Intensely fudgy vegan brownies made with black beans require just 1 bowl and 20 minutes to bake for the ultimate healthy chocolate dessert. They’re gluten-free too!
My original intention with these vegan black bean brownies was to revamp these Triple Chocolate Protein Cake Bars.
That recipe is ancient and while those cake bars do taste good, the recipe is not exactly the kind of ingredient list I’d use when baking something today.
That was my intention.
In fact, it remained so until I sliced into these and saw how incredibly fudgy and brownie-like they were.
At that point, my mind faltered a bit but when the photoshoot was over and I ate one, that’s when the decision was finalized.
Yes, they’ve still got a “high protein” vibe (thanks to the black beans and optional collagen powder) but these are most definitely a brownie and not anything that can pass off as something with the word “cake” in the title.
So, I’ll let that old recipe stay put for awhile longer while I decide if it’s worth redoing.
Can’t say I’m mad about how the situation played out at all because the result is one of the most decadent fudgy brownies I’ve ever tasted.
It just so happens that they’re made with black beans and vegan.
I know the whole “black beans” in a dessert thing is either one of love and admiration (usually from the healthy eating crowd) or total disgust (usually from the people like my dad that can’t even stomach not putting milk and sugar in his coffee).
I’m in the former camp and think using black beans as a base for a chocolaty baked good is pure genius.
You literally can’t ever taste anything that resembles a bean flavor but get the most amazing fudgy, moist texture in whatever it is you’re baking.
In this case, vegan brownies.
Or, in the case of chickpeas, these rich, gooey and decadent chocolate chip chickpea blondies.
And that’s a good thing because brownies have absolutely no business being “cake-like” in my opinion. Box mixes shouldn’t even give you that option.
And if you’re still too on the fence with black beans in a dessert, how about as black bean meatballs instead?
HOW TO MAKE VEGAN BLACK BEAN BROWNIES
This is an easy 1 bowl recipe using a food processor that will take just 20 minutes to bake.
The following ingredients are processed until smooth in the food processor:
- black beans
- maple syrup
- cocao powder
- flax egg
- vanilla extract
- baking powder
- almond flour
- oat flour
- unflavored collagen powder or protein powder of choice (*optional)
- almond milk
The batter will be nice and thick but smooth. Transfer it to a large bowl then stir in 1/2 cup of your favorite add-ins. We’ll talk more about those in a minute.
Transfer the brownie batter to a prepared baking dish, spreading it evenly into the corners, top with mini chocolate chips and bake for 20 minutes.
Once baked, let the baking dish cool on a rack for a bit then remove the brownies from the dish (using the parchment paper to pick it up and out of the dish) and cool completely on the rack before cutting them.
WHAT KIND OF BLACK BEANS TO USE IN BROWNIES
While you may definitely choose to use canned black beans for these brownies, I actually prefer to make my own Easy Instant Pot black beans from dry beans.
That recipe is one I use when I plan to give our dog some black beans as well so it’s cooked without any garlic, onions or other spices.
Since I doubt you want savory flavors in your black bean brownies, it’s perfect for this use as well!
LET’S TALK ABOUT ADD-INS
Add-ins like nuts and such are a hot topic when it comes to brownies.
I have a recipe for superfood brownies chock full of goodies like goji berries and cacao nibs and that kind of loaded brownie seems to be a bit controversial. People either love all the add-ins or are purists and want nothing but chocolate in their brownie.
Fair enough, I see you.
There’s the option for up to 1/2 a cup of add-ins in this vegan black bean brownie recipe.
IDEAS FOR ADD-INS:
- chopped nuts
- chopped dried fruit
- chocolate chips
- pumpkin seeds/sunflower seeds
If you love a loaded brownie, go crazy with one or more of those!
If you’re a chocolate purist when it comes to your brownies, just add the chocolate chips! Then you’ll have chocolate chips inside the brownie and on top. The mini ones are best for this recipe.
I use these chocolate chips in my vegan/allergy free baking.
If you want a chocolate add-in that’s a little healthier of a choice and will give some crunch to each bite, try using cacao nibs instead of chocolate chips.
CAN I USE REGULAR FLOUR?
I would not alter the flours in this recipe. Almond flour can be tricky and isn’t a great 1:1 swap with traditional flours.
Similarly, if you wanted to try using all oat flour, I believe the consistency of the brownie will end up different. Likely, drier and more cake-like.
Plus, I love the fact that the oat flour and almond flour keep the recipe gluten-free as well as vegan!
WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH A FLAX EGG?
Flax eggs are a pretty standard egg replacement option in vegan baking.
It’s simply combining 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds with 2 tablespoons warm water. The mixture is gently stirred and left alone for a few minutes to gel up.
It’s not complicated at all and mimics an egg pretty well in baked goods.
You can also try a chia egg if you don’t have flax seeds on hand. It’s the same recipe: 1 tablespoon chia seeds + 2 tablespoons warm water.
If you don’t need to make these black bean brownies vegan, 1 regular egg will work just as well in this recipe.
Or, you could just make this paleo skillet brownie recipe which is super fudgy and very similar tasting to this one.
These perfect keto brownies are also a great option that use eggs. Super decadent and fudgy as well!
DO I HAVE TO USE COLLAGEN POWDER?
The collagen powder is optional.
I prefer using unflavored collagen as a protein boost in baked goods instead of protein powder lately as there’s literally zero taste to it and it doesn’t alter the consistency of the bake like protein powder can sometimes do.
I’ve made these both with and without the collagen and they come out fine either way. Up to you!
HOW TO STORE BLACK BEAN BROWNIES
Store the vegan brownies in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. They keep really well and can even be frozen if desired for up to 3 months.
I really hope you don’t look at this recipe and see words like “vegan”, “healthy” and “black beans” and get scared away from making these brownies.
They don’t taste anything like a “health food” and will easily pass as a normal dessert. They’d be great to bring to a party and test out on some unsuspecting subjects.
If you’re like me, you’d take great joy in a health food hater chowing down on a vegan black bean brownie totally oblivious to the ingredient list.
Even Ulysses, Mr. chocolate hater himself gave one of these a try and was shocked. Thankfully, he’s just not a dessert person (unless it’s apple crisp or pie) and so the remaining 7 brownies in the batch were all mine!
This brownie recipe not for you? Check out all my other healthy brownie recipes.
Looking for more desserts like these vegan black bean brownies? Try one of these:
Vegan Black Bean Brownies
- 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cacao powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/3 cup almond flour
- 1/2 cup oat flour
- 1/4 cup unflavored collagen powder or protein powder, *optional
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seed + 2 tablespoons warm water
- 2 tablespoons almond milk
- up to 1/2 cup add-ins such as chopped nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc. (**optional)
- 1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips for topping
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper that hangs over the sides.
- Combine the flax seed and water in a small bowl, stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Place all ingredients including flax egg but not the optional add-ins and chocolate chips in a food processor.
- Process until smooth, scraping down sides as needed.
- Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Fold in any add-ins being used until incorporated.
- Spread the mixture into the prepared baking dish making sure to push into the corners and smooth the top.
- Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips on top and bake for about 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven, cool the baking dish on a rack for 10 minutes then lift the brownies out of the dish using the parchment paper overhang and place directly on the rack to cool completely before cutting.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.