Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free Brownies

by Ann Marie Michaels on June 7, 2011

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Good news: If you are gluten-free — or even grain-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free, you can still eat brownies.

Yes, they are GAPS legal!

These brownies are absolutely delicious and they are made with coconut flour, coconut oil, honey and cocoa. I swear, these are every bit as good as regular homemade brownies. Especially with a tall glass of cool almond milk (or coconut milk).

And they are so easy to make.

Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free Brownies



Butter or ghee, grass-fed, or expeller-pressed, refined coconut oil (1 1/4 cup, plus extra for greasing the pan) — where to buy ghee and where to buy coconut oil
Date Sugar, no additives, or make from scratch from dried dates processed in the food processor (2 3/4 cups)
Eggs, pastured, large (4-5) — where to buy
Vanilla extract, homemade (2 tsp) — see my recipe — but use vodka if on the GAPS diet
Coconut flour (1 1/4 cup) — where to buy coconut flour
Cocoa powder, unsweetened, organic if possible (3/4 cup plus 2 TBS)
Coconut milk, homemade or canned with no additives (3/4 cup) — where to buy coconut milk
Sea salt (1 pinch ) — where to buy sea salt


8×8 baking dish
Medium saucepan


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 baking dish with butter, ghee or coconut oil.

2. Add butter (or ghee or coconut oil) and date sugar to a medium saucepan and melt on low heat, stirring until everything is well blended and smooth.

3. Stir in the cocoa powder. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

4. Beat the eggs and vanilla extract together with an electric mixer until frothy. Then on low speed, mix in cooled chocolate mixture.

5. Add in the coconut flour, coconut milk, and pinch of sea salt, beating with the mixer.

6. Transfer mixture to the greased baking dish and bake the brownies in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes or until the top of the brownies is crisp and the edges begin to pull away from the pan. Use a toothpick to tell if they are done — if the toothpick comes out clean, they are done.

7. Serve warm with a tall glass of coconut milk or almond milk (homemade if you are on GAPS). Or cut up the brownies and add to some homemade coconut milk ice cream (vanilla, or even better, chocolate) — heavenly!

This recipe is included in my Reversing Food Allergies class. If you have food allergies and want to learn how you can reverse them, check out this online cooking class. Enrollment is open.

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Annie June 7, 2011 at 9:14 PM

I am so excited, but have a question. Can I use honey instead of date sugar. The beginning reads honey, but I don’t see honey anywhere in the recipe :) Thank you! :)

cheeseslave June 7, 2011 at 9:20 PM

Oops thanks for catching that. I knew I had a mistake somewhere but couldn’t find it — so tired after a long day.

I have not tried this with honey. It works great with the date sugar. Please feel free to try — and if it works, update us!

cheeseslave June 7, 2011 at 9:21 PM

OK I fixed that… I think they probably will work with honey… I just haven’t tried it yet.

This brownie mix was pretty thick and not very wet, so the honey should work.

Annie June 7, 2011 at 9:21 PM

I will try it with honey because I don’t have any date sugar and will update you :)

cheeseslave June 7, 2011 at 9:22 PM

Thanks!!! :-)

Denise June 8, 2011 at 1:49 PM

I’ll be waiting for that too, don’t have any date sugar on hand.

Laryssa @Heaven In The Home June 7, 2011 at 9:23 PM

Oh thank you for posting this! We used to eat lots of brownies and miss them. Can’t wait to try these!

cheeseslave June 7, 2011 at 9:27 PM

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love brownies!

Crystal - Prenatal Coach June 7, 2011 at 9:59 PM

Mmmm these look delicious! I’m curious why you recommend refined coconut oil? I only recommend virgin (unrefined)… is that a typo?

cheeseslave June 8, 2011 at 8:12 AM

I personally do not like the flavor of coconut in dishes — unless it’s a coconut dish. So I use refined expeller pressed coconut oil in baked goods and for frying. It’s also more economical — I buy it in the large 5-gallon bucket.

margaret ruby June 7, 2011 at 10:02 PM

Can I use 1 whole + 1/4 pk of Kerrygold (8 oz) butter? Why do you use raw instead of just pastured since it will be baked @ 350? So you measure the butter before melting? Seems like so much butter, more than double the coconut flour banana bread but 1/2 cup more coconut flour too. thanks!

cheeseslave June 8, 2011 at 9:45 AM

I didn’t write in the recipe that you need to use raw butter. You can use pasteurized butter or ghee. Make sure it’s from cows eating grass.

