These plant-based snacks are perfect for when you need something to tide you over until your next meal. Find sweet, salty, and savory ideas.
Did you know that a quarter of Americans snack multiple times per day? The International Food Information Council surveyed Americans in 2020 and found that not only are 25 percent of Americans snacking throughout the day, close to 4 in 10 Americans replace at least one meal per day with a snack.
If this sounds familiar–and you’re following a plant-based diet–then you don’t want to miss these plant-based snack ideas that I’ve put together for you. Learn how to make plant-based snacks part of your diet and how to do so in a way that increases the variety of nutrients that you take in–all while contributing to a healthy, plant-based diet.
How to shop for plant-based snacks
Shopping for plant-based snacks doesn’t need to be complicated, but it’s a good idea to pay attention to the nutrients of the snacks that make their way into your grocery cart.
Starting with the basics, a plant-based snack that includes a combination of complex carbohydrates, fat, and/or protein is more likely to be both satisfying and filling. This combination can also help with improving the flavor profile of your snack while increasing the variety of nutrients you get–think a larger variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants–in your diet. While you don’t need to include all three of these nutrients in every snack, it’s a good idea to pair two or more together.
Next, check the labels of your snack choice to see how the added sugar, fiber, and saturated fat stack up to daily value recommendations. These nutrients are important to consider when filling your cart with healthy, plant-based snacks.
Added sugar in plant-based snacks
Added sugar is the sugar added to foods during processing. To identify the amount of added sugar in a product, check the Nutrition Facts Panel and the food’s ingredient list. Choose snacks with the lowest amount of added sugar to avoid exceeding the recommended total daily added sugar intake. The daily value for added sugar is 50 grams, so aim to consume less than this amount in one day. Added sugars include not only cane sugar but also maple syrup, agave, and molasses.
Plant-based snacks that are most likely to have higher amounts of added sugar include granola, sweetened dried fruit, fruit or granola bars, cereals, and plant-based frozen desserts. Don’t dismiss these snacks altogether but do be aware that you may need to spend a little extra time scrutinizing labels when choosing plant-based snacks from these categories.
Fiber in plant-based snacks
Fiber plays an important role in gut health while also helping to increase the satisfaction of a snack or meal. Snacks are a great way to add more fiber to your diet, but this doesn’t mean you need to fill up on foods that contain extra fiber added to the food. Such foods will often contain inulin or chicory root in the ingredients list. Instead, focus on foods naturally high in fiber like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Saturated fat in plant-based snacks
You may not consider saturated fat to be a nutrient of concern, since it’s predominantly an animal-based fat. However, plant-based eaters still need to keep an eye on this nutrient, as plant-based sources of saturated fat like palm and coconut oil are found in a variety of packaged snacks. Limit plant-based snacks and desserts to ones that contain more than 20 to 30 percent of the daily value for saturated fat, and opt for snacks lower in saturated fat.
Store-bought plant-based snacks
The most obvious place to look for plant-based snacks is in the produce aisle, however plant-based snacks can be found throughout the grocery store. Some snacks require more prep, while others are great to throw in your bag for eating on-the-go.
Trail mix, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit
Trail mix is a standby for snacking on the go–and most mixes are naturally plant based. Choosing a packaged trail mix can be a convenient way to add a plant-based snack to your cart, however doing so may require extra label reading as many trail mixes are high in added sugar from sugar-sweetened fruit, candy, or chocolate-coated pieces that are thrown into the mix.
One alternative is to buy a few of your favorite (unsalted and unsweetened) nuts, seeds, and dried fruit so you can make your own mix at home. This makes for endless combinations while also helping to cut back on added sugar and sodium.
Roasted chickpeas, broad beans, and/or peas
Roasted chickpeas, broad beans, and peas are excellent plant-based snack options, as they deliver both protein and fiber. Luckily, many companies are manufacturing interesting flavors of these roasted bean and legume snacks–which makes for a fun way to boost your intake of nutrients like protein and fiber. Check product labels for added sugar, as many of the roasted snacks may be more than lightly sweetened.
It’s easy to be fooled into thinking that veggie chips are the healthier alternative to potato chips. But this is only sometimes the case, which is why it’s important to look at a product’s nutrition label. Keep an eye on the ingredient list and opt for picks made with whole vegetables like peas or sweet potatoes, versus ones made with vegetable starches, powders, or other ingredients like refined grains. Next, check the sodium content to be sure you’re choosing a chip with a lower amount of added salt.
Granola bars, grain-based bars, and protein bars
Bars are a convenient plant-based snack to throw into a bag or backpack for eating on-the-go. Each type of bar provides a different nutrient profile, depending on what you’re looking to buy. Some are high in protein, while others are a great source of heart-healthy, unsaturated fats. Still others are a higher in fiber.
Knowing what you’re looking for can help with deciding which bar is best for you. For example, a protein bar may be the best pick if you’re planning to eat it as a stand-alone snack, while a higher-fiber bar might be a better option when paired with a plant-based source of protein like roasted chickpeas or edamame. No matter which bar you choose, check the label for added sugar and skip bars with more than 10 grams of added sugar.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
The produce aisle shouldn’t be missed when it comes to picking up healthy, plant-based snacks. Fruits and vegetables in their own “package” of an inedible rind–like bananas–make for a great on-the-go snacking, since you can peel away the outer layer. Plus, they’re heartier than many fruits and vegetables that may become mushy when packed away in a bag. The produce aisle is also where you can pick up convenient snacks like pre-chopped fruits and vegetables to make at-home prep easier.
