We Taste Tested & Ranked the 78 Best Energy Bars of 2018
Over the past few months I’ve been on a mission of great importance.
With the help of some hungry friends I’ve been taste testing and ranking the best energy and nutrition bars around.
All in all we’ve tasted 78 different flavors from 6 different brands:
Here are our top three flavors from each.
Best Clif Bar Flavors
Complete rankings: 12 Best Clif Bar Flavors of 2018
Clif is one of the OGs in the world of energy bars. You’ve probably eaten plenty already.
While not the best energy bar brand in my opinion, it’s hard to go wrong with one of our top three Clif flavors. They’re all tasty.
Clif bars are designed with the active person in mind. They are meant to “feed your adventure” and the recipes are “crafted to help provide the energy you need.”
Accordingly, I almost always see one at the crag, on the trail, or in the climbing gym.
They also make for a good midday snack, satisfying your sweet tooth and hunger cravings.
One of the best things about Clif bars is how cheap they are. In the grocery stores near me they run about a buck a pop, sometimes less. Compared to other bar brands on this list that’s relatively affordable.
For our taste test we stuck to the classic Energy Bar product line (the traditional Clif bars), but Clif has been coming out with some interesting new varieties recently. If you’re in the mood for trying something new, I highly recommend picking up a Nut Butter Filled or Fruit Smoothie Filled Clif bar.
Best Luna Bar Flavors
Complete rankings: 12 Best Luna Bar Flavors of 2018
Luna bars are similar to Clif bars in many ways. They’re both oat-based energy and nutrition bars with many similar flavors.
This isn’t surprising; Clif owns Luna after all. What it means is that your feelings about one brand are likely to mirror to your feelings about the other. There are differences in taste and texture between the two, but they’re minor.
One of the biggest differences we noticed was the amount of sugar in each bar. A typical Luna bar has around half as much sugar as a typical Clif bar. Some Luna bar flavors even have just 5 grams of sugar.
This difference makes us feel better about having a Luna bar as a morning or afternoon snack. They tend to have a respectable amount of protein as well.
Just like Clif bars, Luna bars tend to cost about a dollar each.
Best Kind Bar Flavors
Complete rankings: 16 Best Kind Bar Flavors of 2018
Kind bars are unique on this list for being mainly nut-based. Look at a Kind bar inside its see-through package and you’ll see what I’m talking about. It looks like little more than nuts glued together with some sort of syrup.
To be honest, Kind is my favorite bar brand. Their flavors taste great. I also like how they’re made of a handful of natural ingredients and how many of their flavors have just 5 grams of sugar.
Curious to try one? Pick up any of our top three flavors and you won’t be disappointed. Our fourth pick, Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew, is also delicious.
Kind bars are in the middle of the road when it comes to price. They aren’t the cheapest option on this list, nor are they the priciest.
However, for people who don’t often eat energy and nutrition bars their price can feel excessive. If you’re used to Nutri-Grain and Chewy bars and you want to try some Kind bars be prepared to dish out a little more cash.
Best RxBar Flavors
Complete rankings: 10 Best RxBar Flavors of 2018
RxBar might be the youngest brand on this list, and it’s exploded in popularity in the past couple years. The brand’s eye-catching labels can now be found at many grocery stores.
Like Larabars, RxBars are date-based. However, they also add in egg whites to up the protein content to 12 grams per bar. (RxBars are marketed as protein bars, in fact.)
The texture of RxBars is unique. It’s tough and chewy. My jaw was tired after eating 10 in a row.
Yet RxBars are quite tasty and have just a small number of natural ingredients. They’re something new and exciting.
If you like the texture the only ding will be the price. At my local Trader Joe’s RxBars are twice as expensive as Clif and Luna bars.
If you want to try one I highly recommend picking up the Chocolate Sea Salt flavor — it’s by far the best — and seeing how you like it. Be prepared for deliciously gooey chocolate morsels.
Best Larabar Flavors
Complete rankings: 16 Best Larabar Flavors of 2018
When I think of Larabar, I think of indulgence.
The flavors are sweet and chewy. They taste great and have names like “Coconut Cream Pie” and “Peanut Butter Cookie.” I find them to be ideal as a dessert or a sweet treat.
Larabar also takes home the trophy for having the fewest ingredients of any brand on this list. A number of flavors have just three ingredients. One flavor, Cashew Cookie, has just two.
