Pack in the protein with one of our delicious protein shake recipes! In this post, we are chatting all about how to make a protein shake along with the best types of protein to use and more!
Table of Contents
- What is a protein shake?
- Types of protein
- How to make a protein shake
- Blender recommendations
- Basic protein shake recipe
- Best protein shake recipes
What is a Protein Shake?
Protein shakes (or protein smoothies) are a protein drink typically consumed before or after a workout in order to aid in muscle recovery. Protein shakes are usually made with frozen fruit/ice, a protein source such as protein powder, and a liquid.
Are protein shakes good for you? The healthiest protein shakes are the ones you make in your own blender because you can control what goes in them. The goal here is low sugar + high protein and no additives.
Benefits of protein shakes Protein shakes are an excellent thing to drink after a workout to help your muscles properly recover. In addition to post-workout, protein shakes can be used as a meal preplacement if they have enough calories ore even a high-protein snack.
Protein shake before or after workout? Our preferred time to drink a protein shake is post-workout, but it has been said that either before or after a workout will provide the same benefits!
Types of Protein
Since protein shakes are all about the protein, we thought we’d lay out all of the best protein sources to add to your protein shake and how much protein/serving you can get out of each. Here you’ll find vegan, gluten-free, paleo, and keto protein options!
Protein powder is such an easy way to get an adequate amount of protein in your shake because 1. there are so many different options and 2. it’s really easy to find at the grocery store! We wrote a Guide to Protein Powder that goes more in-depth in our favorite brands!
- Plant-Based (1 serving Garden of Life Vanilla) – 22g protein
- Whey (1 serving Organic Fuel Vanilla) – 26g protein
- Collagen (1 serving Bulletproof Collagen Peptides Vanilla) – 23g protein
Nuts and nut butters are a favorite and delicious protein source to add to your protein shake. Not only will you get protein, but you’ll also pack in the fiber and healthy fats, too!
- Almonds (23 almonds) – 6g protein
- Peanuts (28 peanuts) – 7g protein
- Cashews (18 cashews) – 5g protein
- Walnuts (7 walnuts) – 4g protein
- Pecans (19 pecans) – 3g protein
Whether you’re topping your protein shake or adding them right into the mix, seeds are an excellent vegan, paleo, and keto-friendly protein addition!
- Chia Seed (1 tablespoon) – 2g protein
- Flax Seeds (1 tablespoon) – 2g protein
- Hemp Seeds (1 tablespoon) – 3g protein
- Pepitas (1 tablespoon) – 3g protein
Most protein shakes begin with the base of frozen fruit because it’s easy to blend up and super flavorful. Here, I wanted to point out some of the highest-protein fruits and veggies out there that you can also add to your protein smoothie to really amp it up.
- Guava (1 cup) – 4g protein
- Avocado (1 medium avocado) – 4g protein
- Kiwi (1 cup) – 2g protein
- Blackberries (1 cup) – 2g protein
- Spinach (1 cup) – 5g protein
- Kale (1 cup) – 3g protein
- Sweet Potato (1/2 cup, mashed) – 2.5g protein
- Cauliflower (1 cup) – 2g protein
Other Protein Sources
We didn’t want to leave out some other easy and tasty protein sources that you can add to your shakes to get an extra boost of protein! Greek yogurt is a personal favorite of mine and makes your smoothies super creamy!
- Greek Yogurt (1/2 cup 2%) – 11g protein
- Cottage Cheese (1/2 cup 2%) – 10g protein
- Beans (1/4 cup lima beans) – 4g protein
How to Make a Protein Shake
- Base – Fruit vs. Ice: Start with a base of around 1 cup of ice or 1 cup of frozen fruit. My favorite base is frozen banana, but mixed berries are a close second. Add it right into your high-speed blender.
- Protein: Next, choose your protein source(s). We typically use multiple protein sources when making a protein shake. For example, you could do a serving of protein powder + a teaspoon of chia/flax seed + a tablespoon of nut butter.
- Sweetener: Now, decide if you’d like to add a sweetener. Depending on how sweet your protein powder is or what base fruit you used, you may not need to add one! If you are going to add one, we suggest an all-natural sweetener such as maple syrup or honey.
- Liquid: Start with about 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of liquid and add more from there. There’s nothing worse than a protein shake that’s too runny, so start conservatively. Feel free to use any liquid you like such as water, orange juice, almond milk, etc.
- Blend: Now it’s time to blend it all up! The better the blender, the smoother your protein shake is going to be! If things are having a hard time “smoothing,” this means you need to add more liquid.
Every delicious protein shake begins with a good blender. Ain’t that the truth!? I spent years using a dully/crappy blender only to realize that a quality blender really is the key to life. Here are some of our blender recommendations in all price ranges!
High: We currently have the middle of the line Vitamix 5200 and LOVE it. It truly is life-changing when it comes to shakes and smoothies because you get the creamiest texture as can be in no time! ~$400 investment
Medium: Our old blender, that I still love for the record, was the Kitchen Ninja System 1200. She lasted us almost 4 years and it was pure bliss! No, it’s not as good as the Vitamix, but it does come with smoothie specific cups and even a food processor attachment! ~$150 investment
Low: My very first smoothie blender was the good ol’ Nutribullet. At under $100, it really does the trick if you’re specifically using it to make smoothies! ~$60 investment.
Basic Protein Shake Recipe
- 1 cup frozen fruit or ice banana, berries, etc.
- 2-4 servings protein protein powder, nut butter, seeds, etc.
- 1/3 cup - 1 cup of liquid almond milk, water, orange juice, etc
- optional: sweetener
- First, place fruit or ice on the bottom of your high-speed blender.
- Next, add in a few of your favorite protein sources. We recommend using anywhere from 2-4 different sources here depending on how much protein you'd like to consume.
- Add in 1/3 cup of liquid to start and an optional sweetener, if desired.
- Then, put the lid on your blender and blend on high for about a minute or until smooth. If your protein shake isn't blending easily, add a little bit more liquid and continue blending.
- Serve immediately.
Tips & Notes
Our Best Protein Shakes
You’re going to love this Strawberry Protein Shake because it tastes exactly like strawberry cheesecake. This protein powder smoothie recipe is made with just a few simple ingredients: frozen strawberries, bananas, vanilla protein powder, Greek yogurt, and almond milk.
This Healthy Banana Protein Shake is packed with a short list of real ingredients and blended together to perfection! Boasting 16 g of protein per serving and oh so flavorful, this protein shake recipe will fuel your body post-workout or as a sweet treat. Enjoy!
This Triple Berry Protein Smoothie is packed with clean ingredients and a whopping 12 grams of protein per serving. Made with mixed berries, banana, protein powder, almond milk and chia seeds, this protein smoothie will start your day off right!
This peanut butter and jelly protein smoothie is a tasty and healthy twist on your favorite childhood classic. Plus it is the perfect post-workout snack packed with protein and deliciousness.
More Protein Shake Recipes
- Dark Chocolate Peppermint Protein Shake
- Strawberry Coconut Protein Shake
- Superfood Protein Smoothie
- PB Banana Cold Brew Protein Smoothie
- Dark Chocolate Date Protein Smoothie
- Superfood Power Protein Smoothie
- Best Breakfast Smoothie
- Chocolate Banana Protein Smoothie
- 19 Healthy Smoothies by Ambitious Kitchen
- 5 Protein Shake by Girl on Bloor