Dairy-Free Protein Shakes: Why To Use Them & 11 Recipes To Try

Woman in activewear drinking a dairy-free protein shake


Nutrition plays a major role in how our bodies perform. You already know how important it is to get adequate protein to fuel your workouts – but have you stopped to think if the type of protein you’re using is truly best for you? Should you switch to dairy-free protein shakes?

More and more athletes are going dairy-free when it comes to their protein supplements. And there are some very valid reasons behind this.

Today, we’ll be discussing why people are making the switch to dairy-free protein shakes and what the best dairy-free protein shake base is – and even adding a list of recipes for our favorite dairy-free protein shakes. 

Why make the switch to dairy-free protein shakes?

There are many reasons why an athlete would decide to switch to dairy-free protein shakes. Of course, some athletes are vegan, so they are simply going dairy-free to avoid using animal products. But you might be surprised at how many non-vegan athletes steer clear of dairy when it comes to their protein supplement. 

Besides dietary and lifestyle choices, here are the two main reasons you might want to start using dairy-free protein shakes:

You could be lactose-intolerant

Did you know that 68% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant? That means there is a decent chance that you are too! 

Almost all of us were born able to digest our mother’s milk easily, but as we age, there is no biological reason to keep that adaptation. The majority of people lose the ability to digest milk easily (and specifically the sugar in milk called lactose) as we age. 

So, even if you could drink a glass of milk with dinner as a child, that doesn’t mean it would be a good idea to do so now. 

Do you ever struggle with bloating, discomfort, or gas that you just can find the culprit for? It might be dairy! 

Lactose intolerance can cause symptoms like stomach cramping (or even just gurgling), nausea, diarrhea, bloating, gas, and general intestinal discomfort. And, if you’ve been experiencing any of those symptoms randomly or regularly, it’s worth taking a look at your dairy intake – including switching to dairy-free protein shakes. 

What many athletes don’t think about is that whey protein, one of the most popular protein supplements on the market, is made from milk.

Whey is the liquid that is left over when milk is curdled to make cheese and other dairy products. That liquid (whey) is then dried and turned into a powder. Whey powder is 100% dairy. So, if you happen to be lactose intolerant, this can spell disaster for you.

No one wants to feel bloated and uncomfortable from their workout supplement. Your protein is supposed to IMPROVE your health, not hinder it! Of course, you can get a whey protein upset stomach even if you aren’t lactose intolerant. Let’s take a look at why.

Whey protein is difficult to digest 

Whey protein isn’t easy for your stomach to digest. That’s why some people end up with the dreaded “too much protein stomach ache.” If you have a sensitive stomach, whey protein might not be the best option for you. You should find a supplement that is easier for your body to break down and absorb. 

When you examine collagen protein vs whey protein, collagen is naturally easier to digest. Collagen is also a completely dairy-free protein option. We would say it’s the best dairy-free protein available!

Athlete scooping dairy free protein shake

Collagen: The best base for dairy-free protein shakes

Collagen protein provides numerous benefits that other protein supplements just can’t match – dairy-free or otherwise. While most protein supplements can help you bulk up (and collagen can too, of course), collagen also benefits your body because:

Collagen can help prevent injuries

Collagen is the main structural protein in all your connective tissues. Unfortunately, we make less and less collagen naturally as we age. This makes us more injury-prone because our body can’t easily replenish the collagen fibers to make our muscles, tendons, and ligaments strong and flexible. 

This is where a collagen supplement comes in. When you add collagen to your protein shake, your body can put that powerful protein to work strengthening and stabilizing your tissues to keep you safe. 

Collagen supports gut health

If you’re looking for a protein powder for sensitive stomachs, collagen is a sure bet. Collagen is easy to digest, and may actually improve symptoms of digestive issues like leaky gut syndrome or irritable bowel syndrome. Dairy-free protein shakes with collagen can help boost and repair your gut's natural bacteria and strengthen your stomach lining.

Collagen helps keep your joints in top shape 

As you’ve already read, collagen can improve the strength and health of your tendons and ligaments in your joints – but it can also improve the health of your cartilage. 

Collagen has been shown to reduce arthritis pain and even help to regrow damaged cartilage, making this supplement a complete powerhouse for your joints. 

Collagen may speed up your healing and recovery time 

Sometimes injuries are unavoidable, or we need surgeries that have nothing to do with our athletic pursuits. That’s just life. But in those instances, we want to get back on our feet as quickly as possible. 

Collagen can help here too. 

Collagen is used in your body's natural healing process, which is why doctors regularly use collagen for wound healing. Taking a collagen supplement may drastically speed up your recovery time.

Even if you aren’t injured, the healing potential of collagen means it can help you recover faster after a hard workout, too. 

With all these benefits of collagen, you can see why it’s our favorite dairy-free protein. Not all collagen supplements are created equally, though. Let’s discuss the best collagen protein to add to your dairy-free protein shakes. 