Yes measure before melting

Carla M Borelli June 7, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Yum. I wonder how they would turn out using almond flour. I might give that a try.

cheeseslave June 8, 2011 at 8:10 AM

@Carla If you try it, please report back!

Sheridan June 8, 2011 at 12:59 AM

Only three little words can describe how I’m currently feeling after reading your recipe:

I LOVE YOU!!! :)

Sheridan June 9, 2011 at 11:35 PM

Made them last night for morning tea today… yummy! I didn’t have date sugar, and didn’t want to have to wait days to dry out and powder my dates, so just used 500g dates and buzzed it in the food processor with the butter. Ewwy, gooey, sticky mess, but integrated into the rest of the mix very well. Mmmm, fudgey brownies… :)

charlene June 8, 2011 at 1:18 AM

I am curious about the use of honey instead of date sugar as well.

Robyn June 8, 2011 at 7:26 AM

Do you think palm sugar would work in the same amount as the date sugar?

cheeseslave June 8, 2011 at 8:09 AM

Yes palm sugar would work. It is not GAPS legal, of course.

You might not need to use quite as much palm sugar since it’s a bit sweeter than date sugar.

Meagan June 8, 2011 at 7:30 AM

2 3/4 cups date sugar? That’s a lot of sugar, regardless, whether it’s refined cane sugar or not. It’s still sugar.

cheeseslave June 8, 2011 at 8:10 AM

Yes, it is. But we are not using semisweet chocolate. We are using unsweetened cocoa. That is why it seems like more sugar to you.

This really should not be an everyday snack, but rather, a once-in-a-while treat.

Jenny June 8, 2011 at 8:25 AM

Date sugar actually isn’t all that sweet: it’s just dates that have been dried and powdered, there’s no concentration of the sugars or refinement so when you use it as a sweetener, you have to use a lot more than you would honey, rapadura or palm sugar. One tablespoon of date sugar only contains 9 g sugar compared to 17 g for honey.

Nan June 8, 2011 at 8:23 AM

This looks like a great recipe – but cocoa is NOT allowed on GAPS! Neither is carob…

Jenny June 8, 2011 at 8:26 AM

Cocoa is allowed on full GAPS. From Dr. Campbell-McBride:
“Cocoa is SCD illegal. However, I find that many people can start having it occasionally on the Full GAPS Diet, once the digestive symptoms are gone. Find pure organic cocoa powder. Mixing the powder with some honey and sour cream makes a delicious dessert, and you can add it to your homemade ice cream or cakes. After trying it for the first time, observe your patient for any reactions. Cocoa is very rich in magnesium and some essential amino acids and, unless your digestive system is not ready for it, there is no need to avoid it.”

Fernanda June 8, 2011 at 8:31 AM


For the date sugar…could I simply put Medjool dates in a food processor?

(Recipe looks delish! Can’t wait to try!)

cheeseslave June 8, 2011 at 9:43 AM

Yes but you need to dry them in a dehydrator first.

Christina June 17, 2011 at 3:11 AM

I’m such a novice at all these new ingredients and cooking real/GAPs friendly foods. I had never heard of date sugar so we processed the dates and tried to melt it with the coconut oil and noticed thy didn’t blend well AT all. But I kept on trucking knowing that it smelled yummy and would hopefully be gooey in the end…… The final brownie product wasn’t gooey like we hoped but it was yummy especially warm with a little bit of cocnut milk on the side. I’ll keep looking for date sugar, but like that I could make it with real recognizable food too.
Thanks for posting this recipe! Wish all desserts like this could be every day treats :)

cheeseslave June 17, 2011 at 8:27 AM

I will have to post a recipe for how to make date sugar. You can buy date sugar in some stores or you can make it yourself.

It’s basically this:

1. Open dates, take out the pit,and spread them out on a dehydrator.
2. Dry on about low, about 105 degrees until they are rock hard.
3. When the dates are rock hard, put them in a food processor and pulse until they are in a powder form. The live enzymes will still be there, with all the flavor.

You can also bake in oven at 350 for 10-20 minutes but they will not have the enzymes. If you are using the date sugar for baking, it doesn’t really matter.

One cup of dates will yield about 8 ounces of date sugar.

Annie Dru June 8, 2011 at 8:32 AM

Hi Anne Marie,

One question, one comment:

1. Is coconut flour a traditional or ancestral food?
2. It is my understanding that honey becomes toxic if heated, and therefore shouldn’t be used for cooking.


cheeseslave June 8, 2011 at 9:43 AM

Coconut flour is made from whole coconut. You take coconut, shred it, then boil it with some water to make coconut milk. Then you take the leftover strained pulp and dehydrate it and grind it.

