The PERFECT Gluten-Free Brownies – These almond flour brownies are everything I’m looking for. They’re fudgy and rich, chocolatey and delicious, all without gluten, grains, or dairy! (Paleo-friendly)
Post updated Feb 2021. Originally posted March 2015.
It’s hard to believe we’ve been gluten-free for almost EIGHT years! Back when we were getting started, gluten-free dairy-free baking felt a bit like the wild west since there weren’t a ton of gluten-free blogs out there. (Yes, I feel 9,000 years old typing that.) At the beginning, gluten-free baking involved a lot of experimenting, a lot of mistakes, and some pretty serious flops.
That’s part of what made these gluten-free brownies feel so magical all those years ago. They were one of the first gluten-free baking recipes we just NAILED.
They were everything I was missing and craving in a traditional brownie–fudgy and rich with gorgeous crackly tops and decadently chocolatey insides. I absolutely love them. I’ve made them countless times over our gluten-free years, enjoying them plain, dressing them up for the holidays with peppermint, tossing them into homemade ice cream, building epic sundaes with dairy-free hot fudge sauce…they’re the brownies I come back to over and over again.
They’re the almond flour brownies that just won’t let you down. Here’s what you’ll need to get started…
HERE’S WHAT GOES INTO OUR PERFECT GLUTEN-FREE BROWNIES:
- ALMOND FLOUR. Finely ground, blanched almond flour (not almond meal), is better than any other gluten-free flour I’ve tried for brownies. They get that gorgeous fudgy texture I love so much (I’m not a cake-y brownie fan), and I love that the flour isn’t empty calories. Instead, it’s just ground almonds!
- UNSWEETENED COCOA POWDER. To punch up that seriously chocolate flavor we’re looking for, I add a few tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder. It works wonders! I’ve made these with both traditional unsweetened cocoa powder and Dutch-processed/dark cocoa powder. Both will work!
- BAKING POWDER + SALT. A little salt helps balance those lovely flavors–don’t skip it! Then, to get that lovely puff, I add some baking powder. If you’re strictly paleo, you’ll need to use paleo-approved baking powder (that doesn’t contain cornstarch)
- CHOCOLATE CHIPS. Most of the chocolate flavor and quite a bit of the structure of these gluten-free brownies comes from melting chocolate chips. I use allergy-friendly semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips like these or these, but you can use your favorite. These ones are naturally-sweetened and paleo-approved, but readers have also made them with stevia-sweetened chocolate chips and more!
- COCONUT OIL (OR BUTTER OR VEGAN BUTTER OR AVOCADO OIL!). For the fat (which helps you get that dense fudgy texture), you can make your gluten-free brownies with melted coconut oil, butter, vegan butter, or avocado oil. They will all work in this recipe!
- EGGS + COCONUT SUGAR. Another trick, which helps you get that gorgeous crackly top, is to whisk-whisk-whisk the eggs and coconut sugar together until they’re lighter in color and smooth. Don’t skimp here since it really helps with the texture! I’ve used coconut sugar in our gluten-free brownies, which is lower on the glycemic index, but if you don’t have it or like it, feel free to substitute white sugar, brown sugar, or even something like maple sugar. It will all work.
- VANILLA. To round off the wet ingredients, you’ll add some vanilla to the gluten-free brownie batter. It really punches up the chocolate flavor!
- MORE CHOCOLATE CHIPS. Lastly, I like folding in another 2/3 cup of chocolate chips. They’re DELIGHTFUL in the baked brownies, like little chocolatey surprises in every bite. If you prefer, you can use chopped nuts here instead.
5 TRICKS FOR THE BEST GLUTEN-FREE BROWNIES:
The technique isn’t fussy, but I have found that following a few ground rules really helps guarantee success. Here are my best notes after years of making and enjoying these almond flour brownies…
1. LINE YOUR PAN WITH PARCHMENT. Lining the pan with parchment means your brownies will lift easily out of the pan. I highly recommend using it whenever possible so your brownies will cut neatly and won’t stick to the pan. (See the video if you need a visual)
2. WHISK THE EGGS + SUGAR LONG ENOUGH. WHISKING THE EGGS & SUGAR. You really don’t want to rush or skip this step, since it’ll help you achieve that delightful crackly top and will give your gluten-free brownies a bit more structure. When you whisk them and lift up the whisk, the mixture should stream down pretty evenly in “ribbons” rather than in big lumpy clumps. Also, when you rub the mixture between clean fingers, you shouldn’t feel much grit from the sugar. If you’re not there yet, just keep whisking! You’ll whisk for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture is *slightly* lighter in color, streams down from the whisk in a smooth line (i.e. passing the ribbon test), and doesn’t feel gritty when rubbed between your fingers.
