Olive Oil & Cocoa Brownies

Olive Oil and Cocoa Brownies

One of my all-time favorite food descriptions comes from Nigella Lawson writing about her Chocolate Guinness Cake, “magnificent in its black dampness”.

Along with her very being, she has a voluptuous way with words – surprise! I could go on quoting Nigella, but I’ll leave that topic for now or things might get sweaty.

I couldn’t help thinking of her words when I made these brownies. Instead, I suppose you could say they’re dark, moist and rich, but black dampness is so much more sensual and tempting, don’t you think?

Olive Oil & Dark Cocoa BrowniesOlive Oil and Cocoa Brownies

Olive oil baked into brownies might seem strange, but trust me, if you take your brownies fudgy these are for you.  And how healthy for us that olive oil and cocoa happen to be loaded with antioxidants, phenols, flavonoids and who knows what else.

I used extra virgin olive oil and extra dark Dutch process cocoa, Hershey’s Special Dark for the brownies pictured here. There’s no detectable olive oil flavor that comes through so if you must use regular olive oil rather than extra virgin that would be okay; however using good quality cocoa is key.

I’ve also made this recipe with natural cocoa (which simply means it’s not treated with an alkalizing agent) and ironically, while they are not as dramatically dark in color, the chocolate flavor is actually deeper.  Green and Black could be my favorite cocoa; I absolutely recommend you try it.

Olive Oil & Cocoa Brownies

Yield: Makes one 8-inch pan of brownies


  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oi
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cacao nibs


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees for at least 25 minutes.
  2. Coat an 8-inch square baking dish (glass or porcelain) with olive oil. Cut a piece of parchment to fit just the bottom of the dish and oil that too.
  3. Put the eggs in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer and beat on low for a minute. Increase speed to medium high while adding the sugar 1/2 cup at at time. Beat until the eggs are pale, thick and creamy.
  4. Decrease mixer speed and slowly add the oil in a thin stream, as if you were making an emulsion like mayonnaise. Add the vanilla extract.
  5. Sift together the flour, cocoa and salt into a bowl. Stir into the egg mixture until just incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the cacao nibs over the top, if using.
  7. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies emerges with some moist crumbs.
  8. Cool the pan completely on a rack before cutting into serving pieces.


  1. I’ve recently discovered the delight of baking with olive oil, and these brownies look perfect! Bookmarked, for sure :).

  2. These look gorgeous. I just have one question, though – did you use ordinary white sugar, or is the type of sugar irrelevant? I’m australian, and we have something called caster sugar here – it’s a finer white sugar normally used in cakes for a denser crumb, and slightly sweeter than normal white sugar. I just wondered if it might make a difference to taste or texture, because I’d love to try these!

    • hi Jen,

      I actually used unbleached natural cane sugar, kind of creamy in color and bigger grains than plain sugar. You could use your caster sugar without hesitation – should work beautifully. Cheers!

  3. oh no. I shouldnt have clicked on this link! Now I will be dreaming of brownies all week!

  4. This looks awesome. I may have to try these.

  5. Really great recipe! Great for partys and occasions liek that!

  6. They were OK, I could taste the olive oil in them. May be better with canola oil instead. Overall, moist but had to cook the twelve minutes past thirty minutes.

  7. The batter was delicious, added 2 t espresso powder. The brownies beautifully in 20 minutes with just a few moist crumbs clinging to the skewer. The baked brownies are moist and delicious; would definitely make them again, especially since all of the ingredients are likely always to be stocked in my pantry. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I made these last night, but did a few adjustments I thought I would share… I used almond flour instead of regular, also used 1/2 cup of agave nectar for 1 cup of the sugar and used 1/2cup raw sugar for the rest. Because I used agave nectar I decreased the olive oil to 1/3 cup instead of 1/2. And I used chia seeds for the added crunch instead of cocoa nibs.
    My husband highly approved (he is normally very picky when I change recipes around). They are now much healthier and still delish! Packed with lots of protein and healthy omega-3 from the eggs I used and the chia seeds. 🙂

  9. Joanna Stebing says:

    I made this without baking powder, since the recipe didn’t call for it. it didn’t rise at all- did you by chance forget to mention the need for this ingredient? I was doubtful going into it, but trusted that it was omitted for a reason. disappointed, because I had no doubts that this is a really great idea… 🙁

    • Joanna Stebing says:

      I will somewhat amend my previous comment. while I am curious about the question I presented, the non-rising brownies still turned out shockingly delicious. I cut the sugar in half, and followed Linz’ tip in using chia seeds in place of the nibs. the brownie consistency is very much like a thick, softer version of a Clif bar. I am officially won over by the concept of using chia for texture and added nutrition. Looking forward to playing around with this recipe again! thank you.

      • Hi Joanna – I’m glad to hear from you – I was just going to reply to your previous comment. I’m so sorry the brownies didn’t seem like what you expected!
        The recipe relies on the eggs for leavening rather than baking soda (or baking powder)…they should definitely have a moist, dense and fudgy texture, as opposed to a more cakey brownie which probably would include baking soda in the ingredients.
        Baking times will vary with any recipe, since oven temperatures often have discrepancies between what the temperature is set to and what the display reads. It’s best to check in 5 minutes before the baking time suggested in the recipe to be sure – if the inside is very moist when tested, then continue baking and checking until done.
        Chia seeds are an interesting addition, too. The way chia reacts when mixed with liquids could affect the outcome of the brownies, for sure, since they become sticky and gelatinous – maybe making the batter extra moist!

        • Joanna Stebing says:

          I’m sorry it took me so long to check back. Although the brownies didn’t turn out the way I initially planned, I want you to know that the “mistake” has turned into my absolute favorite brownie recipe. Don’t you love when that happens? as soon as I realized how much I adored the texture/consistency of my original outcome, I decided it would be silly to try and rectify it. thank you very much! :o)

          • Joanna, I’m so very pleased to know that! It’s true, sometimes (actually, many times) serendipity opens up great possibilites!

  10. I think I will be making these! Love your photography 🙂 What type of camera do you use?

  11. I baked these brownies this morning and they are great.
    I cut the sugar in half, and used 3/4 cup of white flour and 3/4 cup of crushed shreddies cereal. We over bought too many boxes of shreddies because they were on sale, so I decided to use them in baking.
    I made fine crumbs out of the shreddies and they turned out very good. Chocolate chips on top and then baked for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
    And I used canola oil instead of olive oil.

  12. I like this blog so considerably, saved to my bookmarks .

  13. Hi,
    I found your site when looking for an olive-oil brownie recipe – was out of canola oil – and baked these up a few days ago for an out-of-town party. They are the bomb, disappeared in seconds and I had 6 people requesting the recipe. Very lush, very dense and the choco-olive oil combo is truly to die for (granted I may be a bit biased since I’ve been living with an Italian for the past 5 years and he’s taught me how to appreciate olive oil on a whole different level)
    I’m really baffled as to why the people on here either complained about the cake tasting too much like olive oil (um…yeah), or used canola oil instead (you’re completely missing out on the experience)
    I may cut back on the sugar next time, but otherwise – perfect!
    Thanks for the recipe!

  14. I was going to make my favourite brownie recipe and realized I had no butter at home, for the fun of it I googled olive oil and brownies and your line on Nigella’s Guinness Chocolate Cake had me convinced (it is my go to chocolate cake recipe). You are correct these brownies are divine! Very similar to my old recipe, but I do believe this one turns out much better

  15. I made these today! Very delicious. I love using olive oil instead of butter.


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