Honey is fine for cooking. It is best eaten uncooked, esp. if it is raw, but it does not become toxic when you cook it.

Denise June 8, 2011 at 8:38 AM

Can’t believe you said to drink a tall glass of almond or coconut milk with the brownies. Must be that new diet you are on or you would have said RAW milk! LOL

cheeseslave June 8, 2011 at 9:41 AM

I drink raw milk. I wrote that for people who can’t digest dairy. This is a GAPS-friendly recipe.

Denise June 8, 2011 at 1:51 PM

Oh, right, my bad!

Kim - The Nourishing Cook June 8, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Ann Marie… thank you so much for this recipe!! I’ve been eating grain free and really needed a treat option to keep me out of things that other people are eating. I am going to make these and freeze them in individual servings and take one out when other people are eating cake and cookies. thanks!!!!!

Jessica Waters June 8, 2011 at 10:02 AM

as I write these words, the brownies (made with carob, as I didn’t have cocoa powder) are baking in the oven, heaven-scenting the whole house. Can’t wait! One quick thing: you mentioned salt and coconut milk in the ingredients, but then they were not in the directions. Any hints on that? thanks.

cheeseslave June 8, 2011 at 10:23 AM

Oops! Sorry — I wrote this late last night — I’ll fix it.

cheeseslave June 8, 2011 at 10:27 AM

OK I fixed it! I hope yours come out OK!

Jessica Waters June 8, 2011 at 10:33 AM

crazy good!!! I am eating it RIGHT NOW! I had added them in the right place, plus added some unsweetened coconut flakes and they are sooooo good, I wish I could send you a piece! ;-)

cheeseslave June 8, 2011 at 2:37 PM

GREAT! Thanks for letting me know. I’m so glad you are enjoying them!

Lauren June 8, 2011 at 1:13 PM

How are these sugar-free? Date sugar has the same molecular structure as white, refined sugar. Your body isn’t fooled by “natural” sugars, unfortunately. The advantages of trace minerals are so small compared with the natural reaction of your body to any form of glucose – ramped up insulin production, and all know the long term health effects that has. The post title is very misleading.

cheeseslave June 8, 2011 at 2:36 PM

Lauren, the point is that this is a brownie that people on GAPS can eat.

They can’t eat sugar but they can eat date sugar.

Jenny June 8, 2011 at 7:44 PM

Date sugar does not have the same molecular structure as white sugar, That’s like saying dates, or any other fruit, or molecularly the same as white sugar. Are they a source of naturally occurring carbohydrate? Absolutely! But that doesn’t make date sugar which is just dates that have been dehydrated and powdered the same as white sugar.

cheeseslave June 8, 2011 at 9:10 PM

We should also take note of the fact that most traditional cultures do eat sweet foods — fruits, dried fruits, honey, and natural sugars.

Marina June 8, 2011 at 2:00 PM

I just made those, but I forgot the coconut milk…oops……!!!
they did turn out good though – but very dense, so 1 piece is definitely enough to indulge yourself!! My youngest who is picky about desserts that I make with flours that are not white wheat, liked it!! Also, i did not have date sugar but used 1.5 cups or Rapadura. I also love using refined coconut flour like you Ann-Marie – i don’t like the taste of regular coconut oil in my baked things!!
I was going to add one thing – those of you with constipation/digestion issues, do drink a lot more water when eating products with coconut flour. It is very high in fibre and it can absorb most of the free water in the colon, which leaves the colon dehydrated which results in less movement. I noticed this with my daughter – a while ago i was making coconut flour things every day for a week, and she stopped having bowel movements for 3 days – (in school she does not seem to drink enough water). So now I alternate flours and do not use coconut flour every day.

Thanks for sharing the recipe – once we are done these I will try the recipe again this time not forgetting the milk :)

Marina June 8, 2011 at 2:01 PM

I meant refined coconut oil, not flour in my last comment! :)

cheeseslave June 8, 2011 at 2:36 PM

I knew what you meant! :-)

Donna June 8, 2011 at 3:58 PM

I’m not sure but isn’t cocoa still illegal on the GAPS diet? I’m still not sure about this one.. . .please tell me I’m wrong! I love brownies!!!

Laura June 8, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Read the above conversation about cocoa and GAPS.

Donna June 11, 2011 at 10:44 AM

Thanks Laura. However I’m still wondering if it should be legal since Elaine Gottschall is strongly against for more than just the sugar reasons. I’m trying to avoid it anyways but those brownies do look great!

