protein puffs

Holy Crap There Are Protein Cheetos on Amazon

Protein puffs are gaining some traction, but are they worth the hype?

Our product picks are editor-tested, expert-approved. We may earn a commission through links on our site.

No matter what anyone says, eating healthy can be challenging for many. It can take trial and error before you discover dieting habits you can stick to. But you know what can make dieting much easier? Eating foods that emulate our favorite salty and sugary junk food but don’t derail healthy eating.

As someone who used to love cheese puffs, I know how addictive they can be. You try to stick eating to a handful and later realize you’ve eaten half a bag. We know this isn’t the healthiest use of our daily calorie allowances, which is where “protein puffs” come into play.

Protein puffs are trending, with companies promoting them as a healthier alternative to regular cheese puffs. But will it satisfy our cravings? I gave Twin Peaks Ingredients take on the buzzy product a try to find out.

What Are Protein Puffs?

Twin Peaks Ingredients is the company that makes these healthier take on the cheese puff., and it is the company’s only product. 

These supposedly “guilt-free” protein puffs contain a whopping 20-plus ingredients—mostly dairy, such as milk protein isolate, nonfat dry milk, sour cream powder, and cheese. If you’re lactose intolerant or following a dairy-free diet, you probably want to avoid these.

While I tried the nacho cheese one, there are other flavors available that may fulfill your taste buds, including:

  • Garlic parmesan
  • Jalapeno cheddar
  • Margherita pizza
  • Mesquite barbecue
  • Sour cream and onion

Now that we’ve gotten through all the background information, here’s what I think of these so-called healthy cheese puffs.

protein puffs in a bowl
Protein puffs are indistinguishable from the cheese puffs of our youths once in the bowl. This illusion is important to their enjoyment.

What’s Good About Protein Puffs?

Great protein source

That’s what we’re here for, right? A single cup of these puffs—which works out to roughly 30 grams of puffs, which isn’t a whole lot—add 21 grams of protein to your diet. That is a genuinely huge amount of protein for such a small amount of food, making it an excellent pantry snack for anyone trying to bolster their protein intake. For reference, you’d have to eat nearly three times the amount of chicken breast, by weight, to hit the protein per serving these puffs bring—and chicken breast doesn’t remind you of childhood.

According to the brand, these puffs also contain essential amino acids and BCAAs and are gluten-, soy-, nut-, and potato-free. Overall, one cup of these puffs contains 130 calories, 21 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbs, 4 grams of fats, and 1 gram of added sugars. 

Doesn’t taste “healthy”

If you’ve tried several healthy alternatives to your favorite snacks, you know that some have that distinctive taste that reminds you that you’re eating something healthy. As I munched on these, I didn’t experience any funky or bland flavors. Without knowing they’re protein puffs, I would’ve assumed they were the regular kind. 

Satisfying crunch

As someone who loves a good crunch—these puffs absolutely hit the mark. It almost feels like you’re biting through a few layers of “crunch” before it completely breaks apart. For my folks who also enjoy crunchy snacks—you won’t be disappointed.

What’s Not Good About Protein Puffs?

Strong cheese odor

I was hit with the strongest cheese odor when I lifted the protective wrapping off the jar. I know it’s expected, but the smell was borderline off-putting. It’s not a complete deal-breaker, but if you have a sensitive nose like I do, be prepared for the odor—or skip over these completely.

Fairly weak nacho cheese flavor

Surprisingly, for the smell of the cheese puffs to be so strong, the flavor isn’t. 

I ate several puffs to reach that nacho cheese flavor but couldn’t. However, I did taste the hint of spices, which was pleasant, but I didn’t expect it to be the dominant flavor over the nacho cheese. This might vary among the flavors, but I was pretty disappointed with the ones I got.

Not as cheap as you’d think

Many people, including myself, are trying to keep a tighter budget for things like groceries these days. With that top of mind, the price for these protein puffs is quite ridiculous. For $25 to $30, you get a 10.6-ounce jar that you’ll likely run through in one week or less. Regular cheese puffs can cost as low as $5, making them much cheaper than these healthy puffs.  

If you have the money, get the protein puffs—but if you’re on a tight budget, I would pass on these and seek cheaper alternatives. 

The Bottom Line

So, are these protein puffs worth it? In my personal opinion, I’d have to say no. While they’re clearly healthier than regular cheese puffs and have that oh-so-satisfying crunch, the lack of flavor and the price are losing points for me. If you can find them for cheap, though, give them a try—high-protein snacks are always in short supply.