Healthy, Grain Free Brownies

Mmmm, brownies.

Everyone always looks for a bit of “healthy” baking. The problem is, most of us just try and substitute whole wheat flour for white flour, which brings a bunch of new problems into play. One being, as a society, we eat way to many grains.

Soaked or unsoaked, too many grains just aren’t good for us. Our bodies were just not made to ingest so many of them! And going gluten free is definitely a step away from our over hybridized wheat, but the problem still remains since we then just eat gluten free grains and more often than not – starches.

And don’t even get me started on how much refined sugar we consume.

To tell you the truth, I don’t bake very often. Don’t get me wrong, I love to bake. It brings back wonderful memories of my childhood. But I also know what it does to my body! So I rarely ever bake sweets, and even limit my baking of muffins to every couple of weeks or so. But when I saw a recipe for no flour brownies that I could convert so it was even healthier, I knew I had to give it a try!

black bean brownies



The Verdict:

Level of difficulty – Easy

Cost – $3.88  ($.25 per serving for 16 servings) (when I made them w/ coconut oil and raw honey)

Time – approximately 5 minutes prep, 30 minutes baking

Taste – I was really surprised at how good these were! What a great way to hide beans in a dish! The texture was smoother than a brownie made with flour would be and because I used bittersweet chocolate, they weren’t as sweet as what we would normally be used to. My husband was none the wiser about these until I told him what was in them, and we all enjoyed a sweet treat! I will definitely be making them again once my personal “30 Days of no Sugar” is over. (and yes, I know I am allowing myself honey, but these are just to sweet and decadent to help me get rid of my cravings for sweets!)

I would totally recommend you try these! They are full of good, real foods.

And if you don’t think that Black Bean Brownies are up your alley, you can try out the Chocolate Mousse Cake. It’s also grain free and includes healthy ingredients!

Wanting to eat healthy foods and find better alternatives for desserts is a wonderful way to keep your body functioning properly and keep your immune system strong! If you’re looking to cut down on the consumption of sugar in your diet and learn the in’s and out’s of natural sugars, join me on the Sugar Detox Challenge!





Healthy, Grain Free Brownies
  • 1¾ cups black beans (or 1 can of no salt added – you can find BPA free canned beans at Tropical Traditions)
  • ⅓ cup melted coconut oil (or melted butter)
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup honey (or other equivalent sweetener)
  • 3 lightly beaten eggs
  • ½ cup chopped up bittersweet chocolate (or semi-sweet chips if you don’t mind the added refined sugar in them)
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped walnuts -optional
Method of Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease an 8×8 pan.
  2. Place all but the final 3 ingredients (eggs, chopped up chocolate and walnuts) into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Fold in the remaining ingredients.
  4. Pour into the pan and bake for about 30 minutes.
  5. Let cool – the texture actually changes as they cool off, getting more “fudgy”.
*Other optional ingredients I’ve tried – ¼ cup crispy almonds and a handful of spinach. Both work wonderfully.



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About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. oooohhh…those look great!! I am sooo going to make some! Thanks for the recipe!

  2. (I read your blog just about every day now!) Anyways, I read about black bean brownies somewhere recently and was curious as to how to make them so, thanks for the recipe! The only thing I have to say about palm sugar is to grind it really fine or dissolve it in a bit of warm water so it’s liquid like honey. The little problem I’ve had with palm sugar is that it can be grainy in texture. I heard it comes in a paste form which is easier for making things like fudge and brownies. I haven’t been able to find it yet (it’s probably in an international foods store.)

    donielle Reply:

    @Deanna, Thanks for the tip Deanna! I’ll definitely make sure I predissolve or buy the paste then when I’m able to get some.

  3. Hi! Love your site!

    I’ve just discovered Nourishing Traditional Foods and am very excited to find such a variety of blogs with so much information and tips!

