It feels like there’s a new protein bar out every week. Gone are the days when you could only get your quick protein from a can of tuna or a flavorless tub of powder. Now, you can eat the equivalent of a Snickers and immediately add 20 grams of protein, vitamins, and minerals to your diet. I like eating a protein bar first thing in the morning to ward off the hunger pangs until lunch. Lunch, by the way, is now taste testing Doritos, cottage cheese, chili, lasagna, and onion rings. My diet is currently a mess. But protein bars add some stability to it, and for that I’m grateful.
For this taste test, we called in Mythical’s Santiago Massa, an avid rock climber and protein bar enthusiast, to help us decide the top seven. When it comes to protein bars, we want a steady balance of agreeable flavor and texture. More specifically, we don’t want that grainy, unpleasant protein powder taste. We want real ingredients, ya’ll. Whether it’s nuts, peanut butter, chocolate, etc.—we want a healthy candy bar. Protein is a factor, but not the deciding factor. Basically, if it carried close to ten grams of protein, we included it.
So what brings the juice and gets you ripped? Check out the list, dawg:
- Elevation Chocolate Peanut Butter High Protein Bars
There’s a toothsome meatiness and soft crunchiness to this protein bar from Aldi that is just a gosh darn delight. The peanut butter is creamy and the salt factor here is completely welcome. There’s none of that weird, powdery, protein aftertaste either. “It’s like a layered candy bar,” said staff writer Jordan Myrick. “It’s like a Rice Krispies treat meets a Reese’s Cup.” The change in texture from crispy to smooth is beautiful. There’s 20 grams of protein in this thing and the real kicker? It’s dipped in chocolate and yet doesn’t feel too sugary. This is a great protein bar/candy bar hybrid, which is exactly what we’re looking for. Elevation makes a bunch of different flavors, too. Check em’ out.
Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart
- Cliff Bar White Chocolate Macadamia Nut
Cliff Bars know how to be delightfully chewy and slightly sweet without overstaying their welcome. The texture of a Cliff Bar is always incredible, and the taste here is outstanding as well. The macadamia nuts are rich and buttery, and the white chocolate is subtle and pleasant. This isn’t too sugary and it’s a great source of carbohydrates. Santiago specifically says he brings Cliff Bars with him on rock climbing trips. It only clocks in at about nine grams of protein, but it does everything it’s supposed to while being totally satisfying and tasty.
Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Walmart
- Nature Valley Salted Caramel Nut Protein Bar
Nature Valley makes great products, period. This protein bar is nutty, salty, and buttery. “It’s like eating crunchy peanut butter,” said Jordan. The balance in texture is just phenomenal, as it oscillates between crunchy and chewy seamlessly. Everything about this protein bar just sings. It’s meaty, delicious, and guaranteed to make a dent in your hunger pangs. It easily could have been number one based on flavor and texture alone. The top three contestants are tight. Buy Nature Valley, and you won’t be disappointed.
Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart
- Power Crunch French Vanilla
This is a refreshingly delicious wafer bar that packs a protein punch. The wafer is light, thin, and airy instead of the normally condensed, chewy protein bar. The vanilla is really pronounced here, too. This feels like a fancy wafer wrapped chocolate that you’d find in your Grandma’s Jar™—if your grandma was super into powerlifting. And hey, French vanilla creme is written in cursive on the package. That’s impressive. I completely forgot how to write in cursive and sometimes I can barely even read it. While the taste of this protein bar divided the room, Santiago and I loved it. It has 14 grams of protein and it’s a delicious vanilla wafer. Give it a shot.
Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Target
- Luna Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
This one feels like you’re straight up biting into a bar made of entirely cookie dough. We tasted a lot of cookie dough protein bars (what an oddly popular pairing, by the way. Nobody gets ripped on cookie dough, do they?), but this one is best. It’s chewy, dipped in chocolate, and filled with chocolate chips. A few of our testers cited the flavors as being “mapley” and “like pancake syrup.” The bottom line here is that its sugary and the texture is doughy and pleasant. Both good selling points.
Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart
- Kind Dark Chocolate Nut Protein Bar
The Kind bar is almost like a fancier PayDay candy bar. It’s chock full of nuts and bitterly sweet dark chocolate, yet it’s chewy and has an outstanding depth of flavor. Sweet and salty usually scores high points here at Sporked, and this Kind bar is no exception. It’s a tad basic, but hey, that’s a good thing for a protein bar. They’re supposed to be utilitarian. The texture is phenomenal.
Sarah Demonteverde / Amazon
- RXBAR Maple Sea Salt
Alright, so, nobody at Sporked likes RXBARs except me. I’m not even sure if I like the taste of them or if I strictly like their function. They are, in a sense, futuristic/apocalyptic food. The package lists their ingredients in such a way that it feels like they’re being rationed for space travel. The sleek design of each bar reeks of tech bro optimization and iPhone presentation nonsense, and yet I still like them. Sometimes, I just want something healthy that’s not chocolate. RXBARs give me that. I have developed an affinity for the Maple Sea Salt flavor, which is chewy, and has a slightly salty, sweet, and nutty flavor. It’s got pecans, cashews, and dates. Again, I can’t stress enough that nobody here likes these but me. To me, they’re a healthier, more realistic protein bar. I know there’s RX fans out there; try the Maple Sea Salt if you haven’t yet.
Sarah Demonteverde / Walmart
Best of the Best
Best Cliff Bar
Best Cookie Dough
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