Secretly Healthy Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Christmas and cookies might as well be synonyms.  And Christmas is no time for eating healthy because there are just too many delicious cookies around.  Right?

Wrong.  Exhibit A:

chocolatey goodness


So what’s the secret behind these “Secretly Healthy Chocolate Brownie Cookies” ?  Black beans.  EWWWW.  What?  It’s true.  But trust me, you cannot taste them AT ALL, just like you can’t taste the whole wheat flour.   They just taste like the best, fudgiest, chocolatiest cookies you ever did eat.   It’s kind of like a brownie in cookies form.  You’ll want to eat more than one….and you can.  Because they’re HEALTHY!!


Healthy enough for breakfast, dare I say it?

shh it's a secret

If you don’t believe me, I completely understand. It’s not easy to find a good healthy cookies recipe- it took me at least 5 times to get this recipe right!    BUT, they are 11-year old boy approved, so if that doesn’t convince you to give them a try, I don’t know what will.   So please, try to find some time in between making your ten batches of holiday themed sugar cookies (what, you don’t make ten batches?), and whip up a batch of these Secretly Healthy Chocolate Brownie Cookies.


5.0 from 22 reviews
Secretly Healthy Chocolate Brownie Cookies
Recipe type: baking, dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
You'll never believe that they're made with black beans!
  • 1 can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed well
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 1.5 Tbsp. peanut butter/nut butter of choice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup + 1 T. sugar (see note)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • ⅓ cup dark chocolate chips, plus more for sprinkling on top
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine black beans, milk, peanut butter, and olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth.
  3. Add in whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon, and continue processing until combined and mousse-like.
  4. Stir in ⅓ c. dark chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon 16 dollops evenly spaced dollops of the batter onto the baking sheet and sprinkle with the extra chocolate chips.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes.
  7. Let cool slightly, then put on a baking rack until they are cooled completely.
  8. ENJOY!!
Store in the refrigerator due to the black beans!

*The sugar in this recipe can be reduced to about ⅓ c. if you prefer the cookies to be less sweet.

(inspired by this recipe!)

aerial view


Just don’t tell anyone that they’re healthy cookies, okay?  And have a Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal!  (Home Alone references rock, duh)


  1. Stacy says:

    I just tried this recipe and it came out delicious! I’m a major chocolate addict so I was looking for a recipe to satisfy my chocolate cravings without the guilt of consuming too many calories. But as I’m reading through the comments I’m getting a bit nervous. Is each cookie about 150 calories? Or is the batch around 150? One nestle tollhouse chocolate chip cookie has about 110 calories, so how is this recipe supposed to be healthier? Please tell me I’m wrong.

  2. Ayla Ervin says:

    I’m definitely impressed. These are totally decent. Do you think I could substitute sugar for applesauce or would that be too much liquid? If I could I would definitely serve them for breastfeed!

  3. Melissa says:

    I LOVE this recipe! Slowly bringing my boyfriend and his family into a healthier lifestyle, so when I found these I KNEW I had to make them! Just got done with them about two hours ago, everyone tried them (not knowing what was in them) and LOVED them! After they raved for a good bit, I spilled the beans (ha!) about what was in them!
    I am an avid healthy cooker, so this was perfect for me and my family! Surely a recipe I will be making all the time! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Allison says:

    I’m about to make these! I bought all the ingredients but I am short on sugar! I’m trying to make a few different batches! I’m making one with raw sugar and one with honey! Does anyone have advice on which substitute for the sweetener worked better and tasted good?

    Thank you!!

  5. Cam says:

    I just made these and was really pleased! I make healthy desserts a couple times a year with mixed results (and regular unhealthy the rest of the time). This one is a keeper, I think I will write it in my recipe book for repeat use for when I want a slimmer cookie but still get a yummy chocolate fix.

