Can You Substitute Protein Powder for Flour?

Protein powders are a convenient way to ensure people hit their daily protein intake goals. However, protein powder smoothies or shakes can also get boring. 

There’s no reason to drink protein shakes daily with the option to use protein powders for cooking and baking. You can even ditch the blender and add it to oatmeal, waffle, pancakes, and many more recipes! 

But is it possible to replace protein powder with flour? What is the best ratio of flour to protein? Let’s find out below. But before answering the question, let’s find out what protein powder is made from.

What Is Protein Powder Made From?

Protein powders are powdered forms of protein made from eggs, milk (whey protein or casein), or plants (hemp, rice, potatoes, peas, and soybeans). Some are a combination of these ingredients.

Each scoop generally contains between 10 and 30 grams of protein. These protein supplements have been formulated to ensure the body is satisfied and nourished. 

People use them for various reasons – to build muscle mass, improve sports performance, lose weight, and improve overall wellness. Meanwhile, some may include other ingredients, including vitamins, minerals, thickeners, artificial flavorings, and added sugars.

Now, onto today’s main topic.

Related: Best Protein Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners

Can You Substitute Protein Powder for Flour?

Yes, you can substitute protein powder for flour. Doing so is even easy (and fun!). It reacts almost the same way as flour, just slightly grainier. 

When substituting protein powder for flour, I recommend 1/3 cup for every cup of flour in your recipe. Don’t go for a 1:1 replacement because protein powders do not have the exact attributes of flour. Additionally, you can use it when making bread, brownies, muffins, cookies, protein bars, and pancakes. 

Different types of protein powders and their potential reactions

However, it’s essential to know that they come in various forms. Some tend to thicken when cooking, while some blend well into shakes or smoothies.

Soy or whey and pure whey protein powders often deliver the best results in baking. However, soy protein powder has a powerful aftertaste even when mixed in baking. So, I recommend going for an organic soy protein powder to avoid that unpleasant aftertaste, although it can be expensive.

Meanwhile, rice protein powder has a dry, delicate texture, so it’s not the best for baking. More so if you’re using coconut flour because such tends to go hard. Though it has a strong flavor, you can use pea protein powder in baked goods.

Why is whey protein powder best for baking?

I consider whey protein powder as the best substitute for flour. For instance, if you make protein banana bread, you’ll have fluffy and moist bread using whey protein powder. It also has a good banana taste with no off flavors at all. 

On the other hand, if you bake banana bread using a pea protein powder, the bread’s texture is dense and moist and has a slightly earthy flavor.

5 Tips for Baking with Protein Powder

1. Balance dry and wet ingredients

Make sure to balance dry and wet ingredients when baking with protein powder. Flax or eggs are good for binding, depending on your preferences.

Greek yogurt, canned pumpkin, cream cheese, and fruit puree are some ingredients you can use to counteract the protein powder absorbing the liquid. Never substitute more than 1/2 flour content with protein powder. If you do, your baking will be tricky.

2. Add something to moist cakes, bread

When baking using a protein powder, you often end up with rubbery or dry food. So, add something to give your cake, bread, or whatever it is you’re baking extra moisture. Use things like cooked mashed sweet potato, pumpkin puree, applesauce, cottage cheese, and banana.

3. Opt for the unflavored protein powder

Flavored protein powders, like vanilla flavored protein powder, are suitable for baking. However, they may overpower or spoil the taste of other ingredients in your baking.

So, I encourage you to use unflavored protein powder instead. To illustrate, you can use the unflavored protein powder and mix cocoa powder instead of choosing a chocolate-flavored protein powder.

If your protein powder is already sweetened, reduce the sugar content during baking to avoid over-sweetening your recipe.

4. Stir with care

Shaking it dissolves the clump wholly and vigorously. However, with baking, less stirring or shaking is better. Over-mixing your ingredients lead to a dense or tough texture.

5. Turn down the temperature

Avoid baking at too high a temperature. Whey protein, for instance, begins to break down or “denature” at temperatures above 160˚C.

Baking with it can leave you with a dried-out recipe with all the moisture added to the ingredients. So, always keep a close eye on the clock. For best results, turn down the oven to 25 degrees from the original recipe’s suggested baking temperature.

FAQs About Protein Powder as a Flour Substitute

Can I swap protein powder for flour?

Yes, you can swap protein powder for flour. Replace a small amount of flour with protein powder. A good ratio is 1/3 cup for every cult of flour. Oat flour is the best flour type with protein powder.

How does protein powder affect baking?

Protein powder can affect the consistency, texture, and flavor of foods. Understand the best way to use a different type for a different recipe to avoid dense, dry, or weird flavored snacks.

How can I substitute protein powder in a recipe?

Substitute one cup of flour with 1/3 cup of protein powder. Choose an unsweetened or vegan protein powder with as few ingredients as possible, so it’s easier to combine with different ingredients in a recipe.

Can I use pea protein as flour?

Yes. You can use pea protein powder as flour but not remove flour altogether. Pea protein performs similarly to protein in water and oil holding, emulsification, and solubility.

Final Words

You’ve made it. Congratulations! You now know protein powder makes a good substitute for flour. We’ve also provided you the ingredient measurements, which is 1/3 cup for every cup of flour.

Protein powder doesn’t destroy your recipe and is 100% safe too! You can bake with any type of protein, although my best recommendation is to go for whey protein. You can use it for foaming, browning, gelling, nutritional properties, and emulsifying.

So, go ahead and give a protein boost to your baking today!

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Nathan Lloyd, MSc

I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.

If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.