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90-Calorie Protein Brownies with Crackly Tops

I’ve lost track of how many protein brownies I have attempted to make in the past. Every single time I try, the brownies end up insanely dense, rubbery, or dry.

That all changes today with these 90-calorie protein brownies with crackly tops.

Low calorie protein brownies

I haven’t attempted a brownie recipe in months, but I was suddenly craving brownies and decided to take a total shot in the dark. When these turned out as incredible as they did, I was in complete shock.

These brownies are moist, chewy, and even have those beautiful crackly tops that everyone loves.

Each protein brownie is 90 calories, 3g fat, 11g carbs, and 5g protein. This assumes you use sugar substitute, but even if you choose to use regular sugar, each brownie would still only contain 120 calories.

Protein brownie on plate

I’ve read virtually every article out there about how to achieve crackly top brownies, and it usually involves high fat content and/or unique mixing techniques. I knew I wanted to make low-fat brownies, and I was never going to use any advanced techniques, so I assumed that low-calorie crackly top brownies would forever remain a dream.

But, my friends, we’ve done it.

Now, I’ll be honest – these healthy low calorie brownies aren’t quite the same as your Grandma’s famous recipe. But for a low calorie brownie with only 90 calories, you’ll never come across a better option.

I could never lie to you and say that these will replace your favorite brownie recipe (because brownies are a near-perfect dessert), but these will 100% satisfy your brownie craving. Plus, they’re a hit with both kids and adults – my 2-year-old couldn’t get enough of them, and an entire batch disappeared from my kitchen in less than a day.

 

Ingredients for Perfect Low-Calorie Brownies

Bite of chewy low calorie brownie

The key to achieving a chewy and fudgy brownie without the fat is our secret ingredient: Greek yogurt.

Brownies need some kind of fat source to achieve the ideal texture. Whether that’s butter, coconut oil, or nut butter like peanut butter or almond butter, some kind of fat is always used. Luckily for us, Greek yogurt will yield a fudgy brownie without any of that.

Greek yogurt brownies are a little chewier than your normal melt-in-your-mouth gooey brownie, but they still turn out great. Regular yogurt will likely work in its place, but you’ll be missing out on the added protein.

In addition to Greek yogurt, you’ll need all-purpose flour, a whey/casein blend chocolate protein powder (PEScience’s chocolate truffle flavor is my go-to), and your choice of sugar or a granulated sugar substitute.

Melted chocolate is going to add incredible flavor and texture, while unsweetened cocoa powder (like Hershey’s Special Dark) intensifies the chocolate flavor even further.

Lastly, we’ll just need a little bit of milk to bring it all together, and we’ll have smooth, decadent brownie batter.

For an extra indulgent touch, feel free to mix in an additional 1-2 tablespoons of chocolate chips for gooey pockets of melted chocolate throughout. I like to add some chocolate chips right to the top of my brownies alongside some sea salt for a beautiful aesthetic, but of course, that is optional.

A Note on Sugar Substitutes

Sugar substitutes have been messing with my stomach lately, so I’ve shifted towards using regular sugar in my baking. It’s all experimental while I figure out what works and what doesn’t for my specific needs.

But even if I use regular sugar in my recipes, I’ll stick to writing them up with sugar substitutes as an ingredient. I’ll certainly make a note when I use real sugar, but I want to continue to include sugar substitutes for two reasons:

  1. Sugar substitute is a fantastic way to bring calories down in a recipe, and that is the goal for a lot of people reading the recipes on my site.
  2. Most sugar substitutes are used 1:1 for regular sugar in baking, so even if I use regular sugar in my recipe, the result should be virtually identical using sugar substitute.

When I made these healthy brownies, I used regular white sugar, so the calories were slightly higher (120 each). You can use any type of sugar you’d like: regular white sugar, coconut sugar, monk fruit sweetener, erythritol, whatever you prefer! As long as you use a 1:1 sugar replacement, it won’t alter the final results.

