How to Make Brownies Step-by-Step for Spot-On Texture and Taste

Ditch the boxed mixes and learn how to make perfect homemade brownies from scratch. These rich, fudgy desserts are surprisingly easy to bake on your own.

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It's hard to beat the chewy, fudgy goodness of a brownie. Or maybe you prefer a sweet square that's more cakelike and covered with rich frosting. Either way, knowing how to make brownies is handy baking knowledge for the chocolate lovers in your life. We'll show you how our Test Kitchen experts ace the brownie game, so you can make them from scratch for your family and friends—empty pan guaranteed. Although this step-by-step brownie recipe is based on the fudgy chocolate kind, these guidelines can easily be adjusted and applied to blonde brownies, gluten-free brownies, chocolate chip brownies, or any other bar your crew requests.

Fudgy Brownies
Blaine Moats

How to Make Brownies Step-by-Step

When searching for the best brownie recipe, start by deciding on the texture you want to achieve: Do you like fudgy brownies or cake brownies? The best part about making brownies from scratch is you have all the control—once you understand the function each ingredient serves, you can tweak their amounts to make the recipe your own.

In many brownie recipes, the proportion of flour to other ingredients is significantly lower than what baked goods like cookies or cake require. This ratio is important in determining the texture of your treat. Seek recipes with less flour for brownies that are dense, fudgy, or rich, or if you prefer brownies with a cakelike texture, look for recipes with more flour.

Some cakelike brownies contain milk or buttermilk, giving them a texture similar to rich, fluffy chocolate cake. We're breaking down our Test Kitchen's famous brownie recipe (pictured above), but the expert techniques we recommend can also help you master your favorite recipe.

Chopping chocolate for brownies
Scott Little

Step 1: Prep Chocolate for Brownies

Of course, you can't make chocolate fudge brownies without chocolate. Using a chef's knife ($40, Target), coarsely chop chocolate bars or squares on a cutting board. Chopped chocolate melts smoothly and evenly and won't scorch. Some recipes call for cocoa powder in lieu of actual chocolate—either option will yield delicious brownies.

Melting chocolate and butter for brownies
Scott Little

Step 2: Melt Chocolate and Butter

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium saucepan ($20, Walmart). Cut up the butter and add it to the saucepan with the chocolate. Stir over low heat until the chocolate and butter are melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the chocolate mixture cool. This will serve as the base for your brownie recipe.

Stirring sugar into chocolate mixture
Scott Little

Step 3: Add Sugar

Add the sugar to the cooled chocolate-and-butter mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon ($7, Walmart) until the sugar is completely incorporated.

Low-Sugar Brownies

Whether you're simply out of sugar or you want to reduce your intake and use a sugar alternative, do some research first. Depending on which ingredient you choose, the amount required might stay the same, or you might need to measure out slightly less (or more) of your favorite sugar substitute. As with any baked good, making brownies sometimes requires experimenting—especially when you're swapping in different main ingredients like sugar. For a healthier brownie recipe, try these black bean brownies or sweet potato brownies.

Beating eggs into chocolate mixture
Scott Little

Step 4: Add Eggs and Vanilla

Add the eggs to the chocolate mixture one at a time. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon after each addition, until the eggs are completely incorporated into the chocolate mixture. (Fun fact: Eggs provide structure and texture to your brownies, which is why boxed brownies often still need them.) After adding eggs, stir in the vanilla.

Adding flour to brownies
Scott Little

Step 5: Add Flour

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture all at once. This is another step where you have some flexibility: Perhaps you eat a gluten-free diet or you'd rather use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose. Maybe you want to try out a flour substitute like coconut flour or almond flour; in that case, do some research before making a 1:1 swap, since the amount could differ from all-purpose flour.

Stirring flour into chocolate mixture
Scott Little

Step 6: Mix Brownie Batter

Your brownies are almost ready to bake. Gently stir the batter until the flour is moistened. Use a heavy-duty rubber spatula ($12, Bed Bath & Beyond) to scrape the sides and bottom of the saucepan.

If desired, stir in your choice of mix-ins, such as chocolate pieces, chopped nuts, or mint chips. This is another opportunity for flexibility. You can change the mix-ins every time you bake to alter the taste and texture of your brownies without changing the base recipe.

Frosting brownies
Scott Little

Step 7: Bake, Cool, and Frost Brownies

Grease your baking pan or line it with foil for easy removal. Spread the batter in the prepared brownie baking pan ($23, Bed Bath & Beyond). Bake brownies as directed in the recipe, and cool them completely in the pan on a wire rack ($17, Target).

How to Tell When Brownies Are Done

Most brownies bake at 350°F for 25 to 35 minutes. If you aren't sure if your batch is done, don't rely on the toothpick test—since fudgy brownies are so moist, this method won't work. If the brownies look overly gooey, use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven temp is accurate (then adjust the temperature as necessary). You shouldn't bake brownies longer than the recipe states.

How to Frost Brownies

If you want frosted brownies, wait at least an hour after baking to allow the brownies to cool completely. Prepare the frosting for brownies, and use an offset metal spatula to coat the brownies while they are still in the pan. Cut the finished dessert into bars, serve, and enjoy!

Chocolate lovers may prefer their brownies with chocolate frosting, but we also like a simple vanilla frosting, cream cheese frosting, or even rich peanut butter frosting. Now that you're becoming a brownie-making pro, switch up your recipe with new mix-ins or an unexpected flavor profile, such as caramel, pumpkin, espresso, or even stout beer. Who can argue with decked-out brownies?

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