    For this recipe I’m assuming you would use unsalted black beans? I love to cook my own dried beans but I usually add salt and seasonings part of the way through the cooking process. I wonder if it’s worth any trade off for being grain free to use canned beans?
    I suppose it would be easy enough to make an unseasoned batch of beans to use in recipes like this one, or just pull some aside before adding the savory seasonings.

    Any tips you have to offer will be great!

    donielle Reply:

    @Rachel, Yes, I use beans that haven’t had anything added to them. I’ve always been under the impression that beans don’t cook well, or soften, if you add salt before they’re done. (?) So I always add everything in after they are bite tender.

    And personally, I am trying really hard to stay away from anything canned due to the BPA in the can linings. Right now I’m just making batches of them and freezing, so if you made up just one batch of unseasoned beans along side your regular ones, you could just toss what you don’t use in the freezer for the next batch!

    Nicole Rice Reply:


    I was always under the impression you shouldn’t add salt to beans until they were done cooking also. Then in class last semester (I’m in culinary school) I was told that was false. They said that beans are a starch, and the only time startches absorb salt is during the cooking process (like potatoes). So if you want the actual bean seasoned (not just the outside, or the sauce around it) then you should salt while they are cooking.

    As a side note- I was told that 2 things will keep a bean from getting soft – 1. Acid, never add tomatoes until the bean is already tender, and 2. Old beans. – they never soften all the way/properly, no matter how long you cook them.

    Thanks for the brownie recipe! Been cooking beans all day (LOL- whithout salt since I didn’t need them seasoned for this) in preparation. Yeah brownies!!!!

    donielle Reply:

    That’s really interesting.

    The one time I had by beans not cook through was when I made a bean and bacon soup. I thought I could cook the ‘soup’ while the beans cooked and after hours upon hours, they would not soften! I chalked it up to the salt since that’s what I’d heard before. Maybe they were old?

    Sounds like it could be a fun home kitchen science experiment!

  4. came from real food wed. i’ve been wanting to try these black bean brownies forever, thanks for posting! i love baking with coconut oil. how much grain do you eat weekly?

    donielle Reply:

    @jenna of food with kid appeal, As per the grains each week. I usually try and have about 2 days that are grain free (though of course it doesn’t always work out that way!) and then we usually do just one serving of grain the other days. Like if I do pancakes for breakfast, I try and stay grain free the rest of the day. BUT life also happens a lot and all of my breakfast grains (pancakes, oatmeal) are soaked so I don’t worry to much if I have to make another grain later on. (which is usually soaked as well)
    So overall for the week, I’ll bet I have about 8-10 servings of grains on average.

  5. I made “gingerbread” using blackbeans in the fall. It made a huge batch and my kids loved it. LOL. Now, I’ll have to try your brownies.

  6. Silly question I know, the beans are drained, right? I look forward to trying these.

    donielle Reply:

    @Carmen, Yup! I guess I should have added that part!

  7. This is actually my favorite brownie recipe! I grew up eating brownies from a box and I hadn’t ever found a homemade recipe I liked until these. I think they are actually better the next day (I keep them in the fridge) – they end almost like a mix between brownies and fudge.

  8. These were so delicious! I accidentally forgot to get the melted butter out of the microwave, so they ended up dairy free as well…and they were still yummy! My kids LOVED them, too. Thanks for posting!

    donielle Reply:

    @erica, So glad you liked them! My little guy really liked them as well, and I never felt bad about giving him “dessert” after dinner!

  9. These look really good! Going to try them next week, I need to find a good source of cocoa

  10. So by putting the beans in with the liquidy stuff, that’s enough to pulverize them and make them unrecognizable?

    donielle Reply:

    @E, They are completely unrecognizable! If I hadn’t put them in myself I would have had no idea!

  11. Wow . . . making them right now! I am trying to up the protein intake of one of
    my children and this will be a perfect after school snack!

  12. Rebecca Miller says:

    Just made these and we love them!!! A million times thanks.

