Extra Fudgy Secret Ingredient Brownies

It’s almost Valentine’s Day!! The most pointless holiday of the year! If your significant other doesn’t show you how much the love you until that national holiday pops up on their calendar, well I think it’s time to drop their ass. I’m not a big Valentine’s Day person…obviously. But I’m also not a holiday person in any sense. I’m not in to gifts or even receiving them. But I do like an excuse to eat a brownie. Where the hell is national brownie day?? I’m sure there is one, but it’s really only celebrated in the food blog world because it gives food bloggers an excuse to promote an old brownie recipe. I want Trump to come out on stage for the State of the Union and announce that February 14th is now National Brownie Day, where everyone has to give each other brownies. That’s a holiday I can get behind.

PaleOMG Extra Fudgy Secret Ingredient Brownies

Anywho, I’m not in to going out to dinner or going somewhere special on Valentine’s Day. I could really care less. But I definitely was thinking about what kind of dessert I wanted to enjoy this year. But something I’ve been doing in the New Year is staying away from sugar as much as possible. I’m not great when it comes to self control so I have to stay away from most things or I can’t seem to physically stop myself. So when I decided to make brownies this year, I wanted them to be loaded with some good stuff, not just sugar. And that’s where the secret ingredient comes in to play…can you guess what it is? It’s actually THREE secret ingredients.

PaleOMG Extra Fudgy Secret Ingredient Brownies

First up – sweet potatoes. I made my own Sweet Potato Brownies back in 2012. 2012!! That’s insane. I love adding some sweet potatoes to a brownie because it helps make it nice and dense and it adds a little extra sweetness without the added sugar. Second on the list – zucchini. Zucchini isn’t anything new in the baking world, but it definitely keeps the brownies nice and moist. Yes, I said it. And if you peel it and finely shred it, you can’t even see it in the brownie! Last but not least – spinach!! Yes, these brownies have spinach in them but you’d never know it! So everything single one of these brownies is loaded with 3 different kinds of veggies! Yes, it’s also loaded with some chocolate and hazelnut butter, but I feel just a tad better knowing I’m getting a little extra veggies in while I’m enjoying my stupid holiday dessert!

PaleOMG Extra Fudgy Secret Ingredient Brownies

Speaking of a stupid holiday, guess what I’m doing on Valentine’s Day?! I’m flying to Albuquerque to interview for my Global Entry! The Denver Global Entry office was all filled up until May and who knows when the government is going to shut down again, so I booked mine in Albuquerque, which is only an hour away! I’m getting some miles in while getting my Global Entry done before the government flips upside down again. It’s a win-win! I leave by 8, home by 2. Not a bad Valentine’s Day in my eyes. Especially since the brownies will be waiting for me when I get home. What a lovely day.

PaleOMG Extra Fudgy Secret Ingredient Brownies


Extra Fudgy Secret Ingredient Brownies

  • Author: juli
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 16 brownies 1x


  • 1 cup finely shredded white sweet potato (peeled first)
  • 1 cup finely shredded zucchini (peeled first, drained after measuring)
  • 1 packed cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips, melted
  • 1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut butter
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • handful of chocolate chunks


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 glass baking dish and line with parchment paper.
  2. Use a grater to finely shred sweet potato and zucchini, then drain the zucchini of as much liquid as possible. I used a nut milk bag to squeeze out any of the excess liquid. 
  3. To a food processor, add sweet potato, zucchini and spinach and pulse until combined. Then add melted chocolate, chocolate hazelnut butter, coconut oil, maple syrup, egg, vanilla extract, baking soda and salt and blend until completely combined, scraping the edges of the food processor throughout. Fold in chocolate chunks.
  4. Pour into baking dish then place in the oven to bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the baking dish.
  5. Let cool slightly before removing from pan. Slice and eat!!

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PaleOMG Extra Fudgy Secret Ingredient Brownies

PaleOMG Extra Fudgy Secret Ingredient Brownies


More Valentine’s Day Treats!

