These protein brownies are ultra fudgy and taste just like regular brownies – no funny aftertaste or grittiness! They’re also gluten-free and dairy-free and have a paleo option.
First of all, these brownies are much fudgier than they look! The brownies in the photos were refrigerated so you could see their fudgy texture, but instead, they look a bit odd and perhaps… rubbery?
They are not at all rubbery. ;) Just fudgy!
I added chocolate protein powder, and then reduced the amount of cocoa powder, almond flour and sugar in the recipe.
I wanted to make my protein brownies have as much protein as possible without negatively affecting the taste and texture, so I thought almond flour was the way to go. Using almond flour adds 25 grams of protein to the whole batch, versus 8 grams that using regular flour would have added.
It’s not a huge amount of protein, but it’s still triple. And almond flour is definitely healthier than regular flour, so that’s another bonus. :)
Using chocolate protein powder adds another 25 grams of protein. That amount will vary a little depending on what kind of protein powder you use.
Chocolate protein powder
I think most brands of protein powder are pretty nasty, and I usually don’t like or can’t have the ingredients. The one that works for me is Paleo Thin Grass-Fed Beef Protein Double Chocolate.
The results were amazing! You absolutely can’t tell that there’s anything different about these brownies.
They taste amazing and have a fantastically fudgy texture. And if you use that brand, then these brownies are paleo.
When I read “beef protein,” I thought that it sounded horrendous, but bought some anyway. It absolutely doesn’t taste beefy. Mix it with some banana and yogurt, and you’ve got a super satisfying milkshake.
But I know that beef protein is a big fat no to some of you, so I found a vegan option – Dr. Murray Super Foods Chocolate Flavored Protein Powder. The brownies aren’t vegan because of the eggs, but the protein powder is vegan.
The results were just as tasty! I’m quite surprised.
I bought both of these from iHerb.com. It’s where I can buy US brands and have them shipped over here to Germany (for free, even, if I order over 35 euros!). I would buy locally if I could, but when I develop recipes for a US audience, I need to use US brands for certain things.
I just looked on US Amazon and they, unfortunately, don’t have either product. Amazon has a lot of products from Julian Bakery, including a chocolate pea protein powder, but the reviews aren’t nearly as positive as the ones on iHerb for the beef protein.
Baking with protein powder
If you use a different brand than the ones I mentioned above, your brownies might come out chalky. Or just plain bad. It’s impossible for me to say without trying it myself.
But these are some of the top-rated protein powders to bake with.
Whey protein powders
Whey protein powder is mild in flavor and works best in cakes, muffins, bars and ice cream. It is denser than some of the other protein powders.
- According to this Insider report, the top whey protein powder overall is Naked Chocolate Whey Protein. They boast of having no additives or artificial sweeteners. For each serving, there are 25 grams of protein with 5.9 grams of branched-chain amino acids.
Plus, their cows are grass-fed without using any growth hormones. They’re certified gluten-free, GMO-free and soy-free. For a plant-based option, they have a Chocolate Naked Pea Protein powder which again has only a few ingredients and is a dairy-free alternative.
- Levels Grass-Fed 100% Whey Protein has no GMOs and is pure chocolate flavored, and can be found easily at Wal-mart.
- Isopure Whey Isolate Protein Powder with Dutch chocolate flavor has vitamin c and zinc for immune support. It can easily be found on Amazon and has 25 grams of protein, zero carbs and is keto-friendly. It’s gluten and lactose-free.
- Whey Casein Blend – both whey and casein are made from milk. Blended together, you get a mild-tasting, smooth blend that works great in most baked goods.
As for brands, Naked keeps popping up. I like their mission of “with nothing to hide”, so you know exactly what is inside. It contains 25 grams of protein, zero sugar and 1 gram of carbs. But it doesn’t have chocolate for this type, and you definitely want that for this recipe.
Bluebonnet Nutrition Dual Action Protein Powder – Whey + Casein Chocolate Flavor might do the trick. The website I looked at had zero reviews, so if you try and it works, then you should definitely give them some feedback.
