25 Dietitian-Approved Midnight Snacks That’ll Curb Those Late-Night Cravings
We’ve all been there: feeling that grumbly in your tumbly in the midnight hour and looking both ways before bolting to the kitchen to find a lil somethin’ somethin’. Indeed, late-night snacking is nothing new (if your fridge light has never illuminated a leftover-scarfing sesh…you’re lying) and honestly, it isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can be a healthy part of your diet—some snacks can help improve your sleep, while going to bed hungry can negatively impact both your sleep quality and your energy levels the next day, says Danielle Musto, MS, RD, a registered dietician with Happy Strong Healthy. But, of course, it should come as no surprise that not all midnight snacks are made equally.
While some foods can spike your blood sugar and keep you wired, others can satisfy your cravings, deliver key nutrients, and actually help promote a more restful sleep (we could all use a few more zzz’s, am I right?). The trick is knowing which ones are worth the late-night nosh—and that’s why I asked the experts.
Below are 25 snacks chosen by actual dietitians and nutritionists as incredible options for a quick, pre-bed bite. The good news? They’re midnight snacks you’ll *actually* want to eat, with sweet and savory picks depending on what you’re in the mood for. Think: dark chocolate-covered almonds, figs and cheese, and PB&J sammies.
Scroll down for the best of the best healthy late-night snacks—and make sure you grab a pen and paper to start your next grocery list.
Classic movie theater treat, hold the ridiculously-expensive price tag (and fake butter). “Popcorn is a fun snack to munch on late at night,” says Isa Kujawski MPH, RDN, founder of Mea Nutrition. She explains that it’s also packed with a bunch of healthy stuff that can help you sleep, like “fiber and an amino acid known as tryptophan, which can increase serotonin.”
Lauren Pimentel, MS, RD, LDN, founder of The Cake Nutritionist, is also a big advocate for popcorn and tends to pair it with a little ~bonus snack~. “For my clients with salty cravings, I recommend they munch on popcorn paired with a string cheese,” she says. Not only do the flavors pair well, but cheese also contains tryptophan, Pimentel explains.
Roasted bean crisps
If your ideal midnight snack involves crunchy, mindless munching (think: potato chips or cheese puffs), then you’re going to want to pick up a pack of these. In addition to being salty and delicious, roasted bean crisps are “a good source of both fiber and protein, which help us feel satiated,” says Leah Silberman, MS, RD, founder of Tovita Nutrition.
Greek yogurt, berries, and granola
If your idea of a great dessert involves some sort of parfait, this snack has your name written all over it. It’s basically an ice cream sundae that won’t make you feel like sh*t… minus the ice cream and sugar-loaded sprinkles.
“Greek yogurt is packed with health-promoting nutrients such as protein, calcium, and probiotics,” says Musto. “I look for options with little to no added sugars and I pair them with berries and granola for added sweetness, fiber, and crunch.”
Tuna and cucumber slices
If you’re more of a ~savory snacker~ or always flipping to the seafood section of the menu, listen up. I’ve got a cheap and easy snackeroo with your name on it.
“Canned tuna in olive oil with cucumber slices is a light and satisfying snack loaded with good nutrition,” says Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian and author of From Burnout to Balance. She recommends dressing it up with lemon juice and flaky sea salt. “Canned tuna provides several nutrients to aid in sleep quality and support a good mood, including vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and tryptophan. Since it’s 95% water, cucumber is a refreshing superfood that won’t feel too heavy late at night.”
Vegetarian or vegan? “Swap the tuna for hummus, which is also loaded with sleep-promoting nutrients, including vitamin B6, folate, and tryptophan,” suggests Bannan.
Seaweed isn’t just a snack for jellyfish, sea urchins, and seals (although how cute is it to think of them chomping on it?!). It’s also a tasty, healthy treat for you and me, especially if you’re looking for something on the lighter side.
“If you’re snacking for flavor more than for hunger, these guys are the perfect go-to,” says Silberman, who suggests buying organic, if you can. “They’re full of umami flavor and contain loads of vitamins and minerals like iodine, zinc, and vitamin K.”
