Gluten-Free Protein Power Flourless Black Bean Brownies

If you hang around YumUniverse at all, you know that decadent brownies can be made using black beans instead of flour. And in an effort to get more protein into my diet lately, I have taken my Black Bean Brownies recipe and boosted the protein content—taking it from approximately 45g protein per batch to 85g per batch. This version is especially for those of you trying to take in more protein (ah-hem, athletes), even when you want a treat. They are very easy to prepare, too. All you need is a baking dish and a food processor.

Makes: anywhere from 8-12 brownies depending on your dish
Takes: 55 minutes: 10 to prep, 35-45 to bake

Food processor
Silicone kitchen scraper
Glass baking/casserole dish (large rectangular or 9″ square*)
Unbleached parchment paper

*I make them in a 9″ square pan for deeper fudge-like brownies. The standard large, rectangular casserole dish will make thinner ones. Use what you like.

Try to buy everything organic. Here’s why.
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted*
1/2 cup almonds, toasted*
1/2 cup pecans, toasted*
2 1/2 cups cooked, drained black beans (try to prepare your own versus using canned: here’s how and why)
1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 red apple, cored and chopped
10 dates, pitted (here’s how)
2/3 cup chocolate protein powder (I recommend plant-based Vega One  or Vega Smoothie)
1/2 cup sucanat (if you like a sweeter brownie increase to 1 cup. I like less—I’m a dark chocolate fan. Taste the batter before baking and adding nuts, just sweeten to taste…)
1/2 tsp fine ground sea salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp chocolate extract (optional)

*Toast the nuts on a parchment-lined cookie sheet in the oven for about 7 minutes at 350F. This is an optional step, but a tasty one.

Let’s get started.
Soak, rinse and cook your black beans.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line your cookie sheet with unbleached parchment paper. Toast nuts for 7 minutes.

Remove nuts and set aside in a glass bowl to cool. Use parchment to line your baking dish—it makes for easy lift-out and cutting of brownies once cool. Trim with kitchen scissors if you need to. I usually run one long piece across the bottom and up along the sides, and another piece on top, perpendicular to the first piece.

Place all ingredients except nuts in the food processor and mix until creamy. You may need to pulse it a few times to get it going.

Once creamy, add nuts and pulse about 10-20 times, just enough to break them up a bit—not too much. You want texture.

Spread into pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean after inserting.

If you’ve cooked for over 45 mins and you still get a bit of batter on your knife, go ahead and remove and allow to cool completely. This usually happens with the 9″ baking pan, but it’s a-ok. The center will become like fudge once cooled. Yes, fudge—mmm.


Once cool, lift out of pan by the parchment, cut up and enjoy. I like to store them in a glass container with a lid in the fridge. My 9″ baking dish comes with a lid so it’s perfect!

Psst! I bet these are amazing with Homemade Peppermint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream. Just sayin’.




Read the comments or add yours.

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  1. Kay Horn

    Hi Heather

    Can you substitute the protein powder for something else – especially for those of us who don’t live in the States?


    • Heather Crosby

      Hi Kay,
      I bet you could try 1/3 cup brown rice or oat flour plus 1/3 cup almond or hazelnut flour to replace the total of 2/3 cup protein powder. Let us know if it works!

  2. Diana

    I tried these (sans the nuts, apple, and dates) and they are amazing!!! I’ll try it with the other thing in them another time. But hubby is not a brownie fan and he gobbled them up right along with me. Yes, definitely refrigerate. More like a brownie fudge that way.

    • Heather Crosby

      I love to hear it, Diana. Thanks for sharing your adaptations and letting us know that your husband was a fan, too! x

  3. Hi Heather,

    This recipe caught my eye because of the addition of protein powder. I know it seems ridiculous to ask this, but is there anything I can use to replace the beans? (I don’t tolerate them at all). I know it seems silly to ask since the main ingredient is black beans, but just thought I’d check. Thanks for the help!

    • Heather Crosby

      Hi Joan,
      I have some ideas, but I’d hate to have you waste ingredients and time unless I know for sure. I’m inclined to suggest a combo of soaked almonds/dry oats, but I’m going to try a bean-free version of this recipe so we know for sure. Stay tuned! x H

  4. Patty Kenney

    That recipe sounds delicious I am going to try it

  5. Lieke

    Awesome! I’ve never tried a black bean brownie before, but it’s super delish! Recommend everyone to trie it. You won’t detect any bean taste, it just tastes like a super indulgent chocolaty brownie. I like how this is a healthier alternative to the regular sugar-butter-egg brownie. Thanks for this recipe!

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