If there’s one thing we know to be true, it’s that all protein bars are not created equal. When they’re good—they’re oh-so-tasty, but when they’re bad—they’re terrible. In addition to being hit or miss, protein bars are sought after in a pinch which is why it’s important to know which bars you should add to your cart before your blood sugar hits an all-time low.
Whether you reach for a protein bar before your workout or like to keep them in your work bag for days when you’ve forgotten lunch, you’ll need to be prepared at the store. From delightful to mealy and everything in between, our editors took the first bite so you don’t have to. Our protein bar taste test is here to take the guesswork out of your protein bar selection in hopes you’ll avoid spit-takes and money down the drain.
Pure Protein Bar – Chocolate Deluxe
Oatmega – Chocolate Coconut
Tone It Up Plant-Based Protein Bites – Snickerdoodle
Clif Builder’s Protein – Crunchy Peanut Butter
The Complete Cookie – Snickerdoodle
Quest – Cookies & Cream
Munk Pack Protein Cookie – Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
Pure Protein Bar
If you are a lover of fudge, you’re going to want to keep a box of these protein bars stashed away. Fudgy and decadent, this bar was surprisingly delightful without feeling too thick or overindulgent. Unlike some protein bars, there wasn’t a heavy protein powder aftertaste—which is no small feat for a protein bar. We scored these bars at a 4/5 for taste only because the chocolate flavor, while tasty, didn’t have as much depth as gusto as you’d hope for given the rich and chewy texture.
Traditional protein bar, this is not. But that’s not a bad thing! Imagine if a granola bar and a protein bar made a delicious protein bar baby—you’re looking at an Oatmega protein bar. Oatmega prides themselves on their whey protein sourced from grass-fed cows in New Zealand and you can taste why. The protein flavor is faint, and when it does hit—it’s not overwhelming with chemical notes in the way many classical protein powders are. While we’d love to give it five stars all around, the granola-esque texture is slightly gritty and neither the coconut nor the chocolate flavors stand out like you’d expect. Oatmega makes up for that with their partnership with No Kid Hungry in working to end childhood hunger.
Tone It Up Plant-Based Protein Bites
In a word, underwhelming. These protein bites aren’t necessarily bad, but they’re certainly not certifiably good either. Their texture is a forgettable blend of dry and crumbly and the promise of snickerdoodle flavor falls short. It’s not all bad though! While their flavor isn’t strong, neither is the protein powder aftertaste. But if you’re looking for a protein-packed snack, don’t grab for these with only nine grams of protein per serving.
Clif Builder’s Protein
Peanut butter enthusiasts, we’ve found the protein bar for you. This delicious protein snack wavers on the cusp of candy bar territory with its hearty peanut butter center layered in a creamy coating that was neither too thin or too thick. The flavor was outstanding, leaving no artificial aftertaste or an overly processed protein bite. We’d recommend saving this bar for when you need some serious refueling because at 270 calories, this isn’t for the casual snacker. It also swings high on sugar with 22 grams, the highest by far in our lot. All that aside, if taste and sustenance are your highest priorities, look no further than the Clif Builder’s Protein.
The Complete Cookie
Can a cookie make for a good protein bar alternative? Turns out the answer is yes! If you’re expecting a traditional cookie, let us stop you right there. These aren’t your mama’s chocolate chip cookies—but they’re a close relative. They have a surprisingly enjoyable bite and texture with the snickerdoodle cookie reminiscent of a cozy fall-flavored treat. The cookie is rounded out with a warm dusting of cinnamon sugar that gives the cookies a “homemade” nod. The flavor is done well, albeit faint—which is why we’ve given the Complete Cookie four stars for taste. With only eight grams of protein, don’t expect this protein cookie to fill you up completely—but you can count on curbing your hunger in a snap!
The moment you unwrap a Quest bar, you’re immediately hit with an unnatural smell that can only serve as a flavor foreshadow of what’s to come. Upon taking a bite, the bar does itself no favors with its chalky texture and a chemical, protein powder taste. While most protein bars attempt to keep sugar counts low, the Quest bar does so unapologetically with a very artificially sweetened flavor. Other flavors may taste more authentic, but the Cookies & Cream variety left little to be desired. We recommend skipping this bar, altogether.
Munk Pack Protein Cookie
This is a cookie. If Munk Pack wants to tell us it’s a protein cookie, that’s fine, but we are here to tell you this is a cookie. Soft-baked and loaded with chocolate chips and chopped peanuts, we were shocked at how well this protein snack resembled a typical cookie. But despite the homemade texture, it wasn’t entirely a home run. The protein powder notes are pronounced and while it’s full of yummy additions, it still lacks flavor. It’s also a heavy snack at 360 calories, but with 18 grams of protein—it can be a great option for a quick pick-me-up when you don’t have time to sit down for a meal.
Overall, the Clif Protein Builder’s bar far-exceeded our expectations and hit all the right notes with the Pure Protein bar coming in close at number two. What’s your favorite protein bar? Do you agree with our taste test? Sound off in the comments, below!