I know these delicious Healthy Chocolate Brownies will be a huge hit with your family because 1. chocolate and 2. deliciousness. And as they’re lower in sugar, made with wholegrain flour and have the added nutritional boost from grated zucchini (hence the ‘healthy’ part of the title), they make the perfect healthier sweet treat. They’re super easy and quick to make. This recipe was originally published in 2018 and has been updated with new photography in 2023.
These fudgy zucchini brownies were developed several years ago when my husband had jetted off on a boys weekend, leaving me solo parenting three small children. And to anyone put in such a situation, I say brownies are an essential item.
Why you’ll love these Healthy Chocolate Brownies
- These brownies taste amazing, sweet but not overly so and they have a lovely fudgy texture
- They are made with simple ingredients that you will probably already have at home
- They are totally guilt free, as they’re healthier option made with wholegrain flour, lower sugar and grated zucchini – so these are perfect for school lunches
- They are quick! You can be eating them within the hour
“Are these really healthier?” I hear you ask. And I say, yes they are! I’m always looking for ways I can sneak a bit of extra nutrition into my kids and reduce discretionary sugars. And these Healthy Chocolate Brownies were developed with this in mind.
My Healthy Chocolate Brownies only contain a third of a cup of maple syrup and 50g of dark chocolate chips along with a ripe banana to make these delicious brownies. Generally traditional brownie recipes call for over one and a half cups of sugar and 200g of chocolate. So this is a big reduction in sugar!
The addition of wholemeal flour and zucchini also boosts the nutrient content of these fudgy zucchini brownies. And don’t worry, you can barely see the zucchini, and you definitely cannot taste it! So, this recipe is truly a win win! Not only do they taste great…but they are better for you!
Ingredients and substitutions
You’ll likely have most of these simple ingredients for this lower sugar brownie recipe at home already. But if not, you’ll find these at your supermarket. The quantity information is included in the recipe card. You can either scroll to find this or navigate above and click the ‘jump to recipe’ button.
- Overripe banana – this helps to substantially reduced the sugar in this recipe. The riper the banana is the more sweet it will be so chose a banana that has lots of brown spots and is a bright yellow colour. I like to mash my banana on a clean wooden chopping board with a fork. This helps to create a really smooth mash.
- Melted butter – this really enhances the flavour of the brownies. You can use a 1/2 cup (125ml) low flavoured olive oil but the flavour profile will differ.
- Maple syrup – I use pure maple syrup, not flavoured maple syrup. I love the caramel-like flavour of maple syrup in baking.
- Eggs – these help make the creamy, fudgy texture in brownies and bind the ingredients together. I use large eggs as standard in my recipes.
- Vanilla extract – I use a quality extract as opposed to synthetic essence in my recipes as I really taste the difference. Vanilla helps sweeten and amplifies the flavour of the chocolate brownies.
- Cocoa powder – makes these Healthy Chocolate Brownies…chocolate! Make sure to sift the cocoa to remove any lumps. You can substitute with powdered cacao.
- Zucchini – I finely grate the zucchini and it practically melts away. You don’t need to squeeze the excess liquid from the zucchini as you want to capture all the moisture and goodness from this amazing versatile veggie! Zucchini is also known as a courgette, and it’s nutrient dense vegetable that is packed Vitamin A and minerals.
- Chocolate chips – I use dark chocolate chips in this recipe but you could use milk chocolate if you prefer. You can also use baking melts or a block of baking chocolate – just chop the chocolate into smaller bits. Or bigger…no judgement.
- Plain wholemeal flour – you could use plain flour if you don’t have wholemeal flour. I would not recommend self raising flour for this recipe.
- Baking powder – gives a slight rise to the brownie without making too cakey.
- Salt (optional) – you may want to add a small pinch of salt to enhance the flavours of this healthy chocolate brownie.
How to make Healthy Chocolate Brownies
These zucchini chocolate brownies are really super simple to make. Firstly, preheat your oven to 175c and grease and line a slice pan. Mine is 27.5cmx17.5cmx3.5cm. Next, melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly. Then mash your banana and add into a mixing bowl and add in the butter, maple syrup, eggs and vanilla extract. Now, whisk together until smooth and then sift in the cocoa powder.
Next, whisk in the cocoa until a smooth chocolate mixture forms. Then add in your grated zucchini and chocolate chips and mix until combined.
Next, add in the wholemeal flour and baking powder (you can also add in a small pinch of salt if you’d like) and stir until just combined. Finally, transfer into your prepared slice pan and spread evenly. Bake for around 12 – 15 minutes, until the brownie is just cooked through. Different ovens will vary so I recommend you keep a close eye on the brownie so you get the texture you like!
Can I freeze these zucchini chocolate Brownies?
Yes! You will find these zucchini brownies freeze beautifully. After baking, set aside to cool and then portion into your desired pieces. I tend to make the potion slices quite small so I can pop into school lunches. Then, store in a container with baking paper between each layer so they don’t stick together.
Want more chocolate deliciousness? You will also adore these recipes:
You can’t beat a chocolate hit in the lunchbox (or anytime really!) and these are some of our favourite chocolate flavoured treats.
- Chocolate Chia Pudding – this is a protein packed lunchbox option that is perfect to prepare ahead of time.
- Nut Free Chocolate Bliss Balls – These are a much loved bliss ball in my house, they store really well and taste great! And nut free means they are great to send to school!
- Love the idea of getting more veggies into baking? Me too! And these Chocolate Muffins with Sweet Potato tick all the boxes – nutritious, delicious and fun!
- You will also love this Chocolate Orange Sweet Potato Brownies – a variation of these popular brownies!
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These Healthy Chocolate Brownies are a healthier take on a chocolate brownie. They have lower sugar than a traditional brownie and are made with wholemeal flour and has zucchini added for a nutritious boost.
- 125g butter melted
- 100g (one large) extra ripe banana mashed
- 1/3 cup (80ml) maple syrup
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup (50g) sifted cocoa
- 100g (1 medium) grated zucchini
- 1/3 cup (50g) dark chocolate chips
- 1 1/4 cup (150g) wholemeal flour
- 1/4 tsp of baking powder
- Pinch of salt (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 175c and grease and line a 27.5cm x 17.5cm x 3.5cm slice pan
- Melt the butter in the microwave and allow to cool slightly
- Mash the banana until it forms a smooth paste with no lumps
- Add into a bowl along with the butter, maple syrup, vanilla and eggs and whisk thoroughly together
- Sift the cocoa into the bowl and whisk the mixture until well-combined
- Mix in the zucchini and chocolate chips and then fold through the flour and baking powder until just combined
- Spread into the prepared slice pan and bake at 175c for around 12-15 minutes or until the brownie is just cooked through and the top bounces back when lightly touched.
- Allow to cool in the pan before removing and cutting into portions.
Keep a close eye on your brownies so you get the texture you’d like. I like mine fudgier and take them from the oven closer to the 12 minute mark.