Whether you're fueling up before hitting the gym or taking a midday snack break to avoid the 3 p.m. lull, high-protein snacks are the tastiest way to keep on going. These snacks that pack in plenty of protein along with other nutrients are the perfect way to fill up, and give us longer-lasting energy than carb-heavy options.
And if you think you're limited to boring hard-boiled eggs, think again. These 27 delicious, healthy, and easy options have even more protein than an egg (one large contains about 6 grams).
1. Nut Butter Boat
Any vehicle for nut butter is perfection in our book. Try loading a few celery sticks with a serving of any nut butter (like almond, cashew, walnut) topped with a few whole almonds or raisins. If you’re not a fan of celery, try scooping out the middle of an apple and filling it with your nut butter of choice.
2 tbsp natural nut butter with 1 cup apple or celery slices: 8.3 grams protein
3. Mixed Nuts or Trail Mix
Mixed nuts provide an easy way to get a delicious dose of protein in a convenient, shelf-stable package. Try a mixed bunch for variety and a combo with dried fruit for some added sweetness. The best bang for your protein buck? Almonds and pistachios. They're higher in protein than their nutty peers.
1 tbsp each almonds, pistachio nuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts, raisins, and chocolate chips: 6.5 grams protein
4. Pumpkin Seeds
Those orange gourds aren’t just for carving. Pumpkin insides, scooped out to make room for spooky faces, can actually make a healthy little snack full of fiber and immunity-protecting zinc once they’re washed, dried, and nicely roasted.
2/3 cup pumpkin seeds, rinsed and coated with 1 tsp curry powder and a pinch of salt, roasted at 300 degrees for 20 minutes: 8 grams protein
5. Deli Rollups
Consider it a sandwich without the bread! This Paleo-friendly savory snack packs in almost double the protein of a hardboiled egg, and sneaks in a few vegetables to boot! Remember to stick to a lower-salt variety of meat to keep those blood pressure-spiking sodium levels in check.
2 slices deli turkey rolled up with 1 slice cheese and 1 slice tomato: 11.9 grams protein
6. Chunky Monkey Shake
If protein powder is just not your thing, there are plenty of alternatives to creating a high-protein beverage, including this banana-y pick-me-up, bulked up with chocolate milk and peanut butter, which provides both healthy fat and cardiovascular benefits in addition to protein.1 It’s time to get funky, monkey!
1 medium banana, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, and 1 cup of low fat chocolate milk blended with 1 cup of ice: 15 grams protein
- Health Benefits of Nut Consumption. Ros, Emilio. Nutrients. 2010 Jul; 2(7): 652–682.
7. Mini Bean-and-Cheese Quesadilla
It might take an extra minute to prep, but combining these two high-protein treats is totally worth it, especially when the result boasts both fiber and calcium too. Cook it in a dry nonstick pan until the cheese is melted and tortilla is lightly browned, then wrap it in foil and stick in a plastic baggie for easy transport.
1/2 cup black beans, 1 tablespoon salsa, and 1 slice cheddar cheese in a small whole wheat tortilla: 17.9 grams protein
8. Shake it Up
While getting your protein from whole food sources is ideal, an occasional dip into the protein powder canister is also convenient when your protein intake is low, and when it comes to protein shakes, the combinations are endless! Pour yours into a portable tumbler for a sippable snack on the go.
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder, 1 cup orange juice, and 1 cup ice blended until smooth. (Thanks @JCDFitness!): 18 to 32 grams of protein, depending on brand.
9. One Kind Plus Bar
We're not huge supporters of prepackaged bars, but we make an exception for KIND Plus bars thanks to their all-nut base. When you’re really in a pinch but are reaching “hangry” status, keep one of these stashed in your bag as a quick, nutritious way to quell that grumbling tummy.
