11 High Protein Breakfast Cereals, Ranked

Assorted high protein cereals
Assorted high protein cereals - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

The earliest breakfast cereals, invented in the late 1800s, were granola-like chunks made from graham flour designed as a healthy alternative for the first meal of the day. This is a far cry from the sugar-laden iterations available today that you might want to avoid consuming. That said, cereal remains a popular breakfast choice among consumers, representing a $30.1 billion global retail market, according to Glanbia Nutritionals. And now, more people are turning to newer, healthier cereal options like high-protein cereals, which are rapidly increasing in popularity.

With so many options out there for high-protein breakfast cereals, it may be challenging to choose just one. There are many factors that may impact your buying decisions, ranging from price and nutritional value to texture and flavor. To demystify the high-protein breakfast cereal selections available, I purchased a cross-section of brands to sample. First, I assessed each based on texture and flavor. Then, I looked at the protein, sugar content, and cost of each before determining which one ranked supreme. I'll explain more about the criteria I used at the end of this ranking. But for now, read on to see which high-protein cereal you'll want to add to your shopping cart -- and which you might want to skip.

Read more: The 15 Best Milk Brands, Ranked

11. Eat Your Mouth Off Chocolate

Eat Your Mouth Off Cereal
Eat Your Mouth Off Cereal - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

At the bottom of this ranking of high-protein breakfast cereals is Eat Your Mouth Off's 100% Plant Based Chocolate cereal, which I gave a score of 2.5 out of 10. This cereal performs especially well in the nutritional department, as each serving contains 22 grams of protein and no sugar, making it appealing at first glance.

Unfortunately, this is where the good news ends. This is one of the most expensive options among the cereals I sampled. At $1.30 per ounce,  those on a tight budget might be deterred from buying it. Though the texture of this cereal is suitably crunchy -- not getting overly soggy even after adding milk -- the flavor is oddly reminiscent of a childhood breakfast cereal, and not in a good way.

I cannot explain how or why, considering the non-existent sugar content of this cereal, but from the moment you sniff it, sweetness smacks you in the face, as does a kind of synthetic chocolate back note. This continues once you taste it, as its flavor is cloying and contains a quite unpleasant aftertaste. There might be some ways to improve this breakfast cereal, but I'm not sure any of them would mask the underlying artificiality that may have appealed to me as a child, but does not as an adult.

10. Magic Spoon Cinnamon Roll

Magic Spoon Cinnamon Roll Cereal
Magic Spoon Cinnamon Roll Cereal - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

Coming in second to last on this ranking is Magic Spoon's Grain-Free Cinnamon Roll Cereal. This offering scored a 3 out of 10 once all the factors were taken into account. While I wanted to love this cereal because of its nutritional prowess -- with 0 grams of sugar and 12 grams of protein --  it lost some points in the price department. This cereal was the most expensive brand by a wide margin ($1.43 per ounce), making it potentially unaffordable for those on a tighter budget.

From a texture and flavor perspective, this cereal was average. While it remains crunchy even when milk is added, it has a tacky characteristic that causes it to adhere to your teeth. This might be fun for a buttery cinnamon roll, but it's less desirable where cereal is concerned. And while the cinnamon is pleasant when you smell this cereal, it's a little overwhelming in taste, conferring an almost bitter quality. Lastly, this cereal is overly sweet, with the included monk fruit ingredient overwhelming your taste buds, leaving an aggressive and displeasing aftertaste that lingers for quite a while.

9. Kashi GO Cinnamon Crisp

Kashi Go Cinnamon Crisp Cereal
Kashi Go Cinnamon Crisp Cereal - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

Ranking low in this high-protein breakfast cereal roundup is Kashi GO's Cinnamon Crisp. With a score of 4.5 out of 10, this cereal has some good things going for it (like 13 grams of protein per serving), as well as a couple of issues. The primary problem is the amount of sugar, which at 10 grams per serving, is on the high side.

Where this cereal performs well is in the cost, aroma, and texture departments. At $0.36 per ounce, this is a modestly-priced high-protein cereal. The aroma is pleasantly cinnamon-rich, with just a hint of the almond coming through. Texturally this cereal is a triumph, with varying crunchy, chewy, and crisp elements, owing to the diverse-shaped pieces and ingredients. This makes the cereal particularly satiating, and it holds up beautifully to milk.

The taste was pleasant, but perhaps a bit underwhelming. It was as if the flavors became diluted as the cereal soaked in milk. I tried it without the milk, which helped, but the almond and cinnamon were still more muted than I would have preferred. For my palate, I would have enjoyed a bit more of a dominant cinnamon flavor and a tad less sugar.

