Chocolate Cream Cheese Swirl Chia Seed Brownies

Once the stuff of jingle commercials promising a green-sprouted clay head, chia seeds are an absolute must-try if you haven’t already.

Working as a thickener in recipes, these low glycemic seeds add healthy omega-3’s to your diet. To boot, at room temperature they last longer than flax seed (it’s typically believed that chia seeds can typically stay fresh at room temperature for up to 2 years). Want more? I’ll bring it: Chia seeds are anti-oxidants and contain fiber, calcium, protein, and can help you cut fat in your baking.

Tired yet from its fabulous?

I can do this all day, but I want to share a terrific recipe with you. We can bake and be fabulous at the same time.

Tip: To keep cocoa powder from going everywhere while mixing, add a little at a time with the melted butter (or any liquids) to incorporate.

I never knew where to find Chia seeds before, but Dole makes them now (you can score a coupon here), which is bonus to those of us who want to shop locally. Thanks to their generosity, I scored a container to play with. And play I did.

Tip: Taste test batter to check for sweetness before baking, especially when working with cocoa and sweeteners, but use caution when raw eggs are an ingredient.

Chia seeds contain only 2 net carbs per 3 tablespoons, making them the perfect addition to many of your dishes. Chia gel is wonderful to keep on hand for up to a week and for thickening foods, beverages, you name it (add chia seeds to water at a ratio of 1 Tbsp per 1/2 cup water)! The seeds can also be ground up and used as flour.

For this recipe I went with chia seeds as a thickener to cut back on the flours. This means the result is fewer carbohydrates (2.3 net) but slightly higher on the caloric scale (182). At the same time, the fat and fiber make these a filling dessert with almost as much protein as an entire egg per serving (5.4 g).

Tip: If you remove the cream cheese from the recipe, dial down the sweetener as well.

I ended up using flax seed meal and almond flour, but I’m thinking the flax isn’t as dense as coconut flour would have been. You might try coconut flour instead. It will bump the carbohydrate amounts, but if you try it and love it, please let me know.

As for the flavor? spot on, my chocolate loving friends. Spot on. The drawback? You need to let these sit out overnight to solidify. This recipe is not Atkins Induction Friendly because chia seeds are on the seed rung of Atkins. Play with the baking time a little bit because I really think these need to bake longer than average brownies or they remain too moist.

Chocolate Chia Seed Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

1 Tbsp chia seeds + 1/2 cup water
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup flax seed meal (or coconut flour)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar equivalent in a substitute
1/2 cup brown sugar equivalent in a substitute
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp organic sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 ounces cream cheese, melted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, make the chia seed gel by mixing 1 tbsp chia seeds + water. Stir well and let sit for 20 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Grease an 8″ x 8″ baking pan. In a separate bowl, whisk together the chia gel, almond flour and flax seed. Add eggs and whisk to incorporate. Add (and mix just enough to incorporate) cocoa, butter, vanilla, sugar substitute, brown sugar substitute, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Pour the batter into the pan. Melt cream cheese in the microwave and incorporate into the brownies by dropping dollops onto the batter. With a knife gently swirl the cream cheese to incorporate into the batter, leaving delicious, cheesecakey trails.

Bake for 35-50 minutes, or until a toothpick (or sharp knife) inserted in the center of the brownie pan comes out clean and the top looks slightly more dry.

Let rest for up to 24 hours. Slice and serve.

Makes 12 brownies.

Nutritional information per brownie: Calories: 182, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Fiber: 3.7 g, Net Carbohydrates: 2.3 g, Protein: 5.4 g, Fat: 16.8 g


Dole Nutrition Plus Whole Chia Seeds

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Price: $16.99 for a 16 oz package (about 15 servings)
Usefulness: A replacement for fats, for carby flours, on salads and for thickening.
Positive: Chia seeds only. No added weird stuff.
Negative: Cost could be prohibitive, but a bit of seed makes a lot of gel.
Found: Store Locator
Website: Dole Nutrition Plus
Savings: Coupon here

Disclosure: Dole provided this product  free of charge for review, but this has not affected my review of the item.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. What did you use as your sugar and brown sugar substitutes?

  2. zandra morris says

    just made zucchini muffins last night so i will have to wait till they are gone—but its funny about you using chia seeds—i have some on the counter right now to make chia vanilla pudding today–thanks for the info I didnt know they were that valuable–i will have to use them more often

  3. Question.. I didn’t see cinnamon or baking soda in the ingredients and is it 1 TBS or 2 TBS chia seeds? The list says 1 and the directions say 2 and where does the water come into play. In the directions it says mix chia with butter, but should it be water instead? These look so delicious, I don’t want to mess it up since I have all the ingredients on hand. Thanks so much, Sheatina

  4. Damn Jamie, that look fantastic.
    Just wanna understand it right, you put the seed in water to begin with? And then put in the melted butter?
    Looking forward to try this so much!

