Best Tasting Protein Powder for 2021 {and the worst!}

    We tasted the most popular protein powders in 2021. Here’s our favorites from best to worst.

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    The taste of protein powder has come a LONG way in the past two decades. In the late 1990’s, I remember how terrible they were. To drink some protein powder was on the same level as drinking magnesium citrate for a colonoscopy prep. It was THAT bad!

    Nowadays however, you might not be able to tell the difference between an indulgent milkshake and a protein shake. With a variety of flavors, and protein shake recipes (like this caramel toffee protein shake), it’s never been easier to hit your protein goals for the day.

    Protein Powder Ranked in order from best tasting to worst

    I made my kids and my husband sit down to help me with the taste test. We rated on taste alone, from 1-10, ten being the tastiest. Then, I added our scores and divided to get the best average.

    In Summary– I noticed the protein powders sweetened with stevia always left an undesirable after taste. Then, the really cheap protein powders, were chalky.

    I also have decided after all of this, to stick with vanilla, and add a variety of flavor add-ins on my own. So much more cost effective!!

    taste testing protein powder

    These protein powders are ranked from best to worst. It doesn’t mean I use the #1 on this list, because I don’t! Factoring in cost and accessibility as well as taste means my go-to protein powder is Optimum Nutrition, or Combat brand (mostly because I can buy them at Costco, and they are under $1 per serving.

    But for what it’s worth- if I had all the money and access in the world, THIS is the order I’d buy protein powders in!

    1. Uniconutrition (BEST)
    2. Ghost (GREAT)
    3. Optimum Nutrition (BETTER THAN GOOD)
    4. Legion Athletics (BETTER THAN GOOD)
    5. Clean Simple Eats (BETTER THAN GOOD)
    6. Combat (GOOD)
    7. Cookie Butter (GOOD)
    8. ISO (GOOD)
    9. Gnarly (LESS THAN GOOD)
    10. Ideal Lean (LESS THAN GOOD)
    11. Body Fortress (GROSS)
    12. FitCrunch (GROSS)
    13. Quest (GROSS)

    UPDATE: I have some new protein powders that I’ll add to this list in the next few weeks. I keep buying more. I think I’m addicted! I have Eflow, 1UpNutrition, and Sytha on the way.


    The Taste Test Results

    1) Apollo- Uniconutrition (BEST)

    Taste Rank: 10

    A-FREAKING-MAZING!! Seriously, almost too good to be true.

    I was so glad I found this brand. They had been advertising to me on Instagram forever. Once I noticed they sold samples, I was all in. I LOVE when a protein powder company sells samples. Investing in a full container can be so disappointing if you don’t like the taste.

    The Uniconutrition brand was super creamy, like Ice cream, and had no after taste. The Cookies and Cream one actually tasted like cookies and cream ice cream.

    This brand also has digestive enzymes included to reduce bloating. If someone thinks protein powders make them sick, consider trying one like this with the digestive enzymes.

    unico nutrition protein powder square (Custom)

    The stats for UnicoNutrition Protein Powder

    • PRICE $46 for 2 lbs on their store (27 servings) $42 if you buy 2 or more containers making it $1.55 per serving
    • BENEFITS “no bloat” comes with digestive enzymes.
    • CALORIES AND MACROS per 34 grams: 120 calories, 25 grams protein, 4 grams carbs, and 0.5 grams fat
    • PROTEIN SOURCE: Whey, Casein, egg whites
    • SWEETENER: Sucralose
    Uniconutrition vanilla protein powder nutrition label (Custom)

    2) Ghost (Great)

    Taste Rank 9

    Ghost is popular for having some really fun flavor options. They’ve got popular flavors like Nutter Butter, Chips Ahoy, Cinnamon Cereal, Marshmallow Cereal, Peanut butter cereal, and fruit cereal.

    I only purchased the Nutter Butter, which I made a YUMMY Nutter Butter Protein Shake with. (recipe here). This flavor has actual cookie bits in it. If that doesn’t’ bother you (it bothered one of my kids), than you’ll probably like it.

    While the taste was pleasant, there was no after taste, and it was pretty delicious, it was also kind of mild. I almost wondered if I could get the same flavor just by using some vanilla protein powder and mixing in some peanut butter powder.

    ghost protein powder nutter butter (Custom)

    The stats for Ghost Protein Powder

    • PRICE Don’t buy this one on Amazon– last I checked it was double the price of their online store. At their store, it’s 39.99 for 2lbs. 26 servings for $1.53 per serving.
    • BENEFITS They have the digestive enzymes.
    • CALORIES AND MACROS Per 41 grams 160 calories, 26 grams protein, 8 g carbs, 2.5 g fat
    • PROTEIN SOURCE: Whey
    • SWEETENER: Sucralose, but also High fructose corn syrup and sugar!

