During college, one of my roommates and I often biked to the far edge of downtown where the last cluster of shops stood before the main road dipped under the train tracks and to the freeway. We locked our bikes in the parking lot out back, then walked around to the main marketplace to head into one of our favorite restaurants.
After opening the glass doors, we joined the long queue of customers waiting at the counter. We usually grabbed one of the paper order slips, even though we visited so frequently, to figure out our requests before we reached the front of the line.
When my turn came, I quickly stepped up to the counter and stood on my tippy-toes to peer at the 29 different toppings, and even though I had so carefully planned my order in line, my indecision almost always kicked in.
As a design-your-own-salad place with the server staring exasperatedly at me, holding a huge metal mixing bowl with his tongs poised over the toppings, ready to deftly snap up whatever I pointed to, and the long line of other patrons impatiently waiting behind me… Well, it was enough to make even the regular customers feel a little flustered!
I sometimes ended up with fairly random salad combinations — cucumbers, beets, green apples, and bleu cheese? chickpeas, carrots, tomatoes, and raisins? — that probably caused the cashiers behind the registers to raise their eyebrows… But then again, if everyone felt as discombobulated as I did while building their salads, maybe not!
Regardless, I always looked forward to eating my creations because they tasted delicious and healthy, and I enjoyed checking out the cute cake stands they converted into display cases that held a plethora of desserts next to the register just as much! They set out the thickest, tallest, most massive rice krispie treats that I’ve ever seen (imagine something twice as big as a Rubik’s cube!), lemon bars, oversized cookies, and brownies.
My roommate always wanted the cheesecake-swirled brownies, but as someone who hated my desserts mixing back then (my mom even bought me one of those dinner plates for toddlers with the different divided sections as a Christmas present), I politely declined. The plain version was much more popular and almost never in the display case, so I rarely bought one of those thick, fudgy, decadent brownies, but…
When I did, it was worth every penny!
When my mom and I recently reminisced about that restaurant (it was one of her favorite places to dine when she visited me at college!), I started to crave both those salads and the brownies, so I decided to make a healthier version of the latter…
Which resulted in these healthy slow cooker fudgy brownies! They’re just as chocolaty and decadent as the ones from the restaurant, but they’re a fraction of the calories — and the cost too!
It’s chocoholic bliss. ♡
KEY INGREDIENTS TO MAKE HEALTHY SLOW COOKER BROWNIES
Let’s talk about some of the things you’ll need to make these healthy slow cooker chocolate brownies! You’ll begin with white whole wheat flour. White whole wheat flour comes from finely grinding a special type of white wheat, whereas regular whole wheat flour is made from red wheat. This gives white whole wheat flour a taste and texture similar to that of all-purpose, but it still has the same health benefits as regular whole wheat flour. I call that a win-win!
Note: Whole wheat pastry flour is a perfect substitute! I’ve also included my recommended gluten-free options in the Notes section of the recipe, if you’d like to make your slow cooker brownies gluten-free instead.
Next comes the cocoa powder. Just the regular unsweetened kind! You don’t need to use Dutched or special dark cocoa powder. Those actually have a different acidity level, which can change the taste and texture. Besides, these slow cooker brownies already taste very rich without either one, similar to 72% dark chocolate, because you’re adding equal amounts of flour and cocoa powder to the batter. This trick of mine gives the brownies the same decadent taste as those made with melted chocolate for a fraction of the calories!
Plus using pure cocoa powder makes the recipe about as easy as a boxed mix to make… And also creates lots less dishes in the process. Hooray!
To keep these brownies clean eating friendly, you’ll sweeten them with pure maple syrup instead of refined sugar. Make sure you use the real kind that comes directly from maple trees! Skip the pancake syrup and sugar-free syrups; both of those contain corn syrup or artificial ingredients, which often change the way they behave in baking recipes.
Unlike honey and molasses, pure maple syrup is usually found on the breakfast cereal aisle (often near the oatmeal, for reasons I can’t explain!). It’s generally sold in thin glass bottles or squat plastic jugs (like this!), and the only ingredient on the label should be “maple syrup.”
And finally, unlike traditional recipes that call for lots of butter or oil… You’ll use Greek yogurt to help gives these healthy slow cooker brownies their supremely moist, chewy, and fudgy texture. It adds a protein boost to the batter too!
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST HEALTHY SLOW COOKER BROWNIES
Now it’s time to “bake!” First, line your slow cooker with foil to make it easier to remove the brownies later, and lightly coat that with nonstick cooking spray. Then gently spread the batter across the bottom with a spatula until it’s fairly even. I used this 5-quart slow cooker, so my brownies turned out pretty thick, but a 6-quart one should also work.
