These super fudgy Paleo brownies are made with plenty of chopped chocolate, finely ground almond flour and a touch of coconut flour for structure, and no refined sugars. They'll be your new favorite—whether you're Paleo or not!
What makes this Paleo brownies recipe so special
These Paleo brownies are dark, delicious, and for chocolate-lovers only! Dense and rich, I find that I'm satisfied with less of this brownie than with a classic one with refined flours and sugars.
These brownies are a treat, and not exactly “health” food. But the sugars in them are unrefined coconut sugar and honey, which both have some nutrients. Plus, the recipe calls for less sugar than many other brownie recipes.
The ingredients in these Paleo brownies
Most of the ingredients in this recipe are very classic Paleo baking ingredients: coconut oil, almond flour, coconut flour, coconut sugar, honey. Here are a few notes on each ingredient and what you should know about it:
- Chopped chocolate – I like to use a combination of unsweetened chocolate and a Paleo-friendly dark chocolate with some unrefined sweetener. “Dark chocolate” is the term used to describe chocolate that has cocoa but no milk solids. If you don't care whether these brownies are strictly Paleo, you can use whatever chocolate you like here.
- Virgin coconut oil – Virgin coconut oil is the type of coconut oil that is solid at cool room temperature. If you are at all concerned about coconut flavor, try using a “triple-filtered” variety, which removes all traces of coconut flavor.
- Coconut sugar – This granulated unrefined sugar adds a lot of sweetness and some depth of flavor to these brownies. It tends to have a much coarser grind than refined granulated sugars, so it has to be dissolved in the warm melted chocolate and coconut oil.
- Honey – Honey adds liquid sweetness and some nice flavor to these brownies.
- Eggs – Eggs add lift, structure, and help balance the coconut flour, which tends to absorb a lot.
- Almond Flour – You must use finely-ground almond flour that has been “blanched,” which just means that the skins of the almonds have been removed. I like Honeyville brand or to order from Nuts.com. Almond meal will not work as it's too gritty to combine properly and to make a smooth brownie.
- Coconut Flour – One single tablespoon of coconut flour really helps add a lot of stability to these Paleo brownies without adding any flavor. It does make the brownies absorb more liquid, so we need one more egg than we otherwise might.
- Salt – Salt balances the sweetness and brings out the flavor of these brownies.
- Baking Soda – Baking soda helps to neutralize the acidity of the honey and cocoa powder, if you aren't used Dutched cocoa powder.
- Cocoa powder – Cocoa powder adds lots of chocolate flavor to these brownies. Mixed with melted virgin coconut oil, it makes a creamy chocolate flavor.
How to make the smoothest Paleo brownies
These Paleo brownies are made similarly to how we make our chewy non-Paleo gluten free brownies recipe. Here's how, step by step:
Melt wet ingredients together and beat in eggs
We begin by melting both the chopped chocolate and the virgin coconut oil. You can melt them together in the same heat-safe bowl or in separate ones, in the microwave on reduced power or over a double boiler. If you've melted them separately, combine them.
While the melted chocolate and oil are still very warm, quickly whisk in the coconut sugar so that it begins to dissolve. This is how we avoid the graininess of the sugar in the brownies. Whisk in the honey, too.
Next, the eggs are beaten very well in a separate large mixing bowl. The melted chocolate mixture is added slowly and beaten well so all of the wet ingredients are well-combined.
Add dry ingredients to wet and bake
To the large mixing bowl of wet ingredients, first the cocoa powder is added. Cocoa powder always resists being blended into anything wet, so we do this first. Next, add the almond flour, baking powder, salt and coconut flour, and mix until combined.
Transfer the thick, sticky brownie batter to a lined square baking pan, and spread it into an even layer. Bake the brownies just until they're fully baked in the center, at which point they won't glisten. Test by using a toothpick and ensure that it doesn't come out wet (a few moist crumbs are fine).
Let the brownies cool to room temperature. They'll slice most cleanly if you chill them before remove the brownies from the pan and cutting them into 9 larger or 12 smaller squares.
Tips for making the best Paleo brownies
Melt the coconut sugar for a smooth batter
Granulated coconut sugar is much grainier than refined sugars, and it can make these brownies a bit grainy. We avoid this problem by melting the coconut sugar in the liquid chocolate and coconut oil while they're still warm. The smoothest dough makes for the most gorgeous Paleo brownies.
Make sure your oven is not too hot
Be careful about a too-hot oven. Almond flour tends to burn at higher temps, and you want these to stay fudgy, soft and tender. Most ovens run hot, so be careful that yours doesn't go above 325°F/163°C by using a standalone oven thermometer.
Don't omit the bit of coconut flour
And I know it's only a tablespoon of coconut flour, but it's worth buying some to use in this recipe. I've also made the recipe without it, and they just don't have the same texture. You don't need to buy a ton of coconut flour; I keep it in the refrigerator, and it takes me forever to make it through a 1 pound bag.
