Passover Brownies with Tahini Swirl Recipe

Eric Ginsburg

Flourless Passover brownies with gorgeous tahini swirls? Sign us up!

No holiday is complete without dessert, which is why you should add these Passover brownies to your Pesach plan!

It can be tricky to make sweet treats that align with Passover prohibitions on anything risen. But this Passover brownies recipe is flourless, gluten-free, and easily dairy-free if you substitute a non-dairy alternative for the butter. Without baking powder or baking soda, they're a grain-free treasure you can enjoy without running afoul of the holiday's guidelines.

Courtesy Passover Brownies Recipe Photo

"This is my go-to recipe for an easy grain-free Passover dessert, but they’re so good I end up making them year-round," explained chef and creator Sonya Michelle Sanford. "These flourless chocolate tahini brownies are rich and chocolatey, chewy with a glossy top, and swirled with nutty tahini."

Adapted from a "fantastic" David Lebovitz recipe, Sanford's version appears in her newly released cookbook, Braids: Recipes From My Pacific Northwest Jewish Kitchen.

Passover brownies are one of the most searched-for Passover recipes, right up there with Passover kugel. We can help you build an entire holiday meal, starting with Passover appetizers, moving onto a herby horseradish salad, and even incorporating various vegan recipes, if needed.

But we also won't judge you if you just want to eat five of these brownies and call it a day.

Photo of Sonya Sanford by Janine Namgung

Courtesy Sonya Sanford Photo by Janine Namgung

About the Author

Sonya Michelle Sanford's family left Ukraine as Soviet Jewish refugees, arriving in the Pacific Northwest in the 1970s. She was the first in her family born in American, and grew up in Seattle.

Sanford's food career started at "an amazing local farm-to-table restaurant, Wildwood, here in Portland [Oregon]."

"That experience, coupled with my upbringing, impacted how I thought about food, and where it was sourced from," she told Food Fanatic. Later she worked as a personal chef and media personality, "working on cooking shows, catering, and doing pop-ups."

Eventually she opened her own spot, Beetroot Market & Deli in Portland — just 6 months before the pandemic. 

"While Beetroot Market & Deli was well-loved and growing, due to the many complications and economic realities of 2020, we closed after only a year of being open," Sanford said. "Beetroot was explicitly a Pacific Northwest Jewish Deli. We featured seasonal farm produce in a multitude of dishes. A deli case full of rotating salads was a central feature of our restaurant. We also served locally caught and cured salmon, and made sandwiches with Oregon pasture raised beef."

Jewish food can look a little different in the Pacific Northwest than the rest of the United States, on average. As Sanford explained, "Seattle historically has had the second largest Sephardic population in the nation, and Portland hasn't been far behind," and Beetroot's menu was influenced by "both Ashkenazi as well as Sephardic dishes."

Photo of Sonya Sanford by Eric Charles

Courtesy Sonya Sanford Photo by Eric Charles

What does that mean, when factored into the unique ingredients available in the region?

"Jewish food in the Pacific Northwest can look different than in other places — salmon is a central ingredient (think: salmon gefilte fish), there's a DIY culture that's long been embraced (from fermenting to baking), and seasonal produce prepared in vibrant ways is a fixture on holiday tables," Sanford said. "As someone who was born and raised here, and has an appreciation for local ingredients and foods, it felt important to me to embrace those things, as opposed to trying to fit into a New York deli mode."

And that's reflected in her aforementioned (and recently published) first cookbook, which includes family recipes and some favorites that emerged in Beetroot's short but vibrant tenure.

"The recipes in the book incorporate these influences and ingredients, so you'll find that I love to use zhoug (herby Yemenite hot sauce) in multiple dishes, I fill my rugelach with local marionberry preserves, I make savory blintzes with wild mushrooms, and I add sour cherries to my babka," Sanford explained. 

In that sense, Braids is like a postcard from Oregon and Washington. Or more specifically, with Sanford's signature on the return address.

"When I had the restaurant, I was able to tell stories through food and nourish guests in a physical space," she said. "When that ended, I began to ask myself if I could do the same in a new way — this book was that answer. This book is called Braids partly because of my love for challah and how it anchors me in Jewish ritual, but it's also named Braids as it reflects the process of creating something new, and wholly delicious, from the seemingly disconnected strands of a life lived across cultures and places."

There's also another, more personal reason, Sanford said: "Growing up, I always wore my hair in two braids (until I was 12), it was my signature look and something all my childhood friends know me for."

