Mini No-Bake Protein Cookie Dough Bites

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mini cookie dough balls on a cookie sheet

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been caught eating raw cookie dough straight from the bowl or fridge. However, it’s quite risky and it can compromise your health goals. You see, most people assume that the warning to not consume raw cookie dough is primarily to avoid the foodborne illness salmonella, caused by ingesting raw eggs. But there’s also a warning on raw flour, which is extremely dirty and can contain bacteria like E. coli (until baked, of course).

Don’t worry, we’ve developed an easy edible cookie dough recipe that will satisfy your craving for chocolate chip cookie dough. It uses almond flour and oats in place of raw flour, so that you can avoid the risks of eating raw flour. This protein ball recipe can be made vegan and gluten-free with substitutions like maple syrup and gluten-free oats, and you can find everything you’ll need at the grocery store. There’s no need to roll out the dough for these no-bake energy bites, and you’ll love how they come together in just minutes. Plus, they’re low in sugar and high in protein for a sweet treat that your kids and family will love!

Why not just make regular no-bake cookie dough? It’s pretty simple to leave the eggs out of your favorite cookie dough recipe and start devouring, but we wanted to create a recipe that’s a good mix of healthy and indulgent. Protein powder, oat flour and almond flour all pack more of a nutritional punch than regular white flour. Plus, this recipe is a lot lighter on sweetener. There’s nothing wrong with having a sweet tooth, so you can add more sweetener as necessary, but we all know that it’s important to limit our sugar intake. These cookie dough bites taste just like the real deal but are much better for you, so you can enjoy them without thinking twice. 

We like to call these protein-packed treats cookie dough bites, but they go by all sorts of names: no-bake protein balls, energy balls, no-bake cookie dough, et cetera. The only thing you need to know is that you’re getting a healthy dessert that’s chock-full of protein, good-for-you ingredients, and healthy fats, so you can enjoy the cookie dough taste you love without all of the calories. Made with basic ingredients that you can find at the grocery store, you can enjoy these all week long – if they last that long!

Ingredients

Makes ~ 18-20 teaspoon sized dough bites

3

Tbsp coconut oil

1

Tsp vanilla

2

Tsp honey

1/2

Cup almond flour

1/2

Cup pulverized oats (or oat flour, I like mine a little more chunky)

1

Scoop vanilla protein powder

1

Heaping tbsp nut butter of choice

2

Tbsp cacao nibs, mini chocolate chips or carob chips

Directions:

  1. Mix coconut oil, vanilla, and honey in a medium bowl.
  2. Add almond meal, pulverized oats, and protein powder.
  3. Stir in nut butter. Continue mixing until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add chip of choice to “dough” mixture.
  5. Using a heaping teaspoon, form dough into balls.
  6. Freeze dough bites (minimum 2 hours).

Where to Store

We know what you’re thinking – do I really have to put these in the freezer for two hours? The answer is not necessarily. While it’s best to let the energy balls firm up in the freezer, you don’t need to put them in the freezer to make them safe to eat. Because these are no-bake energy bites, they don’t contain raw flour or eggs, so they don’t need heat or cold to kill bad bacteria. If you just can’t keep yourself from sneaking a spoonful of the dough at room temperature, we can’t blame you, and it will still taste great! The freezer is just best for these no-bake protein balls to form their shape. You can also put them in the fridge, but they’ll take longer to firm up and hold their shape. As for storage, you can experiment with keeping them in the fridge or freezer to see what works best for you. If you prefer a softer cookie dough texture, the fridge might be best; if you like firmer, colder cookie dough, then stick these right back in the freezer!

Even if you prefer softer edible cookie dough, we don’t recommend storing these energy balls at room temperature. Keeping them in the fridge ensures that these healthy snacks don’t crumble apart in your hands! When you’re ready to snack on them, we suggest enjoying these chocolate chip cookie dough protein balls with a glass of milk (or almond milk if you’re dairy-free), and maybe even some ice cream, if you’re really in the mood for dessert!

