Healthier Chocolate Gooey Cake Bars

Thanks to the sponsorship of Avocados from Mexico, these Chocolate Gooey Cake Bars have a healthy secret – NO butter!

Healthier Chocolate Gooey Cake Bars by

Remember when Food Network got really big? I remember watching Emeril and Bobby Flay back in 2000. Then Rachael Ray got into the mix and the network took off. All of a sudden there was this huge new concept: food TV. My husband and I would watch the night time shows and I became like a kid again on Saturday mornings: I’d be glued to my TV, but it was cooking shows I was obsessed with instead of Saved By The Bell and Jem.

I don’t remember when Paula Deen showed up but I liked her right away. I mean, any chick that uses sugar and butter that much in a 30 minute time frame is my kinda gal.

The first episode I ever saw her do included a recipe for Gooey Butter Cake. I remember thinking, OMG you can do something other than make a cake with cake mix?

Yeah. If only I could see my future, right?

healthier-chocolate-gooey-cake-bars (2 of 6)

For some reason, probably the 12 pounds of butter, I never made her Gooey Butter Cake. But I always wanted to try it. Lately, I’ve been using a similar concept and making crusts out of cake and brownie mix. You know the deal, right? 1 stick of butter, 1 egg, and a cake mix. It makes a great bottom layer for magic bars.

I used that same concept for these Chocolate Gooey Cake Bars. These are kind of a marriage of gooey butter cake and magic bars. The cake mixture forms the crust and the top and the center is filled with chocolate chips, nuts, and sweetened condensed milk. The result of baking all the toppings in the center layer results in a gooey bar that tastes like a brownie married fudge.

These bars totally taste like that, BTW. Rich chocolate crust and topping, filled with chocolate chips and pecans. But these are healthier than the traditional Gooey Cake Bars. Why?

There is NO BUTTER in these bars! Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Instead of butter in the cake mixture, I used…

healthier-chocolate-gooey-cake-bars (5 of 6)


This recipe is perfect for all you people who just cringed. I swear to you, on a stack of holy cookbooks and a basin full of pie crust, that you do not taste avocado in these bars. The avocado takes the place of the butter. It’s so much like butter in texture, it gives the same ooey, gooey texture you’d get traditionally.

Yes, avocados have fat. But  they provide good-for-you monounsaturated fats and nearly 20 essential vitamins and minerals – which is more than a stick of butter can say, right?

Sure, you’ve still got half a can of sweetened condensed milk, some chocolate chips, and a cake mix. But you’ve taken out so many bad fats and calories, you can totally justify eating five one of these.


That’s what I thought. I think even the new Paula Deen would approve!

healthier-chocolate-gooey-cake-bars (3 of 6)

If you love gooey bar recipes be sure to check out all of mine!

Did you make this recipe?

Healthier Chocolate Gooey Cake Bars


  • 1 chocolate cake mix
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (from a 14 ounce can)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)


  1. Line a 9×9” pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place avocado in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until the large pieces are all smooth. Add the cake mix and egg and beat until combined. (There may be a few pieces of avocado left, that’s okay.)
  3. Place half the batter in the bottom of the pan. Spray your hands with cooking spray and press to flatten and cover the pan.
  4. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts over bottom later. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over chips and nuts.
  5. Place drops of the rest of the cake batter on top of the milk layer. Spray your hands again and press to evenly cover the top of the bars.
  6. Bake for about 25-28 minutes, until a toothpick on the edges comes out clean. Cool completely before removing from pan.
  7. Remove from pan, remove and discard foil. Slice into squares. Makes about 16 squares.
All images and text ©. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

Healthier Gooey Chocolate Cake Bars with no butter or oil

You may also like:

Vegan Brownies

Vegan Brownies

Avocado Banana Bread

avocado-banana-bread (4 of 5)

Sweets from friends:
Better than Anything Caramel Stuffed Brownies by Something Swanky
Peppermint Patty Gooey Cake Bars by Inside BruCrew Life
Rolo Gooey Cake Bars By I Wash You Dry

Thanks for reading! And be on the lookout for the Pit Crew at BHF this weekend!

