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The Best Homemade Protein Cereal (Cinnamon Toast Crunch Copycat)

I’ve tried virtually every protein cereal on shelves, and most of them are downright terrible. I’m all for high-protein breakfast options, but I want them to actually taste good.

That’s why I took it upon myself to create this protein cereal recipe. If you’re a fan of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, then you’re in for a treat…

If you’re thinking, “This cereal can’t possibly be as good as it looks,” then I’m prepared to prove you wrong.

No, this isn’t as delicious as Cinnamon Toast Crunch. There’s simply no way to beat the greatest cereal of all time, so I won’t pretend that is the case.

But when the cereal tastes great, is super crunchy, has awesome macros, and is easy to make, you’ve got yourself a winner.

Each serving of our homemade protein cereal contains 155 calories with 10 grams of protein. And thanks to the use of sugar substitutes, it also contains less than one gram of sugar!

Up close cinnamon toast crunch

If you have a bowl of cereal with 2 servings, you’ve got yourself a healthy breakfast with 300 calories and 20 grams of protein!

I went through 7 trials of this recipe to make sure I got it right. Most importantly, I needed to be sure that this homemade protein cereal passed the cereal in milk test. I mean, nobody wants soggy cereal.

Protein cereal on spoon

Rest assured, this protein cereal stays crunchy in milk the way any good cereal should.

 

Ingredients (and Substitutions) for Protein Cereal

Before we dive into the process of making protein cereal, I want to give you a rundown of the main ingredients used. Every recipe I post comes with substitution questions, so allow me to try to get ahead of some of them…

Protein cereal close up

All-Purpose Flour & Almond Flour

These are the bases of the recipe. I chose to stick with all-purpose flour because I wanted this to taste similar to Cinnamon Toast Crunch and other wheat-based cereal, but I swapped some of it out for almond flour to kick up the protein content a bit. Almond flour is high in calories, so I didn’t want to swap all the flour out.

If you can’t have almond flour, you can swap it out for more all-purpose flour instead and it will work great.

If you can’t have wheat, then I recommend swapping the all-purpose flour out for oat flour. I don’t recommend using only almond flour because it will completely change the amount of liquid required to make the dough. It may work, but I’m not exactly sure how you’d need to adjust the recipe.

Whey Protein Powder

I use PEScience in all the recipes here on the blog, which is a whey/casein blend. For this recipe, I used the Snickerdoodle flavor, and it worked great.

However, I know a lot of people use 100% whey protein, so I also tested this recipe with Legion Cinnamon Cereal whey protein. And I must say, it may have worked even better! There are tiny adjustments needed when using whey, but those instructions are included in the recipe card.

I can’t guarantee results with plant-based protein, although considering this recipe doesn’t use a huge amount of protein powder, it may work just fine.

Sugar Substitute

The other main ingredient in this recipe is a granulated sugar substitute. I chose to use a sugar substitute to keep the calories down, but you can swap it out for regular sugar if you’d like.

On a per-serving basis, using regular sugar changes the calories from 155 to 200. So, if you can’t tolerate (or don’t want to tolerate) sugar substitutes, you can certainly use regular sugar!

To be honest, pretty much every sugar substitute will work the same in this recipe. Erythritol, stevia, allulose, etc, will all be fine.

Other Ingredients

The rest of the recipe is very straightforward, and all you’ll need is cinnamon, salt, and milk. As far as milk is concerned, you can use any milk you prefer! Unsweetened almond milk or 2% milk will work the same for these purposes.

Bowl of protein cereal

 

How to Make Homemade Protein Cereal

This recipe is quite simple, but I want to make it fool-proof for you, so here’s everything you need to know to become a master of homemade protein cereal.

Starting off, you’ll want to mix all the dry ingredients in a big bowl. This includes the all-purpose flour, almond flour, protein powder, sugar substitute, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. It’s pretty straightforward—just make sure everything’s well combined.

Next up, slowly add in the milk. The trick here is to go one tablespoon at a time until the dough just comes together.

Depending on whether you’re using whey protein or a blend, the amount of milk might vary a bit. With whey, I found that 5 tablespoons were enough, but with a blend, I ended up needing 6. The goal is to get a dough that’s not too sticky but holds together well.

Once the dough is ready, pop it in the fridge for about 30 to 60 minutes. Chilling the dough makes it easier to roll out later, so don’t skip this step.

After the dough has chilled, heat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Cereal dough balls

Split the dough in half for easier rolling and place each half between sheets of parchment paper. The dough will be a little bit sticky, so using parchment paper is crucial (since we’ll bake the cereal right on the parchment paper).

Roll the dough as thin as you can. A thin dough means a crunchier cereal, so really aim for paper-thin if possible.

Rolled out cereal dough

Don’t be shy with the flour during this part; it helps keep everything from sticking. As you can see by the photo above, I was very generous with the extra flour. Trust me, it will help a ton.

To wet any excess flour on the dough, we’ll give it a quick spray with some cooking spray.

Dough with cooking spray

Not only will this wet the flour, but it also helps the cinnamon sugar topping stick better.

Mix up some cinnamon and sugar substitute in a small bowl, then sprinkle it over the dough. Then, gently press it down to make sure it adheres well.

To cut the dough into cereal-sized pieces, a pizza cutter works best. You don’t need to be precise with the size, but keep in mind that smaller pieces tend to be crunchier.

Cut the dough into small squares, and don’t worry about separating them. As long as the dough is sliced, we’ll be able to break the dough apart once it is baked.

Sliced protein cereal

Transfer the parchment paper to a baking sheet and pop your cereal in the oven!