8. Special K Protein Original Multi-Grain Touch Of Cinnamon

Special K Protein Original Cereal
Special K Protein Original Cereal - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

Kellogg's Special K Original Multi-Grain Touch of Cinnamon Protein cereal came in next on this ranking, scoring a 5 out of 10. Full disclosure: when I purchased this cereal, I initially grabbed the wrong one. The regular and high-protein versions were sitting right next to each other on the shelf, and I accidentally snagged the regular Special K. This ended up being a good lesson in marketing strategies, and a bit of a buyer-beware scenario.

At first glance, the high-protein cereal appears to only have one more gram of protein than the regular variety, which surprised me. When I looked more closely, the front of the box of regular Special K notes in fine print that the protein content indicated is if the cereal is consumed with milk. This seemed like a really odd labeling tactic that could easily confuse someone who is not carefully reading labels.

In terms of the high-protein cereal itself, while it is affordable, it is not particularly well-balanced nutritionally, containing virtually equal amounts of sugar and protein, at 9 and 10 grams respectively. It also has a dense, crackle texture that doesn't yield much when soaked in milk. Its aroma is enticingly cinnamon-forward, and this carries through in flavor. This cereal is sweet, but not overly so, making it pleasant to eat.

7. Three Wishes Cinnamon

Three Wishes Cinnamon Cereal
Three Wishes Cinnamon Cereal - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

The next brand on this ranking is Three Wishes' Cinnamon Grain Free Cereal. This cereal scored a healthy 6 out of 10, making it one of the better options, though it did have a couple of issues that left me slightly less enthusiastic. At $0.75 per ounce, this is one of the more moderately-priced options, but it's not totally out of bounds cost-wise. Nutritionally, while not stellar -- with 3 grams of sugar and 8 grams of protein per serving -- this is a decent option, particularly if you are searching for something grain-free.

The aroma of this cereal is pleasantly cinnamon-forward, and it has a good, crunchy texture that holds up to milk very well. Where this cereal suffered for me was the taste. Though I could not detect the protein-rich legumes overtly, there was an element of starchiness that lingers after eating this cereal. And while the cereal isn't too sweet, the monk fruit sugar dominates, leaving an overwhelming taste in my mouth that I happen to dislike, compared with the effect provided by the many alternative sweeteners available today.

6. Ratio Food Vanilla Almond Crunch

Ratio Food Vanilla Almond Cereal
Ratio Food Vanilla Almond Cereal - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

Ratio Food's Keto Friendly Vanilla Almond Crunch Cereal came in next on this ranking of high-protein breakfast cereals. It scored a 6.5 out of 10, having many likable qualities to balance out the negatives. Among the pros of this cereal were its average price of $0.77 per ounce and its nutritional profile -- which boasts a decent 10 grams of protein in contrast with just 3 grams of sugar.

While its texture begins promising -- consisting of flakes, clusters, shaved almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds -- it suffers somewhat when milk is added and becomes a bit soggy after a relatively short amount of time. In terms of aroma, the cinnamon and vanilla are quite prominent, giving this a pleasant first impression. Unfortunately, the flavor loses some of this cinnamon and vanilla, and there is a distinct aftertaste that is reminiscent of the soy and whey proteins. This gives this cereal a less satiating finish compared with several of the others I sampled.

5. Wonderworks Peanut Butter

Wonderworks Cereal Peanut Butter
Wonderworks Cereal Peanut Butter - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

With an overall score of 7 out of 10, the Wonderworks' Keto Friendly Peanut Butter cereal comes in next. This cereal shares a lot of qualities in common with the next highest-ranking brand, particularly at first glance. Though it is a bit more expensive (at $0.90 per ounce), it has a slight advantage nutritionally, with just 1 gram of sugar and a whopping 19 grams of protein. Unfortunately, the stellar nutritional profile couldn't outweigh some of the characteristics that made this cereal less appealing.

As a peanut butter lover, I had high hopes for this cereal. These were dashed at first sniff. The peanut aroma was slightly rancid, leading me to believe that this cereal may not have been properly stored for maximum freshness. That said, the texture of this cereal is somewhat reminiscent of Rice Krispies, something I enjoy. The little peanut balls remain relatively intact once the milk is added, becoming only slightly gritty as they absorb the liquid. The flavor is assertively peanut-rich and not overly sweet, though that rancid quality can be detected. I think a fresher box of this cereal would perform better overall, but I had to judge the container I purchased.

4. Ghost PB

Ghost Protein Cereal PB
Ghost Protein Cereal PB - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

Ghost Protein's peanut butter cereal came in next on this ranking, with a final score of 7.25 out of 10. This cereal is moderately-priced (at $0.78 per ounce). It also has a solid nutritional profile, with only 6 grams of sugar in contrast with the healthy 18 grams of protein. While I don't have anything strongly negative to say about this cereal, it just fell a bit flat for me in the texture and taste departments, but not because there was anything overtly dislikable about it.

