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7 Ways to Make Protein Shakes Taste Better from a Powerlifter

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I’ve been powerlifting for years and my baseline is 250g of protein a day. When I’m trying to mass up I’ll be hitting 300-350g.

Protein shakes are the only way I can hit that every day without spending a fortune on meat or eating all day long.

Many protein shakes have an unpleasant chalky taste, while others have a gritty texture, a watery consistency, or contain floating clumps of protein powder.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. I’m going to share seven easy ways to make protein shakes taste better.

how to make protein shakes taste better

6 Ways to Make Protein Shakes Taste Better

The key to making a protein shake taste better is to choose the protein powder you like best, combine it with the right base liquid, and then ingredients that get the right flavoring for protein shakes. Blend it well and serve it cold.

1. Choose the right protein powder

protein powder

Not all protein powders taste the same, so it’s worth experimenting with a few different powders to find the one you like best. 

  • Whey powder – Whey is one of the easy to blend protein powders on the market. If you want a smooth texture with not grittiness, this is the best choice
  • Casein powder – Casein is a bit thicker and doesn’t mix in as well as whey. You’ll need to use twice as much liquid as way. Some brands are chalkier than others.
  • Plant based protein – Many plant-based protein powders can taste gritty because of the amount of plant fiber they contain. Some can also taste chalky because of the way that the ingredients are stripped down to extract the protein.
  • Collagen powder – Collagen protein was one of the hottest trends in 2022 because of the additional health benefits. My wife used the unflavored one for a while, but I found it to have a bit of a weird taste when mixed with just water. Most women love this for extra protein and hair and skin benefits.
  • Hemp protein – Hemp protein powder is popular with vegans, but not everyone likes the hemp taste, which can overpower other ingredients.

If you want to avoid lactose, you’ll prefer a whey protein isolate to a simple whey protein powder. However, if you’re deciding between the two and lactose isn’t a problem for you, you will find that the regular whey powder offers a creamier texture.

We recently put together a guide on how to mix protein powder without a shaker! Check it out if you need it.

We recommend starting with the type of protein powder that appeals to you and best suits your diet, then trying a variety of brands to find the powder that you personally like best.

Then, once you’ve found your preferred protein powder, follow our other five tips to make it taste even better!

Getting a high quality brand like Optimum Nutrition or True Nutrition.

Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein Powder

2. Choose the right base liquid

One of the easiest ways to make protein shakes taste better is to get the right liquid. You can use water or milk for protein shakes, but we prefer milk!

You can transform the flavor and texture of your protein shake simply by mixing the powder with a different liquid.

Too chalkyUse milk (either plain dairy milk or almond milk) rather than water. 
Too watery?Use a milk base instead of water to get much fuller and more creamy texture. This is a common issue with whey protein.
Too thick?If your shakes are too thick you might need to add more liquid or use a less thick liquid. Whole milk can often make your shakes too thick.
Still chunky?If your shake is still chunky, you either need to add more liquid or blend it more.

All of these liquids can be used as the base for a delicious protein shake:

  • Dairy milk
  • Almond milk 
  • Oat milk 
  • Rice milk 
  • Cashew milk 
  • Coconut milk 
  • Coconut water 
  • Kefir 
  • Kombucha 
  • Fruit juice

The base liquid you choose will depend on the type of protein powder you are using in your shake. We’ve done a deep dive on the best milk for protein shakes that might also be helpful for shakes!

best milk for smoothies

Clearly, chocolate protein powder won’t go well with fruit juice, but a mango-flavored protein powder probably would. And the chocolate protein powder would be delicious with dairy or plant-based milk. 

Check out our list of the best protein shake recipes and experimenting with different flavor combinations until you find some options that work for you.

Protein shakes last in the fridge for 3-4 days so you can make a big batch in advance!

3. Add fruit and vegetables

If you’re drinking your protein shake after a visit to the gym, then you’ll probably want to add flavor while keeping your drink healthy and not adding unnecessary calories.

A great way to do this is to mix in some of your favorite fruit and vegetables.

Mixed berriesAvocado
Apples Celery
PineappleSweet Potato

Of course, you will need to choose fruit and vegetables that go well together, and that also work well with your protein powder and with your liquid base of choice.

There are all kinds of ingredients to mix with protein powder, but bananas and spinach are the most popular options. Strawberries and blueberries are great if you have a vanilla protein powder.

The only downside with some fruit is that it can easily add too many calories in a protein shake!

