Gluten Free Protein Balls | No Bake Peanut Butter Energy Bites


Prep Time : 15 minutes

Cook Time : 0 minutes

Keep your family energized throughout the day with these gluten free peanut butter energy bites. Tasty and healthy, these protein bites make a great snack.

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Gluten Free Protein Balls | No Bake Peanut Butter Energy Bites

These no-bake gluten free protein balls are delicious, satisfying, and easy to make. Homemade, protein balls costs about 20¢ each to make—and might cost you about $1.79 each to buy (no joke).

If your family is always hungry, like mine seems to be, these bites are the perfect snack to have around. They’re even great for breakfast on the go.

A glass jar of peanut butter gluten free protein balls.

What makes these protein balls special

I had been making these peanut butter protein balls for months and months (and taking them everywhere with me) before I even thought about sharing the recipe with anyone. They’re so dead simple that when people asked for the recipe, I just recited it from memory as best I could.

I mostly make them using hemp seeds, which are so protein-packed it’s ridiculous. When I started making them, no one could reasonably be expected to find hemp seeds, so I figured the recipe wasn’t worth sharing.

But then, as often happens, I spied with my little eye a package of hulled hemp seeds at my local Trader Joe’s. And just like that, it was time to share!

These no bake peanut butter energy bites are delicious, satisfying and so easy to make. And they're naturally gluten free, too!

What’s special about these gluten free protein balls?

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I make these protein balls every month of the year. The large glass jar you see in the photo above (and in the video) is one I keep stocked with these energy snacks (okay, sometimes cookies) as often as possible. And my whole family really misses them when the last one in the jar is eaten!

There aren’t many ingredients in them, and even though they contain sugar (honey is sugar, after all), the oats, coconut, and seeds are pure health food. Just one bite contains 6 grams of protein, and satisfying enough to get me through the afternoon slump.

Even when my kids were still hitting growth spurts that emptied the cupboards regularly, three protein balls were usually enough to tide them over. And they beat a handful of Oreos any day!

As an alternative to the bite-sized energy snack situation, I also have the perfect recipe for homemade protein bars. They’re made with oats and protein powder, and there are lots of different flavor variations. Somehow, they have the texture of a brownie.

Gluten free protein ball ingredients list

  • Old fashioned rolled oats – If you can’t have oats, try picking a substitute for oats.
  • Coconut flakes – a delicious, nutritious binder full of healthy fats
  • Hemp seeds – I like these, but you can also try chia, hulled sunflower, pumpkin, or flax seeds
  • Oat flour – I just grind oats myself to make this flour
  • Salt – a must for balancing all the different flavors
  • Peanut butter – smooth, no-mix peanut butter works best; natural peanut butter is usually too runny
  • Honey – or maple syrup – helps to bind the recipe ingredients while adding a touch of sweetness
  • Vanilla extract – just a bit adds such big flavor
  • Mini chocolate chips – add more sweetness without taking these overboard
These no bake peanut butter energy bites are delicious, satisfying and so easy to make. And they're naturally gluten free, too!

These gluten free protein balls can be no-bake (if you want it to be)

This really is a no-bake recipe when you make it as written. But I cannot tell a lie: I almost always toast the oats, coconut, and seeds in a 300°F oven for about 15 minutes at the start.

You may not want to put on the oven for something that should be no-bake. But I have my oven on every single day of the year (occupational hazard) anyway, summer included.

Toasting the oats, coconut, and seeds really does intensify and deepen the flavors. But if the oven simply isn’t an option, you could also try toasting them on the stovetop in a cast-iron skillet just until they smell fragrant.

These no bake peanut butter energy bites are delicious, satisfying, and so easy to make. And they’re naturally gluten free, too!

A glass mixing bowl filled with the combined gluten free protein ball ingredients.

How to make these peanut butter protein balls

Whether you choose to toast the bulky ingredients (oats, coconut, seeds) or not, all this recipe requires is that you place those ingredients, along with some salt and oat flour (just oats ground in a food processor or blender—I never buy oat flour!) in a large bowl. Then, add the peanut butter and honey and mix.

The mixture will be quite thick. Just keep mixing and pressing down the mixture with the back of a spoon to moisten the bulky ingredients with the peanut butter and honey. You want everything to be thick and not soft so that the energy bites hold together well and keep their shape after you portion and roll them tightly.

Then, allow everything to cool down to room temperature (especially if you’ve toasted the oats, etc. first) before adding the few miniature chocolate chips. Otherwise, the chips will melt right into the bites when mixed and won’t hold their shape.

