Black beans are a secret weapon of whole-food, plant-based bakers. Blended, they help create a fudgy base for chocolatey treats, such as Outrageously Healthy Brownies and these delicious vegan Mexican chocolate brownies. Cayenne pepper gives these rich brownies a little kick: Add more if you like the heat.

Craving more wholesome vegan desserts? Check out these 5 Scrumptious Plant-Based Desserts.

By Carla Christian, RD, LD,


  • ¾ cup no-salt-added canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup pure cane sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup white whole wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon powdered pure cane sugar (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick foil, extending foil over edges
  • In a food processor combine beans, applesauce, and chopped chocolate. Cover and process until smooth. Add granulated sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla; cover and process until combined.
  • In a small bowl stir together the next six ingredients (through cayenne pepper). Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture. Cover and process just until combined.
  • Spread batter in the prepared baking pan. Bake 20 minutes or just until center is firm and edges are slightly puffed. Cool in pan on a wire rack. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Using foil, lift brownies out of pan. Cut into squares.

Comments (37)

(5 from 13 votes)

Recipe Rating

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Susan Jensen

Was shocked to hear about bone charcoal to get white sugar! Fortunatley, I live in Australia where Australian produced white sugar does not use bone char, it has been banned.

Jane Luginbuhl

I have made this recipe many times. I am not a vegan but I absolutely love it. I add walnuts and sometimes dried sour cherries.


Sugar is sugar.

Brian Hagerty

@Annette: Vegans avoid refined sugar because it is processed with charred animal bones. So although you are correct that "sugar is sugar" as far as taste and nutrition go, there is a difference to some people that derives from how it is prepared.


Vegans should use organic sugar - organic sugar is not processed with animal bones.

Rudy Martinez

I made these brownies for my family and I just have to say that these are the most delicious brownies I have ever made. They have the perfect balance of sugar, salt, and spice. They were a little too spicy for my liking, however that is easily remedied by just leaving out the cayanne pepper the next time I make these. Absolutely delicious.


If one uses sorghum flour..instead of wheat this recipe is Gluten free...make sure other ingredient are GF also...


Can I substitute the flour for almond Flour or oat flour? I will try this, sounds delicious!

Little lady 85

Has anyone tried this without the chopped chocolate? I'm hoping to do a variation of these with a few little tweaks and just cacoa powder...if you've given it a whirl let me know how it turned out! Thanks guys :)

jane luginbuhl

I have made this many times,i add walnuts and raisins and I love it. Mist people bever guess it is made from black beans!

Amie King

Excellent! I had to sub pumpkin puree for the applesauce (I didn't have any applesauce) and these were fantastic.


Love these brownies! Used dates & quinoa flour….this is a definite recipe keeper!


I made this with some substitutions. In place of the cane sugar and applesauce, I soaked a heaping cup of deglett dates in hot water and tossed that in to blend with the beans. But since I didn't have unsweetened cocoa powder and chocolate bar I didn't feel I needed to add regular sugar either. They came out well though the batter did not fill up the 8x8 pan I had. I'd make it again but tweak the wet to dry mixture.


Alex, was it a 'blondie rather than a chocolate brownie if you didn't use cocoa powder or a chocolate bar? ( realize with dates and black beans it wasn't blond, but blond in flavor though.)


You had me until the cane sugar! Come on, there’s better options! Easy to substitute.


+1, I thought FOK ban sugar from their recipes...


I'm going to try with date sugar instead of the cane sugar.


Dr. Barnard (PCRM) recommends against cooking food in aluminum, including aluminum foil. If you want the brownies removed from a pan, use a springform pan or line the bottom with parchment paper. Brownies are great!


Once I saw line your pan with foil I almost swiped up and closed the app but something told me to keep scrolling! Thank you for your suggestions!


I like using silicone for baking, works great!


Has anyone this tried gluten free?


Was wondering the same thing--may try this with Bob's All Purpose Baking Flour and add a bit of xantham gum.


Yes..use sorghum's the closest to white flour in my opinion...use same amount..I always sift first...make sure other ingredients are gf. Also I used 1/4 black strap molasses instead of sugar. If batter too runny add a tablespoon of sorghum flour at a time till right consistency..also have used dates instead of sugar..soaked and blended first before adding.


Made these today, had to switch some ingrediënts ( used oat flour and 5 medjool dates instead ) due to not having the other ingrediënts. They came out amazing, as always!

Scott Teal

What did the oat flour replace? The black beans?


Could you use dates to sweeten instead of the sugar? We're trying to avoid added sugars.


Yes you can. I replaced the sugar with 5 medjool dates. Brownies came out great. Perhaps a bit less sweet, but my kids loved them


These are by far the best oil-free brownies I have ever made. Nobody can tell they are healthier than most brownies. I will definitely be making these often!

Diana Lynn

1/3 cup applesauce for each egg in a recipe works well for a binder as well as having a smooth texture & adds moisture when doing vegan baking. Dates are an excellent source for sweetener & adds a little fiber. I am thankful for those who share in their baking experiences & ideas. I find it very helpful.


Would like to give these a try. Would maple syrup work, or be a little healthier instead of cane sugar?


I've made these at least 4 or 5 times now and they come out great every time! I use at least 1/2 tsp of cayenne because I like the kick to be a little less subtle and a little more oomph. Those with a sweet tooth will love them, but if I'm making them for someone who likes a lower level of sweetness I'll substitute half of the sugar for monk fruit sweetener. Could maybe substitute all the sugar if you want to avoid it completely.


These are delicious! I'm going to make some to take on an ATV trip. Has anyone tried freezing them? I'd like to make them ahead and freeze them.


Easy and delicious. I love the earthy taste from the black beans and kick from the cayenne.


We love this recipe — so simple and easy, and just delicious. Works every time!


Delicious! I added agave syrup instead of the cane sugar but reduced the amount a bit. The brownies have a soft texture and we really liked the zing of the cayenne pepper. Will definitely make this again.

Tessa Rosalie

Hi Julia, do you think the apple sauce will make it sweet enough? I don't eat any sugar, the applesauce will be OK, or do you think it will taste just like beans with chocolate maybe I'll give it a try with half the dough.


Remember that agave syrup is ~75% fructose. If you're avoiding fructose (aka fruit sugar), don't use agave syrup. It's also ~2X sweeter than sugar.

About the Author

Headshot of Carla Christian, RD, LD

About the Author

Carla Christian, RD, LD

Carla Christian received her associate’s degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of America in 2006 and her bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Michigan State University in 2009. She finished her dietetic internship from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 2010 and is a former chef in the Better Homes and Gardens® Test Kitchen. Find her on LinkedIn. Photo by Jason Donnelly.

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