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Dark Chocolate Espresso Protein Brownies

If you’re on team fudgy brownie, this is the recipe for you.

There are probably one million brownie recipes floating around the internet, so if you prefer a cakey brownie, you’ll be better off finding a different recipe. I do have another brownie recipe on my blog that I love, and I’d say it’s a cross between fudgy and cakey, so it might be worth checking out.

These are the kind of brownies that you’re going to want to sit down and enjoy with a glass of milk. Dense, fudgy, and chocolatey. I don’t know about you, but that’s how I believe brownies should be enjoyed!

And these brownies use absolutely no flour, so gluten-free friends rejoice!

What makes these brownies different?

If you’ve made my protein brownies before, these are going to be slightly different. There’s a few reasons…

  1. The ratios are adjusted to have slightly less protein. These brownies still pack 9g per brownie, which is quite high! I scaled back the protein powder in this recipe slightly, because baking protein is what will quickly dry out baked goods. Since we want these to be nice and fudgy, I had to lower the amount slightly.
  2. This recipe uses Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder. You can use regular ol’ cocoa powder, but Dutch processed is extra dark and gives these brownies such an amazing dark chocolate flavor. I use “Hershey’s Special Dark” which I find at my local Kroger or Target.
  3. I cut the sweetener way down in this recipe. I was worried that these wouldn’t be sweet enough, but they definitely are! This recipe essentially cuts the sweetener 2/3 from my original recipe, but it works really well. I don’t particularly enjoy eating dark chocolate, but the darker, richer chocolate works insanely well here.
  4. The addition of instant espresso.

Why add instant espresso powder to these brownies? I purchased instant espresso for my previous recipe, Espresso Chocolate Chip Popsicles, and wanted to find another use for it.

After doing a bit of research, I discovered that instant espresso isn’t used too often for drinking. Of course you can use it to make espresso, which is what the product is intended for, but it turns out that it is very popular in baking.

When espresso is paired with chocolate, it magnifies the chocolate and gives you a really rich, deep chocolate flavor. You end up not really tasting espresso at all! If you’re not a fan of coffee, you’ll still love these brownies. Once baked, all you’ll taste is a super rich chocolate unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. Try it for yourself and see!


What protein should you use?

If you’ve made any of my recipes before, you know I use either a whey protein, or a whey/casein blend. With this recipe, I used a whey protein powder.

I chose to go with this protein because I’ve used it for brownies in the past with success, and I happened to have a chocolate whey protein powder which I wanted to use. That being said, a vanilla whey protein will work great. We use enough chocolate in this recipe that it won’t make a difference! I just wanted EXTRA chocolatey flavor, so I stuck with a chocolate whey protein.

You can probably use a whey/casein blend powder like PEScience or Quest, but I did not test that with this recipe. My guess would be that you would get a similar result, but since these brownies are flourless, they might lack structure. I don’t think a vegan powder will work without any flour to act as a binder, but feel free to try and let me know if it works for you.


How long should you bake brownies?

If you’re looking at the photo of my brownies and thinking they look undercooked, that’s because they are. This is where your best judgement comes into play. This recipe does include eggs, so you need to be careful with underbaking. For me, I wanted them to be soft and fudgy, so I pulled them a little sooner than I probably should have, but I fell in love with the result.

The recipe below is going to call for a 22 minute bake time- I pulled mine at 20 minutes, but an extra 2 minutes seems like it would have been perfect. The usual toothpick testing method for these brownies won’t necessarily work since they are so fudgy and the toothpick probably won’t come out clean, so use your best judgement!

Just remember that these will continue to cook and firm up in the pan once you pull them from the oven, so you don’t want to overbake them. Follow the recipe and you should be golden!


Can these brownies be stored?

Oh yes! I put these in an airtight container and snacked on them for a few days, so I’d give them up to a week.

If you’re a fan of fudge, try putting these in the fridge. I did that with two of these brownies, and they ended up tasting like squares of fudge. I kid you not. They firm up quite a bit and take on the consistency of a really rich fudge.

I’ll add more specific substitution notes below the recipe!

And if you’re a fan of brownies, you’re in the right place. Here are a few of my other brownie related recipes:


Dark Chocolate Espresso Protein Brownies

Dark Chocolate Espresso Protein Brownies

Yield: 9 Brownies
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 27 minutes

These brownies promise to be the richest, fudgiest brownies you've ever had. Pairing espresso with chocolate creates a deep chocolate flavor unlike anything else!