The aroma is assertively peanut-forward -- which again, I happen to be quite fond of. This translates in the taste department, which is pleasant and not particularly sugary, with just a touch of bitterness that is not off-putting, but noticeable. When it comes to texture, the situation becomes more complex. At first glance, this cereal looks like a drained can of chickpeas ready to be transformed into a creamy batch of hummus. When milk is added to them, these little balls float, remaining atop the dairy like little bobbing heads. The mouthfeel is a combination of crispy and chewy, with just an element of starchiness lingering. It's not a deterrent, just a bit bizarre.

3. Post Premier Protein Chocolate Almond

Post Premier Protein Chocolate Cereal
Post Premier Protein Chocolate Cereal - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

Coming in third on this ranking of high-protein breakfast cereals is the Post Premier's Protein Chocolate Almond Cereal. This brand scored 7.5 out of 10, with solid marks on most factors considered. It is affordable, at $0.39 per ounce, and has a high protein-to-sugar ratio, with 20 grams of the former and only 5 of the latter. Other pros for this cereal include the texture, which remains crisp even after soaking in milk, and the aroma, which is pleasantly chocolate-forward.

The flavor is good, but not great, leaving me wanting a bit more. Pieces of almond in the cereal give this a nuttiness that is present, but not assertive. While the chocolate exists, it is not as pungent as it might appear in the aroma, which is somewhat disappointing. It almost felt as though the ingredients got diluted as the cereal soaked in the milk. This is not a dealbreaker, just nit picky. I did appreciate that this cereal is not aggressively sweet and does not have any residual grittiness or starchiness from the pea protein.

2. Nature Valley Oats & Honey Protein Granola

Nature Valley Granola Protein
Nature Valley Granola Protein - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

The second highest-ranking cereal here -- scoring an 8 out of a possible 10 points -- was Nature Valley's Oats & Honey Protein Granola. If I was basing this ranking solely on flavor, this cereal would have been a home run for my taste buds. The whole grain oats are perfectly encased in honey, with the rich, caramel back notes of molasses shining through. This cereal is adequately sweet, but not cloying, and it has a delightful crunchy, chewy texture that performs well in milk. It's also relatively affordable, at just $0.48 per ounce.

My only hesitation with this cereal is its nutritional profile. While it does have 13 grams of protein, it also contains 16 grams of sugar, which doesn't qualify as healthy under Food and Drug Administration guidelines. At 30% of your daily value per serving, this cereal contains a high amount of sugar. It is also rather high in calories compared with many of the other brands I sampled, at 270 calories per ⅔ cup serving. Because of this, I would be reluctant to consume this daily, but would gladly garnish yogurt with it or supplement it with one of the other cereals.

1. Catalina Crunch Cinnamon Toast

Catalina Crunch Cinnamon Toast Cereal
Catalina Crunch Cinnamon Toast Cereal - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

The best high-protein cereal, with a near perfect score of 9 out of a possible 10 points, is Catalina Crunch's Keto Friendly Cinnamon Toast Cereal. If you grew up loving Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, you will love this brand. The nostalgia of the flavor-profile alone is a triumph.

Nutritionally, this cereal is quite stellar, containing 11 grams of protein and no sugar. It is also made with clean ingredients that are gluten-free and vegan. The aroma and flavor are spot-on, despite the fact that this cereal is made from monk fruit sugar. Where the monk fruit overwhelmed many of the other brands and left a strange aftertaste in my mouth, this was not the case here. The texture is perfectly crunchy, holding up beautifully to milk. As a bonus, the cinnamon infuses the milk as the cereal soaks in it, giving it a fabulous flavor. My only minor complaint is that the pea protein leaves a slightly gritty and starchy film on your teeth after you eat the cereal, but it's not overly distracting and is easily washed away by the yummy cinnamon milk.

How We Chose The Best High Protein Breakfast Cereal

Assorted high protein cereal
Assorted high protein cereal - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

In evaluating these high-protein breakfast cereals, I conducted a qualitative and quantitative analysis. I wanted to assess more subjective characteristics -- like aroma, texture, and flavor -- for overall quality. In doing so, I tested each straight out of the box, dry and soaked in milk. And, since many people consume cereal using non-dairy alternatives that can completely alter the taste of each product, I avoided using these, and instead sampled each cereal with 1% cow's milk.

In terms of a quantitative analysis, I evaluated the cost-by-volume to determine value for each brand based on what I paid for them. I also looked at nutrition, paying particular attention to protein-to-sugar ratios, as well as overall protein content. My final ranking reflects a combination of both, though qualitative factors outweighed quantitative ones in certain instances, like with Nature Valley's Granola variety. Whether you prefer to eat cereal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I hope these observations help you to make the most well-educated buying decision you can the next time you visit the cereal aisle at your favorite grocery store.

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