The exact baking time varies a bit depending on the type of protein powder you use. For dough made with whey protein, 16 minutes was perfect for me. For a whey/casein blend, it took closer to 18 minutes.

You’ll know the cereal is done when the edges start to brown slightly.

Baked protein cereal

Once out of the oven, let the cereal cool down. This is when the protein cereal will get crunchy. You’ll want to wait about 30 minutes to allow the cereal to fully cool before breaking it apart.

If you made substitutions or your baking time wasn’t ideal, you may find that your cereal isn’t hardening as much as you’d like. Don’t worry- as the cereal sits out, it will continue to harden. Letting it sit for an hour or two could help a ton.

Once cooled, you can use your hands to break the cereal apart along the cuts you made.

Pile of protein cereal

As long as your cereal is completely cooled and hardened, you’re ready to dig in! If you’re a fan of dry cereal, you can certainly enjoy this as an on-the-go snack, but this protein cereal is arguably even better in milk.

protein cereal in milk

You can keep your leftover protein cereal in a sealed container and it should last you a week or two! If you’re like me, then this cereal won’t last more than one day before getting eaten, but it will remain fresh for much longer than that.

If you make this recipe, please drop me a comment to let me know! I am really proud of this one, and I hope you all love it as much as I do.

 

Protein cereal recipe

The Best Homemade Protein Cereal

Yield: 6 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 27 minutes

Let's be honest: most protein cereal you find on shelves tastes terrible. It's time to change that! Our homemade protein cereal is easy to make, packed with cinnamon sugar flavor, and includes a generous 10 grams of protein per serving.

Ingredients

Cinnamon Sugar Topping

Instructions

  1. Prep the dough for the protein cereal by combining all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Add your milk one tablespoon at a time while mixing until it comes together to form a dough. When I tested this recipe, the batch with whey protein required 5 tablespoons, and the batch with a whey/casein blend required 6 tablespoons. This is why I recommend adding one tablespoon at a time.
  3. Refrigerate the dough for 30-60 minutes (longer is okay) to allow it to firm up and be much easier to work with.
  4. Once the dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Separate the dough into two pieces and place each on a sheet of parchment paper.
  6. Sprinkle extra flour over the top of your dough (don't be shy with it- it's necessary!) and roll each dough ball out as thinly as possible. If your dough is too thick, you run the risk of it being too soft out of the oven. The extra flour is very useful here because protein powder tends to get sticky, so the flour is what will allow you to roll your dough out very thin.
  7. Spray your dough with cooking spray to wet the excess flour. In a small bowl, mix your cinnamon sugar topping, then sprinkle it over the top of your dough. Lightly pat it down.
  8. Now it's time to cut the dough! To make things easy, I highly recommend using a pizza cutter. Slice the dough all the way across in both directions to create small cereal squares (the size is totally up to you). You do not need to worry about separating the pieces, we simply want to slice them up. After baking we'll be able to easily separate the cereal pieces.
  9. Bake your cereal at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes. In my tests, the batch made with whey protein only needed 16 minutes, and the batch with a whey/casein blend required about 18 minutes. Once the edges of the cereal begin browning, you'll know it's ready.
  10. Remove the baked cereal from the oven and allow it to cool and firm up for 20-30 minutes. Once completely cooled, you'll be able to easily break apart the cereal along the slices you made.
  11. Important: This cereal will continue to firm up as it sits, so if your cereal is not as crunchy as you would like due to improper bake time, allow it to sit out for 1-2 hours and you should be good to go!

Notes

  • I used PEScience snickerdoodle protein (a whey/casein blend) as well as Legion's cinnamon cereal protein (whey protein) and they both worked well. The recipe is mostly the same, but the baking time varies slightly. I did not test with plant-based protein.
  • The almond flour is used to bump up the protein content a bit, but it can be swapped for the same amount of all-purpose flour if needed.
  • The nutrition facts you see here are based on using zero-calorie sweeteners. If you use regular white sugar, each serving will be roughly 200 calories (I estimate that only about half of the cinnamon sugar topping gets used because a lot tends to fall off).
  • I went through quite a few tests, and I've found that cutting the cereal pieces smaller leads to more crunch. So, make sure you're not slicing really large cereal pieces.
  • Lastly, don't be intimidated by this recipe! I wrote a lot because I love this recipe and want you guys to succeed, but it's actually quite a simple recipe.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 6 Serving Size About 2/3 Cup
Amount Per Serving Calories 155Total Fat 5.5gCarbohydrates 16gFiber 2gSugar 0.5gProtein 10g

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Share The Love

Courtney

Thursday 1st of February 2024

Can i swap almond flour for AP flour? I'm allergic to tree nuts 😕

Matt Rosenman

Friday 2nd of February 2024

Yup, I added a note in the post about that! Almond flour was just my way of bumping up the protein content a bit, but you can swap the same amount of All-purpose flour

About Matt Rosenman

With over 15 years of experience in health and fitness, Matt Rosenman is the expert voice behind Cheatdaydesign.com. Matt’s philosophy is simple: no foods are off-limits, and a healthy lifestyle shouldn't be complicated or restrictive. As a former certified personal trainer with a bachelor’s degree in Health Behavioral Sciences, Matt brings well-rounded expertise to his blog. From revamping classic recipes with a nutritious twist to breaking down fast food menus, his goal is make healthy living less confusing for everyone. Featured in major publications and with a strong following on social media, Matt is committed to making “healthy” uncomplicated—no matter where you are in your health journey. Join Matt on his mission to simplify health without sacrificing flavor. Learn More

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