 

How to Make Low Calorie Protein Brownies

To make these protein brownies, start by preheating your oven to 350°F and mixing all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Melt your chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring every 15 seconds to prevent burning, then add the melted chocolate to the dry ingredients along with the Greek yogurt. Once you mix these together, you’ll be left with a crumbly mixture.

Crumbly brownie mixture

Gradually add 1/2 cup of milk while mixing until you have a smooth brownie batter, then fold in any additional mix-ins like extra chocolate chips or nuts if you want to go that route.

Gooey brownie batter

Pour the batter into a greased or parchment-lined 8×8 baking dish, then spread it around to make sure it is evenly distributed. I like to sprinkle a little sea salt and a few extra chocolate chips on top for added flavor, and the small amount of chocolate chips only adds a very small amount of extra calories.

Protein brownies before baking

Bake the healthy brownies for 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven and preferred texture. I baked mine for exactly 22 minutes, and while the center seemed underbaked when I pulled them out, it set as the brownies cooled.

Every oven, and even every pan, is different, so exact bake times will vary. If you prefer gooey & chewy brownies, 22 minutes should be perfect. If you prefer your brownies a bit cakier, bake these for 25 minutes.

Baked brownies after settling

Let the brownies cool completely before slicing, about 15-20 minutes. As they cool, you’ll see the center setting and developing that gorgeous crackly top, and the edges will shrink inward a bit.

If the tops don’t seem crackly, just wait until you slice them up. Once you slice these into 12 low-calorie brownies, you’ll be holding a healthy brownie with a beautiful crackly top.

Sliced up low-calorie brownies

If you want to store leftovers, they will remain fresh in an airtight container for a few days. Since Greek yogurt is involved, these shouldn’t be left out for more than a few days, so I would store them in the fridge (or you can freeze them) if you plan to enjoy them after three days or so.

Crackly top low-calorie brownie

 

More Protein-Packed Chocolate Recipes

If you love these low-calorie protein brownies, be sure to check out some of my other favorite chocolate-based recipes:

 

Low calorie protein brownies

90-Calorie Protein Brownies with Crackly Tops

Yield: 12 Brownies
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

As a brownie lover, I can assure you that these are the last protein brownies you will ever need. They are dense, chewy, and they even have those beautiful crackly tops you want on a brownie! Each brownie is just 90 calories with 5 grams of protein, making this a treat you can feel good about.

Ingredients

  • 90g (3/4 Cup) All-Purpose Flour
  • 33g (1 Scoop) Chocolate Whey/Casein Blend Protein Powder (see notes)
  • 100g (1/2 Cup) Sugar or Granulated Sugar Substitute (see notes)
  • 60g (1/4 Cup) Chocolate Chips or Chopped Chocolate (melted)
  • 15g (3 Tbsp) Cocoa Powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark for a bolder flavor)
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 210g (1 Cup) Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 Cup Milk of Choice (I used Nonfat Fairlife for extra protein)
  • Optional: Additional 15-30g (1-2 Tbsp) Chocolate Chips Mixed In

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Add all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, protein powder, cocoa powder, sugar, and baking soda). Mix to combine.
  3. Melt your chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 15 seconds at a time and stir the chocolate chips each time you stop the microwave to prevent them from burning. Continue until the chocolate is smooth, or around 1 minute.
  4. Add the melted chocolate to the dry ingredients along with the Greek yogurt and stir until a crumbly mixture forms.
  5. Add your milk a little bit at a time while mixing to thin out the batter. Adding a little bit at a time helps to make sure you end up with a smooth brownie batter.
  6. If you want additional chocolate chips, nuts, or any other mix-ins, fold them in at the end.
  7. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper. Pour your brownie batter into the pan and use a spoon or spatula to make sure it is evenly distributed. I like to top my brownies with a sprinkle of sea salt and a very small amount of chocolate chips for the added flavor, but both are optional.
  8. Bake the brownies at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. The exact time will vary based on your oven, your preferences, and the pan you use (different materials bake hotter than others). I baked my brownies for exactly 22 minutes. When I pulled mine out of the oven, the center seemed underbaked (which is safe with this eggless recipe) but it ended up setting as it cooled.
  9. Remove the brownies from the oven and allow them to fully cool before slicing, roughly 15-20 minutes. If the center is underbaked, it will set as it cools, so allow it time to fully cool before attempting to slice it.
  10. Slice into 12 brownies and dig in! Enjoy as-is or top with some ice cream for an extra indulgent treat.
  11. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to three days. If you'd like to store them for longer, keep them in the fridge or freeze them for a later date.

