Flourless Black Bean Brownies

Flourless Black Bean Brownies

Black bean brownies are a special kind of flourless gluten free brownie, and this amazing recipe doesn’t taste like beans at all. Tasting is believing.

Side image of chocolate chip black bean brownie squares

How the beans disappear into the brownies

I think can agree that baking with beans mostly means tasting beans. But it doesn’t have to be that way! I’m about to show you that sometimes you can bake with beans and not taste them. Instead, you’ll just taste … brownies.

First, you’ll rinse and drain a can of black beans. Be sure you rinse them as well as you can without losing any of the beans. They may break, but we’re going to blend them so it doesn’t matter.

Then, you can use a food processor or a blender to make those beans into a puree. I usually use a blender, but generally it’s easier to get every last drop of puree out of the food processor.

A blender will mean a smoother puree. But even if your puree isn’t 100% smooth, you still won’t taste beans in the brownies.

The only equipment you need is any blender (both my high-speed blender and my mini, nonfancy blender that I got for free ages ago work perfectly) or food processor. Just remember that the food processor won’t puree the beans quite as smoothly.

The only ingredients are a can of black beans, eggs, oil, cocoa powder, brown sugar, vanilla, a touch of baking soda, salt and some brewed coffee (even decaf). That’s all. They’re tender as could be, plus rich and not-too-sweet.

Black bean brownies out of pan uncut on white paper

An unfortunate history of bean flour

When I first started baking gluten free, way, way back in 2004 (not a typo), my first “all purpose gluten free flour” was Bette Hagman’s bean flour blend. I blended it myself. It mostly worked, and I made sure that everything I baked had a nice, strong flavor to compete with the garbanzo bean flour.

But my gosh the smell! And the taste, I’m afraid, too. Just … no.

Seriously it scarred me enough that I’m still building up to even trying aquafaba, even though I find it terribly intriguing. Vegan marshmallow fluff has to happen!

These naturally gluten free black bean brownies are truly flourless. But instead of melted chocolate, the base here is the humble can of black beans, which provides structure and tons of fiber without adding any bean flavor.

The same goes for my newest addition, flourless black bean cookies. Just like these brownies, they taste absolutely nothing like black beans. All you taste is rich, fudgy chocolate goodness.

Now, I love black beans—in my burritos. And, say, on Taco Tuesday. But in my brownies? I was seriously skeptical. But also intrigued!

Black bean brownies are a special kind of flourless gluten free brownie, and this amazing recipe doesn’t taste at ALL like beans. Really!

Are black bean brownies actually good?

When I set to work, I knew we weren’t going to make black bean brownies that were actually fudgy. The fudgy texture of our classic flourless brownies comes from all the chopped and melted chocolate in that recipe, and there isn’t any melted chocolate in this brownie batter.

I assumed I’d do some recipe testing, and ultimately declare the entire concept of making brownies with black beans to be a disaster. I love it when I’m wrong like this.

These brownies aren’t fudgy, but they’re not cake-like in the traditional sense. The look cakey, but they’re actually really smooth in texture. They quite literally melt in your mouth, and become almost pudding-like in consistency.

Black bean brownie batter in square pan with white paper liner

How about the taste?

You do not taste the beans in these brownies. The vanilla extract, cocoa powder, and a bit of brewed coffee take care of that (no, you don’t taste the coffee either—just the chocolate!).

And these brownies still deliver a lot of fiber without any downside. This also means you can make moist and rich gluten free brownies—without any specialized flours or other ingredients.

Side image of black bean brownies with identifying words

Ingredients and substitutions


These brownies are already dairy-free when the recipe is made exactly as written. Just be sure to use dairy-free chocolate chips and you’ll be all set.


If you can’t have eggs, I recommend using my recipe vegan black bean brownies using boiled flax gel in place of eggs. They make a fudgier brownie, instead of a cakier one like this recipe, but they’re fully vegan and quite a nice, chocolatey recipe that’s lower in sugar and fat than this recipe.


I am fairly certain that these brownies would work with coconut palm sugar in place of brown sugar, although I haven’t tried it. For a sugar-free replacement, try Swerve brown sugar replacement or Lankato brand brown sugar replacement.

Alternative sugars tend to leave baked goods a bit dryer than normal. I recommend adding an extra tablespoon or two of brewed coffee to get the batter to the proper consistency.


Black bean brownies on white paper

Black Bean Brownies raw in pan, baked in pan, and cut into squares

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 9 to 12 brownies


1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed well

2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell), at room temperature

1/4 cup (56 g) neutral oil (like grapeseed, canola or vegetable)

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee (can use decaf)

3/4 cup (60 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed, your choice)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (164 g) packed light brown sugar

3 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (optional)


  • Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Grease the paper with cooking oil spray, and set the pan aside.

