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October 25, 2018


Black Bean Brownies

by Anne Paddock

Ten years ago a black bean brownie wouldn’t have done it for me because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Back then my favorite brownie was made with a Ghiradelli boxed brownie mix blended with melted unsalted butter and eggs (yes, I am ashamed to admit this).

Fast forward a few years when I tasted a black bean brownie sold in a cafe called Fresh in Des Moines, Iowa. Moist and chewy with a deep dark chocolate flavor, the black bean brownie was simply delicious but I didn’t attempt to make my own until recently when I realized that it was time to figure out how to make a delicious but nutritious (key word) alternative to traditional brownies.

Ok, so let’s talk about black bean brownies.  Beans and chocolate are not foods that naturally go together in most people’s minds (like salt and pepper, lettuce and tomatoes,  or even bananas and peanut butter) although these two seemingly incompatible foods make wickedly moist and fudgey dark chocolate brownies when combined with a few other traditional ingredients.

But, let’s be honest. A really good black bean brownie will never taste like a traditional all-American brownie, ever. So, if you’re used to brownies made with butter, copious amounts of oil, and/or eggs, I’m not going to tell you the recipe below is like some earth shattering second coming of the Messiah moment that will forever change your idea of what a truly great brownie is. But, the recipe is truly amazing (a total keeper) and definitely worth trying if you’re looking for a healthier alternative (no dairy products or eggs and no refined sugar or white flour) to the traditional brownie. If you’re a seasoned plant-based eater (or vegan), then these brownies will taste like pure chocolate bliss and satisfy any and all brownie cravings. They’re that good!

Most people cannot taste the black beans, so don’t tell them until after they’ve taken a taste. They still won’t believe it. I’ve served these brownies over and over and no one has EVER guessed they were made with black beans. They actually look and taste better than they photograph so don’t rely on my pictures (and the limitations of my photography talent); rely on the recipe!

The following recipe is a variation of a black bean brownie recipe by Chocolate Covered Katie. Katie’s recipe is fantastic (click here for a link to it) but I wanted a deeper chocolate flavor (more cocoa) and the benefit of whole grain rolled oats (instead of quick oats). I also prefer walnut pieces in my brownies but nuts are optional as purists usually prefer brownies without nuts.

Black Bean Brownies


  • 1/2 cup whole grain oats
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (I use Valrhona Cocoa Powder available on Amazon)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup canola or grapeseed oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I use Pascha Organic 85% Dark Chocolate Chips)
  • 1/2 cup of walnut pieces, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray non-stick spray on the bottom and sides of an 7 x 7 square pan (available on Amazon for about $15) or a 7 inch round pan.

Process the whole grain oats in a food processor until pulverized into a flour like mixture.

Add the cocoa, baking powder, salt, beans, maple syrup, oil, and vanilla. Process until very well blended.

Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts, if using. As an alternative, consider blending in 1/4 cup chocolate chips and 1/4 cup  walnuts into the batter and then sprinkle 1/4 cup of walnuts and a few chocolate chips on the top.

Spread the batter out into the pan (and don’t forget to lick the bowl and spatula clean).

Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for one hour.

Cut into squares and enjoy.

  1. Oct 26 2018

    Vegan Gal: They are moist, rich, and so delicious!

  2. Oct 26 2018

    This looks amazing! I love how creative you can get with brownies. I’ve never tried making them with beans, but I regularly use quinoa flour to make mine, so I can only imagine how rich and delicious these would be. Have to try for sure! Thanks for sharing!

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