gluten & dairy-free black bean chocolate brownie recipe

I made these black bean brownies a few weeks ago and have been hanging out to share the recipe ever since. I kept going to post it, but every time, another (more seasonal) recipe seemed to sneak in front. Actually, I’m not quite sure why it’s taken me so long to make these, full stop. I mean, chocolate, gluten-free, dairy-free! What was stopping me? It’s been on my ever expanding “to make” list for well over a year and at one point I even bought a tin of organic black beans while still back home in New Zealand with full intentions to bake. But it never happened and I think we either ate the beans for dinner one night in the mad blur of weeks leading up to our big move or I gave them away in one of the many food boxes I prepared and divvied out to friends and family at the last minute after cleaning out the pantry. I don’t remember. Anyway none of that matters now, I've made them and my god, they are amazing.
The week they finally got made I was on a little bit of a chocolate bender; it was the same week I cooked two batches of these cookies, trying to get them right. As you could imagine I was already pretty chocolated out by the time the brownie came out of the oven, so after ‘testing’ a few slices (and putting a few aside for the kids and Si) I took the rest to kindy that afternoon giving it to friends and Ada’s teachers for an afternoon treat. I purposely failed to mention the secret ingredient to all but one of my friends… you know, to give the brownies a fair chance at being eaten and loved!
The next kindy day I asked them all if they could guess what the secret ingredient was… none of them believed me when I said black beans! (There really is no detectable 'bean' taste at all). And the only words that were used to describe them were yum, lovely, delicious, perfect! Coming from non gluten-free’s, that’s a pretty great result.

Not only are these possibly the highest protein brownie you may ever eat, but they are also rich, intensely chocolately and moist. Basically everything you could ever ask for in a good brownie. Cut into while just barely warm you are greeted with pockets of oozy chocolate, while a little chilling in the fridge turns it into a rich densely fudgey number. Both insanely good.
I’ve got into the habit of cooking a big pot of beans (lima beans, chickpeas, black beans, borlotti, black eyed beans, anything really) at a time, cooling them and freezing in small bags. This makes them super easy to defrost and use, while also taking the hassle out of remembering to soak beans the night before. (How many times have you forgotten to do that?!)
I decided to go for a simple pure chocolate flavoured brownie, but feel free to add some chopped nuts or other flavourings if you like. And do what I did- keep the black beans a secret until after the last chocolate stained finger has been licked... and wait to see the surprised looks that will surely come!

gluten-free, dairy-free black bean brownies
Soft brown sugar can be used in place of muscovado if you prefer and remember to make sure your baking powder is gluten-free, as some aren't. I use Whittaker's 50% dark block which is dairy-free.
makes 12.

  • 3/4 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight in plenty of cold water (or use 425g can of tinned black beans, rinsed well and drained)
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 5 tablespoons (75ml) virgin coconut oil or a light flavoured olive oil
  • 1 cup (200g) muscovado sugar
  • 1/2 cup (55g) cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (55g) almond meal (ground almonds)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
  • 100g (approx 3/4 cup once chopped) dark chocolate, chopped roughly

If using dried beans, drain soaked beans and cover with fresh water. Bring to the boil then reduce and simmer for about 1 hour until very soft, but still holding their shape. Drain and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F. Grease a 18x28cm slice tin (rimmed) and line with baking paper.

Tip cooled beans into the bowl of a food processor and blend to form a smooth paste. Add the eggs and oil and pulse to combine. Add sugar, cocoa, almond meal, vanilla and baking powder. Process until smooth and well combined. Add chopped chocolate and pulse to evenly distribute. Spoon mixture into prepared slice tin and smooth the top off with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin. Slice into 12 squares and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days (that's a guess as ours only made it to the second day!). It will firm up and go more fudgey if stored in the fridge.

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  • Rach
    September 23, 2011 at 3:49 am

    Oh yum, I will make these this weekend! Was looking for a great treat to make our yoga teacher. Plus have been eying up Heidi's black bean brownies for while. Your photos definitely sealed the deal!

  • Hannah
    September 23, 2011 at 6:17 am

    That sounds so delicious, who would have thought of adding black beans? I love treats where something else has been added making it more nutritious, like using silken tofu in cakes! Genius 🙂 x

  • Leigh @ Toasted
    September 23, 2011 at 7:35 am

    O man… they look so, so tempting. I can feel a trip to Kakulas coming on.

