As registered dietitians, we get asked weekly about our recommendations in protein powder, including plant based protein powder and whey protein powder. So we decided to put protein powders to the test. For the last six months, our team has been evaluating, tasting, and crunching numbers and ingredient lists so we can confidently say that these are the Best Plant Based Protein Powders out there based on quality, efficacy (if the amounts and types of nutrients are appropriate), dissolubility (how the powders dissolve in liquid), and taste.
Dietitian-Approved Plant Based Protein Powder
In recent years, the number of plant-based protein powders available has skyrocketed. The popularity of plant-based diets and people avoiding dairy has many seeking out an alternative to whey protein. But with so many options available, it can be hard to know if your plant protein powder is healthy and provides well-rounded nutrition, truly harnessing the power of plants. In our deep-dive analysis to find the Best Plant Based Protein Powder, we found impressive products full of whole-food, plant-based nutrients from a variety of legumes, ancient grains, nuts, and seeds. Some formulations also included probiotics, digestive enzymes, antioxidant blends, and adaptogens. Other products fell into the “not-so-impressive” category, with plant-based ingredients that had been stripped of vitamins, minerals, and fiber so the protein content would be boosted.
Our criteria to find the best plant based protein powder
We considered and discussed at length the following criteria as we created this comprehensive list of our top dietitian-recommended Plant Based Protein Powder:
- Taste – this was criteria number one; if it didn’t taste good, it didn’t make the cut. We tested these protein powders mixed with just water, shaken with dairy and non-dairy milks (such as almond milk), and blended into smoothies
- Protein source – we checked to make sure the source and amount of plant-based protein in the powders was appropriate and of good quality to supply a variety of essential and non-essential amino acids, and complete protein profiles
- Ingredient quality – we favored blends that were made from plant sources grown in quality organic soil (for top nutrition) and those that were sourced responsibly and provided ingredient traceability
- Certifications and 3rd-party testing – when it comes to nutritional powders and other supplements, certifications and verified 3rd-party testing are some of the best ways to ensure the quality, truthfulness, and good manufacturing practices of what’s in the product. That is why we favored plant based protein powders that had certifications (ie: certified organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, certified gluten-free, etc.) and those that could prove they had undergone 3rd-party lab testing
- Efficacy – we checked the calories, amino acid profile, vitamin and mineral content, carbs, fats, fiber, probiotic blends, and much more to make sure the numbers and variety of these nutrients was in an appropriate range for how plant protein powders are commonly used
- Sweetener – through our sampling of dozens and dozens of plant protein powders, we discovered there are not many blends available that don’t include a sweetener. Most powders are sweetened with stevia or monk fruit (lo han guo) or a combination of those. Sometimes we found the sweetener level to be appropriate, while other times the sweetener was off-putting, overwhelming, or created a yucky aftertaste. Read below for our recommendation of best plant based protein powder that doesn’t contain any stevia, monk fruit, or artificial sweeteners
- Price and availability – we made note of the price per serving, as well as how easily someone can purchase each product at a local store or directly online
The 7 best plant based Protein powders
According to The Real Food Dietitians
Here are our recommendations for plant based protein powders in six main categories, as well as our recommendation for the overall best plant based protein powder. Scroll down to read more about why these brands stood out to us.
Best Organic: Ora Plant-Based Superfood Protein
Best Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder: Ora Plant-Based Superfood Protein
This impressive blend is lean and clean, just as the name implies. In addition to the plant-based protein in each serving, you get a loaded superfood blend made from dehydrated organic berries, veggies, and coconut milk.
- About the protein: The protein comes from organic pea protein, rice, amaranth, quinoa, and sacha inchi seeds. Two scoops (30 to 32 g) provides 21-23 grams of protein per serving, depending on the flavor
- Other nutrient highlights: This plant protein powder incorporates an organic 19 superfoods and whole-food blend, including cranberry, apple, blackberry, acerola, blueberry, broccoli, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, pomegranate, strawberry, turmeric, coconut milk, and more. Also included is a digestive enzyme blend to improve nutrient absorption, as well as 6-7 grams of iron (33-39% of the RDA for women)
- Certifications: USDA Organic certified and 3rd-party tested with four accredited lab partners; dairy free, soy free, gluten free
- About the sweetener: Contains zero grams of added sugar; the flavored versions are sweetened with organic monk fruit and organic stevia
- Cost per serving: $1.90 per serving (20 servings per carton)
- Flavors: Unflavored and Unsweetened, Vanilla, Chocolate, Vanilla Chai
Ora would like to offer you 10% off your order with code REALFOOD10
Best Post-Workout: Ascent Plant Protein
Jess and Ana from our team have been fans of Ascent protein for years to fuel their heavy-lifting and Crossfit workouts, citing that this is one plant-based protein powder that is good even when just mixed with water (most aren’t).