  13. Have you ever used a type of bean other than black beans for this recipe? I’m having trouble finding canned black beans without added salt AND dried black beans! What gives ?!

    char Reply:

    @Kelli M,
    i’m planning on using pinto beans, do you think that’ll work out ok?
    thanks for the recipe.

    donielle Reply:

    @char, I can’t imagine the taste would be to different, though the color might be. Let us know how it works out!

    char Reply:

    @donielle, the taste using pinto beans is quite good but, it came out a little dry and not as dense looking as yours and the colour definitely lighter.

    donielle Reply:

    @Kelli M, I’ve never tried it with any other type of bean, but I can’t imagine the taste would be extremely different. You might also be able to try the canned stuff with salt and maybe just rinse them really well before using. (?)

    Theresa Reply:

    @Kelli M,

    I used canned organic black beans that contained just a little sea salt and then didn’t add any extra salt. Worked perfectly!

    donielle Reply:

    @Theresa, Glad you liked them!!

  14. I’m making these today … just cheated and tasted the batter … then had our oldest try it … and my husband too. They’re in the oven now, but we all really like the batter lol

  15. Mmm, brownies! I linked to this on my weekly roundup (post is under my name) and I also hounded Paula above for the link to “gingerbread” – I need to get to baking!! :>) Thanks so much!

    donielle Reply:

    @Lenetta @ Nettacow, Thanks for the link Lenetta!

  16. I made these this morning and I can’t wait to try them out when my dh is home for lunch! :) They smell delicious!

  17. This post has made my day. Actually, I think it’s made my week, and possibly my month. I’m mostly grain free right now (completely gluten free), and brownies is one of those things that I miss the most. I’m trying your recipe asap!

    Thanks again!

    donielle Reply:

    @Krystal, Hope you enjoy them! I have a hard time NOT making them when I have all the ingredients int he house. :-)

  18. What a great blog….I am 41 with 6 kiddos and want to get knocked up as you blog states!
    I have been eating more naturally for the past 10 months hoping it would help things!
    No postive test as of yet:( All in GOD’s time!
    I will be back to you blog to read often!


    donielle Reply:

    @Fruitful Harvest, Thanks for the kind words! Hope to ‘see’ you around!

  19. Hey,
    What a fantastic recipe! I made them for a friend’s birthday and thought they were so good that I included the recipe in a newsletter that I send out.
    Mine ended up more fudgy than the one in the picture looks though.

  20. made this for a playdate and they were GREAT!
    super easy! making them again today 😉

  21. Yummy….my family will love these!

  22. Catherine says:

    Thank you for your great blog! It is so much easier to navigate and less showy and visually distracting than others. We loved your brownies my little boys were fighting to get more. The little ones made me promise to make more, they couldn’t stop eating or thinking of them.

  23. planeta says:

    this brownie recipe sounds great! but as a celiac with an egg allergy I have no idea how to swap out the eggs for something that will still create the same fudge flavor and brownie texture with beans.
    do you have an idea(s) that you can share? thanks!!

    donielle Reply:

    @planeta, Hmm, normally when I have to use an egg substitute I take ground flax – I think 1 Tbsp per egg – and boil it with even amounts of water until it’s gooey. Might change the taste a bit, but the texture should be the same!

    KristinaD Reply:

    @planeta, Have you tried chia seeds? I have had better luck than flax. I tried another recipe like this and it never set up. I am going to try this one and I hope this one is better! I think omitting the egg may cause it to not set up.

    Brandy Reply:

    @KristinaD, I would second the chia seeds.

  24. I used brown sugar as my demerera (sp?) is all gone and that much honey is just not-good to me. Tasted the batter (added 2T more of cocoa powder…I am a chocoholic!) and was so upset that I could detect the beans. They still taste wonderful to me…you don’t notice the beans…but my husband will taste them instantly. He has extreme food disorders/neuroses, his favorite meal is ramen noodles with canned chili (no jalapeños or veggies in it) and shredded cheese and won’t pick out or off disliked food becuz he can still taste the lingering taste, something as bland as celery even or peas. Everyone else loved them tho!