    3) Optimum Nutrition

    Taste Rank 7.5 (purchase link)

    In full transparency, this is my go-to protein powder. I can buy it at Costco or here on Amazon, it’s affordable, and it tastes good. The consensus in my house was that it was milky. With just adding milk to vanilla, it kind of tasted like milk.

    But at the end of the day, it’s a solid choice. It’s consistently delicious. It blends well, even without a blender. You can use it in a variety of protein powder recipes, and it doesn’t have any strange after tastes.

    optimum nutrition protein powder (Custom)

    The stats for Optimum Nutrition Protein Powder

    • PRICE 5lbs for $59.99 on Amazon, for only $0.82 per serving! Suddenly, that feels like a bargain!
    • BENEFITS – Price and taste!
    • CALORIES AND MACROS Per 31g; 120 calories, 24 grams protein, 4 grams carbs, and 1 gram fat.
    • PROTEIN SOURCE: Whey
    • SWEETENER: Sucralose

    4) Legion Athletics (Better than Good)

    Taste Rank: 6.75 (Purchase link)

    The brand Legion intrigued me because I listen to a lot of podcasts where fitness influencers promote this brand. So, I decided to give it a try myself. I wasn’t disappointed.

    It was actually very delicious. My husband said the flavor was almost too strong, and so he “cuts” the caramel flavored powder with some vanilla for a winning taste combo. I will say there is a teeny bit of an aftertaste, but it’s not offensive.

    legion protein powder sq (Custom)

    The stats for Legion Protein Powder

    • PRICE $99 for 5 lbs on Amazon (78 servings) 29 grams per serving making it $1.26 per serving
    • CALORIES AND MACROS Per 29 grams: 100 calories, 22 grams protein, 0 grams carbs, and 0 grams fat
    • PROTEIN SOURCE: Whey
    • SWEETENER Stevia

    5) Clean Simple Eats

    Taste Rank: 6.5 (purchase link)

    There’s a lot of buzz about Clean Simple Eats in my community.
    The founders live pretty close to me, and so a lot of local fitness enthusiasts promote their protein powders.

    Of course, I’m a huge skeptic, so I ordered some to try for myself. It was better than good. It definitely belongs in the top 5 of the best protein powders.

    I am surprised a little bit about the hype though, because while it’s good, it’s pretty equal as far as flavor goes with other high end powders. (this is my affiliate link if you want to try it at 10% off)

    Clean Simple Eats does have some amazing sounding flavors, as well as LOADS of protein shake recipes for using their protein powders. They have Peanut butter, strawberry cheesecake, brownie batter, vanilla, and a variety of limited time flavors like birthday cake!

    Clean simple eats protein powder

    The stats for Vanilla Clean Simple Eats Protein Powder

    • PRICE For almost 2lbs, the cost is 49.99. With 30 servings it makes it $1.66 per serving.
    • BENEFITS Digestive enzymes
    • CALORIES AND MACROS PER 33g 110 calories, 20g protein, 9 g carbs, 0 g fat
    • PROTEIN SOURCE: Whey
    • SWEETENER: Stevia

    6) Combat cookies and cream

    Taste Rank: 6.5 (purchase link)

    It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to get my hands on the Muscle Pharm Combat Cookies and Cream from Costco. It was my favorite for a long time, but it seems Costco only carries chocolate any more.

    Overall, I love this for cookies and cream. It mixes in with plain yogurt and tastes like dessert! (check out my cookies and cream dip here). It’s also tasty made into homemade protein bars!

    But, when just used as a protein shake with milk or water, it’s very runny and milky. While the flavor is good, when side by side with the UnicoNutrition Cookies and Cream, it was almost flavorless!

    For the price however, the Combat brand is a solid choice!

    combat protein powder square (Custom)

    The stats for Combat Protein Powder

    • PRICE From Amazon, you can get 4lbs for $44.00, making it only $0.86 per serving.
    • BENEFITS 5 Different protein sources to get a variety of slow and fast digesting.
    • CALORIES AND MACROS per 35 grams, is 140 calories, 25 grams protein, 5 grams carbs, and 2 grams fat.
    • PROTEIN SOURCE: Whey, Casein, and eggs
    • SWEETENER: Sugar and sucralose

    Taste Rank: 6 (purchase link)

    This product markets itself to be more of an ingredient for people to add into recipes or oatmeal, rather than a protein powder to make into a shake. And that’s the way I’ve been using it. I made this protein pudding here that was pretty good. But you can honestly use any protein powder in a recipe. It doesn’t have to be special.