- About the protein: This plant-based protein powder contains a blend of pea protein, sunflower seed protein, and pumpkin seed protein. A large single scoop (41 g) provides 25 grams of protein and a complete amino acid profile, including 4 grams of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) for muscle building and recovery
- Other nutrient highlights: We love this choice for post-workout recovery because of the high amount of amino acids available. Also noteworthy was the short ingredient list and high iron content (7 mg)
- Certifications: USDA Organic certified, certified gluten free, and third-party tested by Informed Sport Certified; dairy free, soy free, gluten free
- About the sweetener: This powder contains 0 grams of added sugar; it is sweetened with organic stevia
- Cost and cost per serving: $2.30 (18 servings per bag)
- Flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla Bean
Best Budget-Friendly: KOS Organic Plant Protein
Best Budget-Friendly Plant-Based Protein Powder: KOS Organic Plant Protein
This is a great-tasting, high-quality plant-based protein powder that our whole team liked. And it was especially exciting to find a quality, organic option that was very reasonably priced. We also loved the many flavor options from KOS, which would mean your smoothie routine would never be boring. In case you’re wondering, KOS is named after an ancient Greek island and the birthplace of Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician.
- About the protein: The plant protein source here is mostly organic pea protein, with some flax seed and quinoa, pumpkin seed, and chia. Two scoops (39 g) provides 20 grams of soy-free protein with no fillers
- Other nutrient highlights: This powder has it all: digestive enzymes, an organic fruit and veggie blend for boosted vitamin and mineral content, and satiating fats from coconut milk
- Certifications: KOS is USDA Organic certified; dairy free, soy free, gluten free
- About the sweetener: A serving has 2 grams of added sugar from coconut sugar, and this powder also contains stevia and monk fruit extract. That being said, our team thought this had one of the best-tasting flavor profiles and smallest sweetener aftertaste of the many we sampled
- Cost per serving: $1.42 (30 servings per carton); also available in single serving packs and smaller cartons, but you get the best price per serving for the large 2.6-pound tub
- Flavors: Unflavored, Vanilla, Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Mint, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Salted Caramel Coffee, Blueberry Muffin
KOS would like to offer you 15% off your order with code BALANCE15
Best Without Stevia, Monkfruit, or Artificial Sweeteners: Mary Ruth’s Organic Protein Powder
Best Plant-Based Protein Powder Without Stevia, Monk fruit, or Artificial Sweeteners: Mary Ruth’s Organic Protein Powder
When tasting so many plant-based protein powders, it was off-putting to see just how many products contain an unpleasant aftertaste from stevia leaf or monk fruit. We quickly realized there was a need to track down the best-tasting, highest quality plant-based protein powder that doesn’t contain stevia, monk fruit, or another natural or artificial sweetener. Enter Mary Ruth’s. This is the protein powder for those who prefer the taste of regular cane sugar over low-calorie sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit. While that does mean you get some grams of added sugar in your protein powder, what you don’t get is any unpleasant aftertaste.
- About the protein: This single-source protein comes from organic pumpkin seeds. A single scoop (28 g) provides 14 grams of protein, including 18 amino acids. Pumpkin seed protein does tend to be more gritty, so we found that this powder was best when blended into smoothies, rather than just mixed into water or other liquids
- Other nutrient highlights: We appreciated the short and simple ingredient list here. For this powder, it’s really just about the good-tasting protein (blender use recommended)
- Certifications: Mary Ruth’s is USDA Organic certified and the chocolate is Fair Trade. We also love the low cost/serving for an organic, fair-trade powder; dairy free, soy free, gluten free
- About the sweetener: This is one of the few flavored plant-based protein powders that is sweetened only with organic cane sugar. No other sweeteners or sugars are used
- Cost per serving: $1.87 (15 servings per carton)
- Flavors: Comes only in Chocolate
Mary Ruth’s would like to offer you 10% off your order with REALFOODDIETITIANS10
Best for Baking: Garden of Life Organic Plant Protein
Best For Baking Plant-Based Protein Powder: Garden of Life Organic Plant Protein
Adding a scoop or two to protein shakes is not the only way these plant-based powders can be used. You can easily add some to baked goods and other treats. Simply stir the powder into the batter to boost the protein content of everything from energy balls and cookies to muffins and pancakes. This is a nice way to increase the lasting power of these treats so you’ll feel full for longer and won’t be reaching for another snack between meals.
What we loved most about the Garden of Life Organic Plant Protein was that it is a high-quality protein source that didn’t leave a chalky aftertaste in our baked goods, which many plant protein powders tend to do. Instead, it blended in smoothly and even provided a subtle and delicious vanilla flavor. It’s especially good in these Vegan Protein Bars.