Modifications

Here’s our favorite thing about this edible cookie dough recipe: you can modify it to make it your own! For starters, if you just can’t enjoy a cookie without that delicious buttery taste, you can substitute unsalted butter for the coconut oil, by replacing the 3 tablespoons of coconut oil with 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Make sure you melt the unsalted butter in the microwave for about a minute so that it’s liquid, otherwise it won’t mix well with the other liquid ingredients.

You can also replace the honey with maple syrup, brown sugar or white sugar. Brown sugar can really give your energy bites that homemade chocolate chip cookie taste. If you choose to substitute white sugar, you may want to add a teaspoon of milk, almond milk or water, as brown sugar, maple syrup and honey both contain more moisture than white sugar.

As for the almond flour, it’s best not to substitute for this one. Like we said, raw flour can contain lots of bacteria, and those bacteria have to be killed by heat – the freezer just won’t do it! Even if you want to substitute a gluten-free flour like coconut flour, it’s probably best to stick with almond flour. Coconut flour is difficult to use as a substitute, as it quickly absorbs water and can change the texture of your dough.

You can also modify the pulverized oats, but we recommend keeping oats in the recipe for the texture. You can  make your own pulverized oats using a food processor. Simply pulse rolled oats or instant oatmeal in a food processor until only tiny flakes remain (we don’t recommend using steel-cut oats, which have a different texture). If you continuously blend within your food processor, you’ll get oat flour, for more smoothly-textured edible cookie dough. Make sure you’re using gluten-free oats if you’re gluten-free!

As for protein powder, you can use whichever powder you like for these protein bites. We used whey protein, but plant-based protein would also work. You can experiment with different flavors of protein powder to change the taste. For example, using peanut butter flavored whey protein would give you peanut butter energy bites. Or, you could try chocolate protein powder for a more chocolatey energy bite.

Much like protein powder, any kind of nut butter will work for this edible cookie dough. Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter – the choice is yours! Plus, the nut butter provides great healthy fats. You can substitute sunflower seed butter if you or your kids need to avoid nuts. The fat in nut butter is important for binding these energy balls together, but if you really don’t like the taste of nut butter, you could substitute with cream cheese instead, as cream cheese has a similar texture and fat content.

As for the chocolate chips, we really like miniature ones, so that you can spread more of them out throughout your protein balls. You could also use dark chocolate chips or white chocolate chips. You could even use peanut butter chips, if you’re going for peanut butter energy bites. And if you prefer to leave out the chocolate chips, you could try substituting chia seeds! Chia seeds are a great way to add fiber, protein and omega-3s to any recipe. And here’s a tip: chia seeds are a great plant-based binding ingredient, so they’ll help these protein balls stick together when you roll them in your hands. If you like cookies with just a touch of salt, you can add a dash of salt to this recipe to bring out the flavor.

What if you don’t have protein powder? Well, protein is in the name, but these cookie bites will still be tasty without the protein powder. In our version, vanilla protein powder adds flavor in addition to protein, so if you choose to make these without protein powder, you’ll probably want to add extra vanilla extract or sweetener to replace the flavor that’s lost. As for the texture, you can see how your cookie bites turn out without protein powder. If they’re sticky and difficult to form into small balls, we’d recommend adding more oat flour or almond flour, to replicate the protein powder texture. But remember, stay away from raw flour!

There are plenty of ways to modify this original recipe, and we love all of them! We want you to find edible cookie dough that gives you energy, meets your macros, and has a taste that you love so much, you could eat it with a spoon. However, one modification we wouldn’t recommend is adding heat. You may be tempted to bake these, or even to pop them in the microwave for a few seconds, but we wouldn’t recommend doing so. Baking or microwaving these treats can change the texture and melt the chocolate, which makes for a very messy bite! They’re best enjoyed cold out of the fridge. If you store yours in the freezer and they’re so cold that they’re difficult to chew, they might just need a few minutes to warm up. Enjoy! 

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