  • 70g (2.5 Scoops) Chocolate Whey protein (I used Bowmar Nutrition)
  • 25g Dutch Process (Dark) Cocoa Powder
  • 30g Granular Sugar Substitute (I used Swerve)
  • 3g (2 Tsp) Instant Espresso Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 cup Sugar-Free Maple Syrup
  • 75g Canned Pumpkin (Pumpkin Puree)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 32g (2 Tbsp) Creamy Peanut Butter (or other nut butter)
  • 28g (2 Tbsp) Light Butter
  • 42g Lily's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (any chocolate chips will work)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F
  2. In a small bowl, add your chocolate chips, peanut butter, and light butter. Microwave for 15-30 seconds until melted. Tip: add your light butter to the bowl first and then your chocolate chips & peanut butter on top of it. Butter likes to pop in the microwave and make a mess if it’s on top. Take the mixture out of the microwave and stir until you have a smooth chocolate, then set aside to cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix the eggs, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Mix just enough so everything is combined, but try not to whip air into the mixture. Too much air will make your brownies more cakey than we want.
  4. Add your melted chocolate mixture (once cooled) into your liquids and stir together.
  5. Add your remaining dry ingredients into the bowl and mix until you have a smooth batter. I prefer adding one ingredient at a time, but you can also mix all your dry ingredients together in a separate bowl to add them together.
  6. Generously spray an 8×8 baking pan with cooking spray, pour your batter in and add to the oven.
  7. Bake for 22-25 minutes. As noted above, I pulled mine at 20 minutes and they were slightly undercooked, so 22 minutes should be perfect. However, you can use your best judgement here. Just note that they will continue baking for a few minutes once removed from the oven.
  8. Remove the brownies and let sit for roughly 1 hour. You CAN enjoy them sooner, but give them at least 30 minutes before cutting into them. The flavor intensifies as these sit, and they firm up enough to slice cleanly. Slice into 9 brownies and enjoy!
Nutrition Information
Yield 9 Serving Size 1 Brownies
Amount Per Serving Calories 105Total Fat 6gCarbohydrates 6gFiber 3gSugar 1gProtein 9g

Did you make this recipe?

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Notes for substitutions:
  • When it comes to liquid sweeteners, you can use regular maple syrup, agave, honey… but as always, it will change up the macros.
  • Don’t swap the peanut butter out for a powdered peanut butter, It will save your calories, but the tradeoff in consistency isn’t worth it. We need the fat from the peanut butter! That being said, any other nut butter will work.
  • Canned pumpkin is the magic ingredient that keeps these really moist. There really isn’t a solid substitute without changing up the entire recipe.
  • If you don’t have instant espresso, you can use any coffee you have, just make sure it’s ground up VERY finely so it doesn’t make your brownies gritty. You can leave it out all together, but that defeats the purpose of this recipe.
  • Any flavor of protein powder will work, but I only tested these with whey protein.
  • Do you want to make these cakey? Well, you might need a different recipe, but you CAN add a teaspoon of baking powder to the batter to poof these up a little bit.

*** I do not count sugar substitutes in the macros above. When it comes to sugar substitutes, some people like to count the carbs, but I do not. Since they contribute zero calories, the impact of those carbs is negligible and not worth counting. If you include them, the carb count might be slightly higher, but the net carbs will remain the same.

Share The Love


Friday 16th of October 2020

Damn right! ?


Thursday 6th of August 2020

Do you have to include the pb/nut butter?


Sunday 9th of August 2020

Not necessarily, but the fat it provides helps these hold onto moisture and give them the consistency we want. You can swap it out for butter or something like coconut oil, if you prefer.


Friday 24th of July 2020

Wtf is sugar free Maple syrup? There is no such thing. You probably mean pancake syrup.


Friday 24th of July 2020

Sugar Free Maple Flavored Syrup, if you want to get technical. But it is very much a thing.


Monday 20th of July 2020

I was so excited to try these! But they ended up dry. I used gold standard whey and didn’t use powdered PB. I’m hoping to toss them and try again, but I’m not sure how to fix it. I pulled them at 20 minutes but they were spongy and dry, but I hope they turn out!


Wednesday 22nd of July 2020

Oh no! Did you happen to make any other substitutions? They definitely should not be dry at all!


Monday 20th of July 2020

Too dry?! Whey only maybe caused this?


Wednesday 22nd of July 2020

They should definitely not be dry- I tested a few versions and the one posted came out super fudgy. Did you make any other substitutions?

About Matt Rosenman

With over 15 years of experience in health and fitness, Matt Rosenman is the expert voice behind Matt’s philosophy is simple: no foods are off-limits, and a healthy lifestyle shouldn't be complicated or restrictive. As a former certified personal trainer with a bachelor’s degree in Health Behavioral Sciences, Matt brings well-rounded expertise to his blog. From revamping classic recipes with a nutritious twist to breaking down fast food menus, his goal is make healthy living less confusing for everyone. Featured in major publications and with a strong following on social media, Matt is committed to making “healthy” uncomplicated—no matter where you are in your health journey. Join Matt on his mission to simplify health without sacrificing flavor. Learn More

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