I like using miniature chocolate chips since just a few ounces of them go a long, long way. Every single bite will have plenty of chips, but not too many that we took something healthy and made it into candy.

Finally, portion the mixture with an ice cream scoop or your fingers and roll each portion tightly into balls between your palms. Place them in the refrigerator to chill, then pile them into a container with a lid. They’re ready whenever you or your always-hungry family is!

Have the kids help make these gf bites

Seriously, your kids will love this energy ball recipe as much as you do. They’ll love it even more if you let them help you make these tasty treats.

These gluten free bites make perfect school snacks, and your kids will be delighted when they find them in lunch boxes — they’ll tell their friends all about how they helped!

Here are some tips for making this gluten free protein balls recipe with kids:

  • Watch out for hot ingredients – I love to toast my oats, shredded coconut, and seeds when I make these gf power balls, but you can skip this step to make this a truly no-bake oatmeal energy balls recipe. Should you decide to go through with the toasting, just make sure your ingredients have completely cooled before letting the little ones handle them.
  • Wash hands before mixing and rolling – I don’t see the need to use a food processor to make these gluten free peanut butter balls — mixing by hand is rather quick and easy. As kiddos may accidentally lose their grip on the mixing spoon (or purposely do so to get a taste of that yummy batter), make sure that they wash their hands thoroughly before starting.
  • Don’t worry about making a mess – It’s a fact of life that when you have kids in the kitchen, there’s going to be the potential for a mess. As you can easily contain this mess to a table or counter, don’t let this bother you. This batter is perfectly safe for licking off fingers, and the ingredients will clean up easily with a damp sponge. Of course, if you really don’t have the time for a mess, you can also plop the mixed ingredients into a pan, firmly flatten, and then refrigerate. After an hour, pull out the pan and use a knife to cut up some homemade energy bars.

More tips for making gluten free protein balls

Eyeing up the protein bites dough and pinching off pieces is a perfectly legitimate way to divvy up the batter. But if you want more consistent sizing across your gluten free energy balls, use an ice cream or cookie scoop.

Refrigerate the dough before rolling

I find that it’s much easier to roll an energy ball when the dough is cold. If you find that your mix is too soft to handle, just stick the mixing bowl or portioned batter into the fridge for about 30 minutes. When it comes out, it will be firm enough for easy handling.

How to store your gluten free protein balls

When I make these gluten free peanut butter protein balls, I usually double or triple the recipe to have a big batch on hand. They’ll last roughly a week if you store them in an airtight container on your kitchen counter.

If your family doesn’t inhale these yummy protein bites the way mine does, you can extend their life by storing them in the refrigerator instead. You can keep them in an airtight container for about two weeks before they start to dry out.

If you’re a slow eater, working on portion control, or just want easy access to these peanut butter balls at all times, stick them in the freezer.

After I finish preparing them, I place the pan of energy bites directly into the freezer for about an hour so they get very firm. I then transfer the balls to a freezer-safe zip-top bag. Your gluten free peanut butter balls with oatmeal will last about three months in the freezer.

These no bake peanut butter energy bites are delicious, satisfying and so easy to make. And they're naturally gluten free, too!

Gluten free peanut butter balls substitution & variation suggestions

Peanut butter-free, gluten free bites

If you can’t have peanut butter, almost any other nut butter will do. Almond butter is the perfect substitute, and cashew butter will make a more neutral-flavored energy bite.

The drippy, natural kind is really too soft and won’t hold the bites together very well. Go for the “no-stir” kind, in which the oil doesn’t separate at room temperature.

Vegan, gluten free balls

If you want to make these vegan or just don’t like honey, you can use a combination of half maple syrup, half unsulphured molasses (like Grandma’s brand). Maple syrup alone is too thin and not sticky enough to replace honey.

Grain free, gluten free power balls

If you don’t want to eat oats or you can’t have them, try replacing the old-fashioned rolled oats with beaten rice and the oat flour with quinoa flakes. We discuss this further in our post about how to substitute for oats in baking.

Instead of replacing the oats in this recipe for protein balls, you can make a grain-free version. They’re full of protein, too, just without the grains.

In place of oats and oat flour, use twice as many coconut flakes, and a combination of assorted raw nuts. I recommend using at least 1/2 cup cashews in that mix, since they’re a soft, mild nut that helps bind together the other ingredients in a similar way to how the oat flour does in the oat-containing recipe below.

