The Best Protein Bars

Healthy, filling snacks don’t need to taste bad

The 30-Second Review

Our goal was to find the best tasting protein bar that still qualifies as a healthy snack. It needed to fill us up and provide enough protein, fiber, and other nutrients our bodies need — all while having as little sugar as possible. After talking to multiple nutritionists and reading the back of 164 ingredient labels closely, we taste-tested the top 25 contenders to find our top picks.

164
Contenders
4
Top Picks
Best Overall

This bar manages to taste great while still packing a real nutritional punch. At only 160 calories per bar, it has 15 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber, and only three grams of sugar.

Others To Consider

Our Picks for Best Protein Bars

Best Overall:
Ooh Snap! Crispy Protein Bar

Best Savory Protein Bar:
Strong and Kind Honey Mustard Almond Bar

Best Sweet Protein Bar:
Nature Valley Protein Chewy Bar

Best Vegan Protein Bar:
Garden of Life Organic Fit Peanut-Butter Chocolate Bar

Calories

160

230

190

200

Protein

15g

10g

10g

14g

Fiber

10g

3g

5g

13g

Sugar

3g

6g

6g

1g

Net Carbs

8g

12g

9g

13g

Price Per Bar

$1.99

$1.33

$0.57

$2.25

Best Overall

Ooh Snap! Crispy Protein Bar Like a protein-packed Rice Krispies treat, this bar has a vanilla coating and a distinct marshmallow flavor.

Nutritional Highlights Calories: 160
Protein: 15 g
Fiber: 10 g
Sugar: 3 g
Net carbs: 8 g

With an all-around appealing “Rice Krispies-treat-like taste and texture,” the Ooh Snap! Vanilla Marshmallow protein bar really does feel like a treat. Manufactured by the UK-founded Snap Nutrition, these bars pack an impressive 15 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber with only 3 grams of sugar — and they don’t taste like it either.

After trying the Ooh Snap! Bar, testers reported zero aftertaste, a common complaint with most protein bars, and a nice crunch. All of our participants rated this bar highly on taste and texture; it was one of the few bars that got positive reviews across the board. The formula blends five types of protein, including soy protein isolate, whey protein, and milk protein concentrate. At around $2 a bar, the price fell roughly in the middle of the 25 finalists in our taste test (the most expensive came in at $2.67; the lowest only cost $0.73).

Ooh Snap! makes these bars in just two flavors — vanilla marshmallow, and chocolate peanut, which has a similar Rice Krispies-like texture with an outer chocolate coating. The caveat: Even the vanilla marshmallow bar contains flavoring from peanuts and almonds, so our top pick’s one drawback — a trait it shares with the vast majority of protein bars on the market — is that it won’t do for users with nut allergies. If that’s you, try our Best Nut-Free Protein Bar top pick: Boundless Nutrition Perfect Fit Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Tester comments included, “Just like dessert!” and, “Sweet and creamy,” and, “Just enough crunch.” Only one tester had a negative comment: “A little too sweet,” but that person preferred savory flavors to begin with. Our entire panel said they’d happily eat this bar again — the only time that decision was unanimous for a bar that contained 15 grams of protein or more.

Others to Consider

Best Savory Protein Bar

Strong and Kind Honey Mustard Almond Bar This salty, crunchy bar contains whole almonds and pumpkin seeds that testers compared to trail mix and honey-mustard pretzels.

In a sea of dizzyingly dessert-like flavors (including iced vanilla cupcake, vanilla birthday cake, chocolate chip cookie, and so on) this honey-mustard-flavored bar, comprised of whole almonds and pumpkin seeds, proved a nice reprieve. Several of our taste testers likened it to “a handful of trail mix.” Our panel consistently sung Strong & Kind Honey Mustard Almond Bar’s praises — even the participants that were self-avowed sugar fanatics.

Nutritional Highlights Calories: 230
Protein: 10 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sugar: 6 g
Net carbs: 12g

Kind introduced a new subset of its bars, Strong & Kind, after receiving some bad press regarding its liberal use of the word “healthy” to describe certain bars with low protein and high sugar and saturated fat counts (a decidedly unhealthy snack). Still, its low fiber content, just 3 grams, kept it from being our top pick overall. And with 230 calories per bar, it has 70 more calories per serving than the Ooh Snap! Crispy Protein Bar, too.

Aside from that, though, the gluten-, dairy-, and soy-free bar packs an impressive punch, with 10 grams of protein derived from plants, including pea protein isolate. In fact, the only ingredient that keeps these bars from being vegan is honey. Kind also turns out similar bars in five flavors, from Roasted Jalapeno to Thai Sweet Chili, for around $1.33 apiece.

Best Sweet Protein Bar

Nature Valley Protein Chewy Bar This chewy protein bar tastes a lot like a regular, sweet granola bar, and is held together with a gooey, caramel-flavored base.