The top collagen supplement for your shakes 

Most pre-mixed dairy-free protein shakes contain sweeteners and fillers that aren’t good for your health, let alone your athletic performance. When you can, make your own protein shakes with a high-quality protein supplement instead of buying pre-made.

The best collagen supplement for dairy-free protein shakes is a hydrolyzed collagen supplement with no sugars or additives. 

Hydrolyzed collagen has been broken down into pieces that are easy for your body to digest. This means it is easier on your stomach, and more effective since your body can absorb and utilize the protein.

We also recommend looking for a liquid collagen protein like Frog Fuel liquid protein shots. These are easy to throw in your dairy-free protein shakes, and you don’t need to worry about clumping or uneven mixing like you would with a protein powder. 

You can even drink the protein shots on their own and still make use of all the liquid collagen benefits for your body. Sometimes, though, nothing beats a protein shake, so here are some of our favorite recipes.

8 tasty dairy-free protein shake recipes to try 

Not sure where to start with dairy-free protein shakes? Try adding one of these recipes to your rotation!

Mixed berry dairy-free protein shake

1. Mixed berry protein shake 

When it comes to our protein shakes, we love to use berries. Berries are chock-full of vitamins and antioxidants, and studies are showing that increased intake of berries may result in a lower risk of inflammatory issues, cardiovascular disorders, and cancer. 

Plus – they’re delicious. 

This Mixed Berry Protein Shake is very easy to make. All you need is:

  • 2 sliced, frozen bananas
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk of choice
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 Frog Fuel collagen protein shot
PB & J dairy-free protein shake

2. PB & J protein shake

PB & J isn’t just for sandwiches. It’s also delicious in dairy-free protein shakes. Not only are you getting the benefits of collagen and berries, but you’re also getting an extra helping of protein from the peanut butter. 

To make a PB & J Protein Shake, you need:

  • 3 sliced, frozen bananas
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk of choice
  • 2 cups frozen strawberries
  • ¼ cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 Frog Fuel collagen protein shot 
Blueberry spinach dairy-free protein shake

Image source: Cadry's Kitchen

3. Blueberry spinach protein shake

Why not add some veggies to your dairy-free protein shakes? While this might not immediately sound appealing to some people, we’ve tried this shake and can promise – it’s super tasty! 

There are so many benefits of adding spinach to your protein shake. For one, spinach is very high in vitamin C, which is necessary for collagen synthesis. It will help you put your protein supplement to work! In addition, spinach may balance blood glucose levels and improve bone health.

To make a Blueberry Spinach Protein Shake you need: 

  • ¾ cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • ½ of a frozen banana
  • 1 cup dairy-free milk of choice
  • 1 Frog Fuel collagen protein shot
Strawberry banana dairy-free protein shake

4. Strawberry banana protein shake

Strawberry-banana is a classic flavor combination, and now you can use it in your dairy-free protein shakes! All you need to make a Strawberry Banana Protein Shake is:

  • 1 sliced, frozen banana
  • ¾ cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk of choice
  • 1 Frog Fuel collagen protein shot 

5. High-protein berry banana peanut butter shake

Most of our recipes for dairy-free protein shakes have been fairly simple, but if you want to get a bit more complex with your shakes, you can have a lot of fun adding nutritional elements! 

Hemp and flax seeds are both excellent sources of plant-based protein. And they are rich in omega-3s, which have numerous health benefits. 

Dates are a healthy way to sweeten your shake without adding actual sugar. Dates are also high in fiber, which may help to aid digestion. 

To make this High-Protein Berry Banana Peanut Butter Shake you need:

  • 1 sliced, frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • ¼ cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 tablespoons of hemp hearts
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk of choice
  • 1 or 2 pitted dates
  • 1 Frog Fuel collagen protein shot
Chocolate raspberry dairy-free protein shake

Image source: Occasionally Eggs

6. Chocolate raspberry protein shake 

Continuing to play with nutritious shake ingredients, this decadent Chocolate Raspberry Protein Shake contains chia seeds, which have been shown to improve heart, intestinal, and immune system health. 

This shake tastes almost too good for how healthy it is. It’s like treating yourself to a post-workout dessert! To make this Chocolate Raspberry Protein Shake you need:

  • 2 sliced, frozen bananas
  • ½ cup frozen raspberries
  • 3 tablespoons cacao powder
  • 3 tablespoons nut butter
  • 3 tablespoons hemp hearts
  • 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1-2 pitted dates
  • 1 cup dairy-free milk of choice
  • 1 Frog Fuel collagen protein shot

7. Berry cobbler protein shake

Speaking of dessert-like protein shakes, why not make dairy-free protein shakes inspired by warm, scrumptious berry cobbler? This delicious shake contains spices and flavors that you would expect from baked goods – but that go perfectly in your post-workout beverage. 

