Looking for an easy, healthy, and high-protein snack? These delicious no-bake Pumpkin Protein Balls are great to take on-the-go with you! They're perfectly soft and nutty from the pumpkin and lightly sweetened with maple syrup and chocolate chips. The whole family will love them!
🎃 The Best Pumpkin Energy Bites
Whenever you or your kids need a boost of energy, protein bites are a must! Their miniature size allows for easy portion control and portability. Pack them into school lunches or take them with you for a quick breakfast or pre or post-workout snack. They're even great for dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth. Whatever the time of day, good-for-you energy balls are a lifesaver!
The addition of pumpkin really takes power balls to the next level. Not only is this fall squash delicious, but it's also a great source of vitamins and healthy carbs for even more energy. They taste like little bites of pumpkin pie, making them the perfect fall treat! For more tasty fall treats, try my Apple Chai Bars or Pumpkin Cream Cheese Crescent Rolls!
But the best thing about these pumpkin energy balls is how easy they are. You only need 20 minutes and 8 ingredients - and no cooking is involved! Who's ready to get in the kitchen with me?
Why You'll Love Them
- Healthy: These are gluten-free, vegetarian, and have no peanut butter or refined sugar. It's also extra-easy to make them dairy-free or vegan. Real, nourishing ingredients are used to make these healthy bites.
- Better than store bought protein bars: Homemade is always better! You get to control the ingredients so there aren't any strange preservatives or chemicals. Plus, it's much more affordable with these pantry staples.
- Customizable: This recipe is a great guide but feel free to customize it to your preference. Add in your favorite superfoods and adjust the texture to create your perfect bliss balls.
- Old fashioned (rolled) oats: These oats are steamed, then rolled flat. They're my personal favorite for their versatility and they work best in no-bake treats like these.
- Almond flour: Made from blanched and peeled almonds. Helps to create structure and absorb moisture from the pumpkin.
- Protein powder: Use your favorite brand. I've been using Nuzest for the past 6 years. They're a plant-based, vegan, and delicious!
- Pumpkin: Make sure to get pumpkin purée and not pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin should be the only ingredient.
- Maple syrup: An unrefined sweetener that also adds moisture and fall flavor.
- Pumpkin pie spice: For the pumpkin pie taste.
- Salt: Brings out the flavor, even in sweets.
- Chocolate chips: I like using mini chocolate chips so they can disperse more evenly.
Substitutions & Variations
- Quick-cooking oats are most similar to rolled oats. They're also steamed and rolled flat, but are usually thinner for faster cooking. I would not recommend using instant oats because they're usually pre-cooked and the most processed, sometimes with additional sweeteners.
- You can also replace the oats with oat flour.
- Each protein powder has a different flavor, texture, and weight. If you're not used to it, it can feel chalky and unpleasant. If this is an issue for you, try using collagen peptides instead. It's finer and blends into batters better.
- If using unflavored protein powder, add ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.
- Instead of maple syrup, honey or agave would be a fine substitute.
- Add your favorite ingredients! Flax seeds, chia seeds, coconut flakes would be great.
- Substitute chocolate chips with peanut butter, white chocolate, or butterscotch chips. Or you can simply leave it out!
- To make this nut-free, use coconut flour in place of almond flour. Coconut flour is wetter and adds flavor. Start with half the maple syrup and slowly drizzle in until it forms a dough.
- To make this dairy free, use dairy-free chocolate chips like Enjoy Life.
- To make this vegan, use plant-based protein powder and dairy-free chocolate chips.
🔪 How To Make Pumpkin Protein Balls
⬇️ Please scroll down to the recipe card to see full ingredient amounts and instructions.
STEP ONE: Add the rolled oats to a food processor and blend for 15 seconds to coarsely chop. This step is optional - if the texture of whole oats don't both you, you can leave skip this step.
Don't have a food processor? You can use a blender or roughly chop the oats with a knife. Alternatively, replace oats with oat flour.