Apple with cinnamon
Apple and cinnamon is an established winning-flavor combo (um, ever heard of apple pie?). Simply sprinkling a little cinnamon on a slice of your favorite variety of apple (Fuji girl here 🙋) can give you the same sweet satisfaction—without all the sugar.
“For those of us with a sweet tooth, an apple with cinnamon can do the late-night trick!” promises Silberman. “Aside from being delicious, sprinkling cinnamon is also a great way to add a boost of antioxidants.”
Whether you buy ’em shell-free or love the satisfying process of cracking ’em open, pistachios can become an addictive crunchy snack, stat. Good thing dietitians are nuts about them! (I’ll see myself out.)
“Nuts, including pistachios, are a great source of melatonin,” says Kujawski, who’s a big fan of chomping on the jolly green flavor bombs come nighttime. “The combination of other beneficial nutrients in nuts, such as protein, fat, and fiber also makes them a satiating and blood sugar balancing snack for later hours when we want to wind down.”
You’re gonna want to ~pop your cherry~ for this icy treat that requires almost no preparation. “Slightly thawed frozen cherries are an absolutely delicious and
satisfying late-night snack,” says Kujawski, noting that they contain high amounts of melatonin and magnesium, both of which are beneficial for a good night’s rest. “They have almost a sorbet-like consistency and make for a sweet cherry on top of your day—no pun intended,” she adds.
Dark chocolate-covered almonds
Late-night treats? Groundbreaking. Here’s how to make ’em healthier: Switch to dark chocolate and add in a punch of protein. “Dark chocolate-covered almonds are a perfect snack for when you are craving something sweet at night but looking for more nutrients and sustained energy than from chocolate alone,” says Musto. “Almonds contain magnesium, which supports your body’s production of melatonin aiding in sleep.”
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
PB&Js aren’t just for lunch boxes. This childhood classic is ready to make its return in a big way…into your mouth when it’s a lil past your bedtime. “I recommend this snack to clients when they are feeling particularly hungry at night because it’s very filling!” says Pimentel. “Try natural peanut butter, which contains high levels of tryptophan, and natural jam on two slices of whole-wheat bread for a satisfying late-night snack.”
Both peanut butter and whole-wheat bread increase serotonin levels, adds Pimentel, serving up a double whammy before hitting the hay.
Cereal and milk
I mean…there’s a reason Milk Bar is so popular. Cereal and milk slaps, as the kids say. “The carbohydrates from the cereal combined with the protein and calcium in the milk makes this a balanced bedtime snack,” says Musto. “Dairy milk also contains tryptophan, which may contribute to a better night’s rest.” She recommends picking up a cereal that contains a source of whole grains and fiber—lately, she’s been munching on Cascadian Farm’s vanilla crisp and honey almond flavors.
(Can I just take this moment to take a trip down memory lane and remind everyone that Kylie Jenner was 21 years old when she first decided to put milk in her cereal?)
Nut butter with celery
Remember ~ants on a log~ when you were a kid? No, not actual ants on an actual log, but when your parents would stuff a stalk of celery with a nut butter and press in some lil raisins? Surprisingly delicious, if I do recall. And guess what? It’s healthy and dietician approved (and you can feel free to avoid the raisins if you’re not a Raisin Person™).
“Theres nothing quite as comforting as something creamy late in the evening. Nut butters not only contain melatonin, but also magnesium, which is a cofactor key for regulating neurotransmitters, including ones that are important for sleep, says Kujawski. The thick and creamy texture of nut butter may also have a soothing and comforting effect, which may help activate the parasympathetic nervous system.” (FYI, that’s the part of your nervous system that helps ya ~rest and digest~.)
Want something a little sweeter? Slather the nut butter on an apple instead of celery, Kujawski suggests.
Okay, listen up before you rule this one out: This snack is protein-packed and easy to prep in advance. “If you happen to have these already made in the fridge, they’re a great go-to,” says Silberman, who recommends buying pasture-raised eggs. “Quick, convenient, and a good source of protein, hard-boiled eggs make for a satisfying, healthy snack.”