1 Almond Walnut Macadamia with Peanuts KIND Plus Bar: 10 grams protein
10. Edamame Poppers
The only thing more fun than how much protein you can get from a serving of edamame is getting to eat these little beans out of their bright green pods. Buy them fresh and steam, or use the pre-cooked frozen variety and briefly microwave to defrost before chowing down.
1 cup edamame pods sprinkled with sea salt: 15 grams protein
11. Hummus Dippers
How’s this for an unconventional use of a travel coffee mug? Put a few dollops of your favorite hummus in the bottom of the container, stick a handful of vegetable sticks (carrots, celery, and snow peas are a great mix) vertically in the hummus, screw on the top, and throw in a purse or gym bag for an easy, on-the-go, super-healthy snack.
1/3 cup hummus with 1/2 cup mixed vegetable sticks: 6.7 grams protein
12. Portable Cheese Platter
Who doesn't love a classy cheese plate? Make yourself a mini version (or fill a Tupperware box) with a cheese stick along with some whole-grain crackers for crunchy carb action, and a few almonds for an all-around protein, healthy fat, and fiber upgrade.
1 stick 2-percent string cheese with 3 whole-wheat crackers and 10 almonds: 9.6 grams protein
13. Greek Yogurt and Granola
Picture sitting on a Greek isle with this snack in hand. Along with a higher level of protein than regular yogurt, the Greek stuff provides plenty of calcium and probiotics to fight inflammation. Now soak in that (imaginary) view and enjoy!
1 single-serving container yogurt with 2 tbsp granola: 16 grams protein
14. Mini PB&J
Sometimes, it’s best to stick to the classics. Downsize this lunch box favorite to make it perfect for snack time—just make sure you use all-natural peanut (or almond!) butter and a fruit-juice sweetened jelly to avoid trans fats and extra sugars.
1 slice whole-wheat bread with 1 tbsp natural peanut butter and 1 tsp all-fruit jelly: 9 grams protein
15. Perfect Parfait
In a transportable container, alternate layers of nonfat Greek yogurt with a handful of fruit (either fresh or frozen works great!). Then top with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkling of toasted oats to add crunch to this protein- and probiotic-packed treat.
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt with 2 tablespoons oats and 2 tablespoons berries: 12.9 grams protein
16. Chocolate Milk
No, we're not going back to preschool. But chocolate milk is actually a great source of high-quality protein (especially post-workout). Try keeping a single-serving, shelf-stable box in your gym bag or backpack for snack attack emergencies—just try to find one that’s also low in sugar!
1 cup one-percent, reduced sugar chocolate milk: 9 grams protein
17. Gobble, Gobble
It can be Thanksgiving any time of year with this festive favorite. This comforting combination of deli meat, cheese, veggies, and dried cranberries includes a bit of every food group, and the protein-packed final product is guaranteed to hold you over for a good few hours!
One piece whole-grain bread, sliced lengthwise, topped with 2 slices roasted turkey, 1 slice Swiss cheese, 1 lettuce leaf, 1 slice tomato, 1 teaspoon mustard, and 1 teaspoon dried cranberries: 20.4 grams protein
18. Tuna and Crackers
Along with protein, canned tuna adds some vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids to your mid-afternoon munchies.1 Scooped up with a few whole wheat crackers, it’s a mini-meal that’s both simple and satisfying.
1 single serving (3-ounce) pack of wild albacore tuna salad (try the Starkist brand) plus 11 Wheat Thin crackers: 12 grams protein
- Frequent Canned Food Use is Positively Associated with Nutrient-Dense Food Group Consumption and Higher Nutrient Intakes in US Children and Adults. Comerford, Kevin. Nutrients. 2015 Jul; 7(7): 5586–5600.
19. Toasted Quinoa
Try this unconventional way to enjoy the gluten-free superfood: lightly sweetened, and toasted to crunchy perfection. Pack it in a container on top of yogurt, or like we tend to do with our favorite granola, eat it by the handful!