  • In a blender or food processor, place the drained and rinsed beans, eggs, oil, vanilla and coffee, and blend or process until smooth. In a large bowl, place the cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and brown sugar, and whisk to combine well, breaking up any lumps in the brown sugar. Create a well in the center of the cocoa powder mixture and add the pureed bean mixture. Mix until well-combined. Add about half of the (optional) chocolate chips to the batter and mix to combine. The mixture will be thickly pourable.

  • Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining (optional) chocolate chips even on top of the batter, and press down gently to help the chips adhere.

  • Place the baking pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the top springs back when pressed gently with a finger (about 25 minutes). Remove the pan from the oven, place it on a wire rack (still in the pan) and allow to cool until no longer hot to the touch. Remove from the pan and slice into squares with a sharp knife. For cleaner slicing, cover and chill the bars in the pan for 30 minutes before removing from the pan and slicing.

  • Originally published here on the blog in 2016. Video and some text added, recipe unchanged. 


Comments are closed.

  • Debby
    March 24, 2017 at 7:31 PM

    Do you know what the nutritional analysis of the brownies is?

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 25, 2017 at 8:09 AM

      I don’t provide that sort of information, Debby. Feel free to use an online calculator and plug the recipe in yourself!

  • Lily
    March 22, 2017 at 12:59 AM

    I would love to try the recipe … May I have the measurements of added ingredients ?

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 22, 2017 at 9:11 AM

      Lily, at the end of the post is a recipe with all of the ingredients, their amounts and the method.

  • Bryany
    March 21, 2017 at 5:33 AM

    I just want to find out how i would prepare the black beans as i have fresh black beans and not from a can.

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 21, 2017 at 7:47 AM

      Just measure them by weight, Bryany, and it should be fine.

  • Cora Regina
    March 20, 2017 at 12:45 AM

    I’m legitimately astonished! You can’t even taste the beans in the BATTER, a.k.a. “that place you taste everything they swear you won’t be able to taste once it’s been baked.” To be fair, I did use powdered espresso and a lot of it, but it didn’t taste of coffee, either. Nor did the baked brownies. Just dark and bittersweet and amazing!

    The fact that these are also dairy-free just endears them to me all the more. This recipe is absolutely a keeper.

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 20, 2017 at 4:44 PM

      I use powdered espresso sometimes, too, Cora. But I don’t bother mentioning it since you see the reaction to coffee in the batter! So glad you love them!

  • Janet Lundquist
    March 19, 2017 at 6:54 PM

    I’ve put in a couple tablespoons PB powder. It makes it more fudge-type, and the flavor makes my mouth happy!

  • Donna
    March 18, 2017 at 6:09 PM

    I’ve made from a different recipe, but similar to your black bean brownies, adding chopped walnuts and baked in a muffin tin. They were delicious, but very dense and filling. One was enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. I often feel that way about GF substitutes that contain GF flour as well. It doesn’t take as much to satisfy me (or on the other hand, sometimes they aren’t as good as gluten-y so I just don’t want more, but that happens less and less). Anyhow, anyone doubting that these will taste like real brownies, and not like beans, I pretty much can promise you won’t taste beans, and if you didn’t know they were in there, you wouldn’t question the ingredients. I brought some to work and did indeed tell people they were made with black beans…they all said “thumbs up.”

  • Char
    March 18, 2017 at 3:27 AM

    Would love to give these a try since i love incorporating healthy stuff in my everyday baking. Quick question…would i get away with using honey somehow? maybe omitting the coffee ?

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 19, 2017 at 8:49 AM

      Hi, Char, you can try using coconut palm sugar in place of the brown sugar. You can’t use a liquid sweetener in place of a granulated one without further altering the recipe.

      About the coffee, as I mentioned in other comments to this post, any liquid will work, but the strong flavor of the brewed coffee helps to mask any residual bean flour and enhances the chocolate flavor. You don’t taste the coffee. You may not be very sensitive to any bean taste—but those you serve it to may indeed! So I recommend making it with coffee. Maybe try decaf coffee. The caffeine isn’t at all necessary.