To make grain free protein balls, you’ll need a food processor or the ingredients will be too large to hold together as balls:

  • 2 cups (240 g) assorted raw nuts (I recommend 1 cup (120 g) raw cashews + 1/2 cup (60 g) raw pecans + 1/2 cup (60 g) raw almonds; use at least 1/2 cup cashews)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups (160 g) unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups (384 g) smooth, no-stir peanut butter (can substitute almond butter another favorite no-stir nut butter)
  • 1/2 cup (168 g) honey (Lyle’s Golden Syrup is a good substitute)
  • 1 cup (160 g) hulled raw seeds (I recommend a combination of hemp, chia, and/or flax seeds)
  • 4 ounces miniature chocolate chips

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, place the raw nuts, salt, and about 2 cups (half) of the coconut flakes. Pulse the mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (3 or 4 times).

In a large, microwave-safe bowl, place the peanut butter and honey. Microwave the peanut butter and honey mixture on 60% power for 30 seconds to loosen the mixture and make it easier to combine with the dry ingredients, and then mix to combine.

To the peanut butter and honey mixture, add the nut and coconut mixture, the seeds and the remaining coconut, and mix until well-combined.

Allow the mixture to cool for at least 10 minutes, and then add the miniature chocolate chips. Mix until the chips are evenly distributed throughout. If you add the chips when the mixture is hot, the chips will all melt.

Scoop the mixture by the heaping tablespoon onto the prepared baking sheet (a #50 ice cream scoop works perfectly). You should have about 40 portions. Roll each portion tightly into a ball between your palms.

Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill until firm. Serve chilled. They will hold their shape at room temperature, but I prefer them chilled.

Grain free energy bites dry mixture on baking tray, mixed in food processor, and moistened protein balls shaped on white paper

Seed options

I buy shelled hemp seeds at my local Trader Joe’s market. If you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s or just don’t shop there and you can’t find hemp seeds, try chia seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, flax seeds, or pumpkin seeds.

Pumpkin seeds are much larger, so they’d need to be chopped before adding them to the mixture. Flax seeds do tend to have a very strong flavor, so make sure your family is on board before using them in this recipe. There are plenty of other possibilities.

More mix-ins and delicious variations

  • cocoa powder – sprinkle in some cocoa powder to make chocolate peanut butter balls
  • cranberries – chop up dried cranberries for a tangy twist; dried cherries will also add a nice tartness
  • dates – chopped dates are a good option if you want a richer taste, but feel free to also experiment with other dried fruit
  • protein powder – add a little bit of your favorite protein powder for an added boost; chocolate protein powder is great, but so is whey protein isolate; just don’t add more than about 1/2 scoop or your bites will be too dry to hold together
  • raisins – enjoy the classic taste of oatmeal raisin when you add chopped raisins to your mix

FAQs

Is it okay to eat raw oats?

There’s nothing unsafe about eating raw oats, but if you prefer the taste of them toasted, follow the instructions in the recipe for lightly toasting them in the oven. The peanut butter, almond butter, or your favorite nut butter, plus the honey, will add much needed moisture, too.

Can I make these bites into protein bars?

No, they won’t hold together properly as bars, so I’d recommend using our recipe for homemade protein bars instead!

How many calories do these energy bites have?

As this gluten free protein ball recipe allows for so many variations, it’s hard for me to list nutrition/serving size info. I have approximate nutritional information listed in the recipe card below, but if you don’t use precisely the same ingredients I do, your results won’t be the same.
Just input the ingredients you’ve used into an online calorie counter. Once you have a calorie count for the entire recipe, simply divide that by how many protein balls you made. This will give you a calorie count per ball. Please also keep in mind that online nutrition calculators are inherently inaccurate.

Why is my dough too dry to hold together as protein balls?

If your gluten free protein balls batter is dry and crumbly, you need to add more wet ingredients to help with binding. Adding just a bit more nut butter may be all you need. Be sure to taste the batter as you go; if you need more sweetness, add more honey, but add moisture sparingly or your bites will end up too soft to hold their shape.

How many calories do these protein balls have?

These gf bites make healthy snacks thanks to the nutritional content of the high-quality ingredients you use. Of course, if you’re concerned about a particular health issue, you can always make substitutions to meet your needs.
For example, peanut butter has twice the saturated fat as almond butter. If you’re watching your cholesterol, opt for the latter.

