Protein shakes without protein powder: tips and recipes

Protein shakes without protein powder: tips and recipes

Protein shakes are a common beverage and people usually drink them to quickly and easily add more protein to their diet.

Protein shakes are especially popular with weightlifters and people who want to build muscle mass. While mixing protein powder with liquid is the most common way to make them, you may be wondering if you can make a protein shake without powder.

Some people may not have protein powder on hand, want more food-based options, or have digestive issues when consuming protein powder.

This article discusses how to make protein-rich shakes without using protein powder.

One of the most common uses of protein shakes is to promote muscle growth. Individuals who do weightlifting and resistance training can drink a protein shake before or after a workout.

Getting enough protein from the diet is important to prevent muscle breakdown and promote muscle growth (1

Indeed, studies suggest that doing resistance training and supplementing with protein shakes can promote muscle growth and recovery (2

People can also drink protein shakes if they are concerned about meeting their protein needs by eating food alone, are recovering from an illness or surgery that has increased protein requirements, or if they want to lose weight (3

In its simplest form, a protein shake contains protein powder mixed with water or another liquid.

There are tons of protein powders on the market, including dairy-based ones like whey and casein, and plant-based ones, including pea, hemp, soy and rice proteins.

Protein powders vary in the amount of protein they provide, but most offer 20-30 grams per scoop. In addition to proteins, vitamins and minerals, flavors and sweeteners may have been added to these powders (45

However, a protein shake does not necessarily have to contain protein powder. You can mix a lot of high protein foods for a tasty high protein shake.


Many people drink protein shakes as a way to build muscle. Protein shakes are usually made from protein powder, but they don’t have to be. There are many protein-rich foods that you can use in shakes instead.

There are plenty of high protein foods that you can use to make a quick and healthy protein shake.

In addition, high protein foods can also contain beneficial nutrients and compounds that are removed during the processing of protein powders. An example is fiber found in whole peas, but not in isolated pea protein.

Here are some great protein sources for homemade protein shakes:

  • Milk: cow’s milk, ultra-filtered milk (such as Fairlife brand), pea milk, soy milk, hemp milk
  • Other milk products: Greek yogurt (dairy or non-dairy), cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, kefir
  • Soy products: edamame, silken tofu, soy butter
  • Nuts and seeds (or nut and seed paste): peanuts, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans, almonds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, linseed, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
  • Grains and beans: oats, quinoa, white beans, black beans, lentils


Food sources of protein to add to shakes include nuts and seeds, dairy products, Greek yogurt, tofu, and beans.

Protein powder provides a concentrated and convenient source of protein.

However, there may be several reasons why you want to avoid or limit them. Maybe you don’t have a powder on hand, don’t have a good quality powder, want a less processed option, or have digestive issues with powders.

In addition, good quality protein powders can be expensive. Therefore, some food sources of protein can be cheaper, especially if you often drink protein shakes.

In addition, protein powders can vary in quality as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not tightly regulate protein powders.

Some protein powders may contain (678

  • excess amounts of sugar or other sweeteners
  • ingredients you are allergic to
  • amounts or types of ingredients other than what is stated on the label
  • toxins and heavy metals
  • substances banned by sports organizations

Manufacturers are responsible for labeling and evaluating safety. As a result, products may contain ingredients or substances not listed on the label or in amounts other than those stated (7

However, this is not the case with all protein powders. The composition of protein powders varies widely between brands.

Buying a protein powder from a reputable company that has third party tested for purity and safety is one way to ensure you are getting a quality product.

Some third-party certifications include United States Pharmacopeia (USP), Informed Choice, Consumer Labs, and NSF International.


There can be several reasons for wanting to skip the protein powder. Depending on the brand and quality, some protein powders may also contain too much sugar, allergens, heavy metals or banned substances.

If you’re looking for a delicious protein shake that doesn’t use powder, try one from this list!

The amount of protein in each shake has been estimated based on information from the USDA FoodData Central (8

Keep in mind that if you replace cow’s milk with a plant-based alternative, the total protein content may be lower.

Chocolate Banana Protein Shake (17 grams of protein)

Combine the following ingredients in a blender:

  • 2 tablespoons (32 grams) creamy almond butter (or other nut/seed butter)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tablespoon (7.5 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240 ml) cow’s milk or regular soy milk

Peanut Butter and Jelly Protein Shake (22 grams of protein)

Combine the following ingredients in a blender:

  • 1 cup (150 grams) frozen mixed berries
  • 2 tablespoons (32 grams) creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons (11 grams) oatmeal
  • 1 tablespoon (10 grams) ground linseed
  • 1 cup (240 ml) cow’s milk or regular pea milk

Strawberry Ricotta Protein Shake (19 grams protein)

Combine the following ingredients in a blender:

  • 1 cup (150 grams) frozen strawberries
  • 3/4 cup (160 grams) ricotta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons (14 grams) honey or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) cow’s milk (or milk of your choice)

Green Tofu Protein Shake (41 grams of protein)

Combine the following ingredients in a blender:

  • 1 cup (140 grams) frozen peas
  • 1 cup (30 grams) spinach
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup (70 grams) frozen mango
  • 8 ounces (250 grams) silken tofu
  • 1 teaspoon (7 grams) honey or maple syrup
  • 1 cup (240 ml) cow’s milk or regular soy milk, plus more to thin

Pineapple White Bean Protein Shake (32 grams of protein)

Combine the following ingredients in a blender:

  • 1/2 cup (70 grams) frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) cooked white beans
  • 1/2 cup (140 grams) plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons (9 grams) grated coconut
  • 1 cup (240 ml) cow’s milk or regular soy milk


Homemade protein shakes can be made with nut butter, silken tofu, milk, cheese, and beans instead of powders. The shake recipes on this list contain about 17-32 grams of protein.

Protein shakes can be a good option for people looking to build muscle mass or otherwise increase protein intake.

While usually made with protein powders, there are many food sources of protein that you can add to your shakes instead.

If you need some inspiration, try nut butters, dairy products, beans, silken tofu, and others mentioned in this article.