Healthy Pumpkin Brownies (102 Calories + Gluten-Free)
If you’re here, it’s probably because you love chocolate — I do too! I eat some type of chocolate every day, whether it’s a piece of a candy bar or a few chocolate chips sprinkled in oatmeal breakfast cookies or on top of banana bread. So naturally, I’m constantly looking for new ways to treat my sweet tooth that are somewhat healthy.
There are many “healthy” brownie recipes out there and I must have tested nearly all of them. The black bean brownies I’ve tried are too dense and not chocolatey enough (though maybe I’ll workshop them another day). The easy healthy brownies tend to have a ton of nut butter in them, so calories and fat, even if it is unsaturated fat, add up quickly.
I wanted something lower calorie, but still satisfyingly chocolatey, and finally landed on this healthy pumpkin-based brownie recipe.
What Makes These Brownies “Healthy”?
While even healthy desserts consist of sugar, carbs, and fats, we can choose ingredients that are better than the empty calories in refined sugars and flours.
This healthy brownie recipe has minimal refined sugar (it’s only in the chocolate chips), no butter, and is gluten-free and dairy-free (assuming you don’t use milk chocolate). I prefer the flourless version of these brownies, though depending on what type of brownie texture you like, you might want to throw a little in — more on that below.
Nut butter substitutes butter or oil. It contains healthier fats and more vitamins, minerals, and protein. Almond butter provides a more neutral flavor, and you can easily make your own with a blender or food processor. It’s also a good source of vitamin E, iron, and calcium. Peanut butter is also a great option, though gives the brownies a more nutty flavor.
These brownies use pumpkin puree as the base, but don’t worry, it doesn’t give them a strong pumpkin flavor. Even better, pumpkin is nutrient dense but fairly low calories! It’s also rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium.
The best part about these brownies? Each one is 102 calories with 5.1 grams of fat, 14 grams of carbs, and 2.6 grams of protein.
What is the Texture Like?
These brownies are gooey and slightly cakey, especially when they first come out of the oven. I tried a bunch of variations to get a denser texture, but kept coming back to this version where the sweetness and chocolateness really shine through.
I recommend storing these in the refrigerator, which will make them firmer and help them keep for longer. People even mentioned they liked the brownies better after being refrigerated!
If you prefer a denser brownie, add half a cup of flour. I’ve tested out oat flour and almond flour, though any flour will do. You can make oat flour by blending up oats until they’re a fine consistency.
Tips for Making Flourless Brownies
There are so many substitutes, additions, and variations that could work for these brownies! Here are a few tips to help you modify them based on your preference and what’s in your pantry:
- No pumpkin, no problem. While a can of pumpkin is a great base for these brownies, sweet potato puree or butternut squash also work!
- Go nuts. Any nut butter will do. I typically use almond butter or peanut butter, depending on my mood. You can easily whip up your own almond butter at home by baking almonds for 10 minutes at 350℉ and then blending them until they turn into butter.
- Know your cocoa powder. I like to use dark cocoa powder for a richer flavor. You could also try Dutch-process cocoa powder. Dutch-process cocoa powder is neutral, so it won’t react with baking soda. However, baking soda isn’t really needed — it just creates a cakier brownie.
- Swap the sweetener. I personally like the flavor of honey, but you can also use maple syrup or other sugar substitutes to sweeten these pumpkin brownies.
- Change up your chocolate. Chocolate chips are convenient, but you can up the level of your brownies by chopping up your chocolate bar of choice. This can make the brownies even more rich and gooey as the chocolate will melt into the batter more, unlike chocolate chips which are meant to keep their shape.
- Add some instant coffee. A tablespoon of instant coffee will further enhance the chocolate flavor without overpowering it!
Once you decide how you’re going to customize your brownies, all you have to do is mix all the ingredients together and pop them in the oven.
To check that they’re done, I touch the center to make sure it feels firm and is a similar texture to the brownies towards the sides of the pan. You could also use the toothpick test — if you stick a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean, they’re ready.
How to Store Your Brownies
I recommend storing these brownies in the fridge, which will not only improve their texture, but also make them last longer! The first time I tested this recipe I stored them on the counter, and all the moisture in them made for a short shelf life (they were moldy in about three days). You can store them for up to five days, but let’s be honest, are they actually going to last that long?
Good luck and happy baking! I hope you enjoy these brownies as much as I do.
Healthy Brownie Recipe with Pumpkin Puree
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup nut butter
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup honey (or sweetener of choice)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF and grease and 8×8 baking pan.
- Mix together the pumpkin puree, nut butter, honey, and egg.
- Slowly add the cocoa powder and other dry ingredients.
- Add chocolate chips and coffee powder (if you're using it).
- Pour the mixture into your pan and bake for 28-30 minutes or until the center is firm.