Best Tasting Protein Bars: We Taste-Tested 10 Top Brands

Nine Opened Protein Bars Scattered in a Line on the Bottom Half of the Image on a Silvery Table


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Nine Opened Protein Bars Scattered in a Line on the Bottom Half of the Image on a Silvery Table

Raise the Bar

Whether you’re looking for a quick, muscle-building protein source following a tough gym workout or you’ve skipped lunch and need to calm a grumbling stomach and low blood sugar, a protein bar can be an easy and relatively healthy snack. But not all protein bars are built the same. Some have as many calories and as many grams of sugar as a candy bar, while others deliver less protein than a serving of low-fat Greek yogurt or are so unpalatable you may as well gnaw on wood. We scooped up a handful of protein bars from two grocery stores in Austin, Texas, and sampled each to find out if they were truly among the best-tasting protein bars or just edible.

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Opened Protein Bar, with Bites Out of It, Held in the Hand of an Athletic Woman, Selective Focus

What are Protein Bars and Why Should You Eat Them?

If you're wondering, "Why would I eat a protein bar" over another healthy snack, here is your answer: Protein contains nitrogen formed by amino acids, which serve an important role in nutrition and general health. Among the health benefits of protein:

  • It helps build muscle
  • It gives an energy boost
  • Provides an oxygen-carrying assist to red blood cells
  • Helps in enzyme-, hormone-, and vitamin-production

With that in mind, note that the following is a protein bar taste test. However, we've also looked at how much protein is in each bar (which, for the record, all had more than the recommended minimum of 5 to 6 grams of protein) and included information on sugar, carb, fat, fiber and calorie content.

Elevation by Millville, Chocolate Peanut Butter, on a Light Grey Countertop

Elevation by Millville | Chocolate Peanut Butter

Tastiest High-Protein Option

Calories: 290, Protein: 20g, Carbs: 31g, Sugar: 20g, Fat: 11g, Fiber: 3g

The Elevation bar packs a wallop: the most calories, protein, carbs, and sugar of our samples. It had a pleasant, mild crunch, and subtle peanut butter flavor. It was a bit on the sweet side, with hints of protein powder. For protein bars that taste good, the chocolate peanut butter Elevation by Millville should be among your go-to snacks and, with a whopping 20 grams of protein, it packs a punch.

Related: Fancy Peanut Butters and Other Spreads to Try

Clif Builders Protein Bar, Chocolate Peanut Butter, on a Light Grey Countertop

Clif Builders Protein Bar | Chocolate Peanut Butter

Tasty High-Protein Option (Runner-up)

Calories: 290, Protein: 20g, Carbs: 29g, Sugar: 17g, Fat: 11g, Fiber: 2g

Similar in appearance and size to Elevation by Millville bar (and also offering a protein punch), the Clif bar wasn’t as tasty. The layer of peanut butter filling was denser, but it was also grittier and tasted strongly of dried peanut butter and protein powder.

Box of Trader Joe's Simply Nutty Bars, Dark Chocolate, Peanut & Almond, on a Light Grey Countertop

Trader Joe’s Simply Nutty Bar | Dark Chocolate, Peanuts, and Almond

Best for Snacking

Calories: 200, Protein: 7g, Carbs: 14g, Sugar: 5g, Fat: 15g, Fiber: 7g

The nuttiest of the bunch, with peanuts and almonds as the top two ingredients, this was our favorite at the low end of the protein spectrum. Although nearly identical to the Kind Nut Bar, the Trader Joe’s version had that extra salty kick that reminds us of dry-roasted nuts (in a good, snackable kind of way). It also had a respectable amount of dietary fiber with fewer carbs and sugars and is also gluten-free.

Related: How Do These Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups Compare to Reese's?

Kind Bar, Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate, on a Light Grey Countertop

Kind Bar | Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate

Also Good for Snacking

Calories: 200, Protein: 7g, Carbs: 17g, Sugar: 9g, Fat: 14g, Fiber: 3g

You’d have to eat nearly three Kind Bars to get the same amount of protein as, say, a Clif Builders Bar. They’re tasty enough that we’d be tempted to do so if it didn’t also mean three times the calories, carbs, and fat. The 7 grams of protein and 17 grams of carbs are sufficient for recharging during a light hike or as a snack, though sugars could be lower and fiber higher. It was the sweetest-tasting of the bunch (no surprise, considering that glucose syrup, sugar, and honey are the second, third, and fourth ingredients).