  25. I’m making these for my dad for Christmas! And going to make a honey-butter-cocoa frosting to go on them (or maybe coconut oil, not sure). My dad “taught” my mom way back in the day (the 70s lol) that brownies are best from a box with 2 cans of frosting. Maybe I can change his mind with a much healthier version!

  26. Do you think you could leave out the chopped up chocolate bits/chocolate chips and still disguise the bean taste enough?

    donielle Reply:

    @Rhonda, I would think so – though I might put just a touch more cocoa and honey in (like maybe a tbsp or so) to help out a bit.

  27. I made these again for Cmas Day and again, my dh liked them. I am blown away. I did not use the choc chips this time, just to see. I didnt use any coconut oil either as he doesnt like that (gonna use a little next time and see if he can tell, im sure he will LOL). I can definitely taste the beans still, but still delicious. I am going to use navy pea beans next time and see wat color they are. Maybe I ll add some blkstrp molasses for color. And I’ve never used the walnuts yet and its still good. Next batch, tho…I am. He doesnt have to eat them next time LOL.
    They are so fudgy, even with all those eggs–its the flour WITH the eggs that make brownies cakey with too many eggs!

  28. We are definatly going to try these… I have lots of dry beans and canned black beans in the pantry… I’m always game for inexpensive treats that are good for us… Brownies is one thing my boys all like…

  29. So, when you say 2 cups black beans, you mean 2 cups cooked and drained black beans, right? Are you soaking them first? Are you using vinegar or something in the soaking? How much dry beans do I start with to end up with 2 cups cooked, if I don’t want any left over? Or if I made twice the amount, can I freeze half of the cooked beans to use in a later brownie batch? Maybe just thaw them in the fridge overnight then?

    I would never, ever have thought of making brownies with beans. You truly are broadening my horizons.

    donielle Reply:

    @Arpita, Yes – two cups cooked and drained beans. I’d say it’s maybe 1 1/4 cup dried? I’d do at least 1.5 cups dried to start out with, otherwise, yes you can freeze them for a future batch!

    I do soak my beans before boiling, at least overnight in warm water with apple cider vinegar (a cpl Tbsp)

  30. What about using agave nectar instead of honey? The total carbs with honey is 18 grams in 15 servings. With Splenda, it goes to 9 carbs. My husband is diabetic and has to go sugar free as much as possible.

    donielle Reply:

    @Cynthia, Personally I won’t use agave nectar as it’s as high in fructose as high fructose corn syrup and really hard for the liver to dispose of because of this. (and I won’t touch processed sugars like Splenda)

    While I do understand that your husband has to go sugar free, I’d almost say just don’t make sweets. :-) Living grain free is also a great way to get a handle on blood sugar levels. You might look into something like the “primal” diet or the “specific carbohydrate diet” – both are great healthy diets!

  31. Love these!! I have made them several times now, but we call them ‘cocoa bars’. They are delicious, but too different to consider a brownie in my opinion. These have been a hit with kids and adults alike…and we prefer them chilled. Soooo good…this recipe is definitely a keeper!

  32. Try substituting honey for xylitol. A natural alternative to sugar with a 1 to 1 replacement ratio. Tastes fantastic and xylitol is actually good for your teeth!