Easy, at-home plant-based snacks
Preparing plant-based snacks at home takes a little extra time, but doing so can save you a lot of money versus buying store-bought snacks. Bonus: All the recipes listed here are dietitian-approved, so you can be sure they offer plenty of nutrients to keep your snack time satisfying and healthy.
Energy balls travel well for snacking on the go, plus they’re incredibly versatile when it comes to mixing up the flavor profile with a variety of ingredients. Try one of these homemade energy balls the next time you’re looking for a healthy snack.
- Chocolate Almond Protein Balls from my own kitchen
- Strawberry Shortcake Bliss Balls from Elise Harlow, RD, owner of the Flourished Table
- Pumpkin Cookie Dough Bites from Julie Andrews, MS, RD, author of The 28-Day DASH Diet Weight Loss Program
- Figgy Almond Coconut Energy Pops from Sarah Pflugradt, MS, RDN, author of Live to Eat Well Weight-Loss Plan
- 3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Oatmeal Balls from KeyVion Miller, RD, owner of KeyVion Miller Nutrition
It’s hard to go wrong with a smoothie, especially when it’s made with good-for-you, satisfying ingredients. Smoothies are an excellent way to sneak in extra vegetables and can be the perfect vehicle for heart-healthy fats like avocado or plant-based proteins like tofu and beans. Check out these smoothie recipes created by registered dietitians.
- Orange Strawberry Smoothie from my own kitchen
- Banana Nut Smoothie from Christie Gagnon, RD, owner of Hoorah to Health
- Strawberry Peanut Butter Smoothie from Kristi Ruth, RD, nutrition blogger at Carrots & Cookies
- Healthy Blueberry Smoothie with Almond Butter from nutrition blogger Melissa Traub, RD
- Healthy Avocado Smoothie with Grape Juice from my own kitchen
Hummus and vegetables
Hummus is a great plant-based snack that’s provides both fiber and protein. Plus, it’s versatile–you can eat as a dip for vegetables or spread it on crackers or toast. These homemade hummus recipes are easy to prepare, are packed with flavor, and are sure to have you rethinking the need to buy the premade version.
- Spiced Carrot Hummus from Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, author of 365 Snacks for Every Day of the Year
- Oil-Free Beetroot Hummus from Dixya Bhattarai, MS, RD, owner of Food, Pleasure & Health
- Olive Hummus from Andrews
- Smoky Butternut Squash Hummus from Ashley Petrie, RDN, owner of Everyday Nutrition & Wellness
- Food Scrap Hummus Garden from Jackie Newgent, RD, author of The With or Without Meat Cookbook
Nut- and seed-based snacks
Nuts and seeds are terrific plant-based sources of unsaturated fats, protein, and fiber. Each type of seed and nut provides a slightly different nutrient profile, so aim for a variety. These dietitian-approved recipes are made with a combination of nuts and/or seeds, plus sweet and savory flavor additions.
- Pumpkin Seed Granola by Allison Herries, MS, RDN, owner of Bite Out of Life Nutrition
- Honey Nut Granola from Andrews
- Sweet and Hot Pecans from Jennifer Hanes, MS, RDN, a dietitian in Texas
- Coconut Seed Cluster from Judy Barbe, RD, author of Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest
- No-Bake Healthy Energy Bars with Prunes from my own kitchen
Almost dessert plant-based snacks
These plant-based snack recipes are so good you’ll think you’re eating dessert instead of a healthy snack! They’re made from ingredients like apples, chickpeas, and dark chocolate and are a great way to increase your plant intake while also enjoy a little bit of sweetness.
- Wild Blueberry Lemon Nice Cream from my own kitchen
- Vegan Chickpea Cookie Dough from Nicole Stevens, MSc, RD, owner of Lettuce Veg Out
- Grilled Pineapple from Gagnon
- Loaded Apple Nachos from Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, author of The Pescatarian Cookbook
- Chocolate Banana Nice Cream from my own kitchen
Whether you’re one of the 4 in 10 Americans who replace a meal with a snack or you’re one to rarely add snacks to your day, you now have so many options for making plant-based snacking a part of your healthy diet. Have plant-based snacks work for you by choosing nutrient-dense, satisfying, and delicious options every time you snack.
- International Food Information Council
- Elise Harlow, RD, owner of the Flourished Table
- Julie Andrews, MS, RD, author of The 28-Day DASH Diet Weight Loss Program
- Sarah Pflugradt, MS, RDN, author of Live to Eat Well Weight-Loss Plan
- KeyVion Miller, RD, owner of KeyVion Miller Nutrition
- Christie Gagnon, RD, owner of Hoorah to Health
- Kristi Ruth, RD, nutrition blogger at Carrots & Cookies
- Melissa Traub, RD
- Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, author of 365 Snacks for Every Day of the Year
- Dixya Bhattarai, MS, RD, owner of Food, Pleasure & Health
- Ashley Petrie, RDN, owner of Everyday Nutrition & Wellness
- Jackie Newgent, RD, author of The With or Without Meat Cookbook
- Allison Herries, MS, RDN, owner of Bite Out of Life Nutrition
- Jennifer Hanes, MS, RDN, a dietitian in Texas
- Judy Barbe, RD, author of Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest
- Nicole Stevens, MSc, RD, owner of Lettuce Veg Out
- Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, author of The Pescatarian Cookbook
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