Notes

  • PEScience is my go-to protein for all recipes, but the chocolate truffle flavor works especially well in this recipe. Not only does the whey/casein blend work best for this recipe, but the chocolate flavor is perfect. I did not test with any other type of protein powder.
  • I baked my brownies using regular white sugar because it has been easier on my stomach lately. The nutrition facts assume you use a sugar substitute (with is a 1:1 substitute, so the results should be identical). If you use white sugar, each brownie will contain 120 calories in total.
  • If you prefer vegan brownies, I recommend leaving the protein powder out and swapping the Greek yogurt for a vegan yogurt instead. You'll lose the protein, but these will still be low calorie brownies.
  • Bake time for a recipe like this is totally subjective. If you prefer dense and chewy brownies, opt for closer to 20-22 minutes. If you prefer a little bit cakier, a full 25 minutes will work better for you.
  • If you end up undertaking these brownies, they will still be perfectly safe to eat, so fear not.
  • I was prepared to slice this batch into 9 brownies, but once I began slicing, I realized that 12 brownies worked well. I understand the appeal of larger brownies, and if you were to slice this into 9 larger brownies, each one would contain 115 calories and 7g protein.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 12 Serving Size 1 Brownie
Amount Per Serving Calories 90Total Fat 3gCarbohydrates 11gFiber 1gSugar 3.5gProtein 5g

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Share The Love

Aracely

Thursday 9th of May 2024

Can we use the PEScience unflavored protein powder for the flour?

Matt Rosenman

Wednesday 22nd of May 2024

Not in this case, there wouldn't be any structure to 'em

Max

Wednesday 8th of May 2024

Why is there no egg on the recipe? I've always used egg in any brownie whether it's protein or not? Just curious.

Matt Rosenman

Wednesday 8th of May 2024

It's a great question, because there are eggs in most brownie recipes. For this recipe specifically, the greek yogurt gives them all the moisture needed so they don't need any eggs. Eggs are the leavening agent if you need rise, but greek yogurt accomplishes it in this recipe. It's the same reason why "2 ingredient dough" made from flour + greek yogurt works, because yogurt can take on most the same properties that the fat of egg yolks and the rise of egg whites provides.

Ash

Friday 12th of April 2024

If we don’t have a chocolate whey/casein protein powder and only the PEScience multipurpose whey/casein protein powder, could we sub that and just add more cocoa powder for the chocolate flavor? If so, how much extra cocoa powder do you think would be needed?

Matt Rosenman

Thursday 18th of April 2024

Cocoa powder is pretty bitter, so I'd add 5 grams and maybe add an extra 5-10g of sweetener as well to compensate

Joel

Friday 12th of April 2024

Would adding some extra cocoa powder work if I just have a vanilla protein powder?

Matt Rosenman

Thursday 18th of April 2024

The flavor won't be quite the same because you'll be adding extra bitterness in there, but it should still work!

Lory

Friday 12th of April 2024

Thank you for adding cups, tablespoons and ounces to your recipes.

Matt Rosenman

Friday 12th of April 2024

Trying to do it where I can!

About Matt Rosenman

With over 15 years of experience in health and fitness, Matt Rosenman is the expert voice behind Cheatdaydesign.com. 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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