Pea protein powder
For those incorporating plant-based protein into your baked goods, pea protein is optimal. Pea protein sets itself apart from other protein powders because it doesn’t contain potential allergens such as wheat, dairy or egg.
It has a stronger flavor and is good for brownies, muffins and bars. It might, depending on what you’re baking, have a more chalky texture. It’s usually gluten-free, soy-free and vegan. But always pay attention to additives when you’re shopping around.
- Naked brand has a creamy chocolate pea protein powder, so it might work in these brownies.
- Growing Naturals only has 15 grams of protein per serving but is certified gluten-free, soy and corn-free, vegan and allergy-friendly.
- Another brand that is can easily be found at Costco is Orgain USDA Organic Simple Plant Protein Powder. It has 20 grams of plant protein, 4 grams of fiber, non-GMO and gluten, soy and dairy-free.
It’s made from nuts and seeds so if you’re also looking for nut-free powder, definitely go with a different brand. It’s flavored with vanilla or chocolate and would also be great in this Chocolate Banana Protein Shake.
Soy protein powder
This one is a great vegetable source of complete protein in a condensed powdered form. It tastes a bit nutty, it’s mild in texture and great for brownies, muffins and bars.
Now Sports Soy Isolate, Creamy Chocolate Powder and is a good choice for baked goods. It’s vegan, non-GMO, nut-free and gluten-free. You can find it online at iHerb, Amazon or the Now foods website. It can also be found at Walmart.
This is by no means a comprehensive list as there are many manufacturers producing protein powders.
When searching for the right one for you, be sure to read the labels on the manufacturer’s website to ensure you’re getting the right product for your baking and dietary needs.
Tips for baking with protein powder?
With each type of protein powder, there are different textures, and results will vary depending on the brand.
If you’re new to baking with protein, this guide from Avatarnutrition will help. They’ve broken down useful baking tips for each of the proteins mentioned above. I would definitely check it out.
Also, check out this Protein Cookie Dough for a super quick, 3-ingredient high-protein treat!
Can I use vanilla or unflavored protein powder?
Nope. You need to use chocolate protein powder for the brownies to have the right flavor. If you use vanilla protein powder, then you’d be missing cocoa powder.
Unflavored protein powder wouldn’t work because you’d be missing sweetness and cocoa powder.
I don’t recommend experimenting unless you’re okay with the brownies not coming out very well. I made 32 individual brownies to get the recipe perfect before making a whole batch. It takes a lot of fiddling!
Questions about these protein brownies?
- Can I use something instead of almond flour?
Almond flour is interchangeable only with other nut flours. Cashew flour or hazelnut meal might work, but I wouldn’t expect the texture to be the same because the fat content is different from almond flour.
I haven’t ever used almond meal, but it might work fine.
- Can I use homemade almond flour?
I can’t recommend it. You just can’t make it as fine as store-bought almond flour. The brownies will most likely be too greasy if you tried.
- Can I use cacao powder?
I’m not quite sure. I always use Dutch-process cocoa powder in my baked chocolate recipes, which results in a darker, richer, more chocolaty cake.
If you use cacao powder, which is lighter in both color and taste, your brownies won’t be as chocolaty and won’t be as sweet. That may or may not be a good thing, depending on your sweet tooth.
I’ve never tried this recipe with cacao powder, so I can’t say for sure that it’d come out well.
- Can I use something instead of coconut oil?
You can use regular or vegan butter in place of the oil. Canola oil, vegetable oil, and light olive oil also work.
- Do they taste like coconut?
If you use refined coconut oil, then no. They’ll taste super gooey and 100% like traditional brownies.
- Can I use something instead of coconut sugar / granulated sugar?
Subbing a liquid sweetener won’t work. There isn’t any liquid to reduce in order to make up for the added liquid, so it would either make the brownies cakey or you might have a liquidy mess. Other granulated sweeteners like maple sugar might probably work.
