Vanilla Chai Protein Smoothie Recipe

The best thing to come home to after a good workout at the gym is a cold, creamy protein shake. A quick way to boost your daily protein intake, a simple blend of protein powder and fruit can add up to 30 grams of protein to your diet, which is a significant amount for anyone looking to meet muscle-building goals. While useful, protein powder doesn't have to be the only source of protein in your day, and  doesn't even have to be the reason your smoothie is protein-packed. 

In this recipe, nutritionist coach and recipe developer Michelle McGlinn combines a few simple ingredients to make a high-protein, sweet, and creamy smoothie that hardly needs protein powder at all. Instead, Greek yogurt, almond milk, and cottage cheese take center stage and are flavored with the aromatic spices of Chai tea. The result is a creamy, dessert-like smoothie loaded with nutritional value. Best of all, it's easy to put together, so your busy day doesn't have to miss a beat.

The ingredients needed for a vanilla chai protein smoothie

To build this protein shake you'll need a frozen banana, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and almond milk. Don't worry too much about the texture of cottage cheese; since everything is blended, the sometimes off-putting, lumpy texture won't be noticeable. To flavor the smoothie, grab vanilla extract, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, clove, ginger, and honey. Honey sweetens the smoothie without added sugar — if you want a sweeter smoothie, you can either add more honey, or sprinkle in some sugar. For more protein, add a scoop of vanilla protein powder.

Step 1: Add the ingredients to a blender

Add all of the ingredients to a blender in the order listed.

Step 2: Blend the smoothie

Blend, using a tamper to push the ingredients towards the blades.

Step 3: Serve

Serve immediately, garnishing each glass with a cinnamon stick and star anise, if desired.

Can I make this smoothie with chai tea instead of ground spices?

Chai is an Indian tea made up of spices like the ones listed in this recipe. While cinnamon might be readily available in most kitchens, spices like cardamom and allspice may not be as common. Instead of buying a few expensive jars of spices, you can instead use a sachet of masala Chai tea to flavor this smoothie. To do this, bring a cup of water to boil over the stove, then add a tea bag and steep for several minutes, until infused. Once infused, flavor the tea to your liking with honey or sugar. 

To add the tea to the smoothie, add ½ cup of the tea mixture to the smoothie ingredients and blend until smooth. If the mixture becomes too thin, add another half of a frozen banana to thicken it, or add a few scoops of cottage cheese. Not only will the chai flavor be much more subtle with this method, but the smoothie will also contain black tea, which is usually found in pre-made chai packets.

How much protein is in this smoothie, and how can I adjust the level?

Protein amounts may vary slightly depending on brand of cottage cheese you use, but we can give you a ballpark of where this smoothie lies. This recipe, which makes 2 smoothies, has about 38 grams of protein total, resulting in 19 grams of protein per serving. This is not an insignificant amount for a dessert-y snack — often, full meals can hover around this amount. 

To easily add about 3 grams of protein per serving, switch the milk to cow's milk or soy milk, which are both higher in calories and more protein-dense. With cow's milk, the total protein in this smoothie amounts to 45 grams. If you're keeping the lower-calorie, lower-sugar almond milk, you can also add more protein with protein powder, which can add 30 grams total for a whopping 68 grams (or roughly 34 grams per serving). Opt for a vanilla flavor to boost the warm flavors of the smoothie and complement the spices of masala Chai.

Vanilla Chai Protein Smoothie Recipe
5 from 20 ratings
Protein powder isn't the only way to give your morning smoothie a huge boost of protein - this recipe makes creative use of Greek yogurt and cottage cheese.
Prep Time
Cook Time
vanilla chai protein smoothie on table
Total time: 5 minutes
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground clove
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 tablespoon honey, or to taste
Optional Ingredients
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, for garnish
  • 2 star anise, for garnish
  1. Add all of the ingredients to a blender in the order listed.
  2. Blend, using a tamper to push the ingredients towards the blades.
  3. Serve immediately, garnishing each glass with a cinnamon stick and star anise, if desired.
Calories per Serving 301
Total Fat 10.0 g
Saturated Fat 4.8 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 28.7 mg
Total Carbohydrates 33.7 g
Dietary Fiber 4.0 g
Total Sugars 22.0 g
Sodium 434.9 mg
Protein 19.1 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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