"Surprise!" wrote the superstar in a press release after sharing her self-titled record, BEYONCÉ, featuring 14 new songs and 17 full music videos.
The collection caused iTunes to temporarily crash as fans rushed to download it, all the while tweeting their excitement leading to the singer's name trending in the UK.
Saying that she was "bored" of releasing music the traditional way, Beyonce said the instantaneous release meant she was "able to speak directly" to her fans.
The new album is one of the few major releases in recent years not to leak in advance, despite the scale of the project — every track on the album is accompanied by its own music video.
"I see music. It’s more than just what I hear," she said. "When I’m connected to something, I immediately see a visual or a series of images that are tied to a feeling or an emotion, a memory from my childhood, thoughts about life, my dreams or my fantasies. And they’re all connected to the music."
The star said she had been inspired by memories of watching Michael Jackson's Thriller video premiere in 1983.
"I miss that immersive experience," she said. "Now people only listen to a few seconds of a song on their iPods and they don't really invest in the whole experience.
Beyoncé in her video for Pretty Hurts
"It's all about the single, and the hype. I felt like, I don't want anybody to get the message when my record is coming out.
"I just want this to come out when it's ready and from me to my fans."
Though a new album has long been rumoured, no information on BEYONCÉ was released in advance. The album had no promotion or hype ahead of its launch.
The accompanying videos feature cameo appearances from the star's friends and family, including husband Jay Z, daughter Blue Ivy, her mother Tina Knowles and Destiny's Child bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.
Collaborations on the "exclusive visual album", meanwhile, include performances from Jay Z, Kelly and Michelle, Justin Timberlake, Drake and Pharrell Williams.
I'm sitting here watching THE most artful and perfect project ever....@Beyonce— solange knowles (@solangeknowles) December 13, 2013
Don't talk to me today unless it's about @Beyonce THANX— Katy Perry (@katyperry) December 13, 2013