To make a Berry Cobbler Protein Shake you will need:

  • 1 sliced, frozen banana
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk of choice
  • ¼ cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 teaspoons ground flaxseed
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup (or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 Frog Fuel collagen protein shot 
Vanilla bean dairy-free protein shake

Image source: Lakeview Farms

8. Vanilla bean protein shake

Classic and refreshing, the taste of vanilla blends perfectly with so many flavors but can still stand alone. This vanilla shake uses silken tofu for extra protein and added creaminess, and the flavor is so mild that it melts right into the vanilla!

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or any other vanilla dairy-free milk of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup silken tofu 
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (or any nut butter)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 1 Frog Fuel collagen protein shot

9. Coffee and coconut protein shake

Many people do their workouts – and enjoy their dairy-free protein shakes – first thing in the morning, making this recipe the perfect standby. Rich brewed coffee and creamy coconut come together in this unexpectedly delicious morning shake.

  • 1 cup brewed coffee, cooled
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream (from canned coconut milk)
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (or any nut butter)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Frog Fuel collagen protein shot

10. Apple cinnamon protein shake

Tart apple and warm cinnamon make the perfect combination, even in a protein shake! Adding applesauce to dairy-free protein shakes is a super quick, easy way to add some soluble fiber to your diet.

  • 1 cup unsweetened dairy-free milk of your choice
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (or any nut butter)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Frog Fuel collagen protein shot
Frog Fuel protein shot

11. A plain Frog Fuel protein shot 

Don’t feel like mixing up a dairy-free protein shake? No problem! You don’t need to make a shake to get your daily dose of protein. You can simply toss back your Frog Fuel collagen protein shot as is. 

One of the cons of protein powder is that you have to mix it with something. But with liquid protein shots, there is no mixing necessary. You don’t have to measure, shake, or blend. You don’t even need to do the dishes. It’s the most convenient way to meet your daily protein needs!

Frog Fuel liquid collagen protein comes in single-serving pouches that are ready to go whenever you are. Put a protein shot in your gym bag, or throw it in your pocket, and it's ready to give you all the protein you need to hit your performance goals. 

Tips and tricks for switching to dairy-free protein shakes

You could be trying to consume less dairy or go dairy-free for any number of reasons. Like any major change in your diet, going dairy-free comes with its own challenges and questions. You’ll want to try a few different things to find out what works best for you and keep some familiar favorites on standby.

You’ll also want to notify your healthcare professionals if you suspect you have an allergy or intolerance to dairy. They’ll help you make sure your nutritional needs are being met and keep you on the road to excellent health!

What kind of protein shake doesn’t have milk?

Do dairy-free protein shakes even exist? Yes! Many protein shakes use dairy since it’s a relatively cheap and ultra-convenient way to add protein without changing the texture you expect from a shake. 

Dairy isn’t the only way to get that protein and texture, though! Liquid collagen protein or protein powder can take the place of dairy. Bananas, nut butters, silken tofu, or dairy-free milks can give you that silky smooth texture, and usually a burst of protein, as well!

Are protein shakes dairy-free?

You can find some pre-made dairy-free protein shakes, but many pre-made protein shakes contain dairy. You’ll want to read the label to make sure your shake has no dairy, or simply make your own!

What is the best lactose-free protein option?

Finding lactose-free or dairy-free protein shakes and other snacks can be tough, especially if you’re also vegetarian or vegan. Tofu, nuts, and beans are some of the best high-protein dairy-free snacks for vegetarians or vegans. 

For those who are dairy-free, but not vegetarian or vegan, hydrolyzed collagen is the best lactose-free protein option, especially for shakes. Hydrolyzed collagen is much easier to absorb than other proteins and it’s naturally 100% dairy-free

Is whey protein ok for dairy intolerance?

Whey protein isolates, like the kind used in protein powders and shakes, may be ok for some people with dairy intolerance. By the time the whey has been fully processed, it has different levels of “purity”. Some protein powders have up to 90% of the lactose removed, while others will still have a higher content of lactose. 

So is whey protein dairy-free? No, even the whey protein powders with the lowest amount of lactose won’t be good for making dairy-free protein shakes. If you have or suspect you have dairy intolerance, it’s probably best to avoid whey protein altogether.

Dairy-free ways to pump up your protein

Dairy-free protein shakes give you all the nutrients you need after a tough workout, without the stomach upset and bloating that dairy causes for millions of people. While whey protein powder, cheese, and yogurt are packed with protein, they aren’t your only option. 

You can make delicious dairy-free protein shakes that have the same texture as your favorites, with even more health benefits by making one simple swap. Use collagen liquid protein shots in place of a powder! They’ll blend in even more smoothly, and boost your shakes with the healing power of collagen. And, when you’re too busy even for a shake, protein shots are there to give your day an instant punch of protein power.

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