The Best-Tasting Protein Shakes, According to a Dietitian

OWYN 100% Vegan Plant-Based Protein Shake is our top pick

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Protein Shakes

Verywell Fit / Kevin Liang

Protein shakes can be a convenient way to boost your protein intake, especially if you have increased protein needs and are unable to meet them from food alone. Pre-mixed shakes serve as an easy on-the-go snack or can be paired with fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats to create a larger snack or a balanced meal. Protein shakes, particularly ones that contain all essential amino acids, may also be a good option to aid in muscle recovery after strenuous workouts.

In general, it’s best to rely on whole food sources for protein and to use protein shakes as a backup rather than a daily supplement or meal replacement. Shushy Setrakian, MS, RD, says, "A balanced meal or a snack such as Greek yogurt and fruit is not always an option, so protein shakes can be a good alternative to many of the on-the-go items you might grab instead. Also, those who have higher protein needs or struggle to chew food may find it easier to reach protein goals through drinking a shake."

Flavor preferences are highly individualized, but there are many options on the market to suit your dietary needs and taste buds. When selecting our top list of best-tasting protein shakes, we considered taste, type of protein (including both animal and plant-based options), quality of ingredients, and overall nutrient content. We prioritized protein shakes flavored with natural sources like spices, cocoa, and vanilla extract.

Editor's Note

Our team of registered dietitians reviews and evaluates every single supplement we recommend according to our dietary supplement methodology. From there, a registered dietitian on our Expert Review Board reviews each article for scientific accuracy.

Always speak with a healthcare professional before adding a supplement to your routine to ensure that the supplement is appropriate for your individual needs, and to find out what dosage to take.

Best Overall

OWYN Only What You Need 100% Vegan Plant-Based Protein Shakes | Cold Brew Coffee

OWYN 100% Vegan Plant-Based Protein Shake


  • Free of gluten, dairy, egg, soy, and tree nuts

  • Includes greens blend (broccoli, spinach, and kale)

  • Good source of iron

  • Non-GMO

  • Low in non-fiber carbohydrates

OWYN Ready-to-Drink Protein Shakes top our list with a delicious coffee taste and 20 grams of plant-based protein powder containing all essential amino acids. Finding a protein shake that tastes good without excessive calories or sweeteners can be challenging. OWYN's Plant-Based Protein Shakes are a low-sugar option, with only 4 grams of sugar and a whopping 20 grams of protein.

OWYN, short for Only What You Need, combines pea protein, organic pumpkin seed protein, and organic flax oil to create their proprietary protein blend. This ready-to-drink protein shake is 100% certified vegan and requires no refrigeration before you open it, so it’s great to take on the go to work, while hiking, or anywhere you need to refuel along the way.

The incredibly versatile drink takes the top pick because of its delicious flavors that suit a wide range of diets, from vegan to omnivore and everywhere in between. It comes in four delicious flavors, including Chocolate, Cookies N Cream, Strawberry Banana, and Vanilla. If you have allergies, OWYN is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, and tree nut-free.

Price at time of publication: $37 for a pack of 12

Key Specs:
Serving Size: 12 ounces | Protein: 20 grams Carbohydrate: 11 grams | Fiber Per Serving: 6 grams | Fat: 7 grams | Added Sugar Per Serving: 5 grams | Calories Per Serving: 180

Best Budget

Evolve Plant Based Protein Shake, Double Chocolate, 20g Vegan Protein

Evolve Plant Based Protein Shake


  • Vegan and non-GMO

  • Great source of fiber

  • No artificial flavors

  • Lack of any fat may not be ideal for all

Evolve's plant-based protein shake is a great-tasting protein drink that doesn’t cost a fortune. If you’re looking to build muscle and recover more quickly, you might feel pressured to plunk down a decent chunk of change for an expensive pre-mixed protein beverage, but you don't have to.