Use only finely ground blanched almond flour, not almond meal
Finely ground almond flour that has had its skins removed (blanched) is the only sort of almond flour that will work in this recipe. Almond meal is coarsely-ground almonds that haven't had their brown skins removed. It won't work in recipes like this, as it won't combine properly with the other ingredients and is gritty.
Paleo brownies substitution suggestions
Paleo brownies are, by definition, made without refined sugars, without dairy, and without any grains. Here is some information about whether you can replace some of the other ingredients here:
Can you make Paleo brownies without eggs?
It would be difficult to make these brownies without eggs, since there are 3 in a relatively small pan of brownies. You could try using 1 “chia egg” each per egg (1 tablespoon lukewarm water mixed with 1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds and allowed to gel per egg), but I'm not certain it would do the heavy-lifting that eggs are doing here.
Almond free Paleo brownies
To make these brownies without almond flour, you might try using finely ground cashew flour or even finely ground hazelnut flour in its place. The taste would likely change.
Nut free Paleo brownies
In place of any sort of nut flour, I would recommend using the Paleo option in our recipe for flourless brownies. There really is no way to eliminate the almond flour in this recipe altogether.
Paleo brownies without coconut
The coconut flour really adds quite a bit of structure to these brownies. If you don't want to use it at all, you can try replacing it with more almond flour, but they will be more fragile. If you'd like to replace the coconut sugar you can try using date sugar.
For the coconut oil, you can try using Spectrum brand nonhydrogenated shortening. There are a lot of coconut products in this recipe, so you'll have to experiment!
What's the best way to store Paleo brownies?
You can store these brownies, once sliced at room temperature for up to 3 days as long as they're covered. You can also place them in a sealed container in the refrigerator, since they're moist enough to handle the drying effect the refrigerator tends to have.
Can you freeze these Paleo brownies?
Yes! Wrapped tightly in freezer-safe wrap or in a sealed freezer-safe container, they freeze very well for longer storage. They won't even freeze solid, so you don't even really need to defrost them very much before they're ready to enjoy again.
How do I get a thin crackle top on my Paleo brownies?
The crackly top on brownies is really a meringue. If you really want that crackly top, you'll need to beat the eggs at high speed until they're much more pale in color.
Can I mix chocolate chips or nuts into these Paleo brownies?
Yes! I have made these brownies with dry mix-ins like chocolate chips and nuts. I wouldn't mix in more than 4 ounces of either one, and reach for soft raw nut pieces like almonds or pecans over walnuts, which tend to be a bit too hard in brownies.
Can I make these brownies with “regular” sugar instead of coconut sugar?
Absolutely! If you don't care whether or not your brownies are strictly Paleo, you can replace the coconut sugar with an equal amount, by weight, of dark brown sugar.
Paleo Brownies | Super Fudgy
- Handheld mixer
- 5 ounces dark chocolate chopped (I like to use a mix of unsweetened chocolate and dark chocolate, for a richer, less sweet brownie)
- 6 tablespoons (84 g) virgin coconut oil
- ¾ cup (120 g) coconut sugar
- ¼ cup (84 g) honey
- 3 (150 g (weighed out of shell)) eggs at room temperature
- ¾ cup (60 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (either natural or Dutch-processed)
- ½ cup (56 g) blanched finely ground almond flour
- 1 tablespoon (8 g) coconut flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan, and then line it with overhung sheets of crisscrossed unbleached parchment paper. Set the pan aside.
- Place the chocolate and coconut oil in a small, heat-safe bowl and then place the bowl over a small pan of simmering (not boiling) water, taking care that the bowl doesn’t touch the simmering water.
- Melt the chocolate and coconut oil, stirring occasionally, until smooth.
- Remove the bowl from the heat, and add the coconut sugar and honey to the mixture.
- Whisk to help the coconut sugar to dissolve in the warm mixture, and to integrate the honey.
- Alternatively, the oil and chocolate can be melted in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring in between until melted and smooth before adding the coconut sugar.
- In a large bowl, place the eggs, and whisk or mix until well-beaten and combined.
- Add the melted chocolate, oil, and sugars to the bowl slowly, whisking constantly.
- Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the cocoa powder has been absorbed. Using a handheld mixer, beat until very well-combined.
- Add the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix with a silicone spatula or spoon until just combined. The batter will be thick and sticky.
- Transfer the brownie batter to the prepared pan and, using an offset or silicone spatula, spread into an even layer. It helps to moisten the tool you are using to smooth the top a bit to prevent it from sticking.
- Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven. Bake just until the brownies are no longer wet in the center, about 25 minutes. The brownies will not appear wet and as shiny in the middle, and a toothpick inserted there will come out with only a few moist crumbs, but not wet.
- Remove the brownies from the oven and allow them to cool in the pan at room temperature until the pan is no longer hot to the touch.
- For clean lines when you slice the brownies, place the brownies, still in the pan, in the refrigerator to chill for about an hour before slicing them.
- When you’re ready to slice the brownies, remove them from the pan and peel away the foil. Slice the brownies into 9 or 12 equal rectangles or squares.