I absolutely love using protein powder in recipes! Shakes, bars, bites, brownies, muffins, fluff, proats, cookies, pancakes, waffles, crepes, bread, pudding, mug cakes, cheesecake, and more! If you haven’t used protein powder much, there’s a lot you need to know in order to get good outcomes. I learned most of my protein cookery from Anna of Protein Pow. She’s the OG protein chef! The rest was learned through trial and error. Save this post for reference and avoid common mishaps!
1️⃣ Respect the protein properties. Every type of protein has its own unique tendencies. This is where most people go wrong. If at all possible, do not substitute what a recipe calls for with a different type of protein if you are making a protein-based recipe. If you are curious what types *can* be used interchangeably, check out this helpful chart from Anna: here. With that said, let’s give you a crash course in each type! Whey can be tricky. If you cook / bake with it, you will need some kind of moist ingredient (pumpkin, yogurt, applesauce, banana, beans, nut butter, etc.) plus some flour to help keep the final product moist. If you make no-bake recipes with it, you will need some kind of binder (either a flour like oat, almond, or coconut, and/or a sticky ingredient like nut butter) so that you don’t end up with goop instead of a moldable dough. My favorites are Cellucor and Bowmar Nutrition. Don’t be afraid to give vegetarian / vegan blends a try! I think most people shy away from these because they expect them to taste funny. There are several brands that have fantastic flavor, and I actually have more of these that I prefer then I do whey protein brands. Plant-based will generally be more moist when baking / cooking and may require less liquid / moist ingredients depending on what you are cooking. These types of powders are also fantastic for no-bake bars / bites because they absorb liquid and hold their shape. My favorites are Vegan Smart vanilla pea protein (tastes like cake batter), PB2 powdered peanut butter, and Ambrosia plant protein. Beef protein seems to have similar tendencies to whey in no-bake recipes, but bakes much more moist—a lot like a vegetarian/vegan protein. My favorite is Equip Foods chocolate beef. Casein protein has many of the same tendencies as plant protein so those tips apply. Egg white protein is also similar to whey, but I have not used it enough to give good recommendations. Collagen is great to add to sauces, liquids, etc., as it dissolves and the plain kind is tasteless. I don’t use it as a stand-in for flours, but you can add it to some baked goods or even no-bake things without adjusting anything else. I like Vital Proteins plain kind. Any type of protein can be used in shakes.
2️⃣ Baking blends can make life much easier. When you are new to using protein powders and don’t want to waste money by making something with the wrong type of powder, this is the way to go. I’m not a huge fan of the taste of most of these, but Quest Nutrition is great! A lot of people like Pescience, but I think the casein in it makes it taste off to me in some recipes. Blends are great for all kinds of recipes from baking to shakes.
3️⃣ Don’t be afraid to “protein-ize“ recipes! When modifying a traditional recipe, try swapping up to half the flour called for with protein. I typically use a conversion of 1/4 cup flour = 1 (30g) scoop and multiply based on how much flour needs replacing.
4️⃣ Make sure you like the taste of the protein. A bad tasting protein powder is not worth using, IMHO. If you don’t like the taste of it on its own, don’t bother with using it in recipes either. The right protein powder can be make or break.
5️⃣ Make sure you use parchment paper / liners (or silicone molds) when baking with protein or things will stick. NOT paper liners! You can get parchment cupcake/muffin liners on amazon or parchment paper in easy pre-cut sheet for pans at the grocery store. I prefer this to silicone molds. They have an aftertaste in my opinion and also still stick some.
1/ What’s your favorite way to use protein powder?
2/ Do you have a favorite brand/flavor?
P.S. Through an interesting sequence of events back when I first started my blog in 2013, I had my Pumpkin Praline Mini Protein Cheesecake recipe featured on Protein Pow here!
This was literally a bucket list thing for me to have a recipe featured on her site and was such a huge motivator for me not to give up!!