    I have these suggestions from my experience:

    – I didn’t have parchment paper so I just greased the cookie sheet well. It worked ok, but the cookies would have plated better if you follow Jessica’s recommendation for parchment paper
    – I also didn’t have chocolate chips on hand, so I subbed dark chocolate M&Ms, which tasted delicious and the ones I pressed on top looked pretty. The ones in the dough had the colors bleed a bit so be aware if you plan to take them to share at a party- you may just want to push them in the tops of the cookies instead of mix in the dough, or just use chocolate chips as Jessica suggested

  6. katherine says:

    this recipe looks amazing! I was about to make them when I realized I don’t have any black beans… could I use kidney beans instead? or will that ruin the flavor?

  7. Harmony says:

    I had my doubts, but they taste great. I definitely recommend using only 1/3 cup of sugar, though – I found them almost sickeningly sweet otherwise.

  8. Debbie Clendon says:

    These are amazing. Subbed the whole wheat flour for ground almonds, olive oil for coconut oil and milk for Koko milk.

  9. Melissa says:

    Do you have any recommendation for the brand of black beans used? I couldn’t find any in the grocery store that said no salt added & i’m wondering if that would be fine. I saw that some people who commented did use regular beans, but i’m nervous it’s going to seriously mess with the taste. (and it’s my first time making these)

  10. Meghan says:

    I’ve wanted to try black beans in baking for a while! I finally tried this recipe yesterday and I was pretty happy with the results. The texture is different than “normal” cookies, but not bad.
    I made mini cookie sandwiches with pb banana “ice cream” (blended frozen bananas) and they’re sooo yummy! Perfect vegan treat with max nutritional value and minimal fat and calories :))))

  11. Jen says:

    These are AWESOME! My friend said they were great, and I didn’t believe her until I tried them. Great job – thanks for sharing!

  12. Gina says:

    I LOVE THIS RECIPE! I omitted the peanut butter & consequently some of the milk because I don’t like peanut butter and they are soo good. My friend even came back for seconds :)

  13. newlywedcook says:

    Hi, thanks for posting this. I was looking for a black bean cookie recipe. I didn’t have milk so I used almond milk. The taste of them was great but they are sooo moist, they almost fell apart on me while eating (and I cooked extra 10 min). Is this because I didn’t use real cows milk or are there other suggestions? I’ve heard this is a common problems and some people put their cookies in the freezer to solidify them and then eat them chilled.

  14. Bobbie says:

    I have the pickiest of picky sons. He was drooling over them as they came out of the oven and it was killing me to keep quiet as he devoured a cookie. I finally couldn’t take it any more and had to “spill the beans” to him. He wouldn’t believe me that there were beans in the cookies until I showed him the recipe. This morning he woke up and the first thing he said was, “Can I have one of those cookies?” He must have overheard me telling my husband they were healthy enough for breakfast. :) Thanks for a wonderful recipe! Family approved and Mr. Picky approved!

  15. Theresa @ Two Much Fun says:

    Ooops, I forgot to rate the recipe. Of course five stars!
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for this incredibly fudgy recipe. We made these and they were DEVOURED by my little three year olds (ok, I helped). We substituted almond flour for whole wheat (we had just a few tablespoons left in the bag), chocolate almond milk for regular milk, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup white sugar. We pureed the bittersweet chocolate chips in with the dry ingredients (If we didn’t my daughter would have picked out each chip from the cookie). They turned out so chocolatey and delicious. There is absolutely no hint of black bean. Thank you so much for helping me feed my family healthier alternatives that are even more delicious than the boxed stuff. I’m so grateful that there are wonderfully creative and generous people like yourself that shares their personal recipes with all of us. Thank you.

  16. Theresa @ Two Much Fun says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for this incredibly fudgy recipe. We made these and they were DEVOURED by my little three year olds (ok, I helped). We substituted almond flour for whole wheat (we had just a few tablespoons left in the bag), chocolate almond milk for regular milk, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup white sugar. We pureed the bittersweet chocolate chips in with the dry ingredients (If we didn’t my daughter would have picked out each chip from the cookie). They turned out so chocolatey and delicious. There is absolutely no hint of black bean. Thank you so much for helping me feed my family healthier alternatives that are even more delicious than the boxed stuff. I’m so grateful that there are wonderfully creative and generous people like yourself that shares their personal recipes with all of us. Thank you.