4. Add other flavored ingredients

While it’s nice to enjoy a healthy fruit and vegetable-based protein shake, other ingredients are both nutritious and delicious too. These include:

  • Nuts and seeds 
  • Oats
  • Peanut butter
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Kefir

Meanwhile, spices that can be added to protein shakes include cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Or you may enjoy adding a sprinkling of chili to a chocolate-flavored protein shake.

Flavor extracts or flavor drops are also an option. These are very concentrated liquid flavor enhancers that can be added to baked goods, desserts, drinks, smoothies, and shakes, to make them taste more interesting.

smoothie with nut butter

There are countless flavors to choose from, including vanilla, almond, lemon, mint, coconut, and banana—all perfect for jazzing up an average-tasting protein shake without adding any extra calories.

Nut butters are one of our favorite ways to make a protein shake thicker!

5. Coffee

Adding coffee to your shakes is a great way to level up the flavor. Coffee has no calories so it’s popular in our list of protein shakes for weight loss!

If you’re starting your day with a shake, add a shot of espresso or some cold brew. You’ll get a caffeine boost along with your morning blast of protein.

Coffee will go best in a chocolate or vanilla protein shake.

coffee in smoothie
This smoothie was made with coffee!

6. Use a blender and load it correctly

If your protein shakes have a tendency to be gritty or lumpy, then it could be that they aren’t being mixed properly. 

Mixing a protein shake in a water bottle or cup is challenging. A shaker cup with a built-in mesh is a better option, but the best way to mix a protein shake is in the blender.

If you’re just using liquid and protein powder, those options will work.

If you’re adding in ice, fruit, oats, peanut butter, or other ingredients then you’ll need to use a blender.

The more powerful the blender you use, the more thoroughly the ingredients will be mixed, which will result in a smoother protein shake.

The more powerful the blender, the better it will work.

I put together a massive guide recently on the best blender for protein shakes if you’re in the market for a new one.

layers of a proper smoothie

Another factor that affects how well your shake blends is the order in which you load the ingredients. This is particularly important when using a shaker or low-powered blender.  

If you put your protein powder into the shaker first and then top it up with liquid, you will probably have trouble with clumping in the bottom of the cup.

Instead, half-fill your shaker with liquid, add your protein powder, and then top up with liquid to full before shaking. This will minimize how much of the protein powder gets a chance to stick to the sides of the cup and form clumps.

7. Add ice and drink it cold!

Protein shakes always taste better when served chilled! There’s something about the relationship between food temperature and taste.

Colder shakes taste way better.

Add a few ice cubes to your next protein shake to make them way colder and you’ll see how much better they taste. If you’re willing to put in a bit more work, you can also make milk ice cubes ahead of time.

If you’re going to add fruit to your shakes, make sure you use frozen fruit.

Common Questions About Making Protein Shakes Taste Good

How do you make protein shakes taste less chalky?

The best way to make protein powder taste less chalky is to blend the powder with milk instead of water. Any kind of milk will work, including cow’s milk, almond milk, and oat milk. You can also add fruit, veg and other flavored ingredients to help mask the chalky taste.

Do protein shakes taste better with milk or water?

Protein shakes do generally taste better with milk rather than water. This is because milk makes the shake creamier and gives it more flavor, which helps to mask the taste of the protein powder.

How do you add taste to protein powder?

The best ways to add taste to protein powder are to use a liquid base other than water – such as milk or fruit juice – or add other flavored ingredients. Popular ingredients to add include fruit and vegetables, nuts & seeds, peanut butter, yogurt and cottage cheese.

Can you get unflavored protein powder?

It is possible to get unflavored protein powders. However, this only means that no flavor has been added to the powder. It does not mean that the powder is completely tasteless. All protein powders have some taste, though some have less flavor than others.

What is the most popular protein powder flavor?

Two of the most popular protein powder flavors are chocolate and vanilla. Other popular protein powder flavors include strawberry, banana, and cookies & cream. Unflavored protein powders are also a popular option.

Final Verdict: What’s the Best Way to Make Protein Shakes Taste Better?

To wrap it all up, here’s a quick bullet list of our tips on the best way to make protein shakes taste better:

  1. Find a high quality protein powder
  2. Use Whey or Casein powder
  3. Milk (2% or almond milk)
  4. Add ingredients like bananas and peanut butter or cold brew.
  5. Add a handful ice
  6. Blend it all up in a powerful blender until perfectly smooth.
Photo of author

Richmond Howard

Richmond Howard started World of Blenders in 2022 to help people solve all their blender issues and buy the best blender for their kitchen! He's tested dozens of blenders and on his other site, Meal Prepify, he's helped over 3 million people learn how to meal prep.

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