  • Anonymous
    September 23, 2011 at 9:07 am

    yum…definitely going to try these, but use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil.thankyou!Simone.

  • Anja
    September 23, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Love the first picture. Would love to have one of these brownies right now.

  • Leonie
    September 23, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Oh wow, it looks amazing. I would love to try it but Im gluten,dairy AND egg free 🙁 …Might make it for my daughter though, she would love it.

  • Stacy
    September 23, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I think I may try these, too and add a pinch of cayenne.

  • emma
    September 23, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Rach~ I know good ol' Heidi was onto these things way back in 2008!

    Hannah~ You know how much I love to share recipes that use strange ingredients! Tofu in cakes and bliss balls, black beans in brownies…

    Leigh~ I need to stock up there real soon too!

    Simone~ Coconut oil would be wonderful!

    Anja~ Thanks 🙂

    Leonie~ You know, because the beans and almond meal do such a great job of holding things together I wouldn't be surprised if using 2 chia eggs and maybe a little stewed apple (apple sauce) could replace the 3 eggs? If you aren't familiar with chia eggs, to make 1 chia egg mix 1 tablespoon chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water. Set aside for 5 minutes stirring occasionally until thick and jelly-like. 1 chia egg happily replaces 1 regular egg in most baking recipes. Let me know if you try it out and have any luck 🙂

    Stacy~ Cayenne would be PERFECT!

  • Caitlin
    September 23, 2011 at 11:52 am

    wow- these look so rich and chocolatey, you would never know there were black beans in them! this is on the must try list for sure!

  • Angry Asian
    September 23, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    in lieu of almond meal, could i use just plain AP or whole wheat flour?

    these beautiful and i love that they're DAIRY FREE.

  • emma
    September 23, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    That would totally work :-)Would be slightly different texture to using almond meal, but just as delicious I'm sure.

    • Anonymous
      April 19, 2014 at 1:08 pm

      Could you use milled oatmeal instead of almond meal? We have a nut allergy!

    • emma
      April 19, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      I haven't tried that myself, but I don't see why that couldn't work. Let me know if you try and it does! xx

  • Vanessa and Ingrid Opera
    September 23, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Wow who would have thought black beans! The images have sold me – I am keen to give it a try!

  • peasepudding
    September 23, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Amazing Brownies, hard to believe there are beans in there, you always come up with really interesting recipes Emma.

  • Natalie
    September 23, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    amazing recipe! I must try these out!

  • milliemirepoix
    September 24, 2011 at 5:35 am

    I'm pretty particular about my brownies but after reading your post I'm dying to try this version! They look just perfect. Going to go get some black beans soon 🙂

  • Leonie
    September 25, 2011 at 1:58 am

    Oh wow thanks for the heads up on the eggs.. I have never heard of chia eggs but will be trying it for sure! thanks so much.

  • Ilana
    September 25, 2011 at 3:01 am

    These look amazing – do you think the Whittakers 72% would work? Could I substitute that for the 50% in this and some of your other recipes (ie the cookies). Loving the dark chocolate! Thanks 🙂

  • emma
    September 25, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Leonie~ You're welcome 🙂

    llana~ 72 % would be fine! Much more intense, but that's not such a bad thing when were talking chocolate eh?

  • Laura Friendly
    September 26, 2011 at 11:11 am

    These look fabulous! I've been thinking about making black bean brownies for about a year now. You've inspired me to give these a shot.

  • Hannah
    September 27, 2011 at 12:47 am

    I am so intrigued by these gorgeous brownies…and high protein, too? Going on the "must-make" list. Thank you for sharing.

  • Irene @ H.V.R.
    September 28, 2011 at 11:57 am

    This is great for snacks! My kids are picky eater, this would surely let them eat healthy food without forcing them. Thanks for sharing.

  • Mairi@Toast
    September 30, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Yum….and with all those beans they could almost count as one of my 5 a day…right?? 😉 They just look so wonderfully oozy chocalatey…yum!

  • the good soup
    October 1, 2011 at 12:37 am

    oooh, these look really lovely and chewy. Just like i like my brownies. And I gotta say, I'm not much of a black bean user. I've got a jar of them in my pantry, but never seem inspired to soak them up for a savoury dish. This looks like my answer! xx

  • Couscous & Consciousness
    October 3, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Wow – I am really impressed with your secret ingredient – who would have thought?! In fact, with all those beans in there, this pretty much counts as health food in my opinion! I totally have to try these.