Walnuts and tart cherries
More than one dietitian came singing this snack’s praises, so you know it’s a good combo—albeit an unexpected one. “Walnuts and tart cherries pair wonderfully together and make a perfectly filling midnight snack,” says Pimentel, touting their potential sleep-inducing properties.
“Walnuts provide numerous compounds that support healthy sleep patterns. First, they provide a mix of protein, fiber, and healthy fats to help stabilize blood sugar levels, as well as magnesium for aiding sleep quality,” explains Bannan. “They also provide tryptophan for making serotonin and melatonin, which support the sleep-wake cycle.” Tart cherries also provide naturally occurring melatonin, she adds, and they just happen to taste great in the same mouthful as the rich walnuts. Try throwing them both in a trail mix for an easy snack on the go!
DIY trail mix
Who doesn’t love a DIY moment?! Grab some dry goods, put your chef’s hat on (or don’t, you don’t even need an oven, tbh), and whip up a trail mix that speaks to your soul.
“My go-to mix when I want a combination of salty and sweet is popcorn, dried fruit, almonds, and dark chocolate chips,” says Musto. “Including popcorn increases the volume and fiber content, which contributes to overall satisfaction.” I see a trip to the bulk food store in your future!
When I think of pumpkin seeds, I think of my mom popping a baking tray in the oven after carving our family jack-o’-lanterns, then fighting my brother when the seeds came out piping hot, perfectly crunchy, and supremely salty. I never would have believed back then that the snack we were scrapping over was actually pretty darn healthy.
According to Silberman, pumpkin seeds are a “good source of magnesium, which can act as ‘nature’s relaxation mineral.’” She explains: “Magnesium can help induce feelings of calmness and help induce more restful sleep.”
It’s 2022, and I’m here to say that Dates. Are. Cool. The stone fruits, native to the Middle East, may not look that cute, but they’re actually super tasty and nutritious, especially if you zhuzh ’em up right.
“Dates are high in fiber, antioxidants, and potassium. Pair them with a nut butter to provide protein and healthy fats to slow digestion,” says Musto, who recommends stuffing the nut butter into the dates for a poppable snack. Want to kick the sweetness up another notch? “Dip the stuffed dates in melted dark chocolate and store in your freezer,” Musto suggests.
Avocado with whole-grain crackers
Think of these like itty-bitty little avo toasts, except way simpler: Just mash the green good stuff onto a cracker. “Avocados are a good source of fiber, which slows digestion and helps keep you full and satisfied, so perfect to help curb late night hunger and set you up for a restful sleep,” says Bannan, who recommends anything with avocado to her clients because they’re full of healthy fats.
“Avocado snack options are endless!” she adds. “Just grab a medium avocado and a spoon or try spreading it on a whole wheat tortilla for a fiber and nutrient boost.”
Figs and cheese
Sweet and squishy fig, meet rich and creamy cheese. “Figs are rich in magnesium, a mineral that aids in both quality and duration of sleep. They’re also an excellent source of fiber, to help keep your blood sugar steady and appetite at bay,” says Bannan. “Dried or fresh, figs pair beautifully with whatever cheese you have on hand, which adds protein and mood-boosting calcium.”
One of Bannan’s favorite cheeses to pair with figs is feta (drool!) and she recommends topping it all with “a little honey and fresh mint for an extra-special treat.”
Cottage cheese and pineapple
This flavor combo might sound a little ~out there~, but you’ve just gotta try it to find out how gosh darn tasty it is. “This is the perfect late-night snack—it’s both sweet and filling!” says Pimentel. “Cottage cheese is a rich source of tryptophan and protein, great for feeling full and ready for sleep. Pineapple can boost melatonin levels in the body and will add a lovely sweetness to the cottage cheese!”
Pineapple is also chock full of a standard vitamin we can all use a little more of, adds
Kujawski: “It provides plenty of nutrients such as vitamin C, which studies have shown improves sleep health.”
Oatmeal with peanut butter
Oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast anymore, friends. It’s time to spoon it up under moonlight.