  17. Ameera says:

    I was wondering what “t” stood for? i am unsure whether it is a teaspoon or a tablespoon. or both? i would love a clarified version of the recipe. Thanks a bunch!

  18. Marie says:

    These were sooo good. They were delicious right out of the oven or the fridge. I made 2 small changes. I used applesauce instead of oil and I put the chocolate chips I’m the processor with the other ingredients to chop them up a little. This recipe is a keeper. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Meagan Seeba says:

    These cookies are wonderful, very chewy and chocolaty. I’d like to adapt these to regular chocolate chip cookies. I’d like to try white beans instead of black beans, but what about the cocoa powder? Would I substitute something for it or simply leave it out?

  20. Terri says:

    I have made these and was very pleased with the results. A definite keeper, will make again. Thanks for the recipe!

  21. Stacie says:

    I had some trouble with these but I must admit, I altered some things to make it a little healthier. Although I don’t think it should have made such a great difference in taste, based on all the other feedback, I feel like I missed something…

    I don’t like canned food so I soaked and cooked my own beans then used a can to measure the right amount. 1 can = 1.75 c.

    I subbed milled flax seeds for the oil. According to directions, 2T oil = 6T flax seeds.

    I used almond milk, almond butter (creamy with plenty of oil), and coconut palm sugar.

    Now here’s where I may have gone wrong…I don’t have a food processor. I used a blender and mixed the beans, milk, nut butter, and flax seeds in two batches. I then threw in all the other ingredients and mashed the heck out of it by hand. I never achieved a mouse-like texture.

    It seemed a bit dry so I added another T. of milk.

    The batter was a bit clumpy, but moist, however, it tasted bland so I added an additional 1/3 c. of chocolate chips.

    I was able to scoop out 16 small cookies. Fearing they would not be tasty enough, I sprinkled each cookie with a little bit of raw turbinado sugar on top.

    After 10 min in the oven, they still seemed raw and did not flatten like pictured. I baked them for an additional 5 min. They never flatten so the second batch (I have a small cookie tray) I flattened with a spoon before baking.

    Once baked and cooled, I LOVE the texture of these cookies which I give credit to the beans. And they were perfectly moist, not too mushy, not dry. However, wherever you bite into the cookie where there is not a chocolate chip, it is a bit bland.

    I do not have a very big sweet tooth and in fact most of the time I find myself reducing the amount of sugar in recipes. I was surprised that I had to use the full strength of sugar suggested and add extra chips for these to be passable as a chocolate brownie cookies. Right now, the healthy aspect is the higher selling point.

    The fact that they are a healthy treat will encourage me to make them again. But I’m just wondering, am I not getting the full affect from these because of too many substitutions and no food processor?

    I would greatly appreciate your feedback. Thanks!

    • Alice says:

      I used a food processor, but the same thing happened to me. Maybe.. add more vanilla, or use honey/agave syrup instead of sugar? (Late reply, haha)

  22. Emily says:

    One of the best recipes I’ve used in a LONG time :) I bought the wrong can of beans and went home with kidney beans, and said what the hell, and made the recipe with them instead of black beans and they turned out fabulous!

    They cooked in the shape that the were dropped so they look a little different from what you’ve got pictured, but damn! They are GOOD!! 😀

  23. Rebecca says:

    Thank-you for this awesome recipe! As a scientist, I love experimenting and couldn’t help myself in trying to bring down the calories per cookie…means I get to enjoy more of them! =)

    I subbed the 1/5 T of nut butter for 2 T of Chocolate PB2 and 1 T of water.

    I subbed the 2 T of Olive Oil for 2 T of unsweetened applesauce.

