Many of us use protein powder as a means to reach our protein targets, to add flavour to food or simply to increase our protein intake. Protein powder is most commonly used in a protein shake, but there are a multitude of alternative ways that protein powder can be utilised. By learning how to cook with protein powder, you can uncover a vast array of delicious and healthy recipes that helps you to effortlessly reach your protein intake targets. Instead of merely sticking to protein shakes, you could soon be able to make protein brownies, protein oats, protein bread, protein bars, protein muffins, protein waffles, and my all-time favourite, protein pancakes!

If you have ever cooked with protein powder before and failed to either follow the recipe correctly, or used the wrong type of protein powder, you possibly were left with a dry or rubbery food that was possibly capable of being bounced off the wall. Fear not though, as below you’ll be provided with tips and guidelines to ensure that when you’re cooking with protein powder, you’ll achieve mouth-watering results time after time. You’ll even be treated to some bonus tips to ensure you achieve optimal results in your culinary expedition.

How to cook with protein powder - Protein powder bag with protein smoothie

Rule number 1: The most important rule when it comes to cooking or baking with protein powder is to follow the recipe and instructions precisely. Otherwise, be prepared for unexpected, disappointing results!

Protein powder type

Believe it or not, the type of protein powder that you add to your food is immensely influential on how successful the end result is. Provided the recipe is a good one, if you follow it accurately and use the same ingredients and methods described, there shouldn’t be an issue. However, assumptions, such as thinking that swapping pea protein powder for whey powder will work out OK, is a dangerous path. Using the wrong protein type can affect the texture, flavour, moisture and consistency. So what types of protein can you swap to achieving auspicious results?

Below is an easy to follow cheat guide to protein powder substitutions.

Whey protein can be swapped with:

  • Egg protein powder
  • Beef protein powder

Casein protein can be swapped with:

  • Brown rice protein powder
  • Hemp protein powder (chocolate flavour only)
  • Pea protein powder

Beef protein can be swapped with:

  • Egg protein powder
  • Whey protein powder

Egg protein can be swapped with:

  • Whey protein powder
  • Beef protein powder

Pea protein can be swapped with:

  • Brown rice protein powder
  • Casein protein powder
  • Hemp protein powder (chocolate flavour only)

Hemp protein can be swapped with:

  • Brown rice protein powder (chocolate flavour only)
  • Casein protein powder (chocolate flavour only)
  • Pea protein powder (chocolate flavour only)

Brown rice protein can be swapped with:

  • Casein protein powder
  • Hemp protein powder (chocolate flavour only)
  • Pea protein powder

Tip: If you prefer moist foods, such as a moist banana bread, search for recipes that contain plant-based protein powders, as they typically turn out more moist than recipes that use animal-based protein powders, such as whey or casein protein powder.

How to cook with protein powder - chocolate powder in a glass bowl

    Incorporate fats and moisture

    Protein powders, especially whey protein powder, tends to absorb greater proportions of liquid when compared to using flour. For that reason, fat and moist ingredients need to be incorporated into the recipe. For instance, if you’re tempted to swap ingredients, such as butter (a fat source) for applesauce which is low in fat, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll be left with a dried-out food.

    Examples of foods that add moisture to the recipe include:

    • Applesauce
    • Banana
    • Cottage cheese
    • Greek yoghurt
    • Liquid egg whites
    • Quark
    • Pumpkin puree
    • Sweet potato puree

    Examples of foods that add fat to the recipe include:

    • Avocado
    • Butter
    • Coconut oil
    • Eggs
    • Nut butter

    Tip: While vegan proteins such a pea, hemp and brown rice protein powder, add more moisture to the mixture when compared with whey or casein protein powder, a source of fat and moisture still needs to be included in the recipe, as they tend to form a dense mixture.

    How to cook with protein powder - Cottage cheese in a bowl

    Substituting flour for protein powder

    For many people, one of the first macronutrients they seek to limit in their diet is carbohydrates. This is particularly true in the case of people following weight loss plans or ketogenic diets. An excellent way to achieve this is by replacing some of the flour with protein powder.

