Tips for Cooking with Protein Powder
Whey protein is a staple for active individuals, providing a quick, affordable, and above all delicious means to hitting your daily protein requirements and supporting your fitness goals.
But, sometimes you get tired of always drinking your protein. We’ve all had those days when the mere thought of drinking yet another protein shake is enough to chuck our blender, shaker cup, and protein powder in the dumpster.
On these occasions, wouldn’t it be great if you could chew your protein powder instead of having to drink it? You can!
There are thousands of protein powder recipes available, each one offering you a delicious and macro-friendly means to enjoying your protein powder.
But, cooking and baking with protein isn’t a simple endeavor, especially if you’re new to cooking and baking with it. There’s a certain finesse that needs to be applied when attempting things with protein beyond the standard protein shake or oatmeal.
The following list of tips has been compiled to help YOU avoid the same mistakes other culinary artists have when attempting to cook with protein powder. Give them a read and save yourself hours of wasted time and money!
Best Whey Protein Baking Tips
All Proteins are NOT the Same
When crafting your culinary concoctions, you might think one protein powder can easily be swapped for another. After all, they’re both, and they’re both powders, so they should be able to be exchanged 1:1…. right? NOPE!
If you’ve ever mixed up two different protein powders in the same amount of water, you’ve witnessed for yourself just how thick or thin different powders can mix. Different protein powders have entirely different tastes, textures, and consistencies.
What this means for you is that if a recipe calls for whey protein, don’t assume that you can automatically sub in an equivalent amount of casein, pea, or brown rice protein.
Anyone who’s ever attempted to bake cakes, muffins, brownies, or just about any other type of sweet treat has made this error a time or two. When you overmix a batter, the gluten in the flour can form elastic strands, creating a denser, chewer, and “tougher” textured treat. That’s why you see so many recipes advise to mix ingredients “until just combined.”
What this means is that you stir the ingredients just enough to where you don’t see the individual elements you just added to the bowl. Limiting the amount of stirring, mixing, shaking, or whisking you do helps keep the texture of your baked goods light, making for a more pleasant tasting baked good.
While your baked protein goods will have less flour than standard baking recipes, you still can have a dense, overmixed product if you overmix. Therefore, mix and fold your ingredients just until they’re incorporated and then STEP AWAY from the bowl.
By doing so, you’ll be rewarded with a delectable baked good that’s sure to tantalize your tongue.
Grease It Up
Protein powders are notoriously sticky on their own, and when mixed into a batter, the stickiness factor is dialed up exponentially. This can make mixing batters, scooping batters int baking trays, and removing the finished product from the tray a real challenge.
Due to this, it’s imperative that you grease and coat your baking sheets, cake pans, and muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray. Another idea is to use paper liners in your trays if you’re making cupcakes or muffins.
And as a bonus tip, if you’re going to be using your hands to mold, shape, or scoop a whey-based dough, rub some oil or non-stick spray on your hands and whatever spatula you’re using to scoop the dough out of the bowl. This will help prevent the mixture from clinging to your hand, meaning less waste and more finished product!
Follow the Recipe
Are you a cook or a baker?
While to the casual diner, the difference is relatively minuscule. Both apply heat to a mixture of different foods and create a delicious delicacy. But, if you’ve ever been in the kitchen, you know there is a big difference between cooking and baking.
Cooking is a bit more free form. You can tweak, change, or adapt recipes to suit your palate. Don’t like asparagus in your pasta dish? That’s ok; you can swap it with broccoli, brussels sprouts, or green beans.
But, if a baking recipe calls for a set amount of flour and you add too little or too much, you’ve got a boondoggle on your hands.
It’s often said that cooking is an art, but baking is a science. By that, we mean that cooking is more “flexible,” allowing you to make minor modifications here and there. But, with baking, you must follow the recipe. Even the slightest deviation can result in you having to toss out an entire tray of goods, meaning you’ve wasted a considerable amount of time, resources, and food.
We all like the occasional sweet treat. That’s probably why you’re considering baking in the first place. And, since you’re reading this article, you’re most likely trying to eat a bit healthier, and that means upping the protein and lowering the sugar content of your baked goods.
With that in mind, here are a few quick tips:
- Refined, white sugar can be replaced at a 1:1 ratio with mashed, ripe bananas or applesauce. However, the overall liquid in the recipe needs to be cut by 25%.
- If replacing sugar with liquid sweeteners, such as honey or agave syrup, the exchange ratio is 2:1. What this means is that if you’re replacing 1 cup of sugar with honey, you will use ½ cup of honey (or agave). However, this is important, if subbing honey for sugar, for every ½ cup of honey you add, you also need to add in ½ teaspoon of baking soda.The reason for this is that honey is acidic, and baking soda balance out the acidic properties of honey. Additionally, cooking temperatures also need to be lowered by 25 degrees as liquid sugars begin to brown and caramelize faster than dry sugars.
- ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract can be swapped for 2 Tablespoons of sugar.
Don’t Forget the Fat
Fat is flavor, and there’s a reason baked goods always taste so sinfully good — they contain fat!
When attempting to make protein treats, it can be tempting to completely remove fat from a recipe on account of you trying to make things “uber healthy.” However, fat is not to be feared. Your body requires fat to function properly, and so do your baked treats!