Sanford also co-hosts a podcast called Food Friends and teaches cooking classes (online and in person), available through her website.

Courtesy Passover Brownies Recipe Image

Two Secrets to Making the Best Brownies

Sanford shared advice she's picked up to make the most delicious — and gorgeous — brownies.

"I’ve learned from reading the recipes of great pastry chefs, like Alice Medrich, that the key to brownies is to vigorously beat the batter until it is glossy and shiny," she wrote to Food Fanatic.

Besides the taste (obviously), part of what makes these particular brownies compelling is the picturesque swirls of tahini. Sanford has a secret to getting the visual wow-factor you're going for, too.

"To get beautiful swirls in your brownies, make sure the tahini is refrigerated and cold before adding it to the baking dish," she said.

Simple as that!

Passover Brownie Ingredients

You will need the following ingredients to make this brownie recipe:

  • 6 Tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar (or more granulated sugar)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 3 Tablespoons (30 grams) potato starch
  • ⅓ cup tahini, chilled
  • Flake salt to garnish (optional)

Sanford graciously provided gram measurements, in case you're measuring quantities that way. As she notes, if you'd rather skip brown sugar for any reason, you can just add more granulated sugar to the recipe.

These brownies can be made dairy-free by swapping the butter, as mentioned above.

Courtesy Passover Brownies Recipe Picture

Gear You'll Need

Here are the things you'll need on hand to successfully make this recipe (besides the oven, of course):

  • 8" x 8" square or round baking dish
  • Parchment paper
  • Cooking spray (or butter) to grease the paper
  • Heat-proof bowl (microwave safe)
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Skewer or knife

If you love brownies, you might enjoy some of our other brownie recipes as well.

Our many thanks to chef Sonya Michelle Sanford for allowing us to share this recipe from her cookbook with you!


Passover Brownies with Tahini Swirl Recipe

9 Servings


  • 6 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 8 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, Chopped
  • 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 2 Eggs, At room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon Unsweetened Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder
  • 3 tablespoons Potato Starch
  • 1/3 cup Tahini, Chilled
  • 1 pinch Flake Salt, To garnish (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line the inside of an 8” x 8” square or round baking dish with parchment. Lightly grease the paper and the pan with butter or cooking spray.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave, or in a heat-proof bowl placed over a small pot of boiling water. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the cooled melted chocolate, sugar, brown sugar, and salt. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing each one until fully incorporated.
  4. Sift together the cocoa powder and potato starch into the chocolate mixture. Using a wooden spoon, beat the batter vigorously for 1-2 minutes, until the batter is no longer grainy, starts to look very shiny and smooth, and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer the batter into the greased baking dish.
  5. Dollop the top with spoonfuls of tahini, then using a skewer or knife, swirl the tahini in one direction through the batter. Swirl the tahini in the opposite direction to create a pattern.
  6. Bake for 22-25 minutes. For a fudgier brownie, take the brownies out when they are just set and firm at the edges. If you like a firmer brownie, you can cook until the center looks set.
  7. Immediately after taking the brownies out of the oven, sprinkle with flake salt, if using. Let cool completely before removing from the pan and slicing.


Recipe shared courtesy of chef Sonya Michelle Sanford and originally featured in her cookbook, Braids: Recipes From My Pacific Northwest Jewish Kitchen.

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Related Recipes:
Jewish Recipes, Holiday Recipes, Brownie Recipes, Dessert Recipes, Chocolate Recipes, Cookbook Recipes
Recipe Yields:
9 Servings
Related Post:
Author: Eric Ginsburg

Nutrition Facts

Servings Per Recipe 9

Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 144
Calories 260

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g
  Saturated Fat 5g
Sodium 66mg
Total Carbohydrate 30g
  Dietary Fiber 0g
  Sugars 17g
Protein 2g

* Percent Daily Value are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
** Nutrition Facts are estimated based on ingredients and data provided by Fat Secret. Please consult a doctor if you have special dietary needs.

Eric Ginsburg is the Editor of Food Fanatic. He's served as an editor at three newspapers and written for a wide range of publications, including Bon Appétit, Serious Eats, Wine Enthusiast, Southern Living, and Eater Carolinas. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. Follow him on Instagram.

Eric Ginsburg

About Eric

Eric Ginsburg is the Editor of Food Fanatic. He's served as an editor at three newspapers and written for a wide range of publications, including Bon Appétit, Serious Eats, Wine Enthusiast, Southern Living, and Eater Carolinas. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. Follow him on Instagram.

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