    Hope you'll join in with Sweet New Zealand again this month – link-up is now open here

    Sue xo

  • lemonchunk
    December 1, 2011 at 6:30 am

    I made these today and they are delicious!! thank you so much for the recipe =)

  • Sarah
    January 3, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    WOW what a great recipe…and so easy! I substituted the vanilla essence for orange essence and grated in some orange rind as well. Yummmm. Next time I make these, I'm going to keep the vanilla essence and add in a large handful of fresh blueberries. I think they will make a lovely summery foil for the richness of the chocolate.

  • Rach
    January 5, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Wow have just made these brownies. What a fab recipe x

  • Anonymous
    May 25, 2012 at 11:42 am

    What is the calorie count in these if you make it to your exact recipe?

    • Anonymous
      July 31, 2012 at 9:32 pm

      If you go to you can enter in recipes and it calculates the calories for you per serving.

  • KC
    May 27, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Yum yum yum! These brownies are delish! Need to get some more black beans soaking to make another batch.

  • cordero
    June 25, 2012 at 6:41 am

    They look delicious!! very nice pictures too
    But I can't get black beans, would soy beans work the same?

    • emma
      June 25, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      At a guess I'd say yes, but I would be more inclined to use chickpeas, white beans or adzuki beans over soy.

  • Anonymous
    July 31, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    I have a question about the beans: Do you know the exact weight of the amount of beans after they've been soaked? You say to use a 425g can, but I could only find a 540ml can which ends up having only 352g of beans after the liquid is washed out. So do I need 425g of beans? Or was that taking in account of the liquid too? ?_?

    • emma
      August 1, 2012 at 1:58 am

      The 425g is the weight of the contents of the can, beans and liquid. So I'm not 100% sure what the weight of the drained beans would be? I used freshly cooked beans and have a vague memory of them being around 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans if that helps?… I don't think it would alter the recipe too much if you had a few extra or less beans.

    • Anonymous
      August 3, 2012 at 11:10 pm

      Ok, thank you! I made them with the 325g that I had and they turned out fine! Thanks for sharing this recipe–delicious! I also worked it out that the whole recipe has about 2500 calories, or about 220 calories per serving. 🙂

  • Just Another Sarah
    September 26, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    I made these for a potluck, and they were a hit! Shared your blog and recipe with several. Thanks!

  • Juliana
    December 2, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Thank you so much for your very inspiring blog! I am new to cooking and baking gluten-free, since I tried to find something to bring for a friend who is intolerant. I love that you recipie is quite easy and I know/can get a hold of all the ingedrients, which doesn't so much apply to the other recipies I could find on the net. The brwonies tturned out super! Moist, chocolately, not to sweet – exactly how I like them. And I really can't taste the beans (even though I like them). Stellar! 😀

    • emma
      December 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm

      Yay! Stoked you enjoyed this recipe xx

  • Jessica
    December 15, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    I love that idea of making the beans, then freezing them. Makes total sense, and better then canned beans. Thanks!

  • Jo Balfe
    June 22, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    I have been making these non-stop since finding your recipe, they're so good! Made a round one as a super-indulgent cake too : ) I added hazelnuts with the chopped chocolate. Amazing thank you! I can't wait to make more off your site xx

    • emma
      June 23, 2013 at 1:48 am

      Great to hear you like these brownies! And great call on cooking it in a round tin as a cake! Yum 🙂

  • sassyheli
    July 11, 2013 at 9:40 am

    WOW!! I'm not sure how much of the remaining batter I just licked out of the food processor but its all over my arm =) Just was instructed by my Dr to go gluten and dairy free and I am so glad to find your blog! Thank your friends for me for suggesting it, your a life saver. Spent the first few days depressed that I wouldn't really enjoy food again but I was so wrong. Cheers from New Plymouth

    • emma
      July 11, 2013 at 10:35 am

      Hey love, I'm so glad you found my blog too! I remember that feeling well, it passes quickly. I'd never go back to eating gluten + full on dairy even if I could now. All the best xx

  • katie
    August 23, 2013 at 5:31 am

    Hi. Thanks for this recipe. I suspect that this brownie was a key contributor for my husband marrying me. He loves this brownie and thinks it's the best he's ever had. Thanks 🙂