    There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to substitution quantities of flour for protein powder. As a general rule of thumb, you typically shouldn’t substitute more than 50% of the flour for protein powder as it’s likely to result in a rubbery, dry texture. A good guideline to follow is to start by swapping 1/3 of the flour with protein powder. So for example, if the recipe warrants 100g of flour, add in about 66g of flour and 34g of protein powder.

    Tip: Protein scoop sizes vary amongst different manufacturers. Take caution when reading the recipe and instead of using scoops, it may be more accurate to weight the protein powder out instead.

    How to cook with protein powder - White flour with eggs

    Bonus tips

    • Don’t over mix the batter: The batter can become sticky and heavy if it is mixed too much. Instead, fold the batter until the ingredients are just incorporated.
    • Use appliances when required: If the recipe guides you to use a blender or a mixer to mix the ingredients, then do so. Remember the number 1 rule is to follow the instructions. If you opt to mix by hand, there could be a risk that the mixture is lumpy and this will affect the end result. An electric mixer is particularly crucial for recipes that require whipping or foaming, such as protein fluff.
    • Oven temperature guidelines: If you’re substituting flour with a whey protein powder, it’s advisable to reduce the temperature of the oven to 25 degrees lower than the prescribed temperature. This is because whey has a tendency to adversely react to excess temperature. Nobody wants a cake that’s burned on top and uncooked in the middle! If the original recipe already has a protein powder included, then stick to the prescribed oven temperature.
    • Line your baking tray: It’s likely that you perform this anyway, but don’t forget to do it, otherwise, the baked goods can stick to your tray.

    How to cook with protein powder - woman pouring protein powder into blender

    A vast array of recipes nowadays warrant blending, chopping, pureeing or grinding for the end result to taste and look mouth-watering. For that reason, I’m a firm believer that a multi-purpose blender is an essential appliance for every kitchen. One of the highest reviewed and most versatile blender units available on the market right now is the Breville Blend Active Pro Food Prep Personal Blender with Mini Food Processor and Spice Grinder. With this gadget in my ammunition, I can cook smarter, not harder, and save myself time and effort in the kitchen. I also banished those lumpy protein pancakes and smoothies that I used to have to suffer!

    As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This has no impact on you as a consumer if you choose to purchase any of these products, but I may earn for my efforts in reviewing these products. Also, please note that I only recommend the highest quality products that I have either purchased or would personally invest in.

    Summary

    • Always follow the recipe as accurately as possible to achieve best results
    • Plant-based protein powders tend to result in a moister texture when compared with animal-based protein
    • Caution should be observed when swapping protein powders in recipes, especially animal protein powders for plant-based protein powders
    • Including moisturisers and fat sources in the recipe helps ensure the texture is a moist consistency
    • Substituting flour with protein powder is an excellent way to reduce carbohydrate intake and increase protein intake
    • To prevent a rubbery, dry texture, avoid substituting greater than 1/3 flour for protein powder

    By following the above guidelines and tips, you should have no issues cooking and baking recipes containing protein powder, in fact, you should be able to make it as good as a professional chef! Just remember, a little bit of discipline when it comes to following the recipe will pay off in the end!

    As I said above, I love protein pancakes. But if you’re like me, you sometimes don’t have the time or energy to be buying, finding and weighting out various ingredients. To save myself some hassle, I invested in a protein pancake mix which simply needs a splash of milk or water and whip it into a pan. It couldn’t be easier for a lazy morning or a pre-workout breakfast! If you’re curious as to how they taste, or if you’re looking for a healthier pancake mix that’s not loaded with sugar, fat and calories, then MyProtein high protein low carb pancakes review is certainly worth a read!
    Have you baked or cooked with protein powder before? Other than protein shakes, what do you use protein powder in? Do you prefer to cook with animal or plant protein sources? Please post your comments and queries below, I’d love to hear them.

    How to cook with protein powder - Scoop of unflavoured protein powder

    Sources

    Protein Pow. 2020. Protein Powder Substitutions. [online] Available at: https://proteinpow.com/protein-powder-substitutions-chart [Accessed 2 August 2020].

    Protein Pow. 2020. The Ultimate Guide Of What NOT To Do When Cooking With Protein Powder. [online] Available at: https://proteinpow.com/2014/07/ultimate-guide-cooking-protein-powder.html [Accessed 2 August 2020].

    SWAGGER Magazine. 2018. How To Incorporate Whey Protein Powder Into Your Baking – SWAGGER Magazine. [online] Available at: https://www.swaggermagazine.com/home/culture/food-and-drinks/food/incorporate-whey-protein-powder-baking/ [Accessed 2 August 2020].

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    8 Comments

    Alyse · 08/08/2020 at 5:14 PM

    I agree protein pancakes are the best and so easy to make!! Thanks for this great article on how to cook with protein powder. I’ve tried different powders and I haven’t been able to find the perfect one to cook with. I’m going to try all these tips you have shared here and then hopefully I will get a great result.

      Sharon · 08/08/2020 at 9:01 PM

      Hi Alyse,

      Can’t have too many pancakes! Thank you so much, I’m glad you enjoyed the suggestions I provided in the post. I hope you found some options to try, fingers crossed it will further enhance your culinary delights.

      If there’s anything I can be of assistance with, don’t hesitate to reach out!

      Best wishes,
      Sharon

    Partha · 08/08/2020 at 5:31 PM

    Hi Sharon,

    Well this was a timely article for me.

    I take protein powder on a daily basis, but am starting to get bored with just mixing it with water or sprinkling some over my porridge.

    I have tried both brownies and pancakes previously, but they don’t seem to come out quite right.

    I can now see where I was going wrong – a lack of moisture.

    So, from your list I can see a number of ingredients I use quite often (for other purposes), but have never actually considered adding them to “mixtures” that I am making.

    These are typically applesauce, bananas, and liquid egg whites, and it’s great to find a way to incorporate these with my protein powder.

    I’m hoping that you add a few more “protein powder” recipes very soon, as I can’t wait to get cooking now.

    Thanks
    Partha

      Sharon · 08/08/2020 at 9:03 PM

      Hi Partha,

      I’m glad the article has been of assistance to you. It’s so easy to get into a rut and keep eating the same foods in the same way. The moisture thing got to me too, I’ve had dry banana bread on account of using whey protein, it now makes sense.

      I hopefully will get on that sooner than later.

      Best wishes,
      Sharon

    Jeff · 08/08/2020 at 8:21 PM

    I always learn so much from your articles, and this article was no different than the rest. I was wondering what do you think is the healthiest protein powder to purchase, as you shared there are so many now to choose from and it can be confusing which one is the best choice.

    Jeff

      Sharon · 08/08/2020 at 9:06 PM

      Hi there,

      Thank you so much, I’m glad you learned from the tips I provided in the post. I hope the article was of use to you. Believe it or not I’ve just posted an article answering that very question: What are the different types of protein powder? What surprised me when researching the various protein powders is how many of them are incomplete protein powders and that some types are virtually equivalent to consuming carbohydrates.

      It should answer your query, but feel free to revert with any further questions!

      Best wishes,
      Sharon

    SAM · 09/08/2020 at 4:52 AM

    Hi Sharon,

    I’ve a plant protein powder that I’ve only made smoothies with. Been wanting to try out making bagels with them. Maybe I can try out your tip on adding in moisturisers! The first time I tried baking my bagels, it was so hard it could leave a dent if I throw it on the wall.

    Thank you for sharing such an informative article on protein powders!

    Cheers.
    SAM

      Sharon · 09/08/2020 at 7:49 PM

      Hi there,

      They are a good combination with smoothies, a great way to bulk them up too. That’s disappointing, especially when you go to all the effort of getting the ingredients and making them. It’s certainly worth trying it anyway and adding the moisturisers in too.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and posting on my page.

      Sharon

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