Despite my love for them, I know Larabars are polarizing. Once during a class in college, a recruiter from General Mills (which acquired Larabar some years back) brought Larabar samples for everyone to try. Some people loved them. Others hated them.
Personally my only qualm with Larabars is their sugar content. Each bar has around 15-20 grams of sugar.
That’s too much sugar for me to want to eat them on a daily basis. I save Larabars for when I want to indulge.
Best Probar Flavors
Complete rankings: 12 Best Probar Flavors of 2018
I had never tasted a Probar prior to our taste test. I was pleasantly surprised when I did. They taste great and sport some of the most intriguing flavors and textures in the bar world. (Try a Superfood Slam Probar for a bar that tastes like none other.)
Probars are marketed as meal bars due to their nutritional profile and higher-than-normal calorie count. They work great as a meal replacement or a filling snack.
Personally I’ll be taking them with me as often as possible on hiking and backpacking trips. They make for quick and easy trail meals.
Probars are the priciest on a per-bar basis of the brands on this list. They tend to contain around twice as many calories, though, so on a per-calorie basis they cost about the same as Kind or RxBars — still not terribly affordable unfortunately.
Here are the best energy bars:
- White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Clif Bar
- Chocolate Brownie Clif Bar
- Blueberry Crisp Clif Bar
- Blueberry Bliss Luna Bar
- Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk Luna Bar
- Sea Salt Caramel Luna Bar
- Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Kind Bar
- Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt Kind Bar
- Caramel Almond & Sea Salt Kind Bar
- Chocolate Sea Salt RxBar
- Coconut Chocolate RxBar
- Peanut Butter RxBar
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Larabar
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Larabar
- Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar
- Superfood Slam Probar
- Koka Moka Probar
- Superfruit Slam Probar
How to Pick an Energy Bar You’ll Love
The bar section of a grocery store can be overwhelming. There are so many brands and flavors to choose from.
So you don’t have to taste test 78 different energy bars like we did, here’s some advice on how to pick an energy bar you’ll love.
Oats, Dates, or Nuts?
Different bar brands use different ingredients as the bases for their bars. The three bases used by the product lines we tested are oats, dates, and nuts.
Clif and Luna bars are mainly oat-based, like Chewy and Nutri-Grain bars. They tend to be soft and chewy and sometimes have a coating of chocolate, peanut butter, or yogurt. Probars are primarily oat-based but also contain a fair amount of dates and nuts.
RxBars and Larabars are mainly date-based. However, their textures are quite different. RxBars are tough and chewy while Larabars are softer and more crumbly. Date-based bars tend to be sweeter since dates are naturally high in sugar.
Kind bars are mainly nut-based. They tend to be crunchier than the oat- or date-based bars.
Oat-based bars tend to have high amounts of carbs, mainly from whole grains (the oats). Their sugar content can range from anywhere from 5 to 20+ grams depending on the flavor. They tend to be low in fat content.
Their protein content can also vary widely depending on what other ingredients the brand adds. For example, Clif Energy Bars and Luna Bars have higher amounts of protein because Clif adds soy protein isolate.
Date-based bars also tend to be high in carbs, but mainly from the fructose that comes from the dates. Their protein and fat content vary depending on the flavor and brand. For example, RxBars are higher in protein content and marketed as protein bars because they contain egg whites, while Larabars tend to have five or fewer grams of protein per bar.
Nut-based bars tend to have fewer carbs but higher amounts of fat and protein. According to Kind the bars in their Nuts & Spices line contain five grams of sugar or less which, they claim, is 50% less sugar than the average nutrition bar.
Special Diets, Common Allergens, & Ingredient Sources
Note: The information in the following table comes from each brand’s website. Some of the bars labeled as free of certain ingredients or allergens might be processed on equipment shared by those ingredients or made in a facility that also processes them.
For more info, consult each brand’s pages on common allergens, special diets, and their ingredients:
- Clif & Luna
Larabars and RxBars on average have the fewest ingredients of the brands we taste tested. They also contain no artificial ingredients.
Kind bars on average have more ingredients and they also contain little to no artificial ingredients.
Clif, Luna, and Probars on average have the most ingredients. Probars tend to contain mostly natural ingredients while Clif and Luna bars contain processed ingredients such as soy protein isolate.