    • emma
      August 23, 2013 at 6:36 am

      Wow! That's a first 🙂

  • nat
    November 23, 2013 at 9:08 am

    YUM! i subbed half brown sugar with dessicated coconut and used coconut oil as the oil. Delicious. Not telling the mister i used beans in choc brownie either…! ;p and used whittakers dark cacao… mmm

  • Sally
    June 19, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    Just made these! So good! I substituted coconut oil for the vegetable oil and garbanzo bean flour for the almond meal ( had no almonds on hand). Turned out great! Not going to tell the kids about the beans tho My little secret 🙂

  • sktrice
    July 2, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    I love this recipe! I have also adapted it to make Garbonzo bean blondies. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • Anonymous
    August 2, 2014 at 3:30 am

    Hi. I really want to make these, but was wondering if/how I could reduce the sugar. Any ideas for me?

    • emma
      August 5, 2014 at 5:23 am

      Hey, I've not tried this recipe before with less sugar but if I was going to, I'd probably substitute some or all of it with either honey or apple puree/sauce, but maybe go for 1/2-3/4 cup instead of the full 1 cup. When removing sugar from a recipe you have to be aware that sugar not only adds sweetness but moisture also. So keep that in mind when doing so xx

  • Anonymous
    August 30, 2014 at 7:44 am

    I know you can't patent recipes but did petite kitchen steal this one for using in her cookbook?

    • emma
      August 30, 2014 at 10:40 am

      I haven't seen her book so couldn't say. There are a lot of black bean brownie recipes out there though… Thanks for looking out for me!! Xx

  • Ashley Workman
    January 13, 2015 at 1:48 am

    I've been making brownies with black beans for awhile, but always from a box. This was my first time doing them homemade. I made a couple of changes (organic whey protein powder in place of the almond meal, carob powder in place of the cocoa powder, and coconut oil in place of vegetable oil) and they turned out amazing!

  • jamie
    February 27, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    These are sooo good!! I frosted them to make it more appealing for my son. This is an amazing recipe for a healthier brownie!!

  • Vivian
    March 15, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Can't wait to try this! You mentioned freezing cooked beans in bags. I used to do this but I'm trying to stop using plastic around food. I have started canning beans (black, pinto, garbanzo, etc.) It's a little work, but then I have a bunch of ready-to-eat beans which are very inexpensive and not in BPA-lined cans. Even easier–you can freeze cooked beans (or anything I guess) in glass canning jars. It takes more room in the freezer than bags, but there's no plastic to throw away after it has leached chemicals into your food.

    Off to the kitchen to make brownies!

  • Rivka
    July 23, 2015 at 5:19 am

    Would coconut flour or brown rice flour work instead of almond flour (nut allergies)?

    • emma
      July 24, 2015 at 3:01 am

      Hi Rivka, I've not tried this recipe without almond meal, but desiccated coconut or sunflower seeds ground down to a meal would be my first choice. Coconut flour sucks up way too much moisture so I wouldn't try that. Brown rice flour might work? xx

  • Christina
    February 4, 2016 at 3:01 am

    Kiaora! Fab recipe. I just made these with pureed lentils (green) that I had in the freezer instead of black beans and they worked a treat. I also reduced the sugar to 3/4cup and found them ample sweet! So good warm from the oven… Thanks! x

  • Info site for Maid Service Warwick NY website
    February 4, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Gosh, those look fabulous – thanks and I'm Linky Following you now!

  • Unknown
    March 22, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    Oh my god these are so good they're probably better than any other brownies I've made from scratch. I used oat flour instead of almond meal and used coconut sugar. These also bake just fine in a 21×21 cm glass pan. I just greased it and didn't use baking paper and they didn't stick (: Only making brownies this way from now on ^.^

  • Victor
    May 31, 2016 at 1:42 am

    I made these but I added dark chocolate chips and pecans and they turned out incredible!! Awesome recipe, love it!!

  • Coral
    January 9, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Does anyone know if these can be frozen? I love them but I am the only chocolate eater in my house and probably shouldn’t eat the whole batch over a couple of days!

      January 9, 2017 at 9:48 pm

      I’ve not frozen this particular recipe before, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work 🙂

      • coral
        January 9, 2017 at 9:50 pm

        Perfect, thank you. I’ll make some tomorrow then and see how I get on 🙂