Quest Hero Protein Bar, Crispy Chocolate Carmel Pecan, on a Light Grey Countertop

Quest Hero Protein Bar | Crispy Chocolate Caramel Pecan

Best Balance of Ingredients

Calories: 180, Protein: 15g, Carbs: 29g, Sugar: 1g, Fat: 9g, Fiber: 11g

The Quest Hero bar has less protein than the heavyweights in our test; call this one a middleweight contender. With its sweet, strong maple-pecan flavor, kick of caramel, and subtle dash of cocoa, this is a good choice for after the gym or between meals. The texture is dense and chewy without being sticky or gummy. It had plenty of fiber and protein with surprisingly little sugar, given its sweetness. One note of caution: These bars contain whey protein isolate, which can be difficult for some digestive systems to process.

Related: Meaningless Nutritional Claims on Favorite Foods

Think! High Protein Bar, Brownie Crunch, on a Light Grey Countertop

Think! High Protein Bar | Brownie Crunch

Most Chocolate Flavor

Calories: 230, Protein: 20g, Carbs: 23g, Sugar: 0g, Fat: 8g, Fiber: 1g

The gluten-free Think! bar delivers the most protein with the least sugar (and no artificial sweeteners) but also next to no dietary fiber to keep you feeling full. The moist, brownielike texture was reasonably tasty — dense and chewy with a strong cocoa flavor and slightly bitter aftertaste. The protein-packed crunchy bits added some texture.

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Power Crunch Energy Bar, Peanut Butter Fudge, on a Light Grey Countertop

Power Crunch Energy Bar | Peanut Butter Fudge

Most Candy-Like Protein Bar

Calories: 215, Protein: 13g, Carbs: 12g, Sugar: 5g, Fat: 13g, Fiber: 1g

Okay, we confess: If we’d tasted this blindfolded, we’d have mistaken it for a Little Debbie Nutty Bar (or a reasonable facsimile thereof). Fudgy, crispy, and peanut buttery, the only drawback in our opinion was the too-crumbly wafers. The fiber content is kind of low, too.

One Bar, Peanut Butter Pie, on a Light Grey Countertop

One Bar | Peanut Butter Pie

Big on Protein, Low on Flavor

Calories: 220, Protein: 20g, Carbs: 23g, Sugar: 1g, Fat: 9g, Fiber: 8g

With its Play-Doh-like texture and funky brownish hue, this entry in our taste-off was reminiscent of protein bars from back in the day. The flavor reminded us of ground-up peanut shells and had an unpleasantly chewy consistency. It was our least favorite of the high-protein bars in our sample, but it also had the fewest calories, very little sugar, and a decent amount of fiber.

RXBar, Peanut Butter Chocolate, on a Light Grey Countertop

RXBar | Peanut Butter Chocolate

Worst-Tasting Protein Bar (tie)

Calories: 210, Protein: 12g, Carbs: 23g, Sugar: 14g, Fat: 9g, Fiber: 5g

RXBar touts itself as the “No B.S.” protein bar, with a short list of minimally processed ingredients: dates, peanuts, egg whites, chocolate, sea salt, and cocoa. We were not impressed with the stick-to-your-teeth consistency, and if you don’t like the funky sweetness of dates you will definitely not like this date-based, gluten-free protein bar.

Box of Elevation Maxx Bar, Peanut Butter Chocolate, on a Light Grey Countertop

Elevation Maxx Bar | Peanut Butter Chocolate

Worst-Tasting Protein Bar (tie)

Calories: 230, Protein: 12g, Carbs: 21g, Sugar: 14g, Fat: 10g, Fiber: 4g

Aldi’s version of the RXBar boasts a similar short list of “clean” ingredients: dates, peanut butter, egg whites, chocolate, peanuts, cocoa, sea salt, and cashew and almond butters. It was even less appealing, with a chewiness like cheap chewing gum and just as annoyingly sticky. We wanted to floss after eating it. 

Discover more great taste tests right here.