STEP TWO: Add the almond flour, protein powder, pumpkin, maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice, and salt to the food processor. Pulse or blend until just combined into a dough.
STEP THREE: Stir in the mini chocolate chips.
STEP FOUR: Use a 1½ tablespoon cookie scooper or measuring spoon to divide the dough into 12 pieces. While scooping, you should be able to tell if the consistency is too dry or wet. Adjust until you reach your desired texture.
STEP FIVE: Roll each piece into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to firm up. Then transfer to a container or bag for storage.
💭 Top Tips
- This is optional, but pulse your oats first to break them down. Whole oats can have a very chewy texture. To avoid this, blend them into a smaller size. Or you can go all the way and blend it into oat flour.
- Use mini chocolate chips! Regular-sized ones can feel chunky due to the small portion size of the power balls. This way, the chocolate will be more evenly dispersed throughout the batter.
- Use a cookie scooper to get even-sized balls. I use this 1½ tablespoon scooper.
- When rolling the balls, use food-grade disposable gloves. This keeps your palms clean. Another option is to lightly wet your hands to prevent the dough from sticking as much.
- The ingredients you use will really affect the texture of the energy balls. The runniness of the pumpkin puree, the weight of your protein powder, and how you measure your ingredients are all varying factors.
- This recipe is naturally gluten-free but double check your ingredients, especially the oats.
🥡 Storing & Freezing
Storing: Store Pumpkin Spice Protein Balls in an air-tight container or zip-top bag in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Freezing: To freeze, place the balls on a plate or baking sheet 1" apart. Par-freeze for 10-20 minutes until solid, then place into freezer-safer zip top bags with as much air removed as possible. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Let soften for 5 minutes on the countertop before consuming.
📖 Recipe FAQs
Any time of day! I love to eat 2-3 for a quick breakfast before work. You can also enjoy them before or after a workout, as a snack, or for dessert. And because they're made without nut butter, they're school and kid-friendly. Eat them whenever you want!
The weight and texture of the oats, almond flour, and especially the protein powder will affect the dryness of your balls. If they're too crumbly and aren't sticking together, you can add more pumpkin puree or maple syrup until soft. Even a splash of water will moisten the balls.
Add 1 tablespoon of almond or oat flour until the protein balls are to your liking.
🍽 Looking For More Fall Recipes?
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Pumpkin Protein Balls
- Add oats to a food processor or blender and pulse until coarse, about 15 seconds. This step is optional to break down the oats so they're less chewy - feel free to skip.
- To the oats, add the almond flour, protein powder, 6 tablespoon pumpkin, maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Blend until just combined into a dough. Adjust with pumpkin (if too crumbly) or almond flour (if too wet) to preferred consistency.
- Stir in mini chocolate chips.
- Use a spoon or 1½ tablespoon cookie scooper to portion out 12 pieces. Roll into balls - I recommend wearing gloves or lightly wetting your hands to prevent them from sticking as much.
- Place protein balls on a plate in a single layer with some space between each one. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to firm up. Then transfer to a container or zip-top bag and store in the fridge if not consuming immediately.
- Pumpkin: Each brand of pumpkin purée is different, with some being more runny while others are thicker. Start with 6 tablespoon and if the balls look dry, add an additional 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is more moist and can "stick" together.
- If the balls seem dry or crumbly, add more pumpkin puree or a splash of water until they're moist enough to stay together.
- If the balls are too sticky, add 1 tablespoon of almond flour at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
- I love using this 1½ tablespoon cookie scooper to get even-sized bites.
- Quick-cooking rolled oats are most similar to rolled oats. I would not recommend using instant oats because they're usually pre-cooked and the most processed, sometimes with additional sweeteners.
- If you don't like the taste or texture of protein powder, try collagen peptides instead. It's finer and less chalky.
- If using unflavored protein powder, add ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.