Annie June 8, 2011 at 9:06 PM

I made these with honey, just one cup, and raw milk instead of coconut milk, I also used virgin coconut oil and they turned out delicious!!!!!!!!!! Thanks :)

cheeseslave June 8, 2011 at 9:09 PM

@Annie That’s great! I’m glad they turned out!

Liz H. June 8, 2011 at 9:14 PM

This sounds so good! I don’t need a GAPS diet but I’m going to try these anyway. I might try with unrefined coconut oil-maybe they’ll taste like an almond joy???!!!

cheeseslave June 9, 2011 at 10:37 AM

Give it a try — and let me know what you think!

Rob June 8, 2011 at 11:24 PM

Would you consider these chewy or cakey-style?

cheeseslave June 9, 2011 at 10:37 AM

They are a cross between chewy and cakey. Slightly more chewy than cakey.

Bethany July 2, 2011 at 5:44 PM

pretty much straight up delicious… it’s been probably 3-4 years since I have had brownies SOO good :-)

mariah June 9, 2011 at 12:54 PM

I don’t think almond flour will measure out the same way as coconut flour.

I just put a batch in the oven…it seemed like alot for an 8×8 pan. I wound up dividing it between two pans. Batter tastes good. I used 1/2 honey, 1/2 agave.

cheeseslave June 9, 2011 at 1:13 PM

@Mariah Let us know how it turns out!

mariah June 9, 2011 at 3:19 PM

It was a little crumbly but still good. It might have worked in one 8×8 pan but I wasn’t sure it would cook in the middle without the sides getting too brown. My oven is probably not heating correctly, that may be part of it. Definitely chocolatey enough.

dani June 10, 2011 at 8:27 AM

so excited to make this!

Sara June 10, 2011 at 9:37 AM

OMG…I made these for my 4HB cheat day. I was worried after making the batter that they’d come out dry, but these are so fudgy and delicious! Thank you!!

cheeseslave June 10, 2011 at 11:22 AM


wheat free cakes June 10, 2011 at 1:25 PM

Thank you for your nice article. I like it very much. I will try it at my home.

-LG June 11, 2011 at 5:38 AM

Okay — tried these right away – nearly immediately! Yes — LOVED them!!!! Thank You, Thank You, Thank You Ann Marie!!!!

cheeseslave June 17, 2011 at 6:25 PM


Kim June 12, 2011 at 8:26 PM

Can’t wait to try these. We are not on GAPS, but we just try to eat healthier. I don’t have date sugar but have sucanat and also have honey granules. I will try one of those in place of the date sugar. It’s almost midnight, so can’t make them tonight, but going camping soon, so will make and take with us! Yay!

cheeseslave June 17, 2011 at 6:24 PM

Let me know how they turn out please!

Julie @ June 13, 2011 at 9:48 PM

I might see if I can get this to work with chia seeds and water instead of eggs. We’re all sensitive to eggs these days but I really need a good recipe for Marley’s birthday on Saturday.

cheeseslave June 17, 2011 at 6:25 PM

Happy birthday to Marley!!!!!

You might also try using some butternut squash or ripe banana to replace the eggs…

Julie @ June 18, 2011 at 5:53 PM

Okay, made it this morning with honey instead of date sugar and chia seeds instead of eggs (1 tbsp chia seeds + 3 tbsp water for each egg). Very tasty but a little crumbly, Next tine will probably use 5-6 tbsp chia seeds instead of the 4 I used this time. With any luck this will be making an appearance at the big birthday BBQ next weekend.

Mandy June 20, 2011 at 7:20 PM

I’ve been wanting to make them for almost 2 weeks now and finally did tonight – yum! Just wanted to chime in with my adjustments – which I did partly due to what I had on hand, and partly due to food sensitivities.

I had about 1/4 cup palm sugar to use up, so I used that plus about 1 cup of honey for the sweetener (I react to dates). I also used Julie’s chia seed substitution for the eggs – used 5 tbsp. of seeds and 15 tbsp. water. I ended up adding one egg at the end since it seemed a little on the dry side, and I wanted them to not fall apart (I can eat egg in small quantities). They turned out great – with a delicious brownie flavor! Since I’m transitioning back to GAPS, I’ll be glad to have these as a sweet treat. Thankyou!!!

olivia June 24, 2011 at 2:51 PM

I just made this the other day using honey. Turned out great, moist but light, maybe not quite like a brownie but a delicious chocolate cake. The best cake I’ve made so far using coconut flour. So thank you for this recipe :-)
I made these few alterations:
I used 5 very big tbs honey (1/2 cup or more), just under 1 cup of coconut flour and did not use coconut milk. The butter, eggs (I used 5 large), vanilla and cocoa powder were the same as in the recipe. I reduced the oven temperature to about 310 F and baked for 50min.

cmh July 20, 2011 at 8:10 AM

thanks for mentioning this as I”m needing a GAPS friendly cake recipe for my 2 yr old b-day!

