Unlike cleaning your bathroom or doing a load of laundry, adding your protein powder to your diet doesn’t have to be a chore. Whether you want to take protein powder to manage your weight or gain lean muscle, there are tons of tasty, easy recipes you can use to get excited about your powder! It only takes a few basic ingredients, like fruit, milk, seeds, or cocoa to create the smoothie or shake of your dreams. We’ve put together a list of our favorite ones to help you get started.
But before we get into it, let’s tackle the ultimate debate: smoothie or shake? Though these two words are often used interchangeably, their bases are completely different.
A smoothie has a fruit-base, and does not contain any milk or yogurt, making it an ideal choice for those who follow a vegan or dairy-free diet.
A shake, while similar to a smoothie in texture, generally contains dairy, whether in the form of milk, yogurt or ice cream. In addition to thickening the beverage, dairy also adds a little calcium, vitamins and protein to the mix.
With this in mind, we tried as many shakes and smoothies as we could. Here are ten of our favorites for you to test out for yourself.
Combine: 1 fairly ripe banana, preferably cold 2 tbsp plain protein powder (the original chef uses hemp) 2 tbsp ground flaxseed 2-3 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (not alkalized “Dutch process”) to taste –– use more if your banana is very ripe 1 heaping tbsp almond or peanut butter, salted or unsalted 1/2 cup almond milk Maple syrup to taste (optional)
Why we love it: This chocolate protein shake sets itself apart with the addition of flaxseeds, which are full of additional beneficial nutrients. Using an unflavored protein powder base allows you to adjust how chocolate-y you want your shake to be, too.
Combine: 1 cup pineapple, frozen 1/2 cup raspberries 1 cup coconut milk, unsweetened 1 scoop vanilla protein powder 1/2 cup ice 1/2 tsp stevia (optional)
Why we love it: The combination of pineapple, raspberry and coconut milk gives this shake a delicious tropical flavor. (Ours was naturally sweet and we skipped the stevia!)
Combine: 3/4 cup + 1-2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk (begin with the 3/4 cup, then slowly adding in a little more to achieve desired consistency) 1 serving of vanilla or chocolate protein powder 2 tbsp nutritional yeast 2 tbsp natural peanut butter 1 medium sized banana, frozen Optional additions: 1/2 tsp turmeric, ice cubes, pinch of sea salt
Why we love it: This recipe had us at nutritional yeast and turmeric. It’s a delicious and unique spin on the peanut butter cup flavor.
Combine: 2 cups kale 1 banana 2 tbsp hemp seeds 2 tbsp peanut butter 2/3 cup water 2 cups ice 1 cup almond or cashew milk 1 tbsp cacao powder 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
Why we love it: The combination of the kale and hemp seeds sets this peanut butter shake apart, as both balance out the heavy peanut flavor. This is an excellent shake to take after workout.
Combine: 1 1/2 cups coconut milk 1 cup fresh spinach 1 scoop vanilla protein powder 1 1/2 cups mango, diced and frozen 1 1/2 cups pineapple, diced and frozen
Why we love it: Consider this vegan smoothie your personal island vacation. It’ll transport you to tropical bliss in the dead of winter, and the added spinach can help to keep you full. Feel free to swap out the vanilla protein for unflavored too!
Combine: 1/4 cup nondairy milk of your choosing 1 cup cold water 1/2 ripe avocado 1/2 cup wild blueberries, frozen 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
Why we love it: Avocado and blueberries may seem like a strange combo, but they come together perfectly in this vegan shake. Even though the recipe calls for wild blueberries, we know it can be hard to get those, so don’t let that discourage you: it tastes just as good with regular ones.
Combine: 1/3 cup oats 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/2 container greek yogurt 1/3 scoop Cellucor Cinnamon Swirl protein powder 2 tbsp cocoa powder 1/3 cup almond milk 1/2 of 1 banana, frozen 5 ice cubes
Why we love this one: Adding oats into this recipe makes it a thicker, heavier shake that keeps you feeling full longer. Though the original recipe does call for a specific cinnamon flavor of protein powder, don’t worry if you have a different kind: feel free to substitute with an unflavored protein powder and add cinnamon to taste (which is what we did!).
Combine: 1/2 ripe banana 1 scoop no sugar added vanilla protein powder 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk 1/2 cup cold or room temprature brewed coffee 1 1/2 cups ice 1-3 drops of stevia extract (optional) Optional toppings: cacao nibs
Why we love it: If you’re someone who has at least three beverages on their desk at a time (coffee and water, and then a shake/smoothie/juice on the side) this one helps you narrow it down! We love the caffeine boost we get with this one, so we’re able to get our caffeine and protein at the same time.
Combine: 1 cup pineapple chunks, frozen 6 oz unsweetened coconut milk 1/2 tsp coconut extract 1 scoop vanilla protein powder 1/2 banana, frozen (optional)
Why we love it: These five easy ingredients will have you feeling like Summer came early this year. Simple and healthy, this one is a quick, delicious shake to make.
Combine: 1 banana 1/2 cup butternut squash puree 1 cup spinach 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk 1/4 cup protein powder 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1 pinch nutmeg
Why we love it: Honestly, what can’t butternut squash do? For ravioli, as a pizza topping, or in this case, a vegan protein shake base, butternut squash is a delicious and unique addition that works perfectly here with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Combine: 1 scoop vanilla protein powder 1 tsp vanilla 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 1 tsp orange zest 1-2 cups of ice
Why we love it: A variation on the theme of creamsicle, this one sticks to two essential flavors: orange and vanilla. A go-to for anyone who loves that classic taste.
Whether you’re craving a pie, morning pastry, cup of coffee or just want a healthy and filling shake, any of these recipes can help you to achieve your protein powder goals. And the best part is that any of these recipes can be modified to make any combination of flavors that you want. Happy blending!