Running late for work? Need a little energy on the go? Many of us reach for a protein bar or healthy granola bar to help us power through the day. These bars are convenient and—if we choose wisely—good for us (here’s how to tell if your energy bar is healthy).
But have you walked into granola and energy bar aisle at the store? It’s overwhelming the number of options out there. That’s why we decided that we needed to sample them and look at the nutritionals to find the best of the best so you can have a more satisfying snack.
What’s the Best Protein-Packed Granola Bar? We Found Out.
When it comes to protein bars, there are lots of options out there. For this test, our Test Kitchen gathered up a whopping 17 options for our tasting panel to try. To level the playing field a bit, we opted to try all chocolate and peanut butter bars since this flavor was a common denominator.
In our blind taste test, our panel scored and judged samples based on flavor, texture, appearance, price and nutrition—particularly protein. Protein helps keep you energized and full, so it’s important that these snacks that we rely on to power us up can actually deliver.
The Best Healthy Granola Bar: Nature Valley XL Protein Bar
Our favorite granola bar came from Nature Valley—also our favorite when it came to basic granola. This bar was impressive from the very start, with a great serving of protein: 15 grams! This is plenty to keep you powered up for the day ahead (or maybe just get you through that afternoon slump). Of course, this bar also tasted great. It had a strong peanut butter flavor and just enough chocolate—but not so much that it turned into a candy bar. Testers also loved the crunchy texture of the peanuts and oats here. This would be a super satisfying way to start the day on the go or just a good, protein-packed snack.
More Great Granola and Protein Bars
Testers also loved KIND in this test. This healthy granola bar was full of whole nuts (including almonds) and topped with a chocolate drizzle and a hint of salt. Testers liked how the ingredients here were very apparent—it felt like this bar was less processed than others. The only drawback to this bar was that it was lacking in protein. Six grams is better than many snacks, but maybe not quite enough to keep you full for an extended period of time. We highly recommend this one as a snack, but perhaps not breakfast on the run.
Luna’s peanut and chocolate flavor was also a top performer. Testers found it sweet and satisfying, some even likening it to these peanut butter and chocolate bars (definitely an apt comparison). For folks looking for a good-for-you bar to keep in a desk drawer or to snack on with a cup of coffee, Luna Nutz Over Chocolate is a great option according to our testers. If you’re serious about protein content though, you might want to try our number-one pick (these weigh in at 8 grams).
How to Make Your Own Granola Bars
If you run out of our favorite protein bars (or just want to try something homemade), you can make granola bars from scratch. We’ve got plenty of granola bar recipes to make at home, but this homemade granola bar is our favorite. It packs 5 grams of protein and has fewer than 200 calories. And you can customize to suit your tastes. Add a few chocolate chips (our testers’ preference), dried fruit, nuts or even some shredded coconut.
Start with These Breakfast Bar Recipes
How We Chose the Winners
Our Taste of Home Test Kitchen and editors team up to taste all kinds of popular foods and run essential kitchen gear through the paces. We rank them, discuss and test again, if needed, to arrive at the products we recommend for you and your kitchen. Find out how we choose the best products and see everything we’ve tested.