- About the protein: The protein comes from an organic blend of pea, tapioca flour, chia seed, flaxseed, cranberry, baobab fruit, and pumpkin seed. A single scoop (23.5 g) provides 15 grams of protein, including 18 amino acids
- Other nutrient highlights: We love that this blend includes a two-lactobacillus strain, providing 1 billion CFU of probiotics. Also included is an enzyme blend for easier absorption of nutrients
- Certifications: You really can’t beat Garden of Life’s standards when it comes to traceability of ingredients to their farmer partners. All Garden of Life products are USDA Certified Organic and their 3rd-party certifications are numerous; also dairy free, soy free, gluten free.
- About the sweetener: There are 0 grams of added sugars in a serving; the flavored Garden of Life Plant Proteins are sweetened with organic stevia extract and erythritol (a sugar alcohol). The unflavored type contains no sweeteners.
- Cost per serving: $2.55 – $3.10 per serving (10 servings per bag)
- Flavors: Unflavored Unsweetened, Smooth Vanilla, Smooth Chocolate, Smooth Coffee, and Smooth Energy (contains 19 mg of caffeine from organic yerba mate). For baking, we recommend the unflavored, vanilla, and chocolate powders
Best for Pregnancy & Postpartum: Ritual Essential Protein Daily Shake Pregnancy & Postpartum
Best Plant-Based Protein Powder for Pregnancy & Postpartum: Ritual Essential Protein Daily Shake Pregnancy & Postpartum
If you just need a routine with your nutrition, we think Ritual could be a good choice for you. When you place an order, you sign up for a subscription (with flexible dates and the ability to change products). So, you can time it so your supplement refill will be automatically sent to you just as you’re running out – convenient! As for the Ritual protein powder, we loved the taste and easy, creamy blending. And we especially appreciated that their Pregnancy & Postpartum shake was a clean, simple powder, supplying the right amount of plant-based protein and choline for pregnant and lactating women.
- About the protein: This powder contains a single-source protein from USA-grown organic pea protein. Ritual complements its pea protein with added L-methionine for a more complete amino acid profile. A single scoop (30 g) provides 20 grams of protein, an ideal digestible amount for women in one sitting
- Other nutrient highlights: Choline is a nutrient of high importance for pregnant and lactating women. It is necessary to support the brain and neural tube development of unborn and breastfeeding babies. We loved that a serving of Ritual contains 250 mg of choline, which is among the highest we found. We also appreciate the addition of organic coconut oil to supply quick-digesting healthy fats (medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs). This powder also boasts 3 grams of fiber per serving from the pea protein
- Certifications: Though Ritual is not USDA Organic certified, it does contain mostly organic ingredients. Their products are 3rd-party tested by Informed Sport Certified; also dairy free, soy free, gluten free
- About the sweetener: The Ritual powders are sweetened with fermented sugarcane (Reb-M) and monk fruit, which is nice (not overpowering)
- Cost per serving: $2.66 (15 servings per bag)
- Flavors: Comes only in Vanilla, which has subtle nuances of caramel and hints of spice
Ritual would like to offer you 20% off the first month with REALFOOD20
BEST OVERALL: Natreve Vegan Protein Powder
Overall Best Plant-Based Protein Powder: Natreve Vegan Protein Powder
When we took all criteria into consideration, Natreve Vegan Protein Powder was our clear winner. We confidently name this the Best Plant Based Protein Powder based on taste, nutrient profile, ingredient quality, flavors, and cost.
- About the protein: The protein comes from a blend of organic pea, pumpkin seed, and brown rice protein. One scoop (37 g) provides 25 grams of protein
- Other nutrient highlights: This dairy-free powder includes an organic whole grain and seeds blend made of amaranth, quinoa, chia, and flaxseed to boost healthy fats, B vitamins, and fiber. It also includes an organic greens powder of kale, broccoli, and spinach to add vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And this powder also contains a 4-blend of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium strains to provide 1.1 billion CFU of probiotics. We loved that it also provides 45% of the DV for iron (8 grams)
- Certifications: This product is not USDA Organic certified but is made from mostly organic ingredients. It is Non-GMO Project Verified and third-party tested by Informed Sports Certified; also dairy free, soy free, gluten free
- About the sweetener: Zero grams of added sugar; the flavored versions are sweetened with stevia
- Cost per serving: $2.50 per serving (18 servings per carton)
- Flavors: Unflavored and Unsweetened, French Vanilla Wafer Sundae, Fudge Brownie, Strawberry Shortcake, Peanut Butter Parfait
Natreve would like to offer you 10% off your order with code REALFOOD10
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Jessica, Stacie, and Jessie all have a registered dietitian (RD / RDN) credential, and used professional analysis and home taste tests to create this unsponsored list of plant based protein powder recommendations. Product samples were both provided and purchased. All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to reference this content, please link back to the source here on The Real Food Dietitians. Thank you!