In general, ubiquitous grocery-store brands did not fare well with our nutritional criteria. Special K protein bars, for instance, brought just 4 grams of protein to the table, while Cascadian Farm Protein bars had 17 net carbs (the Ooh Snap! Crispy Protein Bar only has eight). Much to our initial surprise, however, Nature Valley’s Salted Caramel Nut Protein Chewy Bar — another gluten-free option with 10 grams of protein — flew through the cuts and made it into our taste test with no problems. It was the only mass-market brand to do so. It looked a little out of place alongside GNC, Muscle Milk, Victory, and FitElite bars that felt more like body-building than lunch-box snacks — but nutritionally, we knew it could actually compete.

Nutritional Highlights Calories: 190
Protein: 10 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sugar: 6 g
Net carbs: 9 g

It also tasted great, receiving the highest marks for flavor and texture of any bar our panel tried. A less-than-ideal 6 grams of sugar and a few other ingredients (corn syrup, corn starch, and chicory root, which can cause gas and GI distress for people with irritable bowel syndrome) knocked it down a few pegs overall, but if you have a sweet tooth, you’re not going to find a healthier, sweet-tasting protein bar out there. Tasting notes included “delicious,” “a big fan!” and, “I could actually eat the whole thing.” It also happened to be the least expensive bar on our list, coming in at about $0.60 a pop.

Best Vegan Protein Bar

Garden of Life Organic Fit High-Protein Weightloss Bar This delicious peanut-butter-flavored bar sits atop a chocolate base, and is 100 percent vegan.

Let’s be clear: This isn’t actually a “weight loss” bar. It’s just a vegan protein bar — but it’s still a good one, despite it’s somewhat misleading marketing. For those looking for a bar absent of any animal proteins (or other animal-based ingredients), the least offensive identified in our taste test was Garden of Life’s Peanut Butter Chocolate High Protein Weight Loss Bar, which boasts 14 grams of plant-based protein (from peanuts, pea protein, and sprouted-brown rice), 13 grams of fiber, and only 1 gram of sugar. Our testers liked the chocolate flavor and chocolate coating, but more than half noted a dry or chalky texture, a common detractor for plant-based protein bars.

Nutritional Highlights Calories: 200
Protein: 14 g
Fiber: 13 g
Sugar: 1 g
Net carbs: 13 g

The Garden of Life bar has a uniform texture and consistency, a factor that tasters felt was less desirable than the chunky Kind and Nature Valley bars and the more granular Ooh Snap! Crispy Protein Bar. And at $2 to $4 apiece depending on flavor, the vegan option is slightly pricier than our other top picks, but still at least $0.50 cheaper than all of the other plant-based protein bars we looked at.

The Best Protein Bars: Summed Up

Protein BarsBest For...
Ooh Snap! Crispy Protein Bar
Nutrition & Universal Tastiness
Strong and Kind Honey Mustard Almond Bar
Savory Protein Bar
Nature Valley Protein Chewy Bar
Sweet Protein Bar
Garden of Life Organic Fit High-Protein Weightloss Bar
Vegan Protein Bar

Did You Know?

You shouldn’t skip the ingredient list when picking out a protein bar.

“Remember that ingredients are listed in order of dominating weight, so pay extra attention to the first couple of ingredients listed,” says Berndt. “It’s like a snapshot of what makes up the majority of the bar.” Ideally, the protein source comes first or second, along with other whole foods like nuts or oats. In terms of red flags, favor bars with ingredients you can recognize and pronounce, says Feuerstein. “If you’re looking at a cheap bar made by a multinational corporation,” he explains, “by line two, you’re going to be deep in a chemistry lesson.”

Trendy new protein-bar-like options are making their debuts — but we’re saving those for another review.

In the wake of the Paleo craze, high-protein products are on the upswing, though many of them don’t market themselves as protein bars, per se. Companies like Wilde are putting out bars made from pasture-raised beef, turkey, and chicken, while countless startups are experimenting with cricket flour (essentially pulverized, farm-raised bugs that have a low environmental footprint and an incredibly high protein profile). Our initial list gathered products labeled as protein bars, and most of these meat- and bug-based bars aren’t. Exo’s cricket flour-based protein bar landed on our initial list, but its 13 grams of sugar took it out of the running early on. In the months and years to come, more of these less-processed bars will make their way into the protein bar space.

The Bottom Line

Best Overall

Ooh Snap! Crispy Protein Bar The best tasting protein bar we found that still provides a healthy amount of protein and fiber.

Plenty of health food stores and groceries price bars individually, so try one of our top picks to see if you love the flavor as much as our testing panel did. Have the bar in the morning, on an empty stomach, to see if it holds satiety for three hours; that’s how you’ll know the bar does its job for your body. Once you land on a bar (or a few) that work, order online and in bulk, for the lowest price per bar, and use it as a snack between balanced meals that contain enough protein for your age, build, and lifestyle. No one should get all, or even most, of their protein from these products. But for a healthy snack on the go, our top picks will certainly get the job done.