    I subbed the 3 T of Whole Wheat Flour for 3 T of Almond Flour.

    I subbed the 1/2 Cup + 1 T of sugar for the equivalent in Stevia.

    Put it all together as per the original directions and prayed as I popped it in the oven.

    10 minutes later they had fluffed up into these delicious looking chocolate mousse clouds. I let them cool and then put them in the fridge.

    Happy to report that they came our fantastic, and at about 60 calories a piece (I made 13 medium size cookies). I like my cookies a little on the sweet side, so if I change anything the next time I make this recipe it will be to add a bit more sweetner to the mix.

    My husband who will not eat any vegetable other than potatoes and corn willingly tried my “nasty healthy cookie”…and then he went back for a second one!

    User Entered Recipe using subbed ingredients

    13 Servings

    Amount Per Serving

    Calories 58.7

    Total Fat 1.6 g

    Saturated Fat 0.6 g

    Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g

    Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g

    Cholesterol 0.2 mg

    Sodium 44.1 mg

    Potassium 88.1 mg

    Total Carbohydrate 8.6 g

    Dietary Fiber 2.3 g

    Sugars 2.3 g

    Protein 2.8 g

    Vitamin A 0.2 %

    Vitamin B-12 0.1 %

    Vitamin B-6 0.9 %

    Vitamin C 0.5 %

    Vitamin D 0.2 %

    Vitamin E 0.0 %

    Calcium 3.4 %

    Copper 2.4 %

    Folate 8.7 %

    Iron 3.5 %

    Magnesium 4.1 %

    Manganese 5.2 %

    Niacin 0.6 %

    Pantothenic Acid 0.6 %

    Phosphorus 4.3 %

    Riboflavin 1.0 %

    Selenium 0.5 %

    Thiamin 3.8 %

    Zinc 1.8 %

    *Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

  24. Kelly says:

    I have a silly question. I only have a very small food processor-enough to get the beans, milk, pb, and olive oil mixed, but not big enough to process the rest. Can I mix the rest with a mixer or will that ruin it?

    • Eliza says:

      a mixer might work- but the best idea would probably be to split the recipe into two batches so everything will fit in the food processor!

    • Bonnie says:

      I had the same problem, since I only have a magic bullet. It worked perfectly fine with the mixer. You may need to mix for a min or two longer than reg. cookies though. :)

  25. gita says:

    Would anyone know theamount of carbs per cookie? I would use almond flour. I would not use sugar,but I would use splenda. I would also use almond butter. I am on a low carb diet and would not want to mess up my inches and weight loss at this time. Thank you for any help..

  26. Amasco says:

    Decadent Cookies! So chocolaty and tasty. I used two cans of black beans and substituted oil for applesauce for overall less calories.
    Im in love with this recipe, so genius! Beans got lots of fiber and good carbs so I feel less guilty eating this bunch of cookies (brownies). Thank you very much for sharing this wonderful recipe!!

  27. Alaina says:

    I just made these and they are really good. My weakness is chocolate, and this recipe just made my addiction a little bit healthier! I NEVER would have thought of using black beans to make cookies.

  28. Cheryl says:

    I just made these today….OMG they are delicious! I used gluten free flour mix and almond milk, and used raw cane sugar instead of regular white sugar. Thanks so much for the recipe – definitely a keeper!

  29. Liv says:

    I really want to try these cookies because my mom has been diagnosed with breast cancer and is on a diet where she can’t eat sugar, dairy or anything gluten. She is a real chocoholic so I would love to make these for her, but is there anyway I could substitute the sugar, flour and milk? Thank you!

    • Eliza says:

      Maybe you could try using gluten-free flour, honey (if she can eat that- if not stevia/splenda might work), and dairy-free milk (such as almond milk or soy milk). Since the chocolate chips have sugar in them too, you could omit them or possibly find sugar free ones. Hope this helps! :)

  30. JaidenGirl says:

    Had to comment about these…….they were perfect! I’ve made them several times now. I subbed coconut sugar for the white sugar, and used one tbls rice flour instead of the wheat flour. Kids, hubby and co workers all loved them.