  5. These look delicious and I am really looking forward to making these, I just had a few questions….I am confused by the ingredient list for 1 Tbs chia seeds and water but then directions call for 2 Tbs seeds in melted butter, but then butter is added later?

    • Ermagerd! Awkward! Thanks for the catch. Ignore what I said about butter and chia. I was thinking thoughts and never followed through on them.

  6. how much baking soda, Jamie?

  7. Thanks, I made them! I used about 1 tsp of baking soda, I just guessed. I threw out a stick of butter marinating 2 Tbsp of chia seeds, but that was all. I started over with 1 Tbsp and 1/2 cup water. It smells delicious. Cant wait to have it for breakfast with a cup of almond/coconut milk!

  8. I made these today and was disappointed- they had a moist pudding- jelly like consistency. I guess that would be the chia – when will I learn? 🙂

  9. Totally missed that point- they are in the fridge- I will have a try right now- they have been baked for 20 hours now.

  10. So happy to see a chia seed recipe from you. I’ve been using them for about a year as a g/f replacement for bread crumbs in meatballs, meatloaf, and any other way to use them to add fiber into our diet. But I’m no baker so have been hoping that someone would fight that battle for me. Will be making these Friday to take to the family Labor Day picnic on Sat.

  11. Seriously have to wait 24 hours to set up? arrrgggggg! Can’t wait to try them, am off of sweets for a few days to bring this weight to go in the right direction. Thank you! And now a use for that huge bag of chia from the bulk department.

  12. Just took these out of the oven. They look and smell wonderful! I don’t know if I can wait until tomorrow!

  13. Thanks for the great idea using chia in a brownie. I have lots of chia in the cabinet and need to use them.

  14. Can I leave out the cream cheese? Would it still work? Thanks.

    • The reason I added the cream cheese was because the recipe is too sweet without it. I had made a prior batch and, without thinking, I added the same amount of sweetener I’d added to the prior batch. You could [probably swirl in sour cream instead, but there should be something there to offset that extra sweet. Without the cream cheese, I’m worried it’ll be too too.

  15. I am so baking these today!!!! Thanks for all the great ideas, Jamie, your site has been my “go to” spot for low carb ideas!!

  16. OK, Jamie…I bought chia seeds and plan to make these soon! You’ve never steered me wrong before:D The kids are excited about the purchase, but want to make chia pets even more than the brownies. And great. Now I have that cha cha cha chia song swimming around in my head. LOL THANKS!

    • Chia pets would be so fun! I don’t know if these will sprout, though. Still, I’m a sucker for that stuff. Please let me know if it sprouts! Now to harvest the little Sea Monkeys of old (microscopic shrimp)…

      • I bought raw seed so it should sprout. If not, it will keep them busy trying for a while:D If they even think about using the “B” word (bored) around here I make them clean so they are always looking out for new projects. Oooh! Sea Monkeys! That would be a good one too!

  17. Hi – sorry but I have no idea how much a stick of butter is – could you give me that in oz or grams? =S just made them today and used 25g of butter because I thought that was what a stick was and they taste terrible!

  18. I bought chia seeds for this recipe and made these brownies last night. I’m sitting at work eating one and had to comment. These brownies rock! They are super moist with great flavor. I used coconut flour instead of flax meal. Thanks for the great recipe. It will be one I make again and again. I love finding low carb dessert recipes that taste great 🙂

    • Hi, Jen. I am so happy! I must have been thinking about you this morning, because all of a sudden, the chia brownies popped up in my head! I am so, so happy you gave them a try, so happy you like them and even happier you took the time to write and let me know!

  19. Made these with coconut flour and they were AMAZING! I’m in love. They turned out so dense and delicious. Had the brownies chill in the freezer overnight, and they were ready ~7 hours later for breakfast. Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  20. I have some questions and comments. I left out the cream cheese and they did fine. I reduced the cocoa to 1/2 a cup and that also seemed to work out. I also gave the batter a taste. Imagine if a cake batter mated with chocolate pudding. It was pretty good. I baked mine for 30 minutes and I think that was perfect.