Evolve offers a simple pea protein powder shake that's high in protein and also high in fiber. One shake provides 20 grams of protein with 10 grams of fiber, 140 calories, and 4 grams of added sugar. Plus, it comes in three delicious flavors: chocolate, vanilla, and chocolate caramel!

Price at time of publication: $25 for a pack of 12

Key Specs:
Serving Size: 11 ounces | Protein: 20 grams Carbohydrate: 17 grams | Fiber Per Serving: 10 grams | Fat: 0 grams | Added Sugar Per Serving: 4 grams | Calories Per Serving: 140

Best Lactose-Free

Koia Ready To Drink Plant Protein Shake Vanilla Bean

Koia Protein - Ready To Drink Plant Protein Shake


  • Gluten-, dairy-, soy-free

  • Kosher and non-GMO

  • Contains all nine essential amino acids

  • Requires refrigeration which may be inconvenient

If dairy products cause you discomfort in any way, it may be worth your while to try a lactose-free protein shake. This way, you can get your protein fix without uncomfortable side effects. Made with almonds and a unique blend of brown rice, pea, and chickpea protein, Koia Protein is a creamy ready-to-drink beverage that's 100% lactose- and gluten-free.

Each 12-ounce drink provides 18 grams of plant-based protein with only 4 grams of sugar. With 190 nutrition-packed calories, the drink is perfect as a breakfast on the go, a quick snack, or a post-workout beverage.

Note that Koia Protein is perishable and requires refrigeration. The versatile product is delicious on its own but also works well as an alternative to coffee creamer or as a base for smoothies. It's also vegan, kosher, non-GMO, and soy-free.

Price at time of publication: $4 for one

Key Specs:
Serving Size: 12 ounces | Protein: 18 grams Carbohydrate: 13 grams | Fiber Per Serving: 7 grams | Fat: 7 grams | Added Sugar Per Serving: 4 grams | Calories Per Serving: 190

Best Stevia-Free

ALOHA Organic Plant Based Protein Shake

ALOHA Organic Plant Based Vanilla Protein Shake


  • Gluten-, dairy-, soy-free

  • Organic and non-GMO

  • Plant-based

  • No artificial flavors

  • A bit more grainy than other protein shakes

ALOHA's Protein Drink uses both organic coconut sugar and monk fruit to create a delicious vegan shake that contains 20 grams of plant-based protein and organic MCT oil from coconut. When looking for a great-tasting protein drink, you may notice that many drinks use stevia as an alternative to artificial sweeteners. Although stevia can be a substitute for sweeteners like sucralose, some people experience side effects such as bloating, gas, or nausea when they consume it. An alternative is monk fruit, which also sweetens products without extra sugar and calories.

Made from a mix of organic pea and brown rice proteins, this plant-based drink provides easily digested protein that will give you an extra boost. It comes in three crave-worthy flavors, including coconut, chocolate sea salt, and vanilla. The UDSA Organic beverage is also gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free.

Price at time of publication: $7 for one

Key Specs:
Serving Size: 12 ounces | Protein: 20 grams Carbohydrate: 11 grams | Fiber Per Serving: 3 grams | Fat: 5 grams | Added Sugar Per Serving: 4 grams | Calories Per Serving: 170

Best Whey

ICONIC Low Carb High Protein Drinks

Iconic Protein Drinks


  • No artificial sweeteners

  • BPA-free bottle

  • Protein from grass-fed cows

  • Good source of calcium

  • Contains prebiotic chicory root fiber that may cause digestive upset in some

Whey protein is a high-quality protein, and Icon Protein's Vanilla Bean Grass-Fed Protein Drink is a great option if you're looking for a whey-based shake. While whey is a dairy product, it is generally very low in lactose and well-tolerated by those who are lactose intolerant.

Some protein beverages can contain more added sugar than others, but this drink contains 0 grams of sugar per bottle and is sweetened with a mix of monk fruit and stevia. It comes in four flavors, including Café Latte, Chocolate Truffle, Vanilla Bean, and Cacao+Greens.

