Most people think of protein powder as something you shake up with water and chug down after a workout. And while they're great for that, there are so many other ways to use it. Protein helps build muscle and keeps you satiated, and protein powder is an easy and convenient way to get more of this vital nutrient into your diet. "People are starting to see protein powder as an ingredient like flour or milk," says Angie Seitz, creator of Proteinbuff.com. You can use it to make everything from cheesecake and cookies to pizza crust and savory dips. So head to the kitchen and try these 14 creative recipes made with protein powder.
1. Hummus and Other Dips
For most recipes with protein powder, unflavored varieties are typically best. While chocolate or strawberry may be better options for mixing with just water, you want to be able to control both the flavor and the sugar content when used in a recipe. To amp up hummus, add about one scoop of plain protein powder for every can of chickpeas in your recipe. Try this in other savory dips too.
2. Boosted Bean Burgers
Another pro tip: Look for a powder with as few ingredients as possible. "A lot of companies add gums and emulsifiers to their protein powders to ensure that they can easily be turned into a smooth drink by shaking. When it comes to cooking, though, those ingredients can make your recipes turn out gummy and rubbery," explains Anna Sward, founder of ProteinPow.com and author of "The Ultimate Protein Powder Cookbook." Give an extra protein boost to bean burgers by adding anywhere from a quarter-cup to a half-cup of protein powder for every can of beans your recipe calls for.
3. Protein Pizza Crust
Process one cup of oats, a quarter-cup of protein powder (pea is great), one egg and a half-cup of liquid egg whites, says Sward. Cook the batter in a skillet like a pancake. Once the crust is ready, add your favorite toppings and place under the broiler until your cheese is nice and gooey.
4. Single-Serving Cheesecake
In a bowl, beat one package of cream cheese until smooth. Add eight ounces of plain Greek yogurt, one egg, two-and-a-half scoops of whey protein powder, one-and-a-half tablespoons of lemon juice, one tablespoon of lemon zest and sweetener (such as sugar or stevia) to taste. Seitz recommends using gingersnaps as the crust for this recipe: Place eight in a lined muffin tin and top with cheesecake mixture. Bake 30 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool before serving.
5. Soups That Satisfy
Add up to a scoop of unflavored protein powder to the broth, milk or other liquid you're going to use. To eliminate clumps, blend well with a whisk or in a blender before adding the liquid to your pot. You may also need to add more liquid if you prefer thinner soups, so add half a scoop at a time, adjusting as necessary.
6. Nut Butter Cups
Mix a quarter-cup of peanut or almond butter with two to four tablespoons of protein powder and enough water or milk to reach a dough-like consistency. (If your nut butter is really thin, you may not need any extra liquid.) Melt a third of a cup of dark chocolate chips with one teaspoon of coconut oil in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Pour some chocolate into molds or a mini muffin tin lined with papers. Add a bit of the protein mix on top and smother with more chocolate. Place in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes until set.
7. Super Salad Dressings
Whisk unflavored protein powder into your favorite vinaigrettes or yogurt- or avocado-based salad dressings. Use no more than one scoop for every one-and-a-half total cups of liquid (oil, vinegar, etc). Too much powder will leave you with a gloppy mess on your hands rather than a delicious drizzle for your kale or Caesar salad.
8. Churn-It-Yourself Ice Cream
Mix one cup of cottage cheese, one frozen banana and a half-cup of flavored whey protein powder in a blender. (Sward also adds two tablespoons of freeze-dried berries.) Transfer to a plastic container and place in the freezer for 30 to 50 minutes. Mix it around with a fork, then return to the freezer for an additional 30 to 50 minutes. Stir again before serving.
9. Dairy-Free Ice Cream
Blend one cup of almond or cashew milk, one to two scoops of flavored plant-based protein powder, one tablespoon of cocoa powder and one to two tablespoons of peanut or almond butter. Transfer to a plastic container and set in the freezer for 30 to 50 minutes. Mix it around with a fork, then return to the freezer for an additional 30 to 50 minutes. Mix around one more time before serving.
10. Cookies You Can Feel Good About
"The main way I turn a recipe into a protein powder recipe is to substitute half the flour for unflavored protein powder," Seitz says, who recommends using whey protein. Try it in your favorite cookie recipe and see. Or search online to find cookie recipes for everything from chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin to snickerdoodles and even thin mints!
11. Truffles of All Flavors
Thanks to the many varieties of flavored protein powder, you can make truffles flavored with chocolate, vanilla, cookie dough and more. One of the easiest ways to make these is to mix protein powder and nut butter in a two-to-one ratio in a food processor, adding honey, maple syrup or agave to taste -- plus a dash of milk if necessary to help it all combine nicely.
12. Raw Cookie Dough
No need to worry about salmonella here! In a bowl, mix half a cup of vanilla protein powder, three-quarters of a cup of almond butter, one teaspoon of vanilla and one tablespoon of unsweetened almond milk. Add flour (coconut flour or almond flour adds additional flavor) one tablespoon at a time if it's too runny. Stir in chocolate chips. Form into balls and keep in the fridge. Try not to eat them all at once.
13. Grain-Free Banana Pancakes
Pancakes don't have to put you into a carb coma. Four ingredients are all you need to make a protein-packed breakfast. Blend one banana, two eggs, a quarter-teaspoon of baking powder and one to two scoops of protein powder. Don't be scared to add a pinch of cinnamon for a little something extra. Cook as normal, and then add your favorite toppings.
14. Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Mash one to two scoops of unflavored protein powder into boiled sweet potatoes for a super-satisfying side dish. If needed, add a little extra water to help break up stubborn protein powder clumps. Use Greek yogurt in place of butter and cream for even healthier spuds.
What Do YOU Think?
Do you have any other creative ways to use protein powder? What is your favorite way to use protein powder? Which of these recipes and ideas are you most looking forward to trying? Share your thoughts and recipes in the comments.