  31. Laura P says:

    I made this cookies this evening. They were quick and easy to prepare as well as delicious. I only used 1/3 c of sugar and it tastes great. I had stopped baking cookies because I didn’t like all the butter, sugar, and white flower. I am now a convert! Thank you for a great recipe.

  32. Theresa @ Two Much Fun says:

    Thank you, these were delicious! I didn’t have no-salt black beans, so I used regular beans, we used Sunbutter instead of peanut butter, and softened butter instead of oil. I pressed them down before baking, because we like a flatter cookie- instead of a puffy cookie. We made these for a play date for 3 year olds. The kidabunks gobbled them up so fast – they each had four (we had to take the plate away out of fear of them spoiling their dinner)! More importantly though, the other adults couldn’t figure out what the mystery ingredient was AND went for seconds when I revealed what the ingredient was. Thank you for an essentially guilt-free dessert.

  33. Rue says:

    I’ll admit, I was skeptical at first. I’ve seen a lot of a recipes like this, trying to take out flour and put in beans of some sort. I just blew them all off. But for some reason, this one (which I only found today) haunted my morning. I kept coming back, looking at the recipe, and trying to figure out why I couldn’t get them out of my head. I still don’t know but I decided since I had everything, I had to make them.

    Oh. my. gawd.

    I’m a believer now. These cookies will become very common around my house now. More fiber and protein than most cookies (which just means they actually have some of both) with sacrificing texture or taste? Oh my, yes! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. This is a game changer.

  34. Kaija says:

    Made these today with a couple of subsitutions and they turned out great! First, I used almond milk and doubled the amount. Second, I replaced the olive oil with an equal amount of liquid coconut oil. Third, I replaced the 3T whole wheat flour with 1T coconut flour. The coconut flour is why I had to double the milk. Finally, I used regular old semi-sweet chocolate chips. DELICIOUS

  35. Aaron says:

    I doubled this recipe using a 30oz can of black beans and it worked out well. My calorie calculations were about 100 cal. each with a 30 cookie yield from a double batch. I think for the calories that this is an excellent recipe, and it can easily be made vegan and/or gluten free. I also added 1T. of instant espresso powder to my batch, I recommend it!

  36. janet says:

    These are amazing! The best cookies I’ve ever had.I just started cooking gluten free so I used almond flour .
    My husband couldn’t even tell. Thank you.

  37. Katie says:

    Any suggestions for high altitude? I tried them and they came out incredibly dry and didn’t flatten out. I added a little extra milk to get the mousse-like texture.

  38. elle says:

    I was wondering what I could use instead of peanut butter/nut butter. Maybe another 2 tbs of olive oil? margarine? apple sauce? and how much?

  39. Janet says:

    These cookies are AMAZING! I had to comment saying how great these turned out :) I am going to trick all my friends into eating them and then tell them what’s in it :)

  40. Katie says:

    Oh my word, these are amazing! I had to use Nutella instead of peanut butter, because my daughter is allergic to peanuts, but it still was wonderful! I’m not going to tell my hubby what is in them 😉 Thanks for a wonderful recipe!

  41. Laura says:

    These were amazing. I shared them with a coworker when I got into work today. She loved them. Then I told her that there were black beans in them. She couldn’t believe it. We decided we’d ask the guys if they wanted to try “black bean cookies” so there would be more for us. It didn’t work. They tried them and loved them too. LOL

  42. Samantha Leigh says:

    This sounds good! My husband and I like black beans anyway…I was wondering what a can comes out to? We have a big #10 can of black beans I’d use but I’m not sure how much?

  43. Katie says:

    A friend from work just pinned this recipe, so I’m sure I’m going to try it. I love black beans, I love chocolate. What if my hubby takes one bite and says, “Look what you did, you little jerk!” A little scared, but what the heck.