PaleOMG Raspberry Caramel Shortbread Heart Cookies

Valentine’s Day Raspberry Caramel Shortbread Sandwich Cookies

PaleOMG Chocolate Heart Cookies

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Chip Chocolate Heart Cookies


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Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.

I’m a food hoarder. And a really bad dancer. If you don’t know me well, you will probably not understand my humor. Therefore, I apologize ahead of time. Thanks for listening to my ramblings of my ever-changing life and trusting my kitchen mishaps. Your trust in me is appreciated.


54 thoughts on “Extra Fudgy Secret Ingredient Brownies”

  1. This looks absolutely amazing!! I love a dessert with hidden veggies. BUT the hazelnut chocolate manna butter or whatever doesn’t ship to the country where I live. Could I use normal nut butter or something else you’d recommend? Thanks!

  2. Attempted this last night and looks nothing like your photos. The flavor was definitely there, but the texture and consistency were not nor did they look dark chocolatey like the pics. Husband still ate them but I was a little dissapointed they didn’t look like or have the consistency of brownies.

    1. oh no, i’m so sorry!! can you explain the texture so i can help you figure out what the issue might have been! i’ve made these a couple times now and i haven’t had an issue. did you use all the same ingredients or was anything changed?

  3. I made these last night for book club and they were fantastic!!! The center was done, but was super soft. Wondering if I should have cooked just a smidge longer. My teenage boys were thrilled that they could sneak a few!

  4. My husband and I have now finished these brownies and I cannot stop obsessing over them. I went with a chia seed chocolate cashew butter I found at King Soopers and it turned out amazing. This may be one of your top five best recipes!!!!

  5. Oh my… Holy…. My husband and I made these for our Valentine’s dessert and the were SO FREAKING GOOD! I did make a couple changes, just because I didn’t have enough ingredients or the right ingredients. For the hazelnut butter, I just used Nuttzo Paleo Power fuel and I only had 1/4 a cup of it. Also, I just roughly chopped an 85% dark chocolate bar for the chocolate chips to melt. I used half the coconut oil and the other half vanilla bean ghee. I also swapped the maple for coconut sugar. I know that was a lot of changes and I half expected it to fail or be mushy, but it was AMAZING! The brownies of my dreams! Thanks Julie! Now I finally have a go to brownie recipe when those chocolate cravings kick in!

  6. OOohhh I am going to ABQ next week and missed anyhting you may have posted. Are you going to post anything about where you stayed/ate?

    1. oh girl, i never even left the airport. i literally landed at 945, had my global entry interview at 1030 and flew back out by 1210 haha! so i had no recommendations about ABQ

  7. I’ve sent this recipe to everyone I know, these are so damn good. I made them tonight and didn’t tell my fiancé they had veggies in them: he was so shocked to find they had any, let alone 3!! Bravo!!

  8. OMG!! These are AMAZING!! Like melt-in-your-mouth-want-to-eat-the-whole-pan incredible!! Thank you!!! I didn’t have chocolate hazelnut butter so I used an extra 1/4 cup of melted dark chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of almond butter. 🙂 I just posted on my IG story as I want the whole world to know about these!!! THANK YOU!!! Hope you are having a warm and toasty Sunday!!

  9. Just attempted these and after 50mins in the oven they are still liquid ? I tried squeezing the water out of the zucchini and not much came out. I might have just used too many of the veggies. I tried to follow the directions to a T but somewhere they went wrong. Will attempt again at some point.

  10. I have a tree nut allergy. Do you have a healthy suggestion for a nut-free substitute for the hazelnut butter? I can only think of those soy based products and I’d like to avoid GMO soy if possible!

  11. OMG dying to try it!! Do you know how many sweet potatoes or zucchini I should be to produce 1 cup of shredded per? Like is that about 1 large sweet potato? 2 large zucchini? etc.

    1. it was one sweet potato and one zucchini!! that may be different for you based on size so it’s always good to grab an extra one of each!

