25 Healthy Protein Snacks That Actually Taste Good
Not all snacks are created equal. Some are purely delicious—we’re looking at you, candy jar—while some are much more utilitarian, like that handful of raw almonds we shovel into our mouths to narrowly avoid a 3 p.m. crash. The ideal snack situation? A healthy balance of fiber and filling protein, with a hint of fat and carbohydrates for energy. Actually, make that a hefty dose of protein: This nutrient is essential to keep you satisfied until your next meal, which is what snacks are all about. Behold, 25 heathy protein snacks that will keep your hunger at bay…until dinnertime.
Hummus is packed to the brim with protein—approximately three grams for every two tablespoons—so get dipping. And it’s not just any protein. Chickpeas are high in lysine and tahini is a rich source of the amino acid methionine. Individually, these foods are incomplete proteins, but when you combine them to make hummus, they create a complete protein, which will keep you full for longer. Our go-to store-bought brand is Sabra (the pine nut flavor is *chef’s kiss*), but hummus is also easy enough to make at home with a food processor or blender. Hot tip: Start with spicy avocado hummus and go from there.
2. Cheese and Crackers
Great news: That afternoon cheese board is actually a great snacking option if you’re looking for protein. A one-ounce piece of cheddar cheese provides seven grams of protein and 20 percent of the recommended daily intake of calcium. It’s also low in carbs, if you’re following a ketogenic diet. To keep your cheese board as nutritious as possible, opt for whole-grain crackers and try (try!) not to devour the entire thing yourself. Might we suggest adding roasted grapes?
Wait, you’re not stashing hard-boiled eggs in your bag to eat during the morning commute? Just us? You might want to hop on the train, because eggs are a fantastic way to get a ton of protein in a portable, bite-size package. One large egg has six grams of protein and about 80 calories, which means you can eat a few without overdoing it. We like an eight-minute egg that’s still jammy but not messy, topped with a sprinkling of everything bagel seasoning.
Movie theater popcorn has gotten a bad rap, but only because it’s doused in oil, salt and artificial ingredients. But popcorn on its own is actually a healthy snacking choice: Air-popped, a three-cup serving has 100 calories and three grams of protein. Jazz it up with a seasoning of your choice, like cayenne, garlic powder, hot sauce or hot honey (trust us, try it). If you wanted to drizzle on a little butter, we wouldn’t tell.
5. Energy Bites
Call ’em energy bites or protein balls, either way they’re as delicious as they are good for you. Usually made with a mix of nuts, seeds, nut butter, oats and protein powder, these no-bake treats are easy to make and great to keep in your fridge for hangry emergencies. Want to try your hand at making them at home? This recipe for no-bake chocolate pistachio protein balls from food blog Cotter Crunch is a delicious place to start.
6. Greek Yogurt
Fun fact: Greek yogurt actually has more protein and less sugar per serving that regular yogurt, even though it’s made from the same ingredients. That’s because the liquid is strained out, leaving behind protein-rich (and impossibly creamy) treat. That equates to a more filling snack than regular yogurt alone, according to one University of Missouri study. A one-cup serving of 2 percent Greek yogurt has about 160 calories and 23 grams of protein per serving, not to mention 25 percent of the recommended daily intake of calcium. You’ll find a container of Fage 2-percent Plain Greek yogurt in our fridge at all times. Top it with fresh berries, nuts or seeds to up the ante (or serve it with apple slices and honey for dipping).
7. Homemade Granola
Oats are a surprisingly good source of protein, at six grams per half-cup serving. But we wouldn’t recommend eating dry oats out of the canister, so turn them into granola. This cocoa peanut butter granola recipe has the added benefit of peanut butter, so it offers nine grams of protein per serving. We know what we’ll be snacking on tomorrow.
Edamame are basically whole, immature soybeans, and soy equals major protein. A one-cup serving of cooked edamame provides 17 grams of protein, so it’s a simple, filling energy boost. Buy it in freeze-dried form for a convenient, on-the-go option or stock your freezer with a few bags of frozen edamame for steaming, sautéing and roasting. Pass the soy sauce, please.
9. Roasted Chickpeas
Sure, you could eat plain chickpeas straight out of a can…or you could roast them with olive oil, salt and pepper for a jazzed up, protein-rich snack that’s crispy and crunchy in all the right ways. Chickpeas have 19 grams of protein per 100 grams and you probably already have a can in your pantry. To roast them, rinse, drain and dry a can of chickpeas, then toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and any seasonings you like and roast in a 375°F oven until golden and crisp. Voilà, snack time is now.
10. Peanut Butter
Nope, peanut butter is definitely not just for sandwiches. A spoonful of peanut butter is one of our go-tos when we need something to eat and we need it fast. Whether you choose a natural version, a crunchy option or, our personal favorite, Creamy Jif, peanut butter packs a hefty seven grams of protein for every two-tablespoon serving. Pair it with whole-wheat crackers, apple slices or a banana for a carbohydrate boost, or add a spoonful to a smoothie for a creamy treat. Keep a jar in your work desk or pantry (or both) so you always have a snack on hand.
