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Cheap & easy vegan protein bars, made with wholesome natural ingredients and no protein powder! They are gluten-free, oil-free, and can be varied in countless ways.

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No matter how many years it’s been since leaving school, late summer will always feel like the start of new year. I imagine I will still be tidying my desk, sharpening some fresh pencils (I love that smell!), and perusing new lunch boxes when I’m ninety, and that is just fine with me.

So, regardless of whether you, or anyone else in your household is in back-to-school mode, ’tis the season (in magazines, cookbooks, and food blogs–mine included) to consider shaking up the packed lunch routine. Cheers!

I’ve posted a number of fresh, healthy vegetable spreads recently, all of which are terrific for crafting vegetable-centric sandwiches or packed dip/vegetable/cracker combinations.

But today, it is a cheap and easy protein bar recipe that has me celebrating the new school year.

These super-filling protein bars are dense and delectable–definitely worthy of breakfast or fitness snack on the go.

Recipe Benefits

  • High in protein (9.4 grams of protein–this will vary slightly depending on which nuts/seeds you choose)
  • High in fiber
  • Vegan (egg-free, dairy-free)
  • Gluten-free
  • Oil-free
  • A good source of B6 vitamins

B6 is especially beneficial for a back-to-school bar: it is needed for proper brain development and function and also helps the body make melatonin, which is important in helping regulate your internal clock (rise and shine, everyone!).

Ingredients

The exact amounts of each ingredient are indicated in the recipe card at the end of the post.

These bars live up to their cheap and easy moniker when it comes to ingredients. No expensive protein powder or other pricey additives, just simple options for any grocery store. Here is what you will need:

  • Canned chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)
  • Peanut butter, or any nut butter or seed butter you prefer.
  • maple syrup,
  • Nondairy milk (such as almond milk, oat milk, or cashew milk)
  • Rolled oats (certified gluten-free, as needed)
  • Assorted chopped nuts or seeds
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salt (as desired)

How to Make Protein Bars without Protein Powder

Note that the complete directions are also in the recipe card below.

Step One: Preheat Oven and Prepare Pan

Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line a 9-inch (22.5 cm) square baking pan with parchment paper. If you are ok with adding a small amount of oil to the recipe, you can choose to spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray, or lightly grease it with the oil of your choice.

In a food processor or blender, process the chickpeas, milk, bananas, peanut butter, maple syrup and vanilla until blended and completely smooth. Transfer mixture into a large bowl.Add the oats and nuts to the bowl, stirring until completely blended. Scrape batter to prepared pan, smoothing the top.Bake bars in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes until deep golden brown and edges appear somewhat crispy. Place on a cooling rack and cool completely. Remove from pan and cut into 16 equal bars or squares.

Step Two: Blend the Liquid Ingredients

In a food processor or blender, process the drained and rinsed canned chickpeas, plant based milk, peeled bananas, peanut butter, maple syrup and vanilla until blended and completely smooth.

Step Three: Add the Oats and Nuts/Seeds

Transfer the liquid mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the oats and nuts to the bowl, stirring until completely blended. Scrape the batter to prepared pan, smoothing the top.

Step Four: Bake the Protein Bars

Bake bars in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes until deep golden brown and edges appear somewhat crispy.

Step Five: Cool the Protein Bars

Place on a cooling rack and cool completely. Remove from pan and cut into 16 equal bars or squares.

Step Six: Cut into Bars

Cut into bars or squares, and you are done! You can add some chopped dried fruit or chocolate chips if you like, or add about a teaspoon of your favorite spice. The possibilities for variation are vast.

How to Store Homemade Protein Bars

Store the cooled, cut bars in an airtight container at room temperature for five days, the refrigerator for two weeks, or the freezer for up to three months.

Option: Make Nut-Free Protein Bars

You can keep these 100% nut free if your child’s school has school-wide nut restrictions: use sunflower seed butter or tahini in place of the peanut butter and all seeds (e.g., pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, hemp hearts).

Enjoy!

Cheap & Easy Vegan Protein Bars (no powders!)

Cheap & Easy Vegan Protein Bars (no powders!)

Yield: 16 bars
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Cheap & easy vegan protein bars, made with natural ingredients and no protein powder! They are frugal, gluten-free, & oil-free, too.

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15-oz/425 g) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2/3 cup (150 mL) almond milk (or nondairy/dairy milk of choice)
  • 2 medium-large, very ripe bananas (peeled)
  • 2/3 cup (165 g) peanut butter (or nut/seed butter of choice)
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla extract
  • 4 cups (400 g) old-fashioned rolled oats (certified GF, as needed)
  • 1 cup (125 g) coarsely chopped, toasted nuts or seeds (use any combination you like!)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Grease, spray or line a 9-inch (22.5 cm) square baking pan.
  2. In a food processor or blender, process the chickpeas, milk, bananas, peanut butter, maple syrup and vanilla until blended and completely smooth. Transfer mixture into a large bowl.
  3. Add the oats and nuts to the bowl, stirring until completely blended. Scrape batter to prepared pan, smoothing the top.
  4. Bake bars in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes until deep golden brown and edges appear somewhat crispy. Place on a cooling rack and cool completely. Remove from pan and cut into 16 equal bars or squares.

Notes

Storage: Store bars in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 days, the refrigerator for 2 weeks, or the freezer for 3 months.

Nutrition Information
Yield 16 Serving Size 1 bar
Amount Per Serving Calories 229Total Fat 10.5gSaturated Fat 1.4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0.2mgSodium 218mgCarbohydrates 28.7gFiber 4.7gSugar 6.1gProtein 9.4g

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About Camilla

I'm Camilla, food writer, author, runner, and spin instructor. PowerHungry® is where I share my easy, minimalist, plant-based recipes, designed for living a healthy, delicious, empowered life.

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9 Comments

    1. Hi Lynn,

      Apologies, I do not have a nutritional calculator that determines potassium. You could look up the individual ingredients (amounts of potassium), add up, and divide by number of servings

  1. Is there something I could sub for the chickpeas? I’m allergic to gluten, dairy, egg, nuts, beans, soy, and coconut.

    1. Hi Beth! Can you eat lentils, or is it all legumes? If you can eat lentils, you can use cooked lentils in place of the chickpeas. If not, I would suggest using soaked raw sunflower seeds or pepitas (soak in boiling water for about 15 minutes and then rain).

  2. I absolutely loved these! Everyone in my family did too! I used half PB powder and half regular and it worked out fine. I also just added some protein powder in and I can’t even taste it. (It doesn’t have a good taste…). Thank you for this recipe!

    1. Oh, that is excellent, Charlie! I just ran out of my most recent batch, I think I will follow your lead and add some protein powder to my next batch, too. Cheers!

  3. Hi, I think your recipe looks awesome! I really like not adding powders. But… I need to watch fat. I’m wondering, can I replace PART of the peanut butter in the recipe with PB2 (which is peanut powder which you mix with water to form a paste). What do you think? I’m thinking maybe, 1/3 to 1/2 of it.

    1. Hi Amy! I think that, for this recipe, it would work exceedingly well. I think you could definitely go up to 1/2, but, now you have me curious…I think you could possibly do a complete sub, but you might want to add about a tablespoon of flaxseed meal to the PB2 paste to help everything hold together. I would love to hear how it goes!