How to make peanut butter protein balls (gluten free and no bake)

Gluten Free Protein Balls | Peanut Butter Energy Bites

Keep your family energized throughout the day with these gluten free peanut butter energy bites. Tasty and healthy, these protein bites make a great snack.

Course: No bake, Snack

Cuisine: American

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Chilling time: 1 hour

Yield: 36 bites

Prevent your screen from going dark

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (200 g) old fashioned rolled oats (certified gluten free if necessary)
  • 2 cups (80 g) unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup (160 g) hulled raw hemp seeds (can substitute chia seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, flax seeds or pumpkin seeds)
  • ½ cup (60 g) oat flour (certified gluten free if necessary)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups (384 g) smooth peanut butter
  • ½ cup (168 g) honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or your favorite flavoring we really like McCormick brand butter flavoring
  • 4 ounces miniature chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside. In a large bowl, place the oats, coconut flakes, hemp seeds, oat flour, and salt, and mix to combine well. Set the bowl aside.

  • To intensify the flavor of the whole oats, coconut, and seeds, place them all together on a lined baking sheet in a single layer and toast them in a 300°F oven (or toaster oven, in batches) for about 15 minutes, stirring once. Then, transfer them to a large bowl, add the salt, and proceed with the recipe as written.

  • Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the peanut butter, honey, and vanilla extract or other flavoring, and mix until well-combined. Allow the mixture to cool for at least 10 minute.

  • Once the mixture has cooled enough that it won’t melt chocolate, add the miniature chocolate chips. Mix until the chips are evenly distributed throughout. If you add the chips when the mixture is hot, the chips will all melt.

  • Scoop the mixture by the heaping tablespoon onto the prepared baking sheet (a #50 ice cream scoop works perfectly). You should have about 36 portions.

  • Roll each portion tightly into a ball between your palms. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill until firm. Serve chilled.

  • They will hold their shape at room temperature, but I prefer them chilled. Transfer the bites to a large container with a lid, and store in the refrigerator for anytime snacking.

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate only from online calculators, provided as a courtesy, and should not be relied on under any circumstances.

Nutrition

Calories: 182kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 0.5mg | Sodium: 83mg | Potassium: 111mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 36IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 1mg

These no bake peanut butter energy bites are delicious, satisfying and so easy to make. And they're naturally gluten free, too! #glutenfree #snacks #energy #oats #peanutbutter

Gluten Free Protein Balls | Peanut Butter Energy Bites

Keep your family energized throughout the day with these gluten free peanut butter energy bites. Tasty and healthy, these protein bites make a great snack.

Course: No bake, Snack

Cuisine: American

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Chilling time: 1 hour

Yield: 36 bites

Prevent your screen from going dark

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (200 g) old fashioned rolled oats (certified gluten free if necessary)
  • 2 cups (80 g) unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup (160 g) hulled raw hemp seeds (can substitute chia seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, flax seeds or pumpkin seeds)
  • ½ cup (60 g) oat flour (certified gluten free if necessary)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups (384 g) smooth peanut butter
  • ½ cup (168 g) honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or your favorite flavoring we really like McCormick brand butter flavoring
  • 4 ounces miniature chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside. In a large bowl, place the oats, coconut flakes, hemp seeds, oat flour, and salt, and mix to combine well. Set the bowl aside.

  • To intensify the flavor of the whole oats, coconut, and seeds, place them all together on a lined baking sheet in a single layer and toast them in a 300°F oven (or toaster oven, in batches) for about 15 minutes, stirring once. Then, transfer them to a large bowl, add the salt, and proceed with the recipe as written.

  • Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the peanut butter, honey, and vanilla extract or other flavoring, and mix until well-combined. Allow the mixture to cool for at least 10 minute.

  • Once the mixture has cooled enough that it won’t melt chocolate, add the miniature chocolate chips. Mix until the chips are evenly distributed throughout. If you add the chips when the mixture is hot, the chips will all melt.

  • Scoop the mixture by the heaping tablespoon onto the prepared baking sheet (a #50 ice cream scoop works perfectly). You should have about 36 portions.

  • Roll each portion tightly into a ball between your palms. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill until firm. Serve chilled.

  • They will hold their shape at room temperature, but I prefer them chilled. Transfer the bites to a large container with a lid, and store in the refrigerator for anytime snacking.

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate only from online calculators, provided as a courtesy, and should not be relied on under any circumstances.

Nutrition

Calories: 182kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 0.5mg | Sodium: 83mg | Potassium: 111mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 36IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 1mg

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