    The nutrition label calculates the nutrient data by tablespoons, so it’s sort of misleading to think that you get more protein powder and fewer calories for the price, when it says there are 15 servings. But, if you equate for the actual grams of protein, this teeny container would be only 7.5 servings, making this the MOST EXPENSIVE protein powder around!

    And for that reason alone, I’ll likely never buy this one again. I tried it in my recent protein powder birthday cake recipe. And, I tried the same recipe just using vanilla protein powder from Optimum Nutrition, and there was NO difference in the flavor of the cake.

    • PRICE (Highway Robbery!!) I adjusted to match other protein powders calories, macros and grams, and this product would be $3.33 per serving!
    • BENEFITS Lot’s of unique flavors to choose from like cookies and cream, brownie batter, Golden cookie, red velvet, and birthday cake!
    • CALORIES AND MACROS PER 30 grams: 120 calories, 18 g protein, 6 g carbs, 2 grams fat (double what the label says because I doubled the weight)
    • PROTEIN SOURCE: Whey, Casein,
    • SWEETENER: Sucralose, corn syrup
    assorted protein powder taste off square (Custom)

    8) Dymatize ISO100

    Taste rank 6.5 (purchase link)

    I was excited to try the Dymatize ISO100. It’s in so many local health food store, in fun flavors. Plus, some of the girls I did the bikini show last year are obsessed with it!

    Dymatize, The brand was running a BOGO sale, and one girl I know bought 10 containers at once. So, I decided to buy the Orange Dreamsicle and birthday cake.

    Perhaps the hype was the reason I was slightly disappointed. While it was good, I wasn’t excited enough about it to buy more. It blended well and tasted good. But the flavor was a bit too subtle for me to get excited.

    However, with the price and the fact that this protein powder is almost 100% protein, I think it’s a bargain!

    The ISO100 comes in fun flavors that I would love to try like Cinnamon bun, cocoa pebbles, chocolate caramel, chocolate peanut butter, smooth banana, and chocolate coconut.

    The stats for ISO Protein Powder

    • PRICE AFFORDABLE!! On Amazon, a 5lb container is $73 and has 76 servings. This is $0.96 per serving. Great compared to some.
    • BENEFITS Hydrolyzed whey, for fast digesting. Lactose free for no GI distress.
    • CALORIES AND MACROS per 30 grams. This powder is almost 100% whey, so it’s only 100 calories (LOVE IT!), 25 grams protein, 1 gram carb, and 0 grams fat (also love it).
    • PROTEIN SOURCE: Whey
    • SWEETENER: Stevia

    9) Gnarly Vanilla

    Taste rank: 4 (purchase link)

    A friend on Facebook asked for protein powder recommendations recently. My sister popped in and said Gnarly was hands down the BEST! So, naturally I was curious, and she gave me a few scoops to try.

    It was NOT good! The only reason I can figure that my sister liked it so much is that she truly has nothing to compare it to. She may have thought protein powder was so bad, so the Gnarly was the best of them.

    She is wrong!

    It was so frothy, very milky, and had an aftertaste. Also, there’s 12 grams of carbs in a serving. I like my protein powder to be just protein!

    The stats for Gnarly Protein Powder

    • PRICE On Amazon, 2lbs of Vanilla was $48.45, and the scoops are extra large (45 grams) for $2.42 per serving! WOWZA. WAY overpriced!! Even if you used half the scoop, it’s still $1.21 per serving, and only 22 grams.
    • BENEFITS It contains probiotics and enzymes.
    • CALORIES AND MACROS per 45 grams. 160 calories, 25 grams protein, 12 grams carbs, 3 grams fat. Why so many carbs???
    • PROTEIN SOURCE: Grass fed whey
    • SWEETENER: Erythritol, stevia, monk fruit

    10) Ideal Lean

    Taste rank 3 (purchase link)

    I hate to hate on this. This company has a lot of local enthusiasts. But I just didn’t like it at all, and neither did my family. I don’t know how to describe the taste, except that I didn’t finish the glass. I tossed it. Just a bad after taste more than anything.

    One thing that I do like about this company, is they sell samples! Always a win if I can taste a protein powder before I buy!

