check out my:
- Fudgy Chickpea Brownies
- Brownie Cookie Dough Bars
- Peanut Butter Banana Muffins
- Homemade Peanut Butter Cups
- Salted Pretzel Chocolate Tart
Make sure to tag me @butternutbakery on Instagram and leave a review below if you make these cookie dough protein bars. To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can use the button on the recipe card, the buttons above or below this post, or on any of the photos above. Happy baking!Print