This post: 22 Protein-Packed Snacks For Always Hungry Teens
Written by: Natalie Nation MPH, RD, LD
Did you know that teenagers have higher calorie needs during their teen years than they will at any other point in their lives? With all the growing and changing happening in their bodies during puberty, it’s no wonder your teen is constantly hungry!
The trick to keeping your teen full and focused is protein. Protein takes longer for the body to digest, meaning your teen will feel full and satisfied for longer when they eat a protein-packed meal or snack.
Foods rich in protein include:
- Red meats like beef and pork
- Lean meat like chicken and fish
- Eggs, dairy, and soy
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat bread
Most healthy teenagers need between 45-60 grams of protein per day, depending on their height, weight, sex, health status, and activity level. Pair protein-rich foods with carbohydrates, fats, fruits, and vegetables to help your teen eat a well-balanced diet.
If you’re at your wit’s end trying to feed your hungry teen, check out these protein-packed snacks for always hungry teens!
22 Protein-Packed Snacks for Always Hungry Teens
1. Mini Bagels
Have you seen mini-bagels in your supermarket? These cute little bagels make great snacks for teens on the go! Slice in half, spread with cream cheese or peanut butter, and eat! Get them store-bought or make these Easy 7-ingredient Stuffed Bagel Bites by Kalifornia Kravings.
2. Hummus, Pita and Sliced Veggies
Pair fresh crunchy veggies and whole wheat pita with hummus for a fantastic protein-rich snack! Here’s a healthy and delicious recipe your teen might like! Roasted Garlic Hummus by Five Heart Home.
3. Classic PB&J
You really can’t go wrong with the classic peanut butter & jelly sandwich. Whether your teen prefers wheat or white bread, or smooth or crunchy peanut butter, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a fantastic option. Keep it traditional or mix it up with some fun variations! 15 Unique Ways to Spruce Up a Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich or The Ultimate PB&J Hacks Idea List
4. Fruit & Yogurt Parfait (Add Granola, Too!)
These make-ahead fruit and yogurt parfaits couldn’t be easier to make, they look fantastic and yogurt has lots of protein. (A typical 6-ounce serving of yogurt has about 5 grams of protein.) Now you can live out your Pinterest-perfect parent dreams AND give your teen a great snack to grab on their way out the door! Try the one shown here: Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits
5. Hardboiled Eggs
Hardboiled eggs are an easy make-ahead snack that’s packed with protein. Pair them with fruit or crackers to make a well-rounded snack for any busy teen. Stumped on how to make the perfect hardboiled egg? Check out these tips! How to Make the Perfect Hardboiled Egg
6. Chocolate Milk
This surprisingly nutritious beverage is a huge hit with teens! Cow’s milk has a fantastic 8g of protein per serving, and the carbohydrates and fat will help give your teen an energy boost to get them through that last hour till supper time. For teens with dairy allergies or intolerances, look for soy milk or other high-protein plant-based milk options.
7. Fruit, Cheese and Nuts Snack Box
These DIY snack boxes incorporate sweet fruit, salty cheese, and crunchy nuts to make a fun, cheap alternative to those expensive snack boxes you see in the cooler at Starbucks. Check out these ideas for inspiration! How to Make GREAT Healthy & Balanced Break Snacks
8. High-Protein Smoothie
Smoothies are great for breakfast or an after-school snack, and with so many different variations to choose from, there’s bound to be one your teen will love! Check out these ideas! 18 Natural High-Protein Smoothies
9. Cereal and Milk
When you’re a hungry teenager looking for a snack, cereal and milk can be the “go-to snack of choice” for breakfast, lunch, dinner or anytime in between! Along with protein and fiber, breakfast cereals are packed with vitamins and minerals like iron and folate. Choose cow’s milk or a high-protein plant-based milk option for your teen to splash over their cereal.
