Protein Shakes are a great post-workout recovery treat and easy to make into delicious high protein smoothies. In this post, you’ll learn how to make protein shakes with 5 different tasty recipes: coffee, berry, mint chip, peanut butter, and chocolate! 

5 different protein shake recipes on a marble counter: coffee protein shake, berry protein shake, peanut butter protein shake, chocolate protein shake, and mint chip.

Protein shakes have been my go-to post work out snack or meal for many years. I find they really help with recovery after long runs, hot yoga, or intense weight lifting sessions. I usually add plenty of fresh baby spinach (you can’t taste it) and notice a huge improvement in energy levels, immune system, and strength. 

 

Though some people simply shake water with protein powder, taking a minute to blend in a few more ingredients makes the experience much more enjoyable. These five protein shake/smoothie recipes are my favorites and your one-stop for the best protein shake information. I think of this post as a sister to our 6 Best Juicing Recipes article. Do you love smoothies like I do? Find all of our smoothie recipes here

Are Protein Shakes Healthy? 

Like most products, there are better and worse options when it comes to protein powders. Consuming plenty of protein is very easy for most people eating a balanced diet, including a plant-based diet. In fact, most Americans eat nearly double the amount of protein they need. 

Protein powders are highly processed and often contain high concentrations of heavy metals, pesticides, and BPA. I would not recommend using them on a daily basis, however, they can be a great option for post-workout recovery or a busy day meal-on-the-go. 

Pros:

  1. Nutrition. Protein shakes are an easy and tasty way to consume a large amount of micro and macronutrients. One scoop of a high-quality pea protein powder contains around 20 grams of protein per 100 calories. Adding nutritious mix-ins like greens, berries, and seeds can make protein shakes even more nutritious. 
  2. Taste. A well-made protein shake like the recipes below is a great alternative to sugary, high-calorie milkshakes. 

Cons:

  1. Heavy Metals & Toxins. Many studies have found alarming levels of toxins and heavy metals (like lead, cadmium, and arsenic) in protein powders.  A more recent study, by the nonprofit Clean Label Project, found that nearly all of the 134 products tested had detectable levels of at least one heavy metal. 

In this study, 75% of the plant-based products tested positive for lead and one protein powder contained 25 times the allowed regulatory limit for BPA in just one serving.

While the plant-based protein powders were deemed to be less clean, it’s helpful to understand the reason. Plants naturally contain lead, which they absorb from the soil. While there is no “safe” level of lead, it is unavoidable when consuming produce, and should not be a big concern when eating a well-rounded diet. 

          2. May contain added sugars. Aside from heavy metals and toxins, some protein powders contain unnecessary added sugars, calories, and filler ingredients. 

When to Drink a Protein Shake

  • Breakfast
  • After a Workout
  • Dessert 

Best Whey Protein Shakes 

Before switching from dairy to non-dairy, I used Tera’s Whey protein powder. The vanilla is delicious and the unflavored is undetectable. In addition, it has very clean ingredients and scored an A+ rating in Clean Label Project studies. It’s important to avoid whey protein if you’re vegan or have a dairy intolerance. Just so you know, the links below are Amazon Affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you shop through them (thank you). 

Best Plant-Based Protein Shakes 

Since moving to a plant-based lifestyle, I’ve tried several different vegan protein powders such as Vega, Orgain, and Garden of Life. I look at the ingredients and look for one that is made with organic ingredients and pea-protein based.

While plant-based protein powders scored much worse than whey in the Clean Label Project studies (because plants naturally absorb lead from the soil), there were a few that received B ratings, such as Garden of Life Organic Raw Protein Powder (Vanilla flavor only), Plant Fusion (Vanilla Bean), and Evolve Protein Powder (Ideal Vanilla). 

I like to use either an unflavored, unsweetened protein powder or a vanilla powder that’s sweetened with stevia. Both of these can be used in most protein shake recipes with good results. However, sweetened powders (like vanilla) are delicious in smoothies with ingredients that are not sweet, such as peanut butter, coffee, spinach, or cocoa powder, while they are too sweet for fruit smoothies. 

 

How to Make A Protein Shake

  1. Add your milk of choice to a blender. Somewhere between 1/4 and 3/4 cup will do. Here are tips for making super thick and creamy smoothies. 
  2. Add one scoop of your favorite protein powder.
  3. Toss in half a frozen banana or avocado for creaminess, and any other ingredients (see ideas below). 
  4. Blend until smooth and creamy, adding more milk to thin or ice to thicken as needed. 
  5. If making a non-fruit shake and using unflavored protein powder, you’ll need to add sweetener. The best options are a few drops liquid stevia, 1 pitted date, or maple syrup. 
  6. Drink right away, or pop in the freezer for later. 
A close-up photo of a coffee protein shake topped with three coffee beans.

