I can’t get enough of Costco’s Kirkland brand protein bars lately (especially the chocolate chip cookie dough-flavored ones), and love their nutritional stats, the taste of the bar, and their portability as well. I always have some on hand in Maggie’s diaper bag or my purse for a quick, on-the-go healthy snack.
I’m both thrilled and surprised to love these bars so much, because I’m typically not on board with protein bars of this nature. It’s not that I don’t WANT to like them (especially when they’re packed with so much protein!), it’s just that, aside from this bar, I have yet to find one I actually enjoy.
(Until extremely recently, I was anti-protein powder as well, because I couldn’t get over the overwhelming taste of, well, powder. I don’t know what changed — maybe some post-pregnancy hormones or something? — but now a protein shake is my go-to breakfast item on busy weekday mornings. More on that in another post, though! We’re here to talk about protein bars.)
Anyway, liking this bar so much made me want to explore more of the world of healthy protein bars — especially chocolate chip cookie dough versions. Maybe I’d been missing out all along! I wanted to be sure my healthy protein snack was, in fact, the best protein bar out there (for me).
Kevin actually suggested this side-by-side test, and we enlisted the taste buds of his brother, Justin, and Justin’s wife, Katie, as well. The four of us sampled a total of six bars (including the Kirkland ones), all of which are cookie dough flavored and share similar nutritional numbers. The result? Well, we’ll get to that. First up, an overview of the bars we tasted:
- Kirkland Protein Bar: Calories: 190 / Protein: 21 grams / Sugar: 1 gram / Fiber: 15 grams
This one is VERY chewy, and one taster noticed hints of coconut in its flavor. The chocolate tastes like real chocolate chips, and the bar doesn’t have an unpleasant aftertaste (the flavor stays consistent).
- Quest Bar: Calories: 200 / Protein: 21 grams / Sugar: 1 gram / Fiber: 14 grams
The Quest bar is quite chewy as well, but has a rather grainy texture and an over-the-top sweetness to it. We noticed a significant aftertaste with this one, too, which wasn’t great in our opinions.
- Mission1: Calories: 210 / Protein: 21 grams / Sugar: 1 gram / Fiber: 17 grams
One taster commented that this bar “tastes like a Tootsie Roll,” and it’s true. For the first bite or so, that’s not a bad thing, but a few bites in and that Tootsie Roll flavor gets old fast. This one was super chewy as well.
- Opti-Bar: Calories: 230 / Protein: 20 grams / Sugar: 4 grams / Fiber: 9 grams
I’m going to go ahead and pass along a spoiler alert: this was our least favorite of the bunch, by far. Weird texture, fake-tasting flavor — hard pass from all of us.
- Oh Yeah! One: Calories: 210 / Protein: 21 grams / Sugar: 11 grams / Fiber: 10 grams
This one looks like a candy bar, even though the picture on the package is of cookie dough, which we all thought was a little misleading. That said, who’s gonna say no to a chocolate dipped treat? This one was pretty tasty, we all agreed, and would be an especially good pick for someone who wasn’t totally on the protein bar train yet, given its candy bar-like look.
- FitJoy: Calories: 220 / Protein: 20 grams / Sugar: 4 / Fiber: 13 grams
We were all excited about this one, because it looks the most cookie dough-like of the bunch, but it had a strangely bitter flavor to it that Kevin ultimately pinpointed as the chiocory added for fiber. Bitter cookie dough? No, thanks.
Drumroll, please! Here’s how the four of us collectively ranked the six bars we tested (in order from least favorite to most favorite):
2. Oh Yeah! One
Yep, my beloved Costco bar came up as the far and away winner! Though Justin and Katie (neither of whom had tried the Kirkland-brand version before this taste test) both started out skeptical, after we sampled all the bars we all agreed that Kirkland has done the best job recreating the flavor of chocolate chip cookie dough AND shoving tons of good stuff (without lots of sugar or calories) into their bar. I’m thrilled to know these are the best protein bars out there (well, in my opinion, at least, especially if you’re looking for this flavor), and will enthusiastically keep buying them.