The yummiest Cookie Dough Protein Bars made with hemp seeds, cashews, and flax seeds for 12 grams of whole food protein per bar! Vegan, gluten-free, paleo.
But without protein powder. Just the cookie and the dough and the bar and some naturally, nutritiously, protein-rich good stuff inside. Oh and ALL of the mini chocolate chips, obviously.
So I don’t like making decisions (who does?). And lately having to pick which flour to use in baking has me like: Urghhhhh why aren’t there 12 of me and 27 hours in a day so I can test them all? But there is only 1 and 24, so instead I did what any reasonable person would do when self-multiplication isn’t possible – make the best damn no-bake Cookie Dough Protein Bars with ZERO kinds of flour involved.
These beautiful bars contain just seven ingredients. I tried to add an eighth, but nope. The bars refused to be anything except as EASY as possible.
So here’s what’s happening:
- DIY “flour” mixture. Even though this recipes stops at the dough, we have to at least pretend we are making real life cookies. Instead of flour we are grinding up a mix of cashews, hemps seeds, and flax seeds. For all those substitution questions currently auto-populating in your head, keep reading.
- Add the flavor stuff. Vanilla extract, salt, and maple syrup. You could even add a little cinnamon if you like.
- Mix in mini chocolate chips. Or full-size chocolate chips. Or chocolate chunks. All are a-okay, but I like the minis.
- Pour on more chocolate. It’s basically like we replaced the baking with a slathering of melted chocolate. A good trade I think, yes?
- Into the fridge or freezer. And wait. And then check 2 minutes later. And then wait some more. And then check 5 minutes later. And then admit you are not a patient person. And then 10 minutes later decided they are chilled enough and slice those bars already.
I know the goal here was simple without a zillion different options, buuuuuuuut I’m including a few anyways. Instead of…
- cashews – almonds, macadamia nuts, even peanuts. I can’t think of a nut that wouldn’t be okay really, but cashews do taste the most cookie dough-y. Or oats. I tested them with rolled oats, and while less buttery it works.
- flax seeds – you can use chia seeds or simply more hemp seeds is fine too. I added them for seedy variety and a little binding power, but not essential.
- chocolate chips – cacao nibs if you wanted a refined sugar free option. And with homemade chocolate like THIS on top.
- maple syrup – any liquid sweetener (honey, agave, etc.) I haven’t tested it with date paste, but if you want a date sweetened cookie dough try THIS recipe instead.
You’ll notice I didn’t include a sub for the hemp seeds, because those are what take these from cookie dough bars to cookie dough PROTEIN bars. Hemp seeds are naturally high in protein and other good stuff like iron. So I don’t recommend skipping them. They do add a slightly hemp-y flavor, which personally I very much enjoy.
Fun fact. Each bar has 12 grams of protein from only whole food sources. Thanks hemp seeds!
More fun fact. I installed a little nutrition widget thingy below the recipe since so many of you have been asking me to include those stats for about forever now. I hear ya! Just took me a little while. But all recipes going forward will have that info included.
Funnest fact of them all. They taste AMAZING.
Cookie Dough Protein Bars
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 8 bars 1x
- Category: snack
- Method: no bake
- Cuisine: american
The yummiest Cookie Dough Protein Bars made with hemp seeds, cashews, and flax seeds for 13 grams of whole food protein per bar! Vegan, gluten-free, paleo.
- 1 1/2 cup (180g) cashews (*)
- 1 cup (160g) hemp seeds
- 1/4 cup (35g) flax seeds
- 1/4 cup (80g) maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp sea salt ((skip if your cashews are salted))
- 1 cup (180g) chocolate chips
- In a high speed blender, grind the cashews, hemp seeds, and flax seeds to a fine flour consistency.
- Transer to a mixing bowl and add the maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. Mix to form a dough.
- Add 1/3 cup (60g) chocolate chips and mix.
- Press the dough into a pan lined with parchment paper. Chill.
- Melt the remaining 2/3 cup (120g) chocolate chips.
- Pour on top of the bars and spread to cover.
- Chill until the chocolate is set. I recommend chilling for at least 4 hours for firm, easy to cut bars.
- Enjoy! Keep leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.
*You can substitute other kinds of nuts, or 1 cup (100g) rolled oats.