The BPA-free bottle is easy to toss into your bag for a quick and filling snack on the run. Each drink contains 20 grams of grass-fed milk protein with 4 grams of fiber, 130 calories, and only 4 grams of net carbs. The sustainably farmed products are free of lactose, gluten, soy, GMOs, and carrageenan.

Price at time of publication: $40 for a pack of 12

Key Specs:
Serving Size: 340 milliliters | Protein: 20 grams Carbohydrate: 8 grams | Fiber Per Serving: 4 grams | Fat: 2.5 grams | Added Sugar Per Serving: 0 grams | Calories Per Serving: 140

Best Plant-Based

Ripple Protein Shake

Ripple Protein Shake Chocolate


  • Free of gluten, dairy, soy and nuts

  • Smooth with no aftertaste

  • Good source of calcium and phosphorus

  • Contains 9 grams of added sugar, which may not be suitable for all

For a plant-based option, Ripple's Vegan Protein Shake in the chocolate flavor is a go-to. This product is smooth and has no aftertaste, while the chocolate flavor is just right.

Each bottle contains 20 grams of protein from peas, 8 grams of fat, and 13 grams of carbohydrates. While the sweetness isn't overwhelming, this does contain 9 grams of added sugar, which may not be suitable for all. Unlike most other plant-based proteins, this product is also high in calcium and phosphorus.

If chocolate isn't your thing, the Ripple Vegan Protein Shake also comes in vanilla and coffee flavors.

Price at time of publication: $32 for a pack of 12

Key Specs:
Serving Size: 12 ounces | Protein: 20 grams Carbohydrate: 13 grams | Fiber Per Serving: 2 grams | Fat: 8 grams | Added Sugar Per Serving: 9 grams | Calories Per Serving: 200

Best Organic

Orgain Grass Fed Clean Protein Shake

Orgain Grass Fed Clean Protein Shake


  • Grass-fed milk protein concentrate

  • Low added sugar

  • No artificial flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives

  • Good source of calcium

  • Stevia as a sugar substitute may not be suitable for all

Orgain has an organic protein shake that is high in protein and low in sugar. The grass-fed milk protein concentrate provides 20 grams of protein with only 3 grams of sugar from agave syrup, monk fruit, and stevia. This shake is also free of artificial flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives.

Aside from having a good ingredient list, the Orgain Grass Fed Clean Protein Shake has a creamy texture you'd want and expect from a milk-based shake. It's also a good source of calcium, providing 600 mg per bottle (45% of DV). While this shake only comes in chocolate and vanilla, both are pleasantly boasting with flavor.

If you're looking for a plant-based option, Orgain also makes a vegan, organic shake, although it is not as creamy as the milk protein version.

Price at time of publication: $30 for a pack of 12

Key Specs:
Serving Size: 11 ounces | Protein: 20 grams Carbohydrate: 11 grams | Fiber Per Serving: 2 grams | Fat: 2 grams | Added Sugar Per Serving: 3 grams | Calories Per Serving: 130

Best Protein Smoothie

Designer Wellness Protein Smoothie

Designer Wellness Protein Smoothie


  • No refrigeration needed

  • No added sugar

  • Gluten-free

  • Non-GMO and BPA-free

  • Contains less protein than most traditional shakes

Sometimes the typical chocolate and vanilla flavors aren't what you're craving and Designer Wellness' Protein Smoothies are just the thing for that fruity craving. Each protein smoothie has 12 grams of protein from whey protein isolate, but also a mix of fruit juices and purees. The addition of monk fruit keeps these smoothies sweet with zero added sugar.

Flavors include Mixed Berry, Strawberry Banana, and Tropical Fruit. These varieties not only taste great, but they also save time and money you'd spend buying the different fruits needed to make them. You can grab a protein smoothie on the go or consider mixing it with some additional protein powder of choice if you'd like more than 12 grams of protein.