1/3 cup quinoa mixed with ½ tbsp ground flax, 1 tbsp shredded coconut, and 1 tbsp maple syrup, toasted at 425 degrees for 10 minutes: 9.4 grams protein
20. Basic Burrito
When the mid-afternoon slump calls for something spicy to wake you up, try this bite-sized flavor fiesta. The bulk of the protein comes from the black beans and cheddar, while a spoonful of salsa adds a small but powerful dose of cancer-fighting lycopene. If you want to make it vegan but equally protein-rich, just replace the cheese with extra beans.
1 small whole wheat tortilla, 2 tbsp mashed black beans, 2 tbsp shredded cheddar, 1 tbsp salsa: 8.4 grams protein
21. Grape-and-Cheese Sticks
Dice a half-inch thick slice of cheddar cheese into squares (you should end up with about 6 small pieces), and alternate the cubes with grapes onto toothpicks. The sweet and savory contrast of the cheese and fruit is super sophisticated (and delicious), and a little bit goes a long way to fit your protein needs.
1 ounce cheddar cheese with 6 grapes: 7.1 grams protein
22. Protein Bites
No baking required, only four ingredients, portable, and tastes like dessert? This is our kind of quick-fix treat! Nut butter acts as the binder as well as the source of most of the protein in this recipe, while oats and dark chocolate chips give it its cookie-like quality while adding both fiber and antioxidants.
1 1/2 tbsp nut butter, 3 tbsp oats, 1/2 tbsp honey, 1/2 tbsp dark chocolate chips, rolled into balls: 8 grams protein
23. “Cheesy” Popcorn
When it’s not doused in butter and artificial flavorings, popcorn can be a super healthy snack, thanks to being a fiber-rich, satiating whole grain. Ratchet up its protein content by dusting the kernels with nutritional yeast, the vegan, B vitamin-packed answer to parmesan cheese.
3 cups air-popped popcorn coated with 2 tbsp nutritional yeast and a sprinkle of salt: 8.9 grams protein
24. Healthier Puppy Chow for One
Yup, it exists! This version of the cavity-inducing sweet snack cuts down considerably on the sugar by replacing the powdered stuff with honey and adding protein powder to give it the staying power that the original lacks. While it’s still not exactly health food, the single portion yield is great example of moderation without deprivation.
3/4 cup original Chex cereal coated with a melted mixture of 1/2 tbsp honey, 1 1/2 tbsp peanut butter, 1 1/2 tbsp dark chocolate chips and dusted with 1/2 tbsp vanilla protein power: 10 grams protein
25. “Cheesy” Kale Chips
The ultimate in salty cravings, potato chips are one of the easiest snacks to overdo it on (seriously, who eats just one serving at a time?!). Next time you need a big pile of something crunchy on the go, swap out the store-bought spuds for a baked bunch of homemade kale chips instead. While just as crisp as regular chips, this two-cup serving comes with the added benefits of giving you over 40 percent of your daily value of vitamin A and C, plus a hefty dose of protein from the nutritional yeast topping.
2 cups kale leaves coated with 1 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, baked at 325 degrees for 15 minutes: 9 grams protein
26. Roasted Chickpeas
There’s so much more to chickpeas than hummus, and one of the tastiest ways to enjoy these cholesterol-lowering beans is also the simplest. Roast them with some basic seasonings for an extra crunchy, nutty bite, and carry them in a ziplock or small container to pop a handful when you feel hunger coming on.
3/4 cup chickpeas roasted for 20 to 30 minutes with 1 tablespoon each olive oil, salt, and cayenne pepper: 9 grams protein
27. Homemade Chia Pod
This one requires some advance planning since it needs to be chilled for at least 4 hours, but we promise the effort is minimal and the wait is well worth it. Soak the chia seeds in non-dairy milk right in a portable container so that all you have to do is grab and go for a snack that’ll give you more than 30 percent of your daily value for calcium, iron, and magnesium.
1/4 cup chia seeds, 1 cup almond milk, 1/2 tbsp honey: 7 grams protein
Originally published June 2012. Updated January 2016.