  • Heather Allen
    March 17, 2017 at 12:53 PM

    Hi Nicole! I love Love love your recipes. I have had a lot of luck with most I have tried. The cut out cookies are a go to now. Just made some for a baby shower tomorrow. I was going to ask you – have you ever tested the GF AP flour from American Test Kitchen? I was reading over your list of GF flours and I didn’t see that one on there. Was going to make your RL cheddar biscuits and have to go to the store anyways so I was going to get some better batter or I was going to make your cheat b/c I have all the ingredients in the kitchen. I just have a huge container I just mixed Of the ATK AP Flour from their cookbooks and wanted to know if that was going to work. And since I probably won’t get a fast response I’m going to get BB flour or mix one of your’s on the list. I hate to not use the 20 cups of flour I have mixed. And btw- I purchased all your cookbooks yesterday on Amazon so I can switch to all your recipes. Thanks in advance and thank you for making GF food delicious. I have tried every flour and every thing that is gluten free it seems like and I just want it all to be what I remember about gluten food that I loved. Like Buscuits. I have tried so many recipes and they all turn out like hockey pucs. (I haven’t tried your’s but you’re so right that you can not sub GF flour into a non gluten recipe. I know I’ve done it many times) . I just want a light fluffy biscuit for once or really good bread. And then my life will be complete again. ? Thanks again!

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 17, 2017 at 1:36 PM

      Hi, Heather,
      I have tried America’s Test Kitchen blend, and I’m afraid although it’s o-k, and I can’t promise that it will work in my recipes. They are very pro-Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flours including their rice flour, which I consider to be one of the very worst out there. It is very grainy and of inconsistent quality. If you used their rice flours, I really don’t recommend the blend.

      I know that a lot of people like America’s Test Kitchen, but I have been extremely disappointed in their gluten free efforts. I felt like they had the opportunity to really do some good on a very very large platform, and they missed the mark, I’m afraid. I was given a review copy of their first gluten free cookbook, but declined to write about it because I was so disappointed in the recipes.

      I know that these may not be very popular opinions, but I stand by them based upon my experiences over the years. Come what may!

      Hope this is helpful. :)

    • Lynne
      March 19, 2017 at 7:30 PM

      Hi Heather! I actually use the ATK mix for all of my gluten free baking. Now, I don’t make anything requiring the Bread Flour, but for everything else, it works great. I know that it may not be what is recommended, but I buy Bob’s Red Mill flours because I need to buy in smaller amounts because I can’t afford more than that. I still weigh everything because I believe THAT is crucial to good GF baking, but I’ve had great success with that ATK blend.

      • Nicole Hunn
        March 19, 2017 at 8:20 PM

        I’m glad you found something that works for you, Lynne, but for others’ benefit, I do NOT recommend using Bob’s Red Mill rice flours at all. Even if you aren’t particularly sensitive to their gritty texture, others you bake for likely will be. They are of inconsistent quality, at best. At best, that will mean poor mouth feel. At worst, it actually interferes with their ability to combine with other ingredients successfully in baking and a recipe will fail because of it. I can’t stress enough that you should not use them.

    • Heather Allen
      March 20, 2017 at 6:33 PM

      Thx so much for replying Nicole. I have switched over to the brands you have suggested for the rice flours, whey protein and everything else. I only have a little of the ATK flour left so I gave half to my mother. (Who may or may not use it. She still doesn’t get the GF thing.). And the little I have left I’ll throw away or find a use for coating or something. I thought maybe you might have a cheat to do something with crappy flour instead of throwing it in the bin. But at this point I think I’ll throw it in the bin. That has been my go to for awhile b/c I didn’t have your cookbooks. But now I have all of them and am switching everything to your suggested brands and your recipes. I had some luck with my family cookie recipes (non GF recipes) a couple Christmas ago (using BB and ATK- swopping cup for cup) and they turned out great. But now I think I can make it even better using your flour recipes. I made you cheddar biscuits for my SIL baby shower over the weekend and my cousin, who is also celiac like me, almost cried. She was so excited and said it was the best biscuits that she has had in a decade. And stuffed several not only in her mouth but took 3-4 home. And I know if she likes them, they have to be good. Which I agree with her!! They were amazing!! And your Cut out sugar cookies which has been my go to for a couple years now- were also a HUGE hit. And only a few were left. (Which was good for me cuz I took them home). Thank you so much for all your work. I could cry that I finally am excited again about cooking. And can actually have soft bread, biscuits and other delicious things that I have been searching, baking and striving to achieve once again. I’m kinda a biscuit snob so I want my granny’s buttermilk biscuits again and FINALLY going to be able to make them successfully. I’m a total convert. And am stocking everything you have listed and using this solely going forward. Thank you again for making food delicious again and for doing these books and recipes. No more crappy bread, pizza and everything I missed about food! Oh and the biscuits!! Hallelujah!!

  • Deb
    March 16, 2017 at 2:22 PM

    I resisted black bean brownies for a long time. Once I tried a successful recipe from a source I trusted, I was hooked. I developed and have been tweaking my own recipe ever since and it has developed into something very similar to yours in ingredients and proportions. I have also experimented with substituting other beans for black beans, and pretty much any white or red bean can make a brownie. What I think is special about black beans is, besides the obvious chocolatly color, the softness of the skin. Everyone loves these and no one suspects a thing!