Keep in mind that there is the addition of MCT oil to these smoothies, contributing to the 4 grams of fat. MCT is typically added to products as a way to promote weight loss and athletic performance, but the research is not necessarily strong.

Price at time of publication: $40 for a pack of 12

Key Specs:
Serving Size: 120 grams | Protein: 12 grams Carbohydrate: 8 grams | Fiber Per Serving: 1 grams | Fat: 4 grams | Added Sugar Per Serving: 0 grams | Calories Per Serving: 120

Best for a Sweet Tooth

Premier Protein Caramel Protein Shake

Premier Protein 30g Protein Shake


  • No added sugar

  • Conveniently found in many stores

  • Comes in tons of flavors

  • Contains artificial sweeteners

If you're looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, the Premier Protein Caramel Protein Shake is a consumer favorite. It's one of the creamiest and most flavor-packed shakes on the market, and the caramel flavor does not disappoint!

Each bottle is also fortified with 24 vitamins and minerals and 30 grams of protein. While it doesn't have the simplest ingredient list compared to the others on our list, this can be a protein drink to enjoy in moderation. This shake is sweetened with sucralose, a zero-calorie artificial sweetener. While most studies show that non-nutritive sweeteners like sucralose are safe, more research is needed on consumption and both the short- and long-term effects on metabolic health.

Premier Protein is conveniently found in many stores and comes in tons of flavors. Some popular flavors include Cake Batter, Cookies and Cream, Cinnamon Roll, and Bananas and Cream.

Price at time of publication: $3 per bottle

Key Specs:
Serving Size: 11.5 ounces | Protein: 30 grams Carbohydrate: 5 grams | Fiber Per Serving: 3 grams | Fat: 3 grams | Added Sugar Per Serving: 0 grams | Calories Per Serving: 160

The Premier Protein shake contains carrageenan, which comes from red seaweed and is added to products to thicken the texture. Some reports have shown digestive upset, but this is limited to animal studies, and more research is needed on the impact in humans. Anecdotally, some people say they experience bloating with this additive, so be mindful if this product is suitable for you.

How We Selected

Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain products.

In choosing protein shakes, we looked for products that have adequate protein with some carbohydrates and fat, depending on needs. We also chose shakes that have some fiber with lower added sugar. Those that had more artificial flavors and additives were not included in our list.

Equally important, we selected products that had good flavoring with no after-taste and a smooth texture.

What to Look for in a Protein Shake


Protein shakes and powders come in a wide range of flavors, from chocolate and vanilla to golden milk and banana. Depending on the ingredients, some may taste more chalky or artificial than others, even if the sweetener is technically plant-based. Look for a flavor you enjoy with suitable sweeteners.


Protein shakes, both premade and powdered, can come from a variety of animal and plant-based protein sources, including whey, pea, brown rice, and hemp, to name a few. Depending on your goals, consider choosing a product that contains the best protein to meet your needs. For example, whey is a top pick for athletes, whereas pea and hemp are excellent choices for vegans or those who can't tolerate dairy.  

Macronutrient Breakdown

Many protein shakes include other ingredients along with protein. Look for shakes that also have a balance of carbohydrates, fat, and fiber, with lower amounts of added sugar. Depending on your reason for consuming protein shakes, the difference in macronutrients is something to look out for. For example, if you're an athlete, a higher carbohydrate and higher protein (30-plus grams) shake may be better suited for you. If you're using the protein shake as a snack, a lower protein (22-20 grams) and moderate carbohydrate and fat shake may be more suitable.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many protein shakes can I have each day?

    Protein shakes are one way to incorporate additional macro- and micronutrients into your diet. They are best consumed as part of a balanced diet, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and protein.

    Recommended daily intake of protein shakes depends on individualized nutritional needs. For example, a strength athlete may require a higher daily intake of protein and calories, and therefore, they may want to incorporate more protein shakes in their diet to meet their needs. You should consider your daily intake goals for protein and calories to determine the number of protein shakes to consume. If you are unsure of your needs, consult with a registered dietician.