Keywords: snack, no bake, easy, vegan, gluten-free, paleo, chocolate
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Wow Natalie! I absolutely love all of your posts and photography. Also COOKIE DOUGH PROTEIN BARS?! Definitely making these in the near future! Shivani 🙂
Thank you so much Shivani! Yes yes, gotta try these they are very snack-meets-dessert delicious 🙂
Update: I made these and they were so DAMN GOOD. I was too impatient to wait for them to set so I rolled them into energy balls and they tasted amazing! Thank you xx
Woohoo!! I am so happy you liked them🤗 Balls, bars, triangles–who cares as long as they GET IN MY BELLY😋😋
THANK YOU for creating a protein powder free bar with simple, whole-food ingredients. I just made bite-size no-bake cookie dough bites and it’s taking a lot of willpower not to gobble them up. Like, I may have to tape the freezer shut 😉 Anyway, I am making these protein bars soon, and probably not sharing. Oh, and I am currently making your chocolate cupcake batter for the 10,000th time?! I lost track a while ago. Someone’s gotta buy all those medjool dates in the bulk bins, and I’m officially that person =)
Haha! Bite sized treats are dangerous I’ve decided, TOO easy to grab and eat like ever time you pass the fridge. Which in my small apartment is often😆 Duct tape sounds like a solid plan lol. Be THAT person and be that person proudly girl! I will happily be the quirky date-buying girl if it means more chocolate cupcakes in my life😊 Happy weekend Ashley!
Michelle Gunn says
What size pan?
The one I used is about 8×5″ (http://amzn.to/2AmC3dj), but a regular loaf pan will work too!
Natalie, thanks a lot for this recipe! The bars are soooo delicious! We ate more than half of them in just a few minutes! Amazing stuff!❤😏😊❤💪😘
Haha I can relate to the very speedy devouring rate😆 I am so happy you like them! thanks for the feedback Olly, and enjoy there rest (if there are any left🙊)
Wende Kirckhoff says
Hi Natalie…these sound SO good, in always looking for healthy things like this to make an give my daughter to put in the grans lunchbox for school, a nice pick me up for the rest of their day, your recipes are always good for that, Thanks again for sharing…
I for one would be very happy to open a lunchbox to these, HOMEMADE lunchbox treats were always my favorite 🙂 I hope you and your daughter love them, Wende!
The Vegan 8 says
These look sooooo good Natalie! And since I don’t do protein powder, I love them all the more! With all those nuts in there I bet they are insanely rich and filling. I could go to town on these. I love that they don’t have almond flour like so many raw cookie dough bars seems to have. It’s good stuff but to me, everybody does it, so this is a nice change. I have never bought hemp seeds before, can you believe that? What do they taste like? I LOVED the video of this one of you spreading that chocolate on the top. I love that they have no dates either, I mean, these are just perfect for me! Step 2. adding a little cinnamon if I like, um YES. Heck yes. Cinnamon is the best flavor ever in my book. You nailed another delicious recipe Natalie! I’m a bit behind but I saw you posted a cheesecake today too….oh my!!
WHAT?? Never bought hemp seeds😮 I’m shocked! They have a pretty unique flavor that really comes through in these bars, but I love it. Hard to describe, just very…healthy/planty but in a good way. MUCH more mild than sunflower seeds. They are not a light bar by any means, but I much prefer using whole foods to powders too😊 I actually cut my last batch into 12 “fun-sized” bars and they are perfect that way. Hehe no worries! I truly appreciate you keeping up with all my sweet stuff amidst your own busy-ness, but never feel like you have to❤️
these look amazing!! question, should we use raw or roasted cashews, or does it not matter?
I used raw, but either is fine. I find raw to be a bit sweeter which I prefer 🙂
Chocolate chips AND a layer of chocolate on top???? Did you make these with Willow in mind? 😉 She actually watched the video for these with me and insisted we make them – so I’ll report back when we do! I love that these don’t contain protein powder because a lot of times they add a grittiness to things…we LOVE hemp seeds, so yay! How awesome that there’s 12 grams of protein per bar! We’re always figuring out sneaky ways to add more protein in for Willow and these will be perfect!