“Oats and oatmeal provide complex carbs for better, deeper sleep, as well as melatonin and magnesium for better sleep quality,” says Bannan. “Add in a spoonful of peanut butter, which contains tryptophan as well as vitamin B6 and magnesium for sleep quality.”
Looking to take it to another level? “Top with banana slices for extra sleep-promoting nutrients, and sprinkle with cinnamon for a flavor boost that also packs in antioxidants,” Bannan suggests.
Hummus and veggies
Crudités, s’il vous plait! “Hummus, which is made from chickpeas, is rich in fiber, protein, and tryptophan,” says Pimentel, who loves the snack packs from the brand Sabra. “I recommend a mix of baby carrots and bell peppers to enjoy with hummus for a nutritious and filling late-night snack.”
Pro tip: Pre-wash and chop your favorite veggies—the more colorful the better—and store them in your fridge for seamless dipping sessions.
Banana and dairy-free chocolate milk
This simple ‘n’ sweet snack option is reminiscent of chocolate-covered bananas on a stick or a banana and Nutella crêpe (but with waaay less sugar that’d keep you wired). “A banana paired with dairy-free chocolate milk is one of my top recommendations for my clients who are lactose intolerant. The flavor combination is delicious!” says Pimentel.
If you’d rather eat your sweet stuff instead of drink it, Musto recommends slathering a healthy glob of almond butter on your banana. “Bananas and almond butter both contain vitamins and minerals that aid in relaxation and sleep such as potassium, magnesium, and tryptophan,” she says.
Okay, I know I already suggested dark chocolate–covered almonds, but sometimes you just want to take straight-up chocolate straight to the face. And if that’s the route you’re taking, dark chocolate is the best option.
“Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, magnesium, and tryptophan,” says Kujawski, who loves the bars from the brand Lily’s. “Nutrition aside, it’s just a satisfying treat.”
Banana yogurt smoothie
Would it even be a healthy snack list without a smoothie rec? I think not, and this sleep-promoting recipe is too good not to share. “Simply blend frozen banana and Greek yogurt with milk, a milk alternative, or water, and a touch of honey and/or vanilla,” recommends Bannan, who sometimes adds a tablespoon of wheat germ for extra sleep-supporting nutrients, like tryptophan, vitamin B6, and magnesium.
“Not only are frozen bananas perfect for a smoothie due to their creamy texture, but they also provide three core nutrients for better sleep quality: vitamin B6, magnesium, and potassium,” she explains. “Greek yogurt adds to the creamy texture while providing calcium for better sleep quality, along with tryptophan.”
Meet the experts
Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN is an L.A.-based registered dietician and healthy cooking expert. Her book, From Burnout to Balance, has recipes and strategies that can help boost your mood, focus, immunity and sleep. Follow her on Instagram @patriciabannan.
Isa Kujawski, MPH, RDN is a D.C. area–based functional mind-body nutritionist and founder of Mea Nutrition. After serving more than 10 years of active duty in the Navy and losing a veteran brother to suicide, she decided to dedicate her career to helping people use food as medicine—connecting nutrition with mental well-being. Follow her on Instagram @meanutrition.
Danielle Musto, MS, RD is a New Jersey–based registered dietician with Happy Strong Healthy, a virtual nutrition practice. Her specialties include disordered eating, intuitive eating, women’s health, and adolescent and adult eating disorder recovery. Follow her on Instagram @daniellemusto.nutrition.
Lauren Pimentel, MS, RD, LDN is a New York–based registered dietitian and founder of The Cake Nutritionist. Her philosophy is anti-dieting, and her specialities include sports and performance nutrition and making nutrition changes that are actually sustainable. Follow her on Instagram @jessicarabbit_rd.
Leah Silberman, MS, RD is a New York City–based registered dietitian and founder of Tovita Nutrition, a virtual nutrition counseling service. Her philosophy is in prevention and sustainable solutions, and her specialities include diabetes management, heart disease, and overall healthy eating. Follow her on Instagram @tovitanutrition.
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