  12. I don’t believe I have ever seen white sweet potatoes at my local grocery store. Can you sub with the regular orange? Looking forward to trying these.

  13. I so want to make these but I’m a crazy person about baking by weight. Do you really just shred the sweet potato and zucchini and pack them into a 1 cup measure. And then is it a packed cup or just a loosely filled cup. Inexact meaaurements give me anxiety, can you tell?!

    1. lol i can tell for sure. but i promise you, i NEVER weigh my baking ingredients ever, and the recipes always turn out lol. i packed all the veggies in the cup for measurement

  14. THANK YOU FOR THESE. Seriously. So awesome. I was making them for a family dinner, so I just used peanut butter (but even if I had any hazelnut butter, I’m sure I would be too cheap to bake it up for my family, anyway!). That’s why i loved this idea! Full of healthy veggies AND possible to make without a TON of extra sugar AND with really affordable ingredients (did I mention I’m cheap?? i won’t even try a recipe if it calls for more than a cup of almond flour!). I’m just a stay at home mom trying to get my kids to eat the most veggies (they win. i’ve been paleo their whole lives.), and I am an hour away from Whole Foods or Vitamin Cottage, so these sorts of recipes are a lifesaver. Thank you again for taking the time to test stuff out and share recipes…if i had free time, I would love to do it for myself, but for now, I’ll be letting you take care of that! I sure appreciate it. 🙂 Oh! Also! I put your zucchini fritter cup mixture in my waffle maker and it was EVEN BETTER! Zucchini is the only veggie they often scoff at, but they gobbled it up!

  15. Jessie Higginbotham

    These are soooooo yummy! I think I maybe undercooked them slightly because there was no slicing possible. They were definitely spoon brownies. I am curious if these need to be refrigerated.

    1. that could have to do with the moisture in the zucchini, depending how much you squeezed out. yes, i would recommend refrigerating them since they don’t have preservatives in them. and i find that they are tastier out of the fridge anyways!

  16. These are the best EVER!!! Thank you!!! So much better than ANYTHING store bought. I brought them to work today and everyone loved them. 🙂 Thanks Juli.

  17. I love Paleomg recipes and this one… I’ve made probably 5 or more times. The ONLY thing my husband ever requests is this brownie. I agree with other posts though that it’s more of a spoon brownie. I wish that we could get it to hold together better. this time I dried the “hell” out of the vegetables. I wonder if cooking the spinach and then drying would help. I always use raw spinach and it contains a lot of water so maybe thats it. I let it cook about 10 minutes longer than it calls for this time and it was a little better, but still hard to pick up. The taste makes up for the consistency… they are outrageously delicious… as are all of your recipes. LOVE this site and visit almost daily. Thanks so much Juli! Happy Holidays to you!!! Happy 2020!!!!

    1. I made them with frozen spinach, slightly defrosted but unsqueezed. I also baked them in cupcake cups. They hold together pretty well. I store and eat them thawed for a few minutes from the freezer. I love every bite!

  18. I made these and like others subbed several ingredients based on what I had. I used unsweetened 100% chocolate chips and added in extra sweetener, orange potatoes, and frozen spinach. I also baked them in muffin cups since I did not feel like prepping a square ban. I half expected them to turn out awful but was pleasantly surprised and pleased with the taste and texture. I added caramel to the top of some and they are a new favorite. Thanks!

  19. These are seriously awesome. I am always looking for a way to sneak veggies into my treats, especially for my kids, and I was so impressed with the way these turned out! To cut down on the sugar, I used almond butter and sunflower seed butter plus a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder in place of the chocolate hazelnut butter. Delicious!!

  20. Hi! I am assuming you are shredding the sweet potato uncooked? I love this idea abd the comments about the spinach will try to cook first and squeeze. As for the hazelnut butter, I don’t like using sugar and they normally have sugar. Can you recommend any other substitutions for this?

  21. These are the bomb! On my second batch, I didn’t have any fresh spinach on hand so I used a scoop of unflavored greens powder and they turned out every bit as delicious.

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