If you don’t add fat to your baked goods, it’ll be impossible to have a moist, crunchy cookie. Avoiding fat in your recipes, especially protein cookies, will leave you with little cookie-breads that taste more like sweet, hard cardboard than a soft, moist, delectable cookie.
Any fat will do — butter, oil, lard, nut butter, coconut oil — use whatever kind you prefer, but make sure you do use some form of fat.
Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
Raise your hand if you’ve ever eaten a dry, crumbly, saliva-sucking baked good.
Chances are every one of you reading this have experienced that at some point in your life.
As you’ve likely experienced, chewing on a dry baked treat is akin to eating a mouth full of dirt — it’s disgusting, and no matter how much water you drink, you can’t get rid of that funky taste/sensation in your mouth.
The reason for the horrendous dryness is due to overbaking and/or not including enough moisture in the dough.
And this brings us to the next baking tip — ALWAYS USE A MOISTURIZER!
No, we’re not talking about adding some hand cream or lotion to your batter (that would be disgusting).
What we mean by a “moisturizer” are ingredients that help “weigh down” your protein powder and add moisture to the batter, preventing a dry, rubbery, crumbly mess. Moisturizers include things like bananas, Greek yogurt, applesauce, pumpkin puree, or cottage cheese.
As a general rule of thumb, adding ¼ – ½ cup of a moisturizer for every cup of a dry ingredient is enough to keep your treats moisture and avoid the dry, dirt-like texture.
You NEED Flour
Never, ever, under any circumstances try to cook or bake a batter that consists primarily of protein powder. Doing so will yield food that is incredibly dry or rubbery.
When cooking with protein powder, you NEED flour.
The flour helps to add volume, structure, and texture to your product. Generally speaking, your recipe should never contain more than ¼-⅓ whey protein powder. Making up the rest of the “dry” ingredients in your batter can be any number of flours including wheat flour, white flour, oat flour (i.e., ground up oats), coconut flour, almond flour, quinoa flour, amaranth flour, buckwheat flour, or chickpea flour.
Beware Coconut Flour
Building off the previous point, though the name can be deceiving, coconut flour does NOT react the way other flours do when mixed into a batter. Coconut flour soaks up A LOT of liquid and using too much of it can create absurdly dry, compact and “fibrous” tasting food.
As such, you should use coconut flour sparingly.
On a gram for gram basis, coconut flour contains far more fiber than other flours, which is great if you’re going for low carb foods, but with that also comes the propensity for coconut-heavy batters to be incredibly dense.
This rule applies to everything you bake, protein powder-inclusive or not, but it’s even more important when cooking with protein.
Whey protein baked goods can go from moist, delicate, and delicious morsels to dried out, crumbly catastrophes (or outright burnt useless hockey pucks) in the blink of an eye. Whey-based goods are incredibly susceptible to overbaking, and as such, you need to watch them like a hawk once they go in the oven. As an added measure of protection, you may also want to lower the baking temp by 25 degrees if you’re particularly worried about overbaking your treats. Reducing the oven temperature will allow the goodies to cook more evenly.
Still, keep a close eye on your goodies and the clock — protein treats bake relatively quickly compared to their non-protein counterparts, which means you need to be on full alert when you stick them in the oven. Now is not the time to do a bunch of other honey-dos. When your treats go in the oven, stay focused on them, and them alone.
Do the Wobble
There’s a hard and fast rule when it comes to baking cheesecakes — do not bake them until they are solid and when poked with a knife or toothpick come out clean.
You want them to do the “wobble” when jiggled. The reason we recommend this is that cheesecakes will continue to cook once you pull them out of the oven. Continuing to leave in the oven until it’s 100% set in the middle will yield a cheesecake that is not creamy or particularly palatable.
To test if your cheesecake is ready to come out of the oven, give the pan a little shimmy shake and if you see a slight wobble in the center (similar to jello or pannacotta), remove it from the oven. It’s ready to go.
If when you nudge the pan, it wobbles like crazy or sloshes out over the sides, it’s not done. Leave it in for a few minutes and test again to see if you get the slight wobble.
We’ve given you a lot of tips in this guide to baking with protein powder, but perhaps the most important advice we can give you is to HAVE FUN!
Cooking and baking are meant to be enjoyable experiences, either by yourself or in the company of family and friends. Put on some music, your favorite apron, do the happy dance, and just cut loose. If you’re stressed, on edge, and grumpy the whole time you’re baking and cooking, it won’t matter how good the food tastes. You’ll still be in a funk.
With that in mind, don’t be afraid to experiment, sample your batters along the way, or make multiple versions of the same recipe. With practice comes mastery, and in just a short while, you’ll go from a protein powder Padawan to a Jedi Master in no time!
And, if you’re looking for the perfect protein powder to spark your culinary curiosity, there is Steel Whey®!
Steel Whey — The Baker’s Protein Powder
Steel Whey™ is a 100% whey protein concentrate supplying 27 or 28 grams (based on the flavor) of pure, high-quality protein in every serving. Steel Whey™ uses only the best quality whey protein concentrate in WPC-80, and contains no proprietary blends or protein spiking.
It’s ideal to use in cooking, baking, or as a convenient, delicious whey to get in some additional muscle-building protein into your daily diet.
Click here to learn more about Steel Whey™ and why it’s the only whey you should go!