You’re probably wondering how in the world pizza made our list. Well, it turns out pizza is actually pretty darn healthy! It’s got protein. It’s got carbs. It might even have veggies. So whether your teen likes their pizza hot out of the oven or leftover from the night before, cheese, veggie or meat pizza is a super delish snack that packs a powerful protein punch. Looking for a few fun pizza ideas? Here are 25 Best Pizza Recipes to Make Family Night Fun
11. 5-Minute No-Bake Energy Bites
Your teen can get their protein fix the delicious way with these easy, no-bake protein bites! With so many variations, (everything from peanut butter and chocolate chips to oatmeal and raisins), they’re bound to find a flavor combo they love! Check out these 4-Ingredient Energy Bites that only take 5 minutes to make and they have 40 different flavor options to choose from. Bonus: No butter, no eggs, no oil!
12. Cheese Quesadilla
Whipping themselves up an easy cheese quesadilla is an excellent alternative to a sandwich – especially for teens who want to switch up their snacks! With only 2 ingredients, they can pop it in the microwave and have it ready to eat in just a few minutes. 2-Minute Cheese Quesadilla Recipe
13. Nachos (The Protein-Packed Way)
You may not think nachos are the healthiest snack in town, but they are high in protein and made the right way, they can be super healthy. So, whether your teen keeps it basic with cheese and salsa, or they jazz it up with Taco-Tuesday leftovers, your budding teen chef might have a little fun making this snack! Check out this recipe for Powerhouse Protein Nachos
Does it surprise you to know that popcorn is a whole grain and full of fiber? Whether you make it in the microwave or on the stovetop, popcorn is a fun and tasty snack for teens! (Heads up, though… not all popcorn is created equal. Traditional movie theater popcorn – although tasty – isn’t quite as healthy with its heavy butter content. It’s better to stick with air or stove-popped.)
15. Protein or Granola Bar
When it comes to protein bars or granola bars, look for bars with at least 6 to 8 grams of protein per serving. Kind Bars and Larabars are popular choices, but less expensive Quaker or Nature Valley bars are also fantastic choices.
16. Trail Mix
Homemade or store-bought trail mix – it’s not just for hikes! Trail mix with dried fruit and nuts makes a great salty n’ sweet snack for teens. Prepackaged options are great or you can really spruce things up and make your own at home to mix and match your teen’s favorite flavors. Check out this amazing recipe here: Chocolate Cranberry Trail Mix
17. Pea Crisp Snacks
When you’re on the hunt for protein-packed snacks for always hungry teens, sometimes it’s as easy as heading to the nearest grocery store. These trendy snacks are made from pea flour and have a salty, slightly nutty flavor. For vegan/vegetarian teens or teens with nut allergies, this snack can be a great way to get a little extra protein into their day.
18. Nut Butter with Apples or Bananas
Bring it back to basics with this simple snack. Peanut butter, almond butter, and other nut and seed butter options come in easy squeeze packets or mini-cups – perfect for spreading on fruit! Or, make your own! Here are a few recipes to tempt your teens’ tastebuds! The Ultimate Guide to Homemade Nut Butters
19. Roasted Chickpeas
Another trendy and delicious snack option your teen might just flip over is roasted chickpeas. They’re crispy and full of fiber and flavor! Storebought options come in fun flavors like honey sriracha or cool ranch, or you can make your own at home following a recipe like this one Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
20. Overnight Oatmeal
If your teen hasn’t hopped on the overnight oats train yet, they’re missing out! Overnight oats are a great make-ahead snack that can be eaten hot or cold, and your teen can customize it with their favorite toppings! Check out this yummy recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Overnight Oats
When your teen’s hunger pangs strike, tell them to head to the freezer and grab this easy microwavable favorite that’s not only packed with protein but seriously fun to eat! The green bean pods are low in calories and have 9 grams of protein per half-cup.
22. Beef Jerky and Cheese Stix
Don’t overlook string cheese or beef jerky! These snacks are high-protein and high-convenience! Encourage your teen to munch on these snacks with a piece of fruit or whole-grain crackers. (Heads up, although beef jerky is considered a protein-rich snack, some store-bought brands have a very high salt content.) Check out this easy 7-ingredient Homemade Sweet n’ Spicy Beef Jerky that has tons of flavor and zero salt.
About Natalie Nation:
Natalie Nation, MPH, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian and freelance writer. Her focus is adolescent nutrition and health promotion, and she loves to talk about nutrition, body image, and self-care with her teen patients and their families. Natalie lives in Minneapolis, MN with her husband, Paul, and her cat, Wedge. She can be found on Instagram @feedthatnation.