  44. carrie says:

    I was wondering if these cookies could be made with a flour that is wheat ( for those of us who can’t do gluten)?

  45. Renee says:

    I want to make these for myself and two of my besties who are all eating healthy currently. Do you know the calorie count for each cookie? Thanks!

  46. Debbie says:

    These cookies were surprisingly delicious! I consider all the ingredients healthy except for the white sugar, and would actually prefer them to be a little less sweet. Has anyone tried using an unprocessed sweetener with good results?

  47. Iris says:

    I stumbled on your recipe on Pinterest and was immediately curious about the taste. Before telling him about the special ingredient, I gave my boyfriend a cookie. He loved it, and the look on his face when I told him about the black beans.

    I wrote a blog about your recipe and your blog. I really like your healty recipes. Your family must be really happy with such a great cook in the house.

    Regards from the Netherlands.

  48. Katrina W. says:

    My toddler and I made these tonight. He loved helping with the food processor and putting the extra chocolate chips on the cookies. Afterwards, we both loved noshing on them. These are, without a doubt, my new favorite chocolate chip cookie, ever! Thank you so much for sharing this yummy recipe!!

  49. Heather Myers says:

    These were great! I hate black beans a la carte, but you truly can’t taste them in these cookies. My kids even liked them!

  50. Beth says:

    These look great! Just wondering, I only have regular blackbeans, not salt free, and my local grocer only carries low sodium, will this make a difference in baking or taste? Otherwise thanks for the incredible recipe! I can’t wait to try it!

    • Eliza says:

      Low-sodium or regular black beans will work fine! That’s what I actually used the first time. Just make sure you rinse the beans very well under hot water before baking, and you might want to omit the pinch of salt in the recipe.

    • Eliza says:

      Black beans are different than kidney beans, and I would probably suggest to just stick to black beans for this recipe. You could try it with kidney beans though- not sure how it would turn out!

  51. JenG says:

    I was skeptical – i’ve been burned by black bean recipes before- but these were truly great! fudgy and chocolatey…will definitely make again! thanks!

  52. Jenny says:

    Hi Eliza,

    I’ve been interested in baking more healthy desserts and this is a great contender! I was wondering, how much is 1 can of black beans. Do you mean 15oz cans?

    Thank you!

  53. jessica says:

    Woah! These are absolutely amazing! I’ve been baking alot lately and I realised I needed more really healthy cookie recpes . I came upon this recipe and I had everything at home to make it so I gave it a try. they turned out to be more delicious then I even tought! I decreased the sugar to 2 tbsp for my own preference and it was very yummy. Next time I’m going to experiment and substitute the sugar for dates and the wholewheat for oat flour. Thank you sooo much for this recipe.

    • Michel says:

      I am curious if you did try this with dates and if so how much? I am trying to avoid white sugar. I saw someone mention coconut sugar but I’d rather use dates! I just recently tried a different recipe that called for a date and water puree and I really liked it! TIA!

        • Michel says:

          Sorry, I was trying to reply to the commenter! Thanks for replying though! PS Dates are delicious! I first tried them in oatmeal (raisin date and walnut mmm!). I hadn’t really bought them until recently but they are good even by themselves!

  54. Amanda says:

    I made these tonight and they are sooooooo yummy!! I would have never guessed that they were healthy had I not made them myself! Found the recipe via babble. Excited to try some of your other stuff as well.

  55. Carlyn says:

    Hey Eliza! Just wanted to let you know that I tried out this recipe tonight and I loved it! I’ve made lots of black bean desserts in the past so I was more prepared for the taste/texture than someone who is used to more decadent desserts. I definitely loved the chocolate flavor in this but the texture was slightly one-noted (as to be expected with the black beans). Next time I think I’ll add something crunchy like toasted pecans or toffee bits! Thanks again!

    • Eliza says:

      That’s great! I’m so glad you liked it. Adding something crunchy like nuts is a great idea- maybe some chopped peanuts to complement the peanut butter in the recipe?

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