Brb gotta go change the name to Willow’s Cookie Dough Bars! She would be proud of my generous chocolate in AND on top ways with these–excessively chocolatey and I am not at all mad about it🤗 Hemp seeds are my favorite seed I think, although I tried straight up, one ingredient hemp protein powder once and that was a little too ‘healthy’ tasting for me😜 Can’t wait to hear how it goes, you are the best❤️
Do you use shelled or unshelled hemp seeds? I used unshelled and ground them as finely as i could, and while the bars have come out really nicely they are a lot ‘crunchier’ than cookie dough.
I used unshelled hemp seeds, or hemp hearts. The bars do have a bit more texture than cookie dough, if you want a more truly cookie dough textured recipe try this one: https://www.feastingonfruit.com/cookie-dough-ice-cream-sandwiches/
Shereelyn Reed says
Made these today, LOVE THEM. I was nervous they would taste too nut like, but I love them. I kept checking the freezer to see if they were ready, and when they were I ate two of them! Thank you for sharing this recipe!!!!❤️
Woohoo!! So yummy, right? The strongest flavors are the hemp and chocolate if you ask me, the nuts are barely noticeable 🙂 I’m so happy you liked them, thanks for the feedback and enjoy the rest!
These are so good! I think I added a bit more maple syrup, and my flax seeds didn’t really grind up. I have a feeling using ground flaxseed would change the flavor but will try that next time. These are awesome thank you so much!
I’m so happy you liked them, Farah! Yes you could definitely use pre-ground flax or even just use more hemp seeds if you don’t like the flax flavor. Thanks for the feedback and I hope the next batch turns out even better😊
Sydney Jones says
Ohhh my word!!! I have completely fallen in love with your website and this was the first recipe that I have made from you!! I just had one bar (or 4) for breakfast after making them last night and I find them so yummy! The hemp flavor along with the chocolate is so perfect… Thanks so much for this amazing creation!! I can’t wait to keep exploring your website!!!
Hi Sydney! Haha one…four…close enough when they taste this good, right? I love the hemp flavor in them too, it’s not subtle but really yummy I think. I’m so happy you love them too, and thank you for the kind words! Can’t wait to hear what you try next 🙂
I am obsessed with these! Thank you so much for the recipe. I did 1/8 maple and 1/8 date paste and they came out great. They are also plenty delicious even without the topping (I made them for a road trip and wanted them to be a little less messy for the toddlers in the car.) everyone loved them.
YAY!! I’m kinda obsessed too tbh, I’m so glad your family liked them. Happy to hear it worked with the date paste too 🙂 Thanks for the feedback Chloe!
Just made these!! Oh yum! I used an 8 x 8 pan and cut into bite sized pieces. I “accidentally” crumbled an end and needed to eat that part right away. Total deliciousness! I’m going to try to savor the rest.
Thank you for such creative recipes. Simple foods and simple recipes.
Oh what a tragic accident that must’ve been, sounds like something I would do😉 Hahha! I’m so so happy you liked them and I admire you for the bite-sized pieces part. Enjoy and thanks for the lovely feedback!
SO pumped to try this one!
Oooh yay, I think you will love these! I’m already plotting another version, because I certainly do <3
These look fantastic! Can I freeze them?
I have been making these nonstop lately, I hope you love them too! And yes, should be just fine 🙂
I love these so much. Instead of cashews, I did a mix of pistachios, almonds, and even a few Brazil nuts because that’s what I had on hand in my cupboard. I will definitely be making these again!
I am so happy you liked them! I have been obsessed with these lately, I will have to try this pistachio + almond combo too because it sounds delicious 🙂 Thanks for the feedback and idea Bethany!
Wow…just wow!!! These are delicious and so quick and easy to make. This is going in the keep file for sure. Just as a note – I made these using 1c raw cashews and 1/2c oats along with the rest of the called for ingredients. Amazingly scrumptious. 🙌🏻🙌🏻
I am so so happy you liked them Tammy! I am obsessed with these of late😋 And I love the addition of oats too, great idea thanks for sharing!
Natalie, these look delicious! I have a question, though. Since these are no-bake, do they retain their shape if they warm up to room temperature? The reason I ask is because I am considering these for a multi-day backpacking trip where refrigeration is not an option. Is there an ingredient that can firm them up if necessary?
