Healthy Recipes: Vegan Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies

Rich chocolatey desserts never survive long at home, which is why I had to find a healthier version of some delectable treats. Brownies have long been a sugar and flour infused guilty pleasure of mines, crumbled on top of frozen yogurt or eaten straight out of the pan. Using black beans as the substance for this dessert, the recipe is a gluten-free alternative that will satisfy your chocolate-seeking taste buds.

When I have a pan of brownies out for visitors, they are always met with complements, then surprise as I reveal the secret ingredient: black beans. While not overly sweet, the brownies have a rich taste and a texture that is very similar to fudge brownies. It’s hard to find a black bean dessert that tastes great, but these brownies will not disappoint.



1 1/2 cups black beans (equal to a 15-oz can, drained and rinsed well)

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 cup quick oats (be careful about brands, some oats may be not be gluten-free, as some are cross-contaminated with grains)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup pure maple or agave syrup (honey can be used if you aren’t vegan)

2 tablespoons of brown sugar (can be substituted by increasing maple syrup to 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup to 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (essential for the richness)



  1.  Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  2. Combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips in a good food processor, and blend until completely smooth. The key is to blend well to mirror the texture of other flour-based brownies. A powerful blender will work, but a food processor will produce the best result.
  3. Gently stir in chocolate chips and pour into a greased 8×8 baking pan. You can sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top for presentation.
  4. Bake brownies for 15-18 minutes. Let the brownies cool for 10 minutes then place in the fridge overnight. 

I promise these brownies won’t last too long, which is why I always make at least two trays. Each tray will yield 9-12 brownies, which doesn’t feed too many. My first test was on my co-workers who demolished the pan and were shocked to learn that they were so healthy. Now they are a workplace favorite and top on their list of requests when we have a potluck.