  • Jody
    March 15, 2017 at 8:53 PM

    I would like to say thank you for your wonderful recipes, my daughter would starve if it wasn’t for you. Can’t wait to give these a try.

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 16, 2017 at 9:49 AM

      That’s so kind of you to say, Jody, but really she’d have nothing to eat if it weren’t for you! You’re the one taking care of her. ❤️

  • Faith
    May 31, 2016 at 3:28 PM

    The suspense was absolutely killing me so I had to try them. Even hubby-with very sensitive taste buds-couldn’t guess they were black beans! We liked them so much I am making another batch this week. I followed the recipe almost exactly (but swapped half the brown sugar amount for a brown sugar Truvia baking blend to lower the calories). We both agreed that since they were a moist, cake-like brownie instead of a chewy type, the next batch must have peanut butter frosting on them or peanut butter chips mixed in. Glad you tried these out first Nicole. I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to go there on my own!

  • Lynette Low Locatelli
    May 30, 2016 at 7:39 AM

    Can you use an egg substitute like flax seed n water?

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 15, 2017 at 2:55 PM

      You can try a “chia egg” (flax eggs have a distinct, distracting flavor), but I’m honestly not sure how well it would work. Eggs are the only binder in this recipe. But feel free to experiment!

  • Steph
    May 29, 2016 at 3:22 PM

    I just made these and they are yummy! I substituted milk for the coffee and it worked fine for me.

  • Karen
    May 26, 2016 at 4:17 PM

    I am also wondering if you can make these without coffee?

    • May 29, 2016 at 3:32 PM

      As Sherry mentioned below, any liquid will work, but the strong flavor of the brewed coffee helps to mask any residual bean flour and enhances the chocolate flavor. You don’t taste the coffee. Like Steph above, you may not be very sensitive to any bean taste—but those you serve it to may indeed! So I recommend making it with coffee. Maybe try decaf coffee. The caffeine isn’t at all necessary.

    • Ray
      May 30, 2016 at 8:19 AM

      Coffee is only there to naturally bring out the aromatics in the chocolate.

  • Julia (TheRoastedRoot.net)
    May 24, 2016 at 11:15 AM

    Black bean brownies are seriously my favorite! I love that you can whip them up in a blender, bake them off, and go to town guilt-free since they’re basically healthy. I like using coconut sugar or pure maple syrup to sweeten mine and am always so psyched when I give them to my friends and they ask me what they’re made out of. Brilliant, indeed!

  • Amanda
    May 24, 2016 at 10:53 AM

    Can you make this without using coffee?

    • Sherry L
      May 29, 2016 at 11:15 AM

      The coffee helps mask the flavor of the beans and enhances the flavor of the chocolate, and you won’t even taste the coffee flavor(unless you use espresso, but even then, it is only 2 TBS). Omitting the coffee will affect the flavor of the brownies, but if you do decide to omit it, don’t forget to replace it with another liquid(water, or maybe your favorite flavor of tea???). Good luck with your experiment!

  • Vivian
    May 23, 2016 at 11:49 PM

    Yes, I too wanted to know if the recipe would work with coconut oil or butter?

    • Sherry L
      May 29, 2016 at 11:09 AM

      You are probably better off using a fat that is liquid at room temp. Using melted butter or coconut oil might change both the taste and texture. Have fun experimenting!

      • May 29, 2016 at 3:33 PM

        Sherry you’ve been a huge help. Thank you so much for jumping in. And you’re 100% right!

  • Victoria Donaldson
    May 23, 2016 at 9:10 PM

    WOWZERS! If you say it tastes good, I’ll trust you, cause you’ve never failed before. But must admit my first reaction was the same as yours. Will try!

    • May 29, 2016 at 3:34 PM

      I’m honored that you trust me like that, Victoria! I promise, they’re so good and even stay moist for days after. :)

  • NickiB
    May 23, 2016 at 6:37 PM

    I was wondering if I could use melted butter or coconut oil in place of a “neutral” tasting oil, as butter and coconut oil are what I typically have on hand.
    Cannot wait to try these!

  • Mare Masterson
    May 23, 2016 at 6:29 PM

    You boldly went where you would not go before! Okay, I will try them too!

  • Jennifer S.
    May 23, 2016 at 10:32 AM

    YOU DID IT!! So proud of you. I will try these out ASAP….

    • May 23, 2016 at 12:09 PM

      LOL, Jennifer! I was wondering if you would be willing to give them a try, considering that you have some unfortunate experience with another recipe for black bean brownies. :)

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