    I also tried subbing cocoa and chocolate chips for carob and carob chips for a slightly different flavour. I recommend you give that an occasional try as well. :)

    donielle Reply:

    @Kristine, I’m actually not a fan of using xylitol for consumption ( scroll about 1/2 way down). Though I do often use carob powder since it’s easier to find in bulk than cocoa around here. Not a fan of carob chips though. 😉

  33. Just put these in the oven! Going to be our non-junk food treat for my daughter’s class for Valentine’s tomorrow. I used 1/2 honey and 1/2 maple syrup since I had it on hand. Batter smelled and tasted a little odd. But I have only within the last least switched from non-boxed brownie mix.
    If they don’t taste great for kindergartener’s I will be rolling them into balls and dipping them in melted 60% Ghirardelli chocolate :)

    donielle Reply:

    @Sara Shay @ YourThrivingFamily, Definitely don’t compare these to a box mix! 😀

    Don’t get me wrong, they taste great, but they are not a replica of a white flour brownie. My kids love them as do most all other kids that have eaten them. of course I just call them brownies, I never say what’s in them. 😉

    Cindy Reply:

    Has anyone else tried to make this with Lakanto? Its a zero calorie, zero glycemic index sugar substitute made of luo Han guo and erythritol. Takes great! Bought it off amazon.

  34. I made these this afternoon. I loved the idea of a brownie with beans in them (even though I don’t like black beans) and I have to say, these didn’t disappoint. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I ate 3 for dessert, but I guess it’s better than eating 3 brownies made from a box mix.

    Anyway, thanks so much for the lovely recipe! These will definitely be something to make again.

  35. Could you clarify what you consider “bittersweet” chocolate? My store sold 72% cacao bars for baking, 100% cacao for baking and also bittersweet chips that were 65% cacao. The 72% and 65% have added sugar – but I was afraid the 100% would be too bitter. Thanks!

    donielle Reply:

    @Cindy, if you are looking to get completely away from refined sugar, go for the 100% bittersweet chocolate. there is honey in the brownies, so it won’t be like eating just bittersweet chocolate. But if you’re looking for something to get yourself or your family used to no refined sugar, just get the darkest chocolate you enjoy and add that in instead. The original recipe called for milk chocolate chips (which are delicious….) but I was just trying to use only whole sugars int his recipe – but do what will work for you and your family!

  36. just made the brownies! they’re amazing :)

  37. I just found a recipe for zucchini as a replacer for eggs in brownies w/flour. How do you think they’d fare in these brownies as an egg replacer? By the way, I love these brownies. :)

    donielle Reply:

    @erica, Hmmm….usually an egg replacer has some sort of binding qualities to it and I don’t think that zucchini would fit the bill. BUT, I’m also a fan of trying things to see what happens. 😉 I think they’d taste great either way!

  38. Wow– these are GOOD. I will never buy another boxed brownie mix again. My jaw is still sitting on the floor. People….these are REALLY good. If I hadn’t made them I would have had NO clue that they were made with beans.

  39. I’ve got a batch of these in the oven right now, but I made some changes:

    I lessened the amount of honey by half.
    I added a handful of pitted dates.
    I added 2 big handfuls of raw kale leaves.
    I added about a cup of coconut flakes.
    I didn’t add other nuts or chocolate. I just blended the beans, honey, coconut oil, salt, vanilla, eggs, kale, and coconut, then put into the oven. DS and I tasted the batter (“licked the bowl”) while waiting on the brownies to cook. If the taste of the batter is any indication, these will be so delicious AND I love that I can sneak healthy foods into my kid’s diet without them knowing! I’m getting really good at that! If adding the coconut and kale works well in the finished product, I may try adding carrots or zucchini next time, too, and maybe a touch of applesauce?

  40. Jessica King says:

    This is a fantastic recipe 😀 Thank you!!

  41. Hello donielle and everyone else,

    This black bean idea in a chocolate desert intrigues me.
    I bought a can of black beans I’d like to include in a healthy, non cooked, chocolate candy I’ve created.
    Do you think it is important to cook the beans from a can as you would naturally by baking your brownies, or can these beans basically be eaten without baking them, like in my recipe?
    Thanks in advance

    donielle Reply:

    @Dennis, Canned beans are already cooked so it shouldn’t be an issue. I’ve had black bean truffles before that were really good!

  42. So good! I didn’t have chocolate chunks on hand but I made frosting with bannana, dates, avacado, honey and coco powder in the food processor. It was yum-tastic.


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