I would not recommend them without refrigeration, they get soft/mushy at room temp. Sorry! I’d recommend a date-based larabar type bar instead those are usually okay at room temp. You could try using the same mix of nuts/seeds and dates instead of maple syrup and just blending/processing that until you have a dough, but I can’t say exactly how many it will take. Good luck and have fun backpacking, that sounds awesome!
Thanks! I will look into that idea. Definitely don’t want to end up with a pocket of mush 😉
Can’t wait to try these. If you use the oats instead of nuts how does that affect the nutritional numbers? Specifically the calorie and fat content
It would make the fat content lower and the carb content higher. The overall calories would be slightly lower as well I think. Hope that helps!
Is there a sub for the hemp seeds?
Another type of seed would work like sunflower or pumpkin, but either will change the flavor. Personally I love the taste of hemp with chocolate, that’s why I recommend them, but you are welcome to experiment 🙂
Natlie if I could give these 10 stars I would. These are absolutely AMAZING!! the only bad thing I could not stop eating them LOL. So easy to make!! Keep these wonderful receipes coming!
Janet that makes me so happy to hear!! I absolutely love these too and have the same problem ha😆 Definitely need to do more variations with the hemp seeds, I just love that flavor. Thanks for the feedback!
cathryn lyddon says
Hi: I need to know things like carbs and cals since I am needing to stay with in certain guidelines.
The nutrition info is included right underneath the recipe 🙂
Ok, so I made half of this recipe since it seemed too healthy and good to be true (nuts and seeds are hella expensive and I don’t want to waste them). THEY ARE SO DELICIOUS!!! Seriously I wish I’d made double. I used cacao nibs and preferred this as I’m not used to very sweet things and they helped balance it out a bit, and 85% chocolate. I subbed chia for flax- they tasted great however the chia does leave specks of dark in it, bear that in mind if you care a lot about appearance. These made 6 for me (half the recipe) and make a perfect snack or dessert! These are seriously so cute, and slice into bars perfectly (tip: dunk your knife in hot water before cutting to avoid cracking the chocolate). After a stressful day these were the perfect healthy comfort food, I even think skipping the bars and making cookie dough ice cream or just eating with a spoon would be awesome too! Thankyouthankyouthankyou for this recipe!
YESSSSS! I am so thrilled to hear that you loved these🤗 This is seriously in my top 5 fave recipe on the blog–the ingredients don’t sound all that special, but together the taste is just SO good, right? Making them with cacao nibs is my favorite way to go too, and good to know chia seeds worked just as well😊 I love the idea of chunking it up and adding to ice cream, I like the way your brain works haha. Thank you for the wonderful feedback Sarah-Beth, and enjoy the rest!
Confession: These are amazing straight from the freezer! Provided you like insanely delicious cookie dough ice cream/ choc ice type things that is?
Haha anyone who answers no to that question is a liar😜 I have to try that!
Kids love them!
I love them!
A keeper for sure.
YAY!! I adore these, I am so happy your kids did too🤗 Thanks for the feedback Vanessa!
Thank you, wonderful alternative for other heavier bars. I can’t digest nuts very well so subbed for oats but wondered if these were oven baked how they would turn out, have you tested?
I am so happy you tried these! Good to know the oats worked too😋 Hmm I think that will just dry them out and may make them crumbly, but you could try it! Why do you want to if you don’t mind me asking?
Aimee Ryan says
Making these right now, for the second time because they make the most perfect, healthy, filling snack to keep in the freezer and I’m addicted to the taste of them! Thanks for a great recipe, Natalie.
Aw you are the sweetest, I am so happy you have become as obsessed with these as I am🤗 The hemp seed flavor is sooooo yum to me! Happy sunday, Aimee❤️
Did you use roasted/toasted cashews or raw cashews?
I used raw cashews, but toasted would be yummy here too!
I would love to try these however all nuts are a no no. Any recommendation for a flour that could be used instead.?
I have Vegan Mushroom (Vanilla ) protein powder I am experimenting with. Would this be good to add?
Hmm I haven’t tried these with protein powder before, but it is a pretty difficult recipe to mess up so totally could work. You will need quite a bit of it so I worry using all protein powder might have too strong a taste, maybe try a mix of protein powder and oats or quinoa flakes!
Hi,do you have the nutricional information of the recipe?