Breakfast is easy for me to make in the morning. Yet somehow, I’ve become addicted to what could be considered a meal replacement snack. These dairy-free molasses protein balls are something you can make ahead and grab on the go. You can have a few for a pick-me-up, or several if you don’t have time to stop for a meal. But they’re also delicious with my morning tea, offer balanced nutrition that’s easy on my stomach, and have a comforting deep flavor that’s not too sweet. And thanks to some not-so-secret ingredients, these little protein balls are naturally high in dairy-free calcium (no fortification!) along with other key vitamins and minerals.
These Dairy-Free Molasses Protein Balls are Mighty Nutritious
So how much calcium is really in these molasses protein balls? When made with almond butter, one serving contains a whopping 200 milligrams of natural dairy-free calcium. It also boasts 450 milligrams of potassium, 120 milligrams of magnesium, and 7.8 milligrams of vitamin E. That fulfills about 30% to 40% of the RDA for magnesium and over 50% of the RDA for vitamin E!
I’ve included the macronutrients with the recipe, which are also rather impressive in my opinion. These dairy-free molasses protein balls have a great balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates for fulfillment and sustainable energy. We don’t have a category in our recipe template for added sugars, which are only about 5 grams per serving. As someone with a sweet tooth in the morning, I consider this very respectable! I’ve got suggestions and notes below on the ingredients I use to make this happen.
Ingredient Tips for Alisa’s Molasses Protein Balls
These are the specific brands I buy to make this recipe and to get the nutrient levels and flavor desired. I’ve linked up to where I purchase them for the lowest prices. In terms of taste, these dairy-free molasses protein balls have a deep, rich flavor that isn’t sharply sweet. You can add a little bit of another sweetener, but I usually just recommend using a sweeter protein powder (see below).
I specifically buy Plantation Blackstrap Molasses (not the organic version) for two primary reasons. One, it’s the highest in calcium that I’ve found. Two, I love the taste. Some brands of blackstrap molasses taste a little bitter to me, but this one is smooth and deep. Their organic version contains much less calcium, so I stick with this less expensive version. Honestly, the affordable price is just a side benefit. It’s not the cheapest on the market, but it’s close. They usually have a great deal on it on Vitacost. Amazon has a fair deal on the small bottles and large bottle, but I often find it cheaper at my local Whole Foods (seriously!).
I’ve been using Primal Kitchen Collagen Peptides, which I really like. I stick with the unsweetened, unflavored version. It’s seamless, pure, and versatile. But if you want the balls to be a little sweeter, I think their Vanilla Collagen or Peanut Butter Collagen mixes would be delicious. Those are both cut with coconut milk powder, and have a great texture. They’re lightly sweetened with monk fruit extract. I struggle with sugar-free sweeteners, which is why I stick with the plain, but these can perk up the sweetness! You can use Code: GODAIRYFREE on primalkitchen.com for 10% off your entire order.
The type and brand you use will affect the “stickiness” of these molasses protein balls. If your dough is too sticky, put the bowl in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so. It does thicken. Or, you can just add more protein powder. I’ve been testing different brands for almond butter, and the thicker more rustic ones work best for firmer balls. Due to price, I usually buy Good & Gather Almond Butter at Target, but it does make stickier molasses protein balls. For peanut butter, I really like Smucker’s All Natural Creamy Peanut Butter. It’s on the salty side, and makes quite thick dough.
Quick Nut Butter Tip: I always buy the “stir” varieties of peanut and almond butter where the oil separates. To emulsify, my husband uses the dough hook attachment on our cheap hand mixer to blend the contents in just a minute. Just make sure to hold the jar tight – if the solids are hard packed at bottom, it can grab a little. We learned after one oily splatter! Once blended, we store it in the refrigerator and the contents don’t separate again.
I don’t usually roll these molasses protein balls in coating. I did it for these photos primarily because they are a rather unappealing shade of brown on their own. Just being honest! I love the taste, and don’t really notice the color, but when I went to take photos, I noticed the issue. So the coatings are completely optional, but they do add taste, nutrition, and can make handling and storing the balls easier if your dough is a little sticky. My favorite is the quick oats, but the almond flour adds more minerals and vitamin E, and the coconut adds a nice flavor and texture.
Special Diet Notes: Molasses Protein Balls
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, optionally peanut-free, soy-free, and paleo friendly.
For nut-free molasses protein balls, substitute a nut-free spread, like SunButter or WowButter. These might affect the thickness and stickiness of the protein ball dough. See the notes in the post above for adjustment tips.
For vegan and vegetarian molasses protein balls, use a vegan protein powder, like Naked Pea, Bob’s Almond Protean Powder (another little calcium boost!), or your favorite type.
- ½ cup natural almond butter or peanut butter
- ¼ cup collagen protein powder / peptides (see post above for vegan options)
- 2½ tablespoons blackstrap molasses
- Pinch salt (omit if using salted nut butter)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
- Pinch cloves (optional)
- Optional for Rolling: almond flour / meal, quick oats, shredded coconut
- In a small bowl, stir together the almond butter, protein, molasses, and salt (if using).
- Add spices, to taste, if desired.
- Continue stirring for about 1 minute, until it thickens and pulls away from the sides, like a thick dough. You can refrigerate the dough to thicken more.
- Shape into 1-inch balls. Optionally roll in almond flour, oats, or coconut, if desired.
- Store the balls in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or the freezer for longer.
Storage: I make a single batch fresh most of the time. Yes, I'm weird that way. But you can definitely store these in the refrigerator (for at least a week) or freezer (for a few months). They firm up quite a bit when chilled and have a nice texture, in my opinion.