  • Are protein shakes good for weight loss?

    Protein shakes can support weight loss but must be considered within the context of the diet in its entirety. Whether protein shakes serve as occasional meal replacements or snacks, they should be incorporated into a balanced diet that also includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fats, and protein.

    Remember, there is no one food or way of eating that will create long-term weight loss in all people, and protein shakes are no exception. If you are not getting enough protein in your day and the addition of a protein shake helps with this, that may help you feel more full throughout the day.

    Drinking calories in the form of a shake versus eating calories may result in suboptimal satiety levels, which can lead to compensatory overeating come your next meal, which is your body's way of saying it didn't get enough to eat. If you're a performance or endurance athlete, simply drinking these shakes may not be optimal because of the lack of carbohydrates. Additionally, the brain requires carbohydrates for fuel, so you may benefit from adding a carbohydrate source with a protein shake.

    Since most premade protein shakes are not filling enough to be a meal or snack on their own, you could instead make your own protein shake at home. Try swapping in a homemade protein smoothie for breakfast with one serving each of protein powder, fruit, leafy greens, a source of fat, and unsweetened cow's milk or fortified soy milk—you’ll get the added benefits of fiber, antioxidants, and protein to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

    You can also add oats into a smoothie to bump up the fiber and carbohydrate amount. If your workout is longer than 60-90 minutes, you may want to consider using chocolate cow's milk or soy milk for the added carbohydrates or add fruits high in carbohydrates for refueling post-exercise.

  • Can protein shakes help you gain muscle mass?

    Adequate dietary protein intake is essential for optimal muscle protein synthesis. Protein shakes are one way to increase your daily protein intake, but they are not necessary for gaining muscle mass. Incorporating protein at each meal through animal and plant-based proteins should be considered. The American College of Sports Medicine estimates the requirements for strength trainers at 1.6 to 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight per day (about 0.8 grams per pound) and may require an intake of up to 2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.

    Some evidence suggests that protein supplementation before and/or after endurance or resistance training may enhance muscle recovery and rebuilding. Incorporating a shake with one serving of protein powder, fruit (try banana), and milk or plant-based milk alternative may help to replenish carbohydrates and electrolytes lost through exercise and support muscle recovery post-workout.

  • When should I drink a protein shake?

    Depending on the protein shake's nutrition profile, it can serve as a meal replacement or a supplemental snack. However, keep in mind most protein shakes are not enough for a satisfying meal for most adults. Consider your daily routine and overall dietary intake to determine when a protein shake may fit best into your day. For example, a protein shake may be a good option for an on-the-go breakfast if you don’t have time to prepare a meal. It could easily be paired with some fruit or toast with peanut butter.

    If you practice resistance or endurance training, some evidence suggests that protein supplementation before and/or after training may enhance muscle recovery and rebuilding.

  • Why can't I just eat more protein-rich foods?

    Many people try increasing protein-rich foods first to see if they can meet their protein needs through food. Depending on how much protein you need, it can be difficult for some people to eat such a high quantity of protein-rich foods, whether due to appetite, chewing/swallowing ability, access, budget, dietary and/or time restrictions. A protein shake can help fill in those gaps. For example, if you are vegan and have a hard time finding protein-rich food sources, especially on the go, a protein shake can be useful.

  • Are protein shakes a good meal replacement?

    Protein shakes typically aren't a suitable meal replacement as they aren't calorically dense enough. Some brands, like OWYN, have a "meal" shake, but even those are still on the low end of calories most people need for a meal. You can pair the shake with different foods to create more of a meal; for example, you can add a carbohydrate source like rice cakes or oats, a fat source like nuts and nut/seed butters, and a fruit or vegetable on the side. The shake can also be blended with additional ingredients to bump up calories and create a meal.

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Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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