The size of your slow cooker will determine when the brownies are done. You’ll turn off the slow cooker when the batter closest to the sides looks fully cooked but the center still looks glossy and slightly wet. This is because you’ll let the brownies cool completely to room temperature inside of the slow cooker. Since the heat from the ceramic bowl will continue to cook the batter in the center as they cool, this trick prevents the brownies from becoming overdone.
Then let the brownies rest and set for at least 4 hours once they’ve reached room temperature before slicing into them. Closer to 8 hours is even better — because that yields the fudgiest texture!
FAQS ABOUT HEALTHY SLOW COOKER BROWNIES
Are these slow cooker brownies gluten-free, low calorie, low fat, or clean eating?
Yes — to all of the above! As written, this slow cooker brownie recipe is clean eating, low fat, and low calorie (compared to many traditional recipes!) I also included modifications to make them gluten-free and dairy-free in the Notes section.
Can I substitute a different flour?
You sure can! Whole wheat pastry flour is a great alternative. All-purpose flour and whole wheat flour also work well. You can substitute oat flour too, but be extra careful when measuring it because it tends to be more absorbent than wheat-based flours.
What’s the best cocoa powder to use?
Regular unsweetened cocoa powder. It’s also called natural unsweetened cocoa powder — or just plain unsweetened cocoa powder! This is the kind I use because it’s readily available in just about every mainstream grocery store where I live.
I don’t recommend using Dutched or “special dark” cocoa powder. These have a different acidity level, so they often affect the taste and texture. The brownies actually taste less chocolaty when made with either of these two, so stick with regular unsweetened cocoa powder for the best flavor and texture!
My slow cooker isn’t a 5-quart one like yours. Can I still use it to make these brownies?
It depends! A 6-quart slow cooker should also work. Your brownies will be thinner (because of the increased surface area), and they’ll probably take less time to finish “baking.” They’re done when the edges look fully baked but the center still appears glossy and a bit underdone. The heat from the ceramic bowl will continue to cook that center portion all the way through as you let the brownies set and cool.
Can I use my pressure cooker or instant pot to make these brownies instead of a slow cooker?
I haven’t personally tried, so I’m not quite sure. If you do experiment on your own, would you leave me a comment and tell me how it goes? I’d love to hear!
My brownies turned out cakey, not fudgy. Why is that?
The three most common culprits are (a) too much flour, (b) too much cocoa powder, and (c) overbaking them. (Or “overcooking,” as I guess it technically might be in this case!)
For the last one, turn off your slow cooker when the center still appears glossy and a bit underdone. If you wait until the center looks firm and fully set, the heat from the ceramic bowl and residual heat in the batter will dry out your brownies, making them turn out cakey — or even crumbly.
What’s the best way to store these slow cooker brownies? How long will they last?
Store the brownies in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They should keep for at least four days, if not longer. They freeze really well too!
Yum… That looks like brownie heaven to me! 😉 And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthy slow cooker fudgy brownies!
Healthy Slow Cooker Fudgy Brownies
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp (135g) white whole wheat flour or gluten-free* flour (measured like this)
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp (90g) unsweetened cocoa powder (measured like this)
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 tbsp (42g) unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 6 tbsp (90g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- ¾ cup (180mL) pure maple syrup
- Line a 5-quart slow cooker with foil, and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray. If any cooking spray lands on the lip where the lid rests, wipe it off with a paper towel.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in the Greek yogurt, mixing until no large lumps remain. Stir in the maple syrup. Add in the flour mixture, stirring just until incorporated.
- Spread the batter into the prepared slow cooker, and cover with the lid. Turn on the slow cooker to LOW, and bake for 1 ½ to 2 hours**. Turn off the slow cooker and remove the lid when the edges look done and the center still looks glossy and slightly wet. Cool completely to room temperature in the slow cooker, and let the brownies sit for at least 4 hours at room temperature (closer to 8 hours is even better!) for the fudgiest texture before serving.
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ Fudgy Dark Chocolate Frosted Brownies
♡ Fudgy Dark Chocolate Nut Brownies
♡ Fudgy Practically Flourless Extra Fudgy Brownies (one-bowl recipe!)
♡ Fudgy Dark Chocolate Raspberry Brownies
♡ Fudgy Peppermint Mocha Brownies
♡ Slow Cooker Chocolate Fudge Cake
♡ Slow Cooker Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
♡ Slow Cooker Sticky Pecan Buns
♡ …and the rest of Amy’s healthy slow cooker recipes and healthy brownie recipes!