    Here are my questions. Why wait 24 hours? Mine are right out of the oven and they are pleasantly moist and well not exactly “chewy” but they have a pleasant texture, maybe halfway between a cake and a brownie. Also, I don’t get why the cinnamon? I LOVE cinnamon, but not in my brownies. I halved the amount listed in the recipe and my house smelled of cinnamon while they baked and I can taste cinnamon in the finished product. Not a big deal, next time I’ll leave it out. Also, I can detect a bit of “grit” from the chia seeds. Could I give the dry seeds a nice little spin in my Magic Bullet before adding the water to make the gel? Or would that ruin it’s gel-making ability somehow? Just curious. Overall I’m pretty happy with these and THANK YOU so much for your gigantic database of awesome recipes!!! 😀

    • Hi, John! Thanks so much for writing!

      Hey. I really like what you’re telling me, and that might help, since I am not great with dairy these days. Oof. Even thinking about dairy makes me bloat–and I’m from Wisconsin! I am going to try your method.

      If it gels (ha! I made a pun), would you mind my sharing the recipe with your tweaks and credit you? Being dairy-free would be so sweet.

      I think because you removed the cream cheese, the brownies probably set up faster–another good reason to consider nixing the CC!

      You could definitely pulse the seeds and still get the gel effect. I like the little bit of poppy seed feel, butbutbut that doesn’t mean everyone wants their brownies to…erm…crunch.

  21. Well I used granular splenda and Kroger brown baking sweetener which is Xylitol plus molasses if I’m not mistaken. Not the lowest carb sweeteners, but they are supposed to be a treat, right ;). They puffed up and looked amazing as they baked, but they deflated as they cooled. They hold up REALLY well in the fridge. They are just as good now as the night they were made. I melt a little homemade peanut butter over the top and add just a few Hershey’s sugar free chocolate chips for a little crunch. Drink some unsweetened almond milk with them and that makes one heck of a REALLY good LC dessert. Chia seeds are really useful on Low Carb apparently. I have probably tried at least 10 different brownie recipes and this will be my go-to recipe from now on. Such a great website and sooooo many great recipes to choose from!!! Thanks so much to you and Candace!!!! 😀

  22. These are amazing!! I didn’t wait the full 24 hours (more like 1 hour), but I chilled it in the freezer and added some freshly whipped cream (with stevia and vanilla) and sliced strawberries on top. Fabulous!! Thanks for the recipe!

  23. This is my 2nd go round on making these and my 3rd comment here. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING BROWNIES!!!! I powdered my chia seeds before making the gel and that made a non-crunchy texture, which we liked better. I used 1/4 cup of Xylitol and used 1/2 tsp EZ sweetz and just a little liquid stevia/erythritol for the rest of the sweetener. I used a 9×9 pan this time and I got 20 little brownies out of it. With the brands I used, I calculated these at 1.95 carbs each. THANK YOU SO MUCH for this amazing recipe!!! I got on a bit of a brownie bender recently and I was preparing and eating 2 boxes of brownie mix by myself every week. YIKES!!! Gained a good bit of weight doing that. I have been looking for a brownie recipe that would satisfy, and THIS IS IT!!!!

  24. RebeccaC says

    These brownies are delicious. I used 2T flax meal and 2T coconut flour to cover my bases, threw in what sugar subs I had on hand plus about 1/2 t molasses, and they came out perfect. I will be making these again, and I might try John’s idea of powdering the chia seeds first, though I didn’t mind the tiny chia crunch at all.

  25. Dewdrops says

    What can I use instead of a tree nut flour? … Anaphylactic 🙁

    • Your Lighter Side says

      Hey! Are you all right with peanut flour? If not, you could also go the (slightly less) coconut flour route. The recipe is so thirsty, you can likely get away with it.

  26. What did you use for the sugar/brown sugar substitutes? I am trying to use stevia (following THM plan). I have no idea what I would use for the brown sugar.

  27. I love chia seeds but as someone who is allergic to both peanuts AND tree nuts (I know!!) should I just use all coconut flour?

  28. These had a bad aftertaste, the texture was great but uk

  29. I had to comment because I LOVE these. Granted I don’t have too much to compare to since they’re only the second low carb brownie I’ve tried, but I need look no further! The first I tried was dense, more like a fudge. The texture in these is great. I didn’t have any after taste like some commenters.

    I used coconut flour instead of flax seed, and only 1 cup of erithritol total (didn’t try to find a brown sugar replacement). I omitted the cream cheese, cinnamon, and salt (I used salted Kerrygold butter).

    I’m going to try them out on some non-LC folks and see how they like them. But this will be my staple when I get a craving for chocolate. THANK YOU!

  30. they had a bad after taste!


  1. […] desserts! I’ve been looking for a low carb brownie recipe for a while now – this one uses chia gel and cream cheese to keep the centre moist and almond and flax meals to keep the carb […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.