Coffee Protein Shake

Coffee Protein Shake 

Here’s a great breakfast protein shake for hot summer days when you just don’t feel like eating, or an afternoon pick me up. 

Use cold brew coffee or a freshly brewed shot of espresso. Maca and cocoa powder are nice additions to this recipe. Make sure it has plenty of sweetness by using vanilla protein powder or adding your own sweetener. 

A close-up photo of a peanut butter protein shake topped with peanuts.

Peanut Butter Protein Shake 

This peanut butter protein shake recipe is my all-time favorite. It’s creamy and delicious. You could use any nut butter here, but the combination of peanut butter and banana is perfect. Add 1/2 tablespoon of cocoa powder if you’d like. 

5 beautiful and delicious protein shakes on a kitchen counter with a purple shake topped with edible flowers in the foreground.

Berry Protein Smoothie 

Bump up the antioxidants with a creamy berry protein shake. You can use any frozen berries you have in the freezer. I like blueberry or strawberry best. 

a healthy green protein shake made with fresh mint.

Mint Chip

Here’s a great way to get your greens in without even tasting them. Baby spinach is easily disguised by fresh mint flavor. 

Protein Shakes for Weight Loss 

Protein shakes work well in supporting weight loss or weight gain, depending on how you use them and what ingredients you use. 

If the goal is weight loss or leaning out, limit the additional high-calorie ingredients such as peanut butter (which will add around 90 calories per tablespoon). 

My go-to weight loss protein shake recipe is plant milk, 1 tablespoon almond butter, 1/2 frozen banana, 2 handfuls of baby spinach. I drink this after a workout. Don’t miss our Weight Loss Smoothie Recipe

Protein Shakes for Weight Gain

Protein shakes can be a great way to gain weight when used as a supplement or snack, rather than a meal replacement. Bump up the calorie-dense ingredients like peanut butter, and feel free to add in any extras like flax meal, chia or hemp seeds. Some people like to add MCT oil as well. 

Other Ways to Use Protein Powder 

Protein Shakes Near Me

Are you ready to start making your shakes? The best place to find protein powder locally is to head to your natural foods stores. For blended protein smoothies, head to your local juice bars like Whole Foods or SunLife

Yield: 1 shake (around 10 oz.)

5 Best Protein Shake Recipes

Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 4 minutes

Protein shakes can be healthy and delicious. Here are 5 of the best protein shake recipes to get you started! These shakes are all creamy and delicious and taste like dessert. They're a great healthy post-workout treat, breakfast, or dessert.

5 different protein shakes on a marble countertop.

Ingredients

Peanut Butter Chocolate

  • 1/2 cup plant milk (oat, flax, soy, etc.)
  • 1 scoop vanilla pea protein
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 cup ice
  • stevia or maple syrup to taste (if needed)

Berry

  • 1/2 cup plant milk
  • 3/4 cup frozen berries (blueberries, strawberries, or a mix)
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 scoop vanilla pea protein

Chocolate

  • 1/2 cup plant milk
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 scoop vanilla pea protein
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 1 cup ice

Mint Chip

  • 1/2 cup plant milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla pea protein
  • 6 fresh mint leaves
  • 3/4 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips/chunks
  • stevia to taste (if needed)

Coffee

  • 1/2 cup Cold-brew coffee (or shot of espresso)
  • 1/4 cup plant milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla pea protein
  • 1/2 banana (frozen)
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • ice
  • stevia to taste (if needed)

Instructions

  1. Add the milk to a blender.
  2. Top with the remaining ingredients for your smoothie flavor of choice.
  3. Blend until smooth. Add more milk to thin, and ice (and/or frozen banana) to thicken. I usually add between 1 and 1 ½ cups of ice for a thick and cold shake.
  4. Enjoy right away or freeze for later.

Notes

Protein Powder

Most vanilla protein powders are sweetened (and can be too sweet at times) while unflavored powders are not sweetened. You can use an unflavored powder, but you will likely need to add some sweetener yourself, such as a few drops of liquid stevia or a splash of maple syrup. See the information in the body of the article for more information on choosing a healthy protein powder.

Banana

All of these smoothies use banana because it makes them rich and creamy. Other ingredients that do this are avocado, oats, and raw cashews. You can use fresh or frozen bananas, though I recommend frozen slices for the creamiest shake.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1 shake
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 307Saturated Fat: 2gCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 4gSugar: 8gProtein: 31g

Nutrition was calculated using the coffee shake ingredients and will vary depending on your powder. Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your favorite calculator.