Whole Wheat Ancho Chili Brownies

5 from 2 votes
50 minutes
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Whole Wheat Ancho Chili Brownies will add some spice to your life!  Intensely chocolatey, they also pack a little heat with a touch of smokiness for a seriously delicious combination!

Photo of three Whole Wheat Ancho Chili Brownies on brown paper.

I.  Am.  Hooked!

….Hooked on adding a touch of ancho chili powder to brownies after giving it a try in this variation of a recipe I’ve been making for years!

The inspiration behind this recipe:

If you’re reading From A Chef’s Kitchen for the first time,  you won’t find many dessert recipes here.  It’s just my husband and me so a pan full of something decadent is not something we need to be indulging in.

So, whenever I post a dessert recipe, it’s easy and I feel it’s a winner.  These Whole Grain Ancho Chili Brownies are that and are worth the dessert indulgence!  They’re so easy, they practically mix up in one bowl!

What is ancho chili powder?

Whereas “chili powder” is generally a blend of dried and ground chiles, ancho chili powder is made only from dried Poblano peppers.  Poblano peppers are used in authentic Mexican and Southwestern cooking and have a deep, rich, smoky flavor with mild to medium heat.  Because of those qualities, ancho chili powder is the perfect addition to brownies!

How to make Whole Wheat Ancho Chili Brownies:

  • First, you’ll need to melt the butter and brown sugar together.  This can be done in a double boiler or slowly and carefully over low heat in a saucepan.  I don’t use any fancy equipment.  I place the butter and brown sugar in a stainless steel bowl, set it over a pot that I filled to approximately 3/4 of the way with water, bring the water to a boil, then let it slowly melt until I can easily whisk it together.
  • After the sugar has melted, immediately whisk in the cocoa powder and ancho chili powder so they have a chance to dissolve.  This also allows the ancho chili powder an opportunity to “bloom.”
  • Stir in the rest of the ingredients and bake.
Photo of whole pan of baked Whole Wheat Ancho Chili Brownies on cooling rack.
Close-up photo of Whole Wheat Ancho Chili Brownies in pan with one piece missing showing crumbs.

These are so, so easy and are the perfect “adult” brownie!  Enjoy!

For more great dessert recipes, be sure to try my:

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Three Whole Wheat Ancho Chili Brownies on a square of brown paper.

Whole Wheat Ancho Chili Brownies

5 from 2 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Whole Wheat Ancho Chili Brownies are intensely chocolatey and also pack a little heat with a touch of smokiness for a seriously delicious combination!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Desserts
Cuisine Southwestern / Mexican
Servings 12
Calories 367 kcal


  • Cooking spray
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter - 8 ounces
  • 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 bag (12-ounce) semisweet chocolate chips


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9-inch cake pan (preferably nonstick) with cooking spray.
  • Combine butter and light brown sugar in a large stainless steel bowl. Fill a large shallow pot approximately 3/4 of the way. Set the bowl over the pot and bring the water to a boil.
  • When the butter begins to melt, whisk the sugar and butter together until hot and the sugar is dissolved. Remove it from the heat and immediately add the cocoa and ancho chili powder. Set aside to cool approximately 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, combine whole wheat flour, salt and baking powder in a separate bowl.
  • When the butter and sugar mixture has cooled, whisk in the eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest until combined.
  • Add the flour mixture and chocolate chips and stir until combined. Pour into prepared pan.
  • Bake 30 minutes. Do not over bake. The brownies should appear set around the edge and in the center. Cool to room temperature before cutting.


Store covered at room temperature.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 367kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 410mg | Potassium: 228mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 760IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 2mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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  1. I thought I had what I needed to make the brownies that I once had in Tempe, Arizona and loved–but I have McCormick Ancho Chili Pepper, not Ancho Chili Powder. Can I substitute with the Ancho Chili Pepper or would that be too spicy?

    1. Hi, Joan, Thanks so much for your question. As you probably already know, ancho chili pepper is made from Poblanos which are mild to medium in heat. I did some searching and it appears one company might call it “pepper” while another calls it “powder.” Put a little on your tongue and see how spicy it is. Thanks again and hope this helps!

  2. Hi Carol.
    Thanks for providing so many great recipes!
    The ingredients list for this recipe specifies baking powder; the procedure says to add baking soda. I am guessing that baking powder is correct. Whichever it is, please update the recipe when you have time.

  3. Chili powder in brownies, though I’m not a fan of spice my husband is, I can’t wait to make these for him to take into work for him and his coworkers! Thanks!

  4. This should be called Brownies with a Twist! I’ve never heard of putting a spice like that in brownies. I would definitely like to try!

    1. Thanks, Dawn! It works great! I’ve seen a number of chili recipes that have you add a touch of chocolate at the end because the two flavors work so well together. Hope you enjoy!

  5. Having lived in Santa fe for a few years, I have a deep appreciation for chile added to sweets (they do it all the time there!). These brownies look absolutely delectable.