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How to Make Homemade Protein Bars

Protein bars can be quite pricey and most are filled with ingredients that would not be considered “real food”. By contrast, homemade protein bars can be customized based on what flavors your family likes and are filled with real food ingredients.

image of homemade protein bars stacked on top of each other

Years ago I read High Protein, No Powder by Tiffany Crumbs which is a short ebook that has recipes for high protein bars and smoothies. There is a lot I like about this book but probably the best thing I gleaned from it was to use dates as the “glue” for protein bars.

I also really appreciated that this is not just a book of recipes. Tiffany’s goal is to teach you how to make protein bars by understanding the “why” of each ingredient. Then you can use her recipes, tweak them to make them yours or make up brand new ones.

Which is exactly what I’ve done over the years and I want to encourage you to experiment with what you have to make your own homemade protein bars.

image of homemade protein bars in shallow sheet pan

How to make homemade protein bars

I’ve included a printable recipe below but I want to show you how you can substitute various ingredients.

Start with dates. While the recipe calls for 1/4 cup dates, I usually just use the whole container and the adjust the recipe up. Remove the seed and roughly chop the dates and set aside.

Then the nuts. The recipe calls for cashews but I rarely have them so I use pecans (we grow them) or almonds (I love them). You could also use walnuts or peanuts.

Hemp hearts are next. Hemp hearts are expensive and I don’t always have them so I’ve substituted chia seeds and flax seeds and the protein bars turn out great.

Coconut oil is added to help everything hold together. I wouldn’t make a substitution for this unless someone was allergic.

The rest of the ingredients – coconut flakes, vanilla extract, chocolate chips, etc. are just to give flavor. You can leave them out or include them and the recipe will still work.

image of homemade protein bars on pan with knife

Are homemade protein bars healthy?

That’s a tough question because what one person considers healthy another person may not.

My kids love these bars and will take them as snacks when they leave the house. For us, these are healthier (and cheaper) than store bought bars or snacks.

That being said, these bars are not low-calorie, low-carb, or low-fat. In fact, they are a nutrient dense food that is filled with calories and fat – something that most kids need.

Homemade protein bars are intended to ward off hunger by providing protein and give energy by providing carbohydrates. These are the things kids need in a mid-afternoon snack. These bars are not intended to be a mindless snack – choose carrots for that.

Other protein snacks

There are many other protein snacks and desserts that taste great. I really like this protein brownie recipe that is also dairy and gluten free.

image of homemade protein bars stacked on top of each other
Yield: 2 bars

Homemade Protein Bars

image of homemade protein bars stacked on top of each other

These no-cook homemade protein bars are easy to make and customize based on your family's preferences. They are also highly nutritious

Prep Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 1/4 cup fresh dates, room temperature and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 4 Tbsp hemp hearts
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flakes, unsweetened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp chocolate pieces, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp coconut chips {didn’t have any, so I just doubled the chocolate}
  • 1 tsp coconut oil


  1. Prepare a square baking dish by lining it with parchment paper.
  2. Remove pits from dates and roughly chop. Put dates in medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Combine nuts, seeds and coconut flakes in a food processor and pulse for 30 seconds to 1 minute – until nuts have released their oils and large chunks become very small. Add extract and pulse for 10 more seconds.
  4. Add nut mixture to dates and mix with your hands. Knead and massage until all the large chunks of dates are small. It will only take about 1 minute to get is all combined and sticky.
  5. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and knead until everything is evenly distributed, especially the coconut oil. The mixture is done when it retains its shape when squeezed into a ball.
  6. Eat immediately {especially if you’re a ravenous teenage boy} or pour mixture into a mold and pack it down firmly. The tighter it’s packed the better the bar will hold up.
  7. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Slide knife gently around the edges to loosen the bar and turn the mold over to remove. Wrap individually and store bars in the refrigerator or freezer.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Thanks for sharing with your friends!


Sunday 20th of March 2022

Thanks for sharing this blog.

Hemp protein powder bars are a rich source of healthy fats and fatty acids, particularly omega-3s and omega-6s. Hemp is also an excellent source of vitamin E, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, sodium, iron, calcium, and zinc. Beyond being a perfect protein source, hemp is simply an exceptionally nutritious food.

Tiffany- DontWastetheCrumbs

Wednesday 8th of January 2014

Thank you SO much for your sweet words Angi! Your bars look delicious and I'm so glad you family enjoys them! Many blessings to you - have a great week!! ~Tiffany

Angi Schneider

Thursday 9th of January 2014

Tiffany, thanks for writing such a great book. It really is a blessing to my family.


Wednesday 8th of January 2014

This looks so yummy and easy to make too. Pinning for later!

Angi Schneider

Thursday 9th of January 2014

It's so good, I'm having to hid them from my kids so we can take them to co-op tomorrow. Let me know what you think after you make it.

Annie @ MontanaSolarCreations

Wednesday 8th of January 2014

I've been looking for a recipe for high protein healthy snacks. I'm pinning this and definitely going to make it this week!

Angi Schneider

Thursday 9th of January 2014

Annie, I think you're really going to like it!

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