Spinach & Black Bean Brownies

I was partially giggling to myself when I wrote the title of the recipe I’ll be sharing today: Spinach & Black Bean Brownies. Sounds nasty and such a stereotypical “healthy vegan” thing to do, but, I promise, they are good!!!

To start, I highly recommend soaking your dates in water for at least an hour to help soften them up (alternatively, just make sure the dates are at room temperature and very soft):

Spinach & Black Bean Brownies from Carrie on Living | www.carrieonliving.com

Then, you combine the dates, black beans, almond butter, vanilla, chia seeds, oats and spinach into a high-speed blender:

Spinach & Black Bean Brownies from Carrie on Living | www.carrieonliving.com

It takes a little work using the tamper, but you’ll eventually get a smooth batter. If you really, really need to add more moisture to get the mixture blended, you can use a little unsweetened non-dairy milk, but try not to add too much.

Next, you just pour the batter into a large glass baking dish that has been sprayed lightly with non-stick cooking spray. I used my largest dish which measures 13″ x 9″. The idea is that the batter isn’t too thick, otherwise it won’t cook through.

Also, let me just note, the batter will be slightly green from the spinach, but it will turn brown when baked. If you have a picky annoying selective eater in the house like my husband, then I recommend not letting that person see the brownies at this stage:

Spinach & Black Bean Brownies from Carrie on Living | www.carrieonliving.com

They must be baked a long time, at least 45 minutes at 375 degrees. Try not to let the top burn like mine did. If you need to, drop the temperature to 350 for the last 10 minutes of baking (update: I have also baked them for almost two hours at 300 degrees and that works great, too):

Spinach & Black Bean Brownies from Carrie on Living | www.carrieonliving.com

I also make a frosting to go along with the brownies instead of making the banana ice cream; the frosting is made from cashews blended with dates, vanilla extract and unsweetened almond milk:

Spinach & Black Bean Brownies from Carrie on Living | www.carrieonliving.com

I also want to make a strong disclaimer here that the brownies will not be firm until after they are baked and chilled completely. In other words, you would ideally make these one day and serve them the next. When they come out of the oven, they are more of a pudding texture which is certainly delicious, but you can’t slice them like a traditional brownie until they are 100% cold from the fridge. Just letting you know, m’kay? 🙂

Here’s the printable recipes for both:

Spinach & Black Bean Brownies
This recipe is inspired by the Black Bean Brownies created by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, www.drfuhrman.com.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 10
  • 3 cups cooked black beans
  • 2 cups Medjool dates, pitted
  • ½ cup unsalted almond butter
  • ⅓ cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • ⅓ cup carob powder or ½ cup cocoa powder
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (if needed to blend)
  • Vanilla Cream Frosting (see below)
  1. Bring dates to room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 300° F.
  3. Lightly spray a large baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  4. Combine beans, dates, almond butter, oats, vanilla extract, chia seeds, spinach and carob or cocoa powder in a high-speed blender and process until as smooth as possible, using the tamper to push the ingredients into the blade. Add unsweetened soy milk if necessary to blend.
  5. Pour batter into baking dish and bake for one hour. Drop the temperature to 250° F and bake for another hour or until the top of the brownies have started to brown slightly.
  6. Alternatively, you can bake the brownies at 375° F for 45 minutes. If the top of the brownies begins to burn during the last 10-15 minutes of baking, drop the temperature to 350° F.
  7. Let brownies chill completely before serving, preferably overnight in the refrigerator. Serve with Vanilla Cream Frosting, if desired.

Vanilla Cream Frosting
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 10
  • ½ cup unsalted cashews
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup medjool dates, pitted
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Combine cashews, non-dairy milk, dates and vanilla in a high-speed blender and process until smooth.


Spinach & Black Bean Brownies from Carrie on Living | www.carrieonliving.com

I have to give Dr. Fuhrman credit for the original inspiration for black bean brownies. His recipe was featured on the Dr. Oz show a few months back and the recipe is available here. I’ve talked with several different friends about this recipe and the alterations that each of us has made over time.

Don’t ask me where I got the idea to add spinach to my version, but that’s the biggest change that I’ve made, along with increasing the number of dates to sweeten them up and make them husband-friendly. Oh yeah, I also use carob instead of cocoa powder so I don’t have to worry about the stimulating effects of the chocolate keeping me up at night, but you can decide for yourself whether you want to use carob or cocoa powder, they are interchangeable.

My goal is to provide inspiration for healthy, balanced living. You can find more links on my Recipes and Resources pages.

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  1. says

    girl! ? where in the heck did you get the idea of spinach?! I love it. I’ve made the black bean brownies before. Hit! I guess spinach is no different from zucchini in say muffins or chocolate kale chips. Nice out of the box thinking. Bravo! x

  2. Kim says

    Ok I love spinach and I love black beans and even love the combo… but I never would have thought of putting them together in brownie form.
    I am intrigued and will have to try this.
    I’m sending you so many positive vibes for Monday I’m about to burst!