I’ve tried making these with keto sweeteners, and the oil separated. They were inedible. So I don’t recommend experimenting! I hope someday to post a keto brownie recipe.
- Can I reduce the sugar?
There’s been a lot of talk about this on the original recipe. People said that they reduced the sugar to almost nothing and they were still gooey. But that’s impossible. Or we have differing opinions of what gooey means. The less sugar you add, the cakier it gets and the less gooey they are. Sugar is a binder, so they might not hold together as well.
You might be able to knock off 1/4 cup of sugar, but don’t be surprised if they don’t have the perfect texture you see in the photos.
If you want something without refined sugar, check out my Matcha Protein Shake for another high-protein treat.
- What can I use instead of the eggs?
For this recipe, using the protein powder, I am not recommending using an egg replacer just yet.
I’ve tried and tried to replace eggs in brownies, and each time it has failed. It took me 9 years to finally do it (but without the protein)! If a vegan brownie is what you’re after, try these Paleo Vegan Brownies. Or if you only want a small amount, this Vegan Mug Brownie is quick to make and amazingly good.
- Do I have to use the chocolate chips?
Nope! These brownies are sweet enough without them. I just like chocolate chips in my brownies. Or you could top them off with my favorite Paleo Chocolate Fudge Frosting.
- Can I double this brownie recipe?
Yes! Just use a 9″x13″. I’m not sure of the baking time (I always forget to write that down), but it’s not that much longer than a single batch.
Easy high protein snacks
I have lots of brownie recipes, but if you’re looking to add plant protein into your diet, these sweet treats can help.
- These Peanut Butter Protein Balls are super easy to make. They’re high protein, healthy snack balls that are naturally gluten-free, whole grain, dairy-free with a vegan option.
- These Lemon Protein Balls are made with cashew butter, oats and a little zing of lemon zest for an afternoon pick-me-up. They’re naturally gluten-free, vegan, 100% whole grain and dairy-free.
- These Protein Pancakes are terrific! They get their protein from cottage cheese and Greek yogurt! They can be made gluten-free or whole grain.
- This Blueberry Avocado Smoothie gets its creaminess and protein from avocado. It’s a super bright way to start your day. Can easily be made paleo and vegan.
- If you’re a chocolate lover, try this Chocolate Avocado Smoothie. It’s lusciously thick and creamy and super chocolaty. It’s naturally gluten-free with paleo and vegan options.
That’s it for today! I hope you enjoy these Protein Brownies. If you make them, please leave a comment and let me know how they turned out!
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 16 brownies
- 1 1/4 cups (125 grams) finely blanched almond flour
- 1/2 cup (57 grams) Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup (29 grams) chocolate protein powder (see post for recommendations)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (196 grams) refined coconut oil, melted
- 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) coconut sugar or granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 large (50 grams each, out of shell) eggs, room temperature
- optional: mini chocolate chips to sprinkle on top
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C) and line an 8"×8" (20cmx20cm) pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the almond flour, cocoa powder, protein powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the coconut oil, sugar, and vanilla extract. Once combined, add the eggs one at a time, and stir just until combined.
- Add the dry mixture to the wet and stir just until almost no streaks of flour remain. Do not overmix!
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top.
- Bake for 18 minutes. The brownies will puff up a little bit and may crack a little bit around the edges and the top will appear dry and crisp (not at all wet). When you remove it from the oven and tilt the pan, it may appear to move a little but shouldn't look super jiggly. A toothpick inserted into the center will come out wet. A toothpick inserted into the sides will come out with some moist crumbs on it, but not totally raw batter. The brownies will continue to bake as they sit in the pan and will firm up as they cool.
- Let cool completely and refrigerate for at least 2 hours until fudgy.
- Refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze up to 3 months.
- If dairy-free, make sure to use dairy-free protein powder and use dairy-free chocolate chips.
- If paleo, use Paleo Thin Grass-Fed Beef Protein Double Chocolate protein powder and paleo chocolate chips.