    The stats for Ideal Lean Protein Powder

    • PRICE Not bad on price. About $1.00 per serving on Amazon. The container has 30 servings and costs $32.00
    • BENEFITS Not really sure how, but it claims to give you a boost of energy.
    • CALORIES AND MACROS per 26 grams. 100 calories, 20 grams protein, 3 grams carbs, and zero grams fat.
    • PROTEIN SOURCE: Whey
    • SWEETENER: Dextrose, sucralose

    11) Body Fortress Cookies & Cream

    Taste rank 1 (purchase link)

    It’s likely you know this brand because they sell it at Walmart. Also, on Amazon, there are over 20K comments, and 72% of people are giving it 5 stars… WHY??? Do people not know there are MUCH better tasting powders on the market?

    That’s the only explanation I can come up with. People just don’t know protein can taste so much better, and Body Fortress is not that powder.

    The Body Fortress Cookies and Cream had an after taste, it doesn’t blend well, lots of air, and chunks after it’s mixed.

    The stats for Protein Powder

    • PRICE $16.98 for 2 lbs, They are using an EXTRA large scoop. It has 50 grams per scoop, giving the protein only 18 servings per container. However, if you use half a scoop, it’s more on par with the other proteins at 30 grams. So, with their scoop, $0.94 per serving. Half a scoop would be 0.47 per serving. VERY CHEAP!
    • BENEFITS
    • CALORIES AND MACROS per 50 gram scoop; 200 calories, 30 grams protein, 8 grams carbs, and 3 grams fat. I would use half a scoop, and cut those numbers in half.
    • PROTEIN SOURCE: 100% whey
    • SWEETENER: Sucralose

    12) FitCrunch Strawberry

    Taste Rank 1: (purchase link)

    In all fairness, it might just be the strawberry flavor is so extremely terrible, but the strawberry flavor was TERRIBLE!

    It’s too bad because I really like the Fitcrunch bars, A LOT! The Fitcrunch bars taste like candy bars. But this strawberry protein powder was possibly the worst protein powder I’ve ever tried.

    Someone on Amazon said it tastes like strawberry flouride from the dentist! Haha. I would TOTALLY agree! But these same people are also saying they like the pumpkin flavor.

    So, bottom line is, you are free to try this one, just don’t let it be strawberry!!

    The stats for Fit Crunch Protein Powder

    • PRICE Over priced!! $1.66 per serving. They really think a lot of this powder! (29.99 on Amazon for a container with 18 servings)
    • CALORIES AND MACROS per 36 grams; 150 calories, 25 g protein, 4 grams carbs, and 4 grams fat
    • PROTEIN SOURCE: Whey and casein
    • SWEETENER: maltodextrin

    13) Quest cookies and cream

    Taste Rank 1: Purchase link

    Blah! This protein powder was pretty bad. So bad in fact, I gave away the container to a neighbor kid who plays football and needs calories at any cost! LOL.

    I was surprised this was so bad. After reading some Amazon reviews, it seems that it was delicious in the past, but then they changed the formula and now it doesn’t taste as good.

    It thickened up well, but even mixed into yogurt, I couldn’t finish it. It had an after taste, and it was quite gritty in texture.

    This comment from Amazon mirror’s how I feel: Please do yourself a favor and save your money by not buying the cookies and cream flavor. I’m not the pickiest of eaters but when I’m telling you it’s nasty, trust me it’s nasty.

    The stats for Quest Protein Powder

    • PRICE 1.6 lbs for $25 and 22 servings. $1.13 per serving
    • CALORIES AND MACROS PER 32 grams; 100 calories, 20 g protein, 7 g carbs, 1.5 g fat
    • PROTEIN SOURCE: Whey, casein.
    • SWEETENER: Erythritol, stevia

    After rating the above protein powders, I’m still getting more in the mail. So, while they won’t be ranked, I’ll share my opinions below!

    Coming soon is my opinion on Eflow, 1Up Nutrition, Syntha.

    Do you have a protein powder I should try??

    Do you have a protein powder you love? HMU in the comments!

    Best and worst tasting protein powders

    DISCLAIMER: If I could find an affiliate link, I used it. If you buy through my link, I earn a commission. Unfortunately, I have no link for my number1 pick. LOL

    5 Comments

    • I love the jj virgin all in one chocolate protein powder, it’s the most delish and closest to an awesome chocolate ice cream shake I’ve ever had, great consistency, no after taste, great macros but pricey. I highly recommend. Thank you for the info❣️

      Reply
    • I agree. The Quest brand is so gross. I haven’t been a fan of any of their products. They have protein chips too and I suggest skipping them too. 🙂 Definetely going to have to try the #1 brand you recommended.

      Reply
      • YES!! I’m always surprised when people like the quest powders and chips!

        Reply
      • Thanks Ruth!! I’ll check it out. And totally agree about Ideal protein!

        Reply

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