  3. says

    I love the look of the black bean brownies! Yum! I love anything with black beans in! I shared my Black Bean Salad today!

    Hope you have a lovely weekend brave lady!

    Vicky x

  4. says

    YUM!!! I LOVE using beans in baked goods (actually I’m kind of obsessed with using beans in sweet ANYTHING!) I really really dig your addition of spinach…. bet my little one would love these…. especially with that dreamy looking sauce to accompany!

    You are in my thoughts Carrie – both your health and your study!

    • says

      Hi Lou! I am inspired by your continued creative use of beans and I love reading about what you’re up to on your blog. Your little one is adorable and I wish I could send you some of these brownies, along with the frosting. 🙂

  5. Amanda says

    If you have to work hard at it in a vita mix, I doubt it will hold up in my food processor (the only thing I have other than a bullet and kitchenaid) thoughts?

    • says

      Hi Amanda! I think you could do the food processor as long as you soaked the dates so they are really soft. You might try a half batch, too, just so you don’t overload the bowl. Let me know if it works for you!!!

  6. Caroline says

    I agree that those black bean brownies are the best and I will definitely try your version with the spinach next time I make a batch. Thanks for the idea about soaking the dates; it will make my food processor a much happier machine 🙂 !!

    Just a side note to let you know that you will be in my prayers for this coming week as you undergo your surgery. I am sure that all will be fine and everything will progress smoothly but having a few prayers and positive thoughts coming your way can only help right? You sound so upbeat and strong and I can feel your energy simply from reading your excellent and thoughtful blog posts. Of course you have educated yourself and have done lots of advance planning which helps you mentally as well as practically deal with diagnosis and surgery. Stay strong and I look forward to reading more of your blog after you recover from this detour on your road to excellent health! All the very best, Caroline

  7. Jan says

    Sorry, Carrie. This one did not pass the chocolate substitute test for me. I’ve tried to love black bean brownies time and time again. I think I will stick to some other sweets to get me through. Don’t take it personally; it’s not just *your* BBB recipe that didn’t do it for me.

    I am glad these carried you through your difficult times & I’m happy you are healing well and getting back into the groove. Looking forward to Immersion in December!

    • says

      I totally understand, Jan. My husband doesn’t love the black bean brownies, either, which is why I made a frosting for them; he could just eat that and be happy. I can’t wait for the Immersion, either!!! 🙂

  8. Yvonne says

    Just sharing this one with the family on FB thanks Carrie, hoping hubby enjoys it enough to stay out the cookie jar 🙂

  9. Yvonne says

    Carrie my first batch on the weekend burnt on the bottom, so I gave hubby the burnt bits and I ate the rest smothered in frosting, ah I was in heaven lol I used small patty pans for my second batch and have cute little brownie cakes, they turned out great, I have to stop myself from eating too many…. must only eat when hungry….. lol 🙂

    Hubby likes them but prefers Dr Fs Antioxidant-Rich Breakfast Bars and since I prefer the brownies that works out well 😉

    I am going to see if I can fool my young grandsons by calling them chocolate cakes, the five year old is a fussy eater so lets see 🙂

    • says

      Hi Yvonne! I’m sorry your batch burned on the bottom, how long did you cook it for? I’m just curious. I’m glad you liked the overall flavor, though. I love them and could eat them every day. Let me know what your grandsons think; that would be awesome if they liked them!

  10. says

    I’m a little late to the black bean brownie craze, but I just put a batch of these in the oven, which means I also just licked a whole bunch of batter off of my hands and the blender. Heh. I added a bit of salt because I don’t usually avoid it, but I imagine it’s not necessary. I was thinking of subbing a ripe banana or two for some of the dates next time for a banana bread version. I’m already impatient to try them!

  11. Trish says

    Carrie! These are awesome! Thanks for the recipe. My 83 year old mom loves these for breakfast with fresh berries. And, the beans help keep her blood sugars stable (she’s diabetic). She’s even asked me to make a batch just for her breakfasts when she travels to California next month.

  12. Kelly B says

    Hi Carrie! I am about to try this recipe and had a question about the blending process. I have the same Vitamix 5200 that you do but I am a “beginner” as I have only had it for just over a week. Can you tell me the speeds you used, etc? I don’ t want to break it, haha. Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Kelly! Sorry it took me awhile to respond to your message. Yeah, making the brownie batter is a bit tricky, you’ll need to use the tamper and just get it going on as high of a speed as you can to get the dates to break down. I recommend having your dates at room temperature when you start so they are really soft. I have over-heated my Vitamix on more than one occasion making this recipe, but, don’t worry, you won’t break it. Let me know how you fare!

  13. Mirjam says

    mmmm.. i just made this brownie for my dads birthday… the dough was sooooo deli that i ate half of it!! it just came out of the oven & i tried a bit… amazing!! and even my dad said it was really good (he has a huge sweet tooth)…
    i am gonna make the vanilla cream frosting too and tell you how i liked it with that..


  1. […] if you’re looking for an oil-free version of brownies, then you might want to consider this one that does include beans as well as almond butter. Or, if you’re looking to cut back on the […]

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