This post was sponsored by Avocados from Mexico. Since I love avocados as much as I love my sugar, all opinions are, of course, 100% my own and I probably would have written this post eventually anyway on my own. 🙂



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  1. They look wonderful! I was JUST at lunch with Gaby and a dozen San Diego bloggers on Tuesday, celebrating the release of her avocado book and the first thing I want to make is either brownies or banana bread with them. And you’ve done both. Great job and didnt know you were going to BH or working with avos from Mexico. Congrats and have fun!

  2. umm…yes! These sound awesome Dorothy! I love adding avocados to desserts to make the healthier! Sadly I am not going to blog her! I hope you have tons of fun though and eat lots of good food!

  3. Oh yum Dorothy! I will see you tomorrow! I’m so freaking excited 🙂

  4. Dorothy, you have inspired me to use avocados in ways I never would have dreamed of!! I too love Paula Deen and have made her Gooey Butter Cake far too many times. I’m so glad that there is now a skinny version!! Can’t wait to try avocados in yet another new way. 🙂

  5. Yay…I love healthy dessert recipes and I love using avocados in my baking! I’m super excited to try this recipe out!

  6. I totally remember first watching Food Network – and getting really annoyed with Rachel Ray’s Hand Talking!! But I forgave her eventually, when I realized I talk with my hands far too much, too. 🙂 These looks crazy amazing and Butter Goddess Aunt Paula Deen would surely approve. See you in AUSTIN!!

  7. These look so delicious and decadent, Dorothy! What a great looking cake bar for indulging without the guilt!

  8. YUM! Any let in the freezer?

  9. Is it crazy that I thought they might have a green hue? Like guacamole brownies. 🙂 I’m pinning these to make for the kiddos. And I totally remember early FN shows! Watching them is what inspired me to learn to cook. I don’t think I could have learned how without actually seeing people do it.

  10. I remember staying up late watching Emeril doing is “Bam, Bam” thing! Still love to watch Food Network but the old shows were the best.
    Love that these are healthier ~ SOLD! Hopefully we can meet this wknd in Austin.

  11. I love cooking shows but never get to watch them! We don’t have cable! These look so good I never would of guessed they have avocado in them!

  12. Still haven’t used avocado as a substitute .. Need to try soon

  13. Woooow! I’m making cake with avocado today, but gosh, your looks so much easier! You’ve made my avocado-in- desserts heart oh so majorly happy. You are so awesome – keep em coming!!

  14. I CANNOT BELIEEEVE that there’s no butter, just avocado in these! They look amazing!!!

  15. Like a brownie married fudge?? heck yeah! I love the fun creative ways you use avocados! I’m so sad I don’t get to hang out with you this weekend. 🙁 Hopefully soon! Have fun!

  16. LOVE IT! I’m not sure which I would enjoy more, eating them or tricking people with avocado in brownies 🙂
    Someday I will actually go to a blogging conference … have a great time!
    P.S. The Ooey Gooey Cake is evil in a good way.

  17. 1. I was exactly like you before kids! Watching the food network for hours on end on Saturday mornings. Just one show after the other until hunger would take over and I’d have to go eat something.
    2. I absolutely love when you break down baking into easy terms. Like: 1 stick of butter, 1 egg, and a cake mix = magic bar base. Ummm, what? That is so simple! Prepare to be inundated with magic bars.
    3. I love avocados as a dairy substitute. My body doesn’t love dairy, but it does love avocado! I love using it on a sandwich instead of cheese. Yumm.
    4. These bars look amazing.
    5. Be my neighbor.
    6. #oknowimdone

  18. I never thought of using avocados instead of butter in baked goods! But it makes sense, because they’re kind of like nature’s butter. I really wanna start using avocado in recipes now!

  19. I love the idea of avocados instead of butter! I’m really not a huge avocado fan, but I know they have such healthy fats in them. Now I really want to try this! Healthy fats and chocolate – bring it on! 🙂

  20. These look delicious and I’m definitely going to give them a try. As I have a boyfriend who comes from St. Louis, I’ve had my fair share of gooey butter cake, although I agree that the amount of butter is slightly scary!

  21. Ohmygosh, I didn’t know you were doing that at the conference – that is so awesome, Dorothy! I’m so, so excited to finally meet you in person. I’m nervous, too!

