Can You Cook With Protein Powder? (Yes, Here’s How)

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When you are looking for ways to add protein to your diet to hit your protein intake goals, you might wonder if you can cook or bake with protein powder.

Key Takeaway

  • According to Nutrition Coach Amanda Parker, you can cook with protein powder to create a higher-protein version of many of your favorite recipes (soups, stews, oatmeal, cookies, etc.). Protein powder can also replace some or all of the flour in recipes that involve baked goods.

Does Cooking Destroy or Denature Protein Powder?

The first question I always get when people ask if they can cook with protein powder is whether or not the heat destroys the protein.

Cooking or baking with protein powder does not destroy it

Indeed, higher temperatures (greater than 140-160 degrees F) can denature protein powder

However, denaturation is a normal and natural process for all types of protein that simply changes the texture of the protein and not the nutrition or absorption.

It is the same process that changes a clear, liquid raw egg white to a white, firm cooked egg white when it is cooked.

As long as the protein powder is not exposed to extremely high temperatures for extended periods of time (beyond normal baking or cooking times), you won’t have any problems.

The Benefits of Cooking With Protein Powder

Pros vs Cons of cooking with protein powder

Increased Protein Intake

Cooking with protein powder is a great way to add more protein to existing recipes. 

Many of my clients, especially women, find it hard to meet their protein targets without supplementing whole-food sources of protein with protein powder.

Each scoop (~30g) of protein powder is about ¼ cup and adds around 25g of protein to a recipe. This is a lot more than the ~4g of protein in ¼ cup of regular flour, and replacing regular flour with protein powder is one of the most common ways to add protein powder to a recipe

Increased Satiety

Protein is a filling macronutrient because it takes more time and energy to digest. 

Feeling full for longer is very helpful for anyone with weight loss goals to help them stay within their calorie target for the day.

Decreased Carb Intake

When my clients first start tracking their calories, they can be surprised to find out that some of their favorite snack foods like muffins or cookies are often high in carbohydrates but low in protein.

Replacing some of the flour in baked goods with protein powder will increase the protein content and decrease the carb content.

Again referring to one scoop (~¼ cup) of protein powder, it will have ~2g of carbs on average, compared to ~25g of carbs in ¼ cup of regular flour.

Less Boredom

Cooking or baking with protein powder is a great way to include protein powder in your diet so you don’t get bored with drinking several protein shakes a day. 

There are a ton of great recipes online you can follow to incorporate protein powder in virtually all of your favorite dishes, some of which I’ll share below.

Cons of Cooking With Protein Powder

Unpleasant Texture and Taste

Using too much protein powder or the wrong type of protein powder when cooking or baking can lead to an unpleasant texture and taste in the final result. 

For example, some types of protein do not dissolve well and leave a grainy, lumpy texture in soups or stews.

For baked goods, some protein powders create a dry and crumbly result, especially if no adjustments are made to the baking temperature and ratio of liquids.

Feeling Too Full

Because protein is a satiating macronutrient, adding it to recipes can make those foods too filling for people to reach their daily calorie target (think, people who are bulking).

Individuals with this problem would benefit from drinking more liquid calories and focusing on calorie-dense sources of food.

Guidelines for Cooking With Protein Powder

Guidelines for cooking with protein powder

1. Follow the Recipe

When you come across a recipe that already has a recommended amount and type of protein powder, it is best to follow the instructions exactly. 

Unless the recipe includes notes about appropriate substitutions, your results will not be guaranteed if you use a different type or amount of protein powder than the one specified.

2. Check Substitutions

If you do not have the type of protein powder specified in the recipe, the type is not mentioned, or you want to experiment with adding protein powder to your own recipe, check out this handy chart to see what substitutions will and won’t work.

Each type of protein powder behaves in a particular way when it is cooked or baked, and some are more similar than others.

For example, whey isolate powder can be quite dry and requires additional liquid than other types of protein powder. Egg white protein powder also requires additional liquid.

Plant-based protein powders such as pea, soy, brown rice, or hemp can have a strong flavor that may or may not work for the result you want.

3. Add Liquid As Needed

If you are following a published recipe, use the amount of liquid(s) stated. 

If you are adding your own protein powder, I recommend no more than ¼ cup of protein powder to be substituted for ¼ cup of flour for each cup of flour in the recipe.

This means a recipe that calls for 3 cups of flour could have up to ¾ cup of protein powder, and the amount of flour would then be 2¼ cups.

Each ¼ cup of protein powder is usually ~1 scoop, although scoop sizes can vary from brand to brand.  Measure carefully.

For every 2 scoops of protein powder added, include an additional ¼ cup of liquid (water and/or milk). 

Keep existing measurements the same for liquids already in the recipe, and add this ¼ cup on top.  

For example if the recipe calls for ½ cup of oil and 1 cup of milk, and you add 2 scoops of protein powder, you would still have ½ cup of oil and 1 cup of milk, plus an additional ¼ cup of water or milk.

