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Black Bean Brownies

Yes, you read that title correctly. Black Bean Brownies. A friend sent a link to me some time ago but it took me a while to check it out. Black Bean Brownies are a clever gluten-free bake that uses black beans for moisture and texture and, cocoa powder as a flour replacer and chocolate flavouring.

Black or Turtle Beans...

Black or Turtle Beans…

Most recipes come via the USA and use a handy tin of black beans, readily available in any supermarket there.  Whilst you can buy tins of black beans in Australia too, they’re not exactly cheap so a more budget friendly option is to buy a bag of dried black beans. You can buy a one kilo bag for around $7 at most good delis and speciality food stores. They are often marked as ‘Turtle Beans’. Cook them up as per the instructions (around 30 minutes), drain and store them in batches in zip lock bags in the freezer. I always have bags of black beans in the freezer to drop into soups, chillis, Tex-Mex wraps and now, for brownies.  You can retain the black liquid drained off from cooking the beans to add to soups or stews if you like.

Black Bean Brownie pair

These brownies taste just like any other cake.  There is no ‘bean’ taste and when tested on unsuspecting friends, they couldn’t guess the key ingredient so this is a great way of slipping some extra veggies into your kid’s diet.  They can be made vegan friendly by substituting the egg (see notes at bottom), are relatively low in fat and are high in protein and fibre. Mixing these in the food processor makes cleaning up very easy as it’s all done in one bowl.

When I finally did look at the link, it sent me down a search engine rabbit hole. Looking at one recipe then another. Comparing and contrasting – flour vs no flour, sugar (brown, white or raw?) vs agave syrup (light, dark, amber?), fudgey vs cakey. I’ve adapted a recipe I found on Minimalist Baker, using ingredients you’d likely have to hand plus your bag of frozen black beans. I’ve provided advice on making these as individual brownies and in a tray as well. The smaller brownies are great for portion control but you need to cook them for a shorter time than you might think as they can dry out. Both styles were a hit and whilst they freeze well also, I don’t think you’ll have any left once you start sharing them around.

Black Bean Brownies
Black Bean Close Up
  • 425g pre cooked Black Beans (or 1 can)
  • 2 x eggs
  • 3 x tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup dark cocoa (I use Equagold)
  • 1/4 tspn sea salt
  • 1 x tspn vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar (pulsed a couple of times in the food processor)
  • 1 1/2 tspn baking powder
  • crushed nuts eg: hazelnuts (optional)
Black Bean Brownies in Pan
  • Place all ingredients in food processor and blend well for 3 minutes until smooth.
  • Stop food processor a few times to push mix down from sides though a few small pieces of semi chopped black bean makes little difference in the final mix.
  • If batter appears too thick, add a dribble of oil.  The batter should be droppable but not too runny. Allow to rest for a few minutes.
  • Place batter into lightly greased baking tray (18 x 27cm) or drop evenly into a 12 hole muffin tin
  • Is using nuts, sprinkle on top of brownie/s
  • Place in oven pre-heated to 175c and bake.  Brownie Tray: 20 – 22 minutes  Muffin Tin: 15 – 17 minutes
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes in the tin before removing.  Slice brownies before removing.  They will firm up as they cool but will still be tender so be careful if you are removing.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Can be served warm with ice cream or frozen (slice baking tray brownie before freezing)

Black Bean stack close up


  • Like many of my recipes, this is fairly forgiving. A handful of beans either way is not going to make a difference. You can use white sugar or add more sugar if you like this a little sweeter or use a lighter cocoa if the kids don’t have a penchant for dark chocolate flavours.
  • These brownies rely on the black beans for moisture so don’t over cook the batter and end up with a dry brownie. Even though the brownies may not seem like they are set, as they cool, they will firm up.
  • The original recipe gives a vegan substitute for the eggs. ‘Flax egg’: 2.5 tbsp flaxseed meal + 6 tbsp water. Place in food processor bowl, pulse a few time and then allow to sit for a few minutes before adding other ingredients.
  • DO NOT tell your kids or partner these brownies have black beans in them. If you don’t tell, they won’t know!

Black Beans in bowl

12 comments… add one
  • Krista September 10, 2013, 7:15 pm

    I'm absolutely delighted by these! I've recently had to go gluten-free and, having lived in the States for 20+ years before moving to Australia, I adore black beans. 🙂 I finally found a shop in Toowoomba that carries them, so I'm a happy girl. 🙂

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! September 10, 2013, 10:24 pm

      Glad you can source them in Toowwomba. We just had one of the brownie bars warmed in the microwave with some icecream. Yum! Thanks for stopping by Krista.

    • Rambling Tart November 10, 2013, 3:47 pm

      Hi Fiona 🙂 Just wanted to let you know that I made a version of these brownies today with some melted dark chocolate, drunken cherries and real maple syrup as a sweetener. Delicious! Thank you so much for the inspiration. 🙂

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! November 12, 2013, 8:46 pm

      Well aren't you clever? And the suggestion of add ins never even occurred to me. Mmmm….cherries….

  • Mel Kettle September 10, 2013, 9:04 pm

    I've been meaning to try black beans brownies for a long time! thanks 🙂

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! September 10, 2013, 10:24 pm

      And I know you always have black beans in your pantry or freezer too so there's no reason not to.

  • Brooke - Little Miss moi September 10, 2013, 9:11 pm

    blackbeans are very abundant here in Timor (I think because the portuguese brought them over way back when). I will defo try this one. I might use coconut oil instead of vege oil?

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! September 10, 2013, 10:25 pm

      Yes – in fact the original recipe called for coconut oil but all I had was vege. Give them a go and let me know!

  • Melissa L September 12, 2013, 6:32 am

    I just tried Wholesomeness.com.au's A Box of Goodness, which had black bean chocolate brownies. It was amazing and I never would've have thought it was made of black beans. Now I really wanna try your recipe to see if I can make these at home.

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! September 12, 2013, 8:25 am

      Hi Melissa – they are certainly different but I suppose no differnt to zucchini or beetroot in a cake. We have to train our minds to try new combos. Good luck and let me know how you go!

  • Amanda September 12, 2013, 9:13 am

    I've seen the US recipes for these too, but have yet to try them. I have used canned chick peas in choc chip cookies & got them past the kids, although my son did query why they tasted different. He doesn't trust me at all & is very wary of my fondness for hiding vegetables in his food. I'll have to see if I can slip the black beans past him – I have a bag in the pantry.

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! September 12, 2013, 9:52 am

      It sounds like he has cause to be wary but he's not as clever as you! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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