  22. I’m so excited (jealous) to hear all about the conference from you and all my other favorite food bloggers! Maybe someday I would be able to go! Hopefully sooner then later! I’m not quite sure I’m at the level to be able to hang with ya’ll I’m still a rookie at this food blogging thing! But, I’m loving it!

    These bars look delish! Love the idea of using avocados! Yum!

  23. That’s one thing I miss about cable.. watching Food Network. 🙁
    If I could buy only 2 TV channels I would buy HGTV and Food Network.
    For now I will settle for Netflix hoping someday they put some food shows on there.

    Paula Deen = <3

  24. This recipe most certainly helps to support my claim for the fact that avocado is TRULY amazing!! 🙂

  25. These look great! I want to give them to my siblings and see if they can taste the difference!

  26. Hello? Where have I been. Using cake mix as a base layer for magic bars. Instant like right there. I have never used an avocado in place of butter, probably because an avocado will never last that long in my house. Love this! See you soon!

  27. Nice! I love the brownie-married-fudge thing. Can you imagine what wonderful soft pudgy little children they would have? Ok, that was weird. Anyway, great idea with the avocado. I’ll have to try that sometime in some of my baking. Someone once told me about some vegan cookies made with avocado, but avocados never stick around our house for too long.

  28. Amazing!! I seriously need one of these now.

  29. I love avocados. I’m not sure about them in cakes or brownies, though! I’ve done the applesauce substitution thing in brownies and they just weren’t the same. But I can’t knock it until I try it! Thanks for sharing this healthier, delicious looking recipe, Dorothy! Pinned!

  30. I love watching the food network channel. It is my favorite! I am absolutely in love with Paula Deen. She makes me believe butter is it’s own food group and you need it. I love chocolate gooey cake, so I’ll have to try this heathier version.

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  32. So cool what you can do with avocado’s! Love them and how healthy they are for you! I will have to try this soon, it looks delicious!

  33. OMG Jem, I totally forgot about that show, lol! I loved FN when it first started too. These bars look ah-mazing! I love sneaking in avocados into sweet treats like this. Makes me not feel as guilty when I end up eating the entire pan. 😉

  34. 1) This is GENIUS!
    2) I’m totally hooked to food TV too. I can’t get enough!

  35. These look amazing!! But…. I might be allergic to avocado. It’s a tragedy. Sigh.

    And Paula Deen is the sweetest person ever! My mom bought her autobiography a few years ago and leant it to me. Her history is amazing — she was afraid to leave her house for years, maybe even decades! She eventually overcame that to start cooking and baking for others, and now she’s a huge celebrity. I’d highly recommend reading it; the book is really touching and inspiring!

  36. As much as I’m obsessed with the Food Network, Saved by the Bell and Jem are total classics. I signed up for Netflix this past Christmas and I blitzed through all seasons of both of those shows. It was super satisfying watching them after all these years (and also made me feel so old!). The only thing that would’ve made my experience even better is if I had a pan of this to nosh on – your gooey cake bars look incredible! I love that you used avocado. I’m a big supporter of avo based desserts.

  37. Oh man! Now this means I can eat half the pan and not feel bad right?

  38. I love how we can rationalize things as being healthier even though they are still loaded with chocolate! Whatever makes us feel better right??

  39. YUM! And yes, I TOTES remember when Food network showed up. A college buddy of mine introduced me to Iron Chef (the original overseas version) which only aired overnight, and we would stay up until 2am, entranced….”you mean…he’s going to make… LOBSTER ICE CREAM????”

  40. Avocado! Who would’ve thought! Dorothy, I’m loving these cake bars. Homerun. 🙂 Anything healthy + chocolate catches my eye! Have a great time at BHF, I’ll miss you gals!

  41. Anything with Gooey in the name has got to be delicious, right?! Ok, maybe not everything, but definitely this, I’m sure!! YUM!

  42. How did you know I cringed when you said avocado? I’m going to take your word on not being able to taste the avocado and give it a try.

  43. These look amazing Dorothy! I love the gooey aspect 🙂

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  50. Hey, this recipe sounds great!(: I’m just wondering, but could you use a different flavor of cake mix if you wanted to? Thanks!(:

    • Yes! Any flavor is good. I used chocolate to hide the green color from the avocado. If you use yellow cake it will look a little green but it will still taste good! 🙂

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