One exception is if you are using protein powder mixed with herbs and spices to create a coating for a “breading” effect, such as on fish sticks or chicken fingers.  Do not add liquid for this purpose.

4. Keep the Fats

Often, attempts to make healthier baked goods also aim to reduce the fat content. 

With the exception of naturally low-fat items like angel food cake, it is important to keep a fat source such as oil, butter, or nut butter in the recipe to help keep the final product moist.

Protein powders work exceptionally well in baked goods that also contain other sources of moisture such as grated carrots or zucchini, applesauce, or pureed sweet potato. 

The fiber in these foods helps provide needed structure in the final product while keeping the food moist.

5. Lower the Temperature or Reduce Cooking Times

When it comes to baking, some protein powders can make the final product too dry, requiring shorter bake times and/or lower baking temperatures.

I provide guidelines for reduced bake times and temperatures for certain types of protein powders below.

It is also important to avoid boiling any type of protein powder.  Mix it with a cool liquid first, shaking or stirring until smooth, and add it to the recipe at the end.

Which Protein Powder Is Best For Cooking?

Whey Isolate Protein

Whey isolate dissolves readily, which makes it good for adding to soups and stews. 

For baking, whey isolate can be quite drying.  But you can still use it, and it is best in recipes that are quite moist, like chocolate zucchini cake or banana bread.  

If you are adapting your own recipe, you may need to lower the temperature by 10-25 degrees F, and expect the baking time to be 3-5 minutes shorter than usual.

Casein Protein

Casein is not as drying as whey isolate.  However, on its own, I find that it lends a thick texture.

I really don’t like it when I am trying to make light and fluffy baked goods like vanilla cake.  It is a better choice for chewy brownies and dense cakes or cookies.

Isolate-Casein Blend

My absolute favorite protein powder for baking is an isolate-casein blend, and I particularly look for xanthan gum as an added thickening agent and emulsifier.  

This is especially helpful when the recipe is gluten-free or when the protein powder is reducing the amount of gluten-containing wheat flour that would normally be in the recipe.

Soy Protein

I like stirring a little bit of soy protein powder into my stir fries. 

I have also used it to mix with spices to create a coating for pieces of fish, chicken, or shrimp that I can either pan fry or cook in my AirFryer.

Egg White Protein Powder

Egg white protein powder is great for mixing with spices and using as a breading or coating since it sticks easily to meat and fish.

It’s also perfect for incorporating into stir fries or rice for a healthy, high-protein version of fried rice.

How To Cook With Protein Powder (6 Ways)

How to cook with protein powder (6 ways)

Breading & Coating

As I’ve mentioned, protein powder can be used instead of flour to mix with spices and coat pieces of chicken or fish to create a high-protein “breading.”

I find it easiest to mix the protein powder and spices in a resealable bag. 

Then I add the pieces of meat or fish and shake well to coat them evenly with the mixture before baking or frying as per usual.


After my oatmeal is cooked, I like to stir in up to one scoop of protein powder for a high-protein breakfast. 

I add a few tbsp of my favorite plant-based milk (unsweetened almond milk) to help stir it in and keep the texture from getting too thick or gummy.


Protein powder can be used to replace up to ¼ cup for each cup of flour in a standard pancake recipe, or you can follow a protein pancake recipe like this one.

Soups & Stews

I prefer to use unflavored protein powders for adding to soups & stews (including chili). 

First, mix the protein powder with a little bit of water to dissolve and remove lumps, then stir it into the finished soup or stew and heat through.

Stir Fries

I like to sprinkle a few spoonfuls of protein powder into my stir fries when I add the stir fry sauces and seasonings. 

It works well as a thickener for the sauce instead of flour.

Egg white protein powder will essentially reconstitute as liquid egg whites, which mimics the eggs in traditional fried rice dishes.

Baked Goods

As mentioned, one of the easiest ways to start using protein powder in baked goods is to replace up to ¼ cup of each cup of flour in the recipe with ¼ cup (usually ~1 scoop) of protein powder instead.  

This means 1 cup of flour = ¼ cup protein powder + ¾ cup of flour.

Consider adding ¼ cup of additional liquid (milk or water) for every 2 scoops of protein powder added (this means 2 tbsp of liquid per 1 scoop), especially when it comes to cakes, muffins, or loaves.

Adding more liquid to cookies may not be necessary – you could end up with cookie dough that is too runny and fails to hold its shape.  

I have had the best success with adding protein powder to drop cookie recipes (where the dough gets dropped off the spoon into a blob on the pan that spreads as it bakes) instead of rolled cookies (where the dough is rolled out with a rolling pin and cut into shapes).

Below are some of my favorite protein powder recipes for various baked goods:

About The Author

Lauren Graham

Lauren Graham is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She focuses on helping busy professionals balance healthy eating and purposeful movement.  Lauren has a background in competitive swimming and is currently competing as a CrossFit athlete.  She has a passion for training, teaching, and writing. 

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