Bethany July 2, 2011 at 5:42 PM

I made these… they were SOOO yummy It was perfect because I needed something to take to a potluck that we could eat for dessert. Thanks for the recipe… we put the left overs in the freezer and would then pour homemade yogurt over top now and then.

Bethany July 2, 2011 at 5:42 PM

oh I used stevia instead of honey, would prefer to use honey for I have issues for now :-(

tessag July 4, 2011 at 8:42 PM

Sounds yummy! We are always up for a new brownie recipe.

leighann July 5, 2011 at 8:29 PM

I have a family member with diabetes, and I’ve been looking for a dessert for her that she can enjoy without worrying grains, phytic acid, hyper-blood sugar spikes, etc. This is perfect!

cmh July 20, 2011 at 8:08 AM

maybe adding these to my list of projects today along with the crackers would be a good idea!! My family may not feel quite as deprived as they have been since starting GAPS ;)

Kara September 25, 2011 at 5:33 PM

Do you know if I could use Lakanto as the sugar and if the quantity changes?

cheeseslave September 26, 2011 at 7:08 AM

I have never heard of Lakanto — what is it?

Kara September 26, 2011 at 9:17 PM

Its a sugar alternative (in some ways similar to Truvia) but actually from a Japan leaf, here is a website with a little more explanation, But it says it can be used as a straight substitute for sugar. So I am guessing sugar is sweeter than the date sugar so maybe try using less?

Sam October 23, 2011 at 9:32 AM

I just tried making these but I used brown rice syrup instead of date sugar to really keep the GI super low. However, mine broke up loads and tasted really powdery despite only leaving it in the oven for 35 mins. Any ideas what I did wrong or how I can improve for next time???

KT Pierce November 9, 2011 at 6:51 AM

Awesome! Do you have any more Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free recipes?

KT Pierce November 9, 2011 at 6:53 AM

Also – Would almond flour work? Not a fan of the flavor of coconuts.. but if the taste isn’t noticeable, I’ll try this.

Emsy November 15, 2011 at 5:47 PM

I am on a NO SUGAR DIET NO EXCEPTIONS and wanted to know can i use STEVIA for this recipe?……..thanks!

Carol Metral December 30, 2011 at 4:15 AM

How much honey would you use, instead of the date sugar?

Francis ovie January 5, 2012 at 6:13 AM

Hello for some time now i have been producing coconut oil using local method but my worry is that how do i market and package this oil.what kind ofcontainer should i use and how do i introduce it to the market.
secondly after extracting the oil how do i process the coconut meat to a baking flour for other use.
Again how do i make coconut sugar.
This is my email address:
i will be very gratelful if you show me these request.

Courtney January 31, 2012 at 3:11 PM

Excellent recipe! I had to give up my good brownie recipe when I went on GAPS, but now I have a replacement! I made this with honey and added walnuts. It turned out very well.

Tosha February 10, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Looks amazing, I can’t wait to try it!

Nan February 27, 2012 at 6:40 PM

According to my list of GAPS-legal foods, chocolate and cocoa are NOT legal on GAPS! Am I the only one to catch this?

The recipe does sound great though!

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Greenmama March 28, 2013 at 7:11 AM

Thank you so much for this recipe. I don’t tend to like coconut flour baked goods, so I usually stick to almond flour treats for my GAPS family, but my children needed a treat for their school spring parties and they aren’t allowed to have nuts in the classroom, so I thought I’d give this a try and I am so glad that I did! I used 1 cup pastured butter and 1/4 cup coconut oil and subbed 1 cup palm sugar since I didn’t have any date sugar. The brownies turned out very caky, but they were moist and didn’t need a frosting. The children loved them! I can definitely taste the coconut (which is so good with the chocolate!), but they don’t have the texture issue that usually bothers me with coconut flour baked goods. I am so happy to have a coconut flour brownie recipe that I can send with them for special school occasions now. Next time, I plan to try it with honey if I can’t find date sugar or make my own by then. Thank you very much!

Greenmama April 4, 2013 at 6:51 AM

just wanted to add that I liked these even better the next day, the texture was much more fudgy and decadent. Thanks again for the great recipe!

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