These Vanilla Protein Balls are so poppable and delicious! With a texture and taste reminiscent of cookie dough, these not-too-sweet protein balls are packed with nutrient-dense ingredients. Two protein bites deliver 6 grams of protein (yet only 8 grams of sugar!)
Table of Contents
- The Story Behind the Recipe
- Protein Ball Recipe without Protein Powder
- Vanilla Protein Ball Ingredients
- How to Make Date Protein Balls
- How to Store Energy Bites
The Story Behind the Recipe
I set out to create a a no-bake energy ball recipe that tasted great and kept that easy grab-and-go status, but one that wasn’t as sweet as most energy ball recipes out there. Many energy ball recipes contain a LOT of dates and while I am a huge fan of the things, the sugar in them doesn’t serve me very well.
So these energy balls are actually pretty low in sugar, all-told – only four dates in the entire recipe, which amounts to around 4 grams of sugar per ball. They’re not sugar-free, but with less sugar + the powder of fiber and protein, I find them to be a great well-balanced protein ball.
Are they still sweet? Well … kinda. The cashews lend some natural sweetness, and the dates that are there definitely do their part. So while Vanilla Protein Balls are definitely not savory, they are also a little more … neutral than their super sweet counterparts. In a surprisingly delicious way!
Protein Ball Recipe without Protein Powder
This is a protein ball recipe without protein powder, instead relying on nuts and seeds to bring the protein. You can absolutely stir in a scoop or two of your favorite protein powder, if you like! I just didn’t care for the taste it brought to these vanilla protein balls and preferred an energy ball without the protein powder.
Vanilla Protein Ball Ingredients
- Oats – rolled oats add protein and heft. Opt for certified gluten-free if your vanilla energy bites need to be free of gluten.
- Cashews – raw or roasted both work here. If you use salted, just be sure to reduce the kosher salt.
- Dates – I love caramelly-sweet dates.
- Tahini – runnier is better! Tahini, by the way, does have a bit of a bitter edge to it, so if you’re not quite sure, you could always sub in the nut butter of your choice. These vanilla protein bites are excellent with peanut butter.
- Flaxseed meal – For fiber and those coveted omega-3s!
- Chia seeds – I love the little bit of texture chia seeds add, and, of course, the added protein and nutrients.
- Pure vanilla extract – For vanilla protein balls, you’ve gotta have vanilla! It’s just a fact. Feel free to swap in the seeds from a vanilla bean or some vanilla bean paste. Or all of the above for serious vanilla bliss!
- Kosher salt – Highlights the flavors and counterbalances the sweetness.
- Unsweetened shredded coconut – I love rolling my vanilla protein bites in a little coconut for some truffle-like flair. Totally optional, though.
How to Make Date Protein Balls
I use my high-speed blender to make these Vanilla Protein Balls, but you can use a food processor if you have it.
First, blend the oats and cashews into a coarse meal. Then add the dates until well incorporated.
From there, add the tahini, flaxseed meal, chia seeds, vanilla, and salt. Pulse, scraping down the sides as needed, until the large sticky crumbs form.
At this point, I like to transfer the vanilla protein ball mixture to a bowl for easier scooping/shaping. Scoop out bites and shape them into a ball. Roll in coconut, if you’d like.
And, voila. Snacking heaven at your fingertips.
How to Store Energy Bites
Store your vanilla protein balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They keep for about 1 week.
A cup of tea, a couple of these Vanilla Protein Balls, and the afternoon just got a lot sweeter!
Vanilla Protein Balls
- 1/2 cup rolled oats (use certified gluten-free oats if you’re on a gluten-free diet)
- 3/4 cup unsalted raw or roasted cashews
- 4 Medjool dates (pitted)
- 1/2 cup tahini (runnier is better*)
- 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
- To the pitcher of a high-powered blender, add the oats and the cashews. Blend until a coarse meal, about 30 seconds. Add the dates and blend until well incorporated.
- Add the tahini, flaxseed meal, chia seeds, vanilla, and salt. Pulse, scraping down the sides with a spatula when necessary, until blended.
- Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and finish mixing with a spatula. The mixture should be the consistency of wet sand (and, also like wet sand, should hold when pressed together). If it’s too dry, add a bit more tahini.
- Scoop out about 1 1/2 tablespoon at a time. Squeeze together tightly with your hands and form into a ball. If desired, roll ball in unsweetened shredded coconut. I like them equally with or without.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They keep for about 1 week.