3. DO NOT SUBSTITUTE THE FLOUR. If you want to be sure your brownies turn out here, you MUST use almond flour. Substituting coconut flour, almond meal, or gluten-free all-purpose flour WILL NOT give you the same results. (Coconut flour without adjusting other ingredients = dry crumbly brownies. Gluten-free all-purpose flour will have more dry/cakey texture.)
4. DO NOT OVER-BAKE. My trick for decadently fudgy brownies (instead of cakey brownies) is always to pull them out when the center is juuuust about set. They’ll finish setting as they cool and won’t end up too crispy or dried out.
5. COOL THEM BEFORE CUTTING. Trust me, I know how tempting it is to cut into warm, gooey gluten-free brownies, but I pinky promise that they will cut better and be more set if you can wait till they cool. You’ll actually get the neatest cut if you chill them in the refrigerator, but letting them cool completely on the counter will also help a lot.
FAQ + TIPS & TRICKS FOR THE BEST GLUTEN-FREE BROWNIES:
BAKING POWDER VS. BAKING SODA. I’ve made batches of these gluten-free brownies with baking soda and some with baking powder. They are not typically interchangeable, so here’s what you should know:
- BAKING POWDER: helps puff and often yields a more even surface. It’s what I use most often! It’s not a great choice for paleo eaters, since most baking powder contains cornstarch. (You can make your own paleo baking powder if you want!) I find the brownies made with baking powder typically get that nice crackly top, and are *slightly* less dense in the middles.
- BAKING SODA. I originally used baking soda instead of baking powder in this almond flour brownie recipe because it’s paleo-friendly. When making the brownies with baking soda, you may notice that they puff quite a bit in the oven, then settle as they cool, leaving a delicious border around the edges. You also typically don’t see the same crackly top when you make them with baking soda.
COARSE SEA SALT. I LOVE adding a little coarse sea salt to the tops of my gluten-free brownies. The tiny hint of salt wakes up the chocolate and provides a nice balance of flavors. If you’re not a salt-with-sweet fan, feel free to skip it!
ALMOND FLOUR. There are a LOT of different brands and blends of almond flour and most of them produce different results. I recommend using a very finely ground blanched almond flour rather than a coarse grind or almond meal which is made with skins-on almonds. I’ve had good luck with Bob’s Red Mill, Honeyville, Hughson, Trader Joe’s blanched almond flour, and even Target’s brand.
TRY SOME MIX-INS OR TOPPINGS! I love making these gluten-free brownies with chocolate chips mixed in, but you can also try any of these other yummy options:
- CHOPPED NUTS (toast them first for extra flavor!). Almonds, walnuts, pecans… yum!
- TOFFEE BITS. If you’re not dairy-intolerant, toffee bits are delicious mixed into brownies!
- COARSE SEA SALT. My favorite way to finish these brownies is with a few sea salt flakes.
- MINI MARSHMALLOWS. Give these a bit of a s’mores vibe by adding mini marshmallows to the top of the baked brownies and broil for about 1 minute. Watch carefully to avoid scorching!
- BROWNED BUTTER. If you tolerate dairy, making these with browned butter instead of regular melted butter adds a gorgeous caramel-y note!
MORE YUMMY WAYS TO SATISFY YOUR CHOCOLATE CRAVING:
- Gluten-Free Peppermint Brownies
- The BEST Vegan Chocolate Pudding
- Dairy-Free Chocolate Fondue (Vegan + Paleo-Friendly)
- Dairy-Free Hot Fudge Sauce (Perfect for brownie sundaes!)
- The BEST Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars (Vegan + Paleo-Friendly)
- Gluten-Free Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
SHOP OUR FAVORITE TOOLS + INGREDIENTS FOR GLUTEN-FREE BROWNIES HERE: