These Coconut Protein Balls taste like no bake bars, contain just 6 ingredients with no added sugars, and take 20 minutes to make. This protein balls recipe is perfect for pre/post-workout healthy snacks or way to curb sweet cravings, with 5g protein per portion!
In fact, is similar to my almond joy protein balls – but even healthier. You may also enjoy these peanut butter protein balls, a more adult treat like these healthy rum balls or decadent snowball cookies!
Table of contents
High Protein No Bake Protein Balls Recipe
In Ukraine, it’s very typical to sustain yourself on three main meals per day, with no snacking between. However, the diet my family and I have become used to over the years away from Ukraine involves eating every 3-4 hours, which means snacking between main meals. Luckily, that doesn’t mean we have to fill our bodies with junk, though – which is where high-protein snacks like homemade protein bars, protein cookies, these coconut protein balls and our list of healthy snacks come in.
These coconut date balls are made up of just 6 all-natural pantry ingredients with an almond, date, and chocolate center rolled in shredded coconut. The combination creates nutrient-dense energy balls that are loaded with healthy fats, protein, antioxidants, and various other vitamins and minerals. Best of all – the protein balls recipe is gluten-free, sugar-free-using dates to naturally sweeten the energy balls, and can even be made nut-free!
And if you love the coconut chocolate combination, you might love some of these other snacks, too. Perhaps these healthy chocolate coconut balls, chocolate coconut flour muffins, or even decadent coconut oil fudge – yummy!
This grab-and-go snack is a great way to easily up your protein and fuel the body with healthy nourishment rather than just grabbing the nearest snack available (which I’m guilty of doing on occasion). They also travel very well, making them great for tucking into lunchboxes or enjoying while on the road (or sea or air)– along with these chicken quesadillas and egg muffins.
This no-bake treat takes just 20 minutes to prepare, too. So really, it’s a win-win situation all around!
The Ingredients and Substitutions
- Medjool Dates: Medjool are the best date variety to use for texture and flavor, and are high in fiber, several vitamins, and are a great low-GI sweetener. However, you could use other date varieties if needed (soaked to soften) or a similar dried fruit like apricot or fig to sub some or all the Medjool dates.
- Almonds: You could substitute the almonds for another nut (like cashews/pecans/walnuts), but then the protein content will decrease, and the nutrition values will change. You may be able to make this recipe nut-free by using sunflower seeds instead – which contain only very slightly lower protein content than almonds and are super nutrient-dense!
- Cacao Powder: or unsweetened cocoa powder will pack in antioxidants and chocolate flavor to the coconut energy balls.
- Protein Powder: I use whey protein powder (non-vegan)- unflavored or vanilla. I recommend using a brand with minimum ingredients, preferably organic and grass-fed. (Check FAQs for more information and about plant-based protein powders).
- Chocolate Chips: I like to use either semi-sweet, dark, or even sugar-free chocolate chips. Cacao nibs would also work but won’t add sweetness at all.
- Shredded coconut: I use unsweetened shredded coconut. You can optionally lightly toast the coconut in a pan till golden brown for extra crunch and flavor.
- Flavored Protein Powder: Feel free to adapt the flavor of this protein balls recipe with flavored protein; chocolate, cookie dough, coffee, vanilla, etc., will all work well.
- Seeds: Adding ground flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seed, etc., will help to boost the protein content further and add additional healthy fats and vitamins/minerals. Add 2-3 tablespoons.
- Dried fruit: Although we’re already using dates in the recipe, you can add flavor with other dried fruits like craisins, raisins, blueberries, etc. However, these will all also add extra sweetness, which you may want to balance with a salty/neutral element.
- Vanilla extract: Only a little is needed to make these coconut energy balls taste even more like a cookie.
- Spices: Adding spices is an easy way to adapt flavor. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, pumpkin spice, vanilla, ginger, etc. Check out this list of favorite healthy Christmas cookies for all my warming spiced treats!
- Zest: add the rind of one orange for a naturally flavored chocolate orange coconut blend. You could also use lime/lemon, though I imagine that would work better with vanilla coconut balls rather than chocolate- feel free to try, though.
How to Make No Bake Protein Balls
- Process the almonds: Add the almonds to your food processor and process into a coarse flour (meal) texture. It doesn’t need to be 100% uniform- there can be some larger/smaller pieces. Be careful to watch the machine while doing this. If you process the almonds for too long, they can start releasing their oils and begin becoming almond butter.
- Add the dates: Add the dates and water to the food processor and process until combined. Pause the machine to scrape down the walls of the jug if needed.
- Add the remaining ingredients: Add the protein powder and cacao and process until well combined. Finally, add the chocolate and pulse just a few times to distribute them evenly throughout the date coconut ‘batter.’ The mixture’s consistency should be thick but pliable and ‘rollable.’ If the batter is a little dry, then add a teaspoon of water at a time until it’s correct. Likewise, if it’s too gooey, add a little extra protein powder to thicken the mixture.
- Prepare the shredded coconut: Spread the coconut onto a plate. If you want, you can lightly toast it in a dry pan for just a minute or two until lightly golden brown and slightly crunchy.
- Shape the protein energy balls: First, remove the blade from the food processor and use a spatula to remove any of the dough stuck to it and the sides of the jug, pulling it all over to one side of the jug. Then, use a small cookie dough scoop to portion the mixture into balls, drop them into the coconut, and gently roll into a round ball, covering it in coconut.
You can enjoy the no bake protein balls immediately or chill them to serve later!
Pro Tip: If your dates are even slightly dry, it’s a good idea to soak them in very hot water for 15-20 minutes. This will help soften and plump them up. The dates are critical to achieving the correct ‘rollable’ consistency of the balls. If you use different (not Medjool) dates, you may need to add 1-2 tsp extra water to the mixture to form a rollable consistency.
How To Store
Storing: Store the prepared coconut energy balls in a spacious glass container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Top Tip: I like to use glass containers as plastics can absorb the fragrance from dish soap and impact the food within (just one of the reasons we switched to natural dishwasher soap.)
Can I Freeze them? Of course – In fact, I suggest doubling up on the recipe and freezing the coconut date balls in an airtight glass container for up to 3 months. If there are enough balls for more than one layer in the tub, place a piece of parchment paper between, so the balls don’t stick together as they freeze.
Allow the coconut date balls to thaw for just 10-15 minutes from the freezer before enjoying!
These coconut protein balls can be enjoyed in several ways including as a pre-or post-workout snack, part of breakfast, dessert, and more.
I suggest eating 1 after a meal to satisfy any dessert/sweet-tooth cravings. Alternatively, eat 2 as a snack alongside a piece of fruit like an apple.
The coconut date balls are packed with protein, fiber, healthy fat, antioxidants, and several vitamins and minerals. For that reason, the balls aren’t exactly a ‘low-calorie’ snack, but they’re packed with nourishing, healthful ingredients and benefits.
It’s best to enjoy these within moderations though, just 1-2 at any one time is usually more than enough to sustain you till your next meal.
I’ve always had the best results when using whey protein. The way it interacts with the coconut date mixture creates a wonderfully moist, rollable texture. In comparison, I’ve found many plant-based protein powders to be overly absorbent (rice protein, pea protein, etc.) and crumble apart when trying to roll. For that reason, I recommend using whey protein.
However, if you want to make these as vegan coconut protein balls, a reader has let me know that they used plant-based protein and just increased the water in the batter slightly until it was rollable.
I’ve never tried to make these coconut date balls without a food processor, as the blade helps to chop the ingredients finely and bind everything together.
If you want to experiment, I recommend soaking the dates in hot water for 15-20 minutes to make them as juicy/plump as possible, then chop everything as finely as possible (you can add the nuts to a Ziplock bag and bash with a rolling pin.)
After chopping, combine everything in a bowl and mix and press to try to combine. If it needs more help to combine, you could add the mixture (in batches) to a mortar and pestle, grinding it into more of a paste, which will be easier to handle and shape into the coconut energy balls.
- For those wanting exact nutrient calculations: I suggest plugging this protein balls recipe into a nutrient calculator yourself when using a different protein powder or making any tweaks to the recipe.
- If you find the batter too dry/gloopy: It’s usually down to one of two things; the dates and the protein powder used. Each protein powder will react differently and have different absorbency levels, so you may need to tweak amounts. If the mixture is a bit wet, you could also try chilling it in the freezer shortly to thicken it up slightly.
- For coconut protein bars: If you want to skip the rolling time, you can press the coconut date mixture onto a parchment-lined dish, pressing the shredded coconut to the top, and then chill and cut it into bars.
- Avoid using a blender: Instead of a food processor. I’ve found the dough just gets stuck and won’t properly blend into a smooth mixture.
More High Protein Recipes
- No bake protein cookies
- Chocolate protein cookies
- Protein waffles
- Peanut butter protein pancakes
- Protein cookies
You might also like to check out all 65 of my healthy snacks for more ideas!
Coconut Protein Balls
- In a food processor, add almonds and process until coarse flour (meal) texture (with bigger pieces is OK). Add dates and water, process until combined, pausing and scraping the walls if necessary.
- Add cacao and protein powders, process until well combined, pausing and scraping the walls if necessary. Add chocolate chips and give a few pulses to distribute evenly.
- Remove the blade. Using spatula scrape the dough off of the blade and walls pulling into one pile inside the food processor bowl.
- Spread coconut flakes on a large plate. Using small cookie dough scoop, drop balls of dough onto it, cover with coconut flakes (from the plate) and gently roll around a bit.
Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Medjool Dates: You could use other date varieties if needed (soaked to soften) or a similar dried fruit like apricot or fig to sub some or all the Medjool dates.
- Almonds: You could substitute the almonds for another nut (like cashews/pecans/walnuts), but nutrition values will change. Nut-free try sunflower seeds instead.
- Cacao Powder: Or use unsweetened cocoa powder.
- Protein Powder: I use whey protein powder (non-vegan)- unflavored or vanilla. I recommend using a brand with minimum ingredients, preferably organic and grass-fed.
- Chocolate Chips: I like to use either semi-sweet, dark, or even sugar-free chocolate chips. Cacao nibs work but won’t add sweetness at all.
- Shredded coconut: I use unsweetened shredded coconut.
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