11. Cottage Cheese
Nope, it’s not just a diet food. Cottage cheese has so much protein, guys! It’s also delicious with just a bit of freshly ground black pepper. Depending on the brand, a half-cup serving of cottage cheese has about 12 grams of protein and just 110 calories. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.
12. Canned Tuna
Don’t reserve that canned tuna for lunchtime melts. It’s also a quick protein-rich nosh, coming in at 20 grams of protein per three-ounce serving. And you don’t have to eat it straight of the can. Dress it up with a little mustard or mayonnaise, crack some fresh black pepper and use it as a topper for crackers or toast.
13. Tinned fish
If you don’t have a tin of sardines tucked away in your pantry, it’s time to stock up. Sardines, anchovies and other tinned fish and seafood are an excellent source of protein, with 20 grams per three-ounce serving. Not sold yet? They’re tasty on crackers and toast, drizzled with olive oil or doused in hot sauce. Buy a tin of Matiz sardines and thank us later.
14. A Handful of Almonds
Nuts in general are an excellent source of protein, but almonds are especially so, clocking in at six grams per one ounce serving. And when you consider the fiber content (four grams per serving) and the healthy fats in almonds, you’ve got a recipe for a filling, heart-healthy protein treat. Luckily, there’s a huge variety in the grocery store aisle, from raw to wasabi flavored. We usually stick with the classic lightly salted, roasted almond. (What can we say? We’re purists.) The only caveat? Almonds (and all nuts, for that matter) are pretty calorie-dense, so watch your portions. BTW, “a handful” amounts to about 20 almonds.
15. String Cheese
This childhood favorite happens to be a smart snack, if you’re in need of protein on-the-go. One cheese stick provides six grams of protein and only one gram of carbs, making it another good option for keto-dieters. Any brand or flavor will do, but we’re partial to the always classic mozzarella.
16. Peanut Butter Crackers
There’s no shame in stashing a few packages of peanut butter crackers in your desk for hangry afternoons, especially considering they can contain around four grams of protein per serving. Even better, make your own with whole-grain crackers and your trusty jar of peanut butter. You’ve got one of those, right?
17. Trail Mix
Think of trail mix as having all the benefits of nuts plus some fun extras, like dried fruit and coconut flakes. You can make your own at home or choose one at the grocery store but try to seek out a trail mix that has around 8 grams of protein per serving for the most filling snack. We’d be lying if we said Target Monster Trail Mix wasn’t our favorite, but it also has 17 grams of sugar—oops. The ideal trail mix is heavy on the nuts and light on the peanut butter chips.
18. Fruit and Nut Bars
If granola and trail mix had a delicious baby, this would be it, without the messiness, of course. Fruit and nut bars are a convenient snack, and most have about six grams of protein per bar. We like KIND bars because they have minimal sugar (just five grams per bar) and come in a wide variety of flavors, like dark chocolate sea salt and blueberry vanilla.
19. Turkey Rollups
If you have lunchmeat in your fridge, put it to good use and make a few quick turkey rollups. This more of an art than a science, and you can fill them with whatever you like (cheese, veggies, more cheese). One ounce of turkey has eight grams of protein. Go to town.
Does it come as a surprise that oatmeal has a fair amount of protein? Yep, even though it’s a grain, one cup of cooked oatmeal contains six grams of protein (and only 150 calories), making it a healthy snack that will stick to your ribs. Top it with nuts, seeds or peanut butter for an extra protein boost. Our recipe for overnight oats with peanut butter and banana makes a convenient breakfast and an even better snack.
21. Chicken Salad
We give you full permission to turn a lunchtime staple into a snack. Why? Because it’s a protein goldmine. One serving of our recipe for Greek yogurt chicken salad has seven grams of protein and 113 calories. It’s light yet filling, which is exactly what we need in an afternoon pick-me-up.
22. Cheese Snacks
What the heck is a cheese snack, you ask? Good question. There’s an entire category of munchables on the market that’s made of dehydrated cheese, so it’s crispy like a cracker and cheesy like, well, cheese. One such example? Whisps Cheddar Cheese Crisps, which provide nine grams of protein per serving and are made of just one ingredient: cheddar cheese.
Backpackers and hikers are onto something: Jerky is a healthy, protein-rich snack, largely because it’s made of meat (or fish or mushrooms, if you’re into that kind of thing). A one ounce serving of beef jerky packs a whopping 12 grams of protein. If you choose store-bought beef jerky or turkey jerky, try to find the least processed option. Or opt to make your own, if you have a dehydrator on hand.
24. Nut Butter
If you want the protein content of peanut butter but are allergic to peanuts (or just don’t like the taste), plenty of other nut butters offer similar nutritional content and versatility without the peanuts. Even better, many nut butters are minimally processed without mystery ingredients. Justin’s Almond Butter, for example, is made with just dry roasted almonds and oil, and has six grams of protein per 32-gram serving. Almond butter and jelly sandwich, anyone?
25. Protein Bars
With a name like “protein bar,” it’s safe to say that these bars have…plenty of protein. But not all protein bars are worth relying on, as some way too much sugar. The healthiest, most filling options have at least eight grams of protein, no more than 14 grams of sugar and at least 3 grams of fiber. A few bars that fit the bill include RXBAR, Simply Protein and Think! High-Protein Bars.