How to Make Brownies Better, with Secrets from Our Test Kitchen

We all want to know how to make better brownies—you know the kind with the crinkly top and the fudgy center. Our Test Kitchen pros let you in on their tips for the best-ever brownies.

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Don’t overbake them!

What we love most about brownies is their fudginess. The secret to getting that gooey, fudgy center: not overbaking. This is the biggest tip our Test Kitchen can give you.

Just like with cake, you can test if your brownies are done with a toothpick. But when it comes to brownies, “don’t look for the toothpick to be clean when testing for fudgy brownie doneness,” Executive Culinary Director Sarah Farmer says. “The toothpick should yield some moist crumbs.”

And don’t worry about those brownies being too gooey or underdone: “The brownies will continue to bake a bit after you remove them from the oven with carryover baking,” according to Sarah.

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Use the best chocolate you can afford

Chocolate is the star of the show here, so don’t cut any corners with your shopping list. Culinary Assistant Mark Neufang says, “use the best chocolate you can afford—baking with better chocolate truly makes all the difference with brownies!”

In Mark’s kitchen, you’ll find bags of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips ready for brownie baking. If you prefer semi-sweet, try our Test Kitchen-Preferred brands of chocolate chips.

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Whisk, whisk, whisk for that crackly top

The sign of a good brownie in our book is that crinkly, tissue paper-like top. The secret to getting that perfect finish: Whisking the eggs.

Sarah says to achieve that crackly finish, you have to beat the eggs until foamy. “You’re sort of creating a meringue here which transforms into the delicate and oh-so-desirable crinkly, crackly top.”

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Mix the flour in by hand

When it comes to adding the flour to your brownies, Mark recommends stirring it in by hand, “especially if it’s fudgy brownies you’re aiming for.”

“Hand mixing ensures you have a gentler hand and don’t over mix the ingredients,” according to Mark. “Fold in just until the mixture is uniform—no more.”

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Add a touch of espresso powder

No, you’re not trying to make mocha brownies here, but a touch of instant espresso powder or coffee can give you a chocolatier brownie. Associate Culinary Producer Audrey Rompon says that a touch of espresso can really enhance the chocolate flavor. A teaspoon of espresso powder should do it.

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Choose your pan wisely

For successful brownies, Mark, our brownie aficionado, recommends using a light-colored metal pan. These pans absorb the right amount of heat to bake your brownies. Opt for these types of pans in your cupboards for brownie recipes.

If you only have dark pans at home, don’t pack it in for the day! Instead, just reduce the temperature called for in the recipe by 25 degrees, according to Sarah. This will help offset the extra heat that dark pans tend to absorb.

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Add extra chocolate

Brownies are the pinnacle of chocolaty desserts, so there’s no shame in adding a little extra to your next pan. Senior Food Stylist Shannon Norris says that no matter the recipe, she stirs extra chocolate chips into the batter for melty pockets of goodness and extra cocoa flavor.

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Let the batter rest before adding any chocolate mix-ins

We love biting into a brownie and finding a pocket of melted chocolate courtesy of some chocolate chunks. To ensure these chunks and chips stay intact, make sure that you’re mixing them into room temperature batter.

According to Mark, if the batter is too warm, those chips will melt and blend into the batter before it even bakes.

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Line your pan

With an easy bake like brownies, it’s tempting to just spray down your 13×9 pan and pop them in the oven. This isn’t the wrong thing to do, however, our culinary crew encourages bakers to take one extra step before filling up the pan: Line it.

Deputy Editor James Schend recommends bakers use foil or parchment paper to line brownie pans. That way once the brownies are baked and cooled, you can lift them right out of the pan. This keeps your nonstick pans pristine (you don’t want to scratch that surface slicing up your treats) and it makes slicing brownies a whole lot easier and neater.

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Wait for the brownies to cool before you frost

Making a frosted brownie? Don’t think about spreading that delicious buttercream over the top until those brownies are absolutely cool. If the brownies are still warm, the frosting will melt and slide right off the brownies or soak right into your baked treats. While waiting can be hard, knowing that you’ll end up with perfect brownies if you exercise some patience makes it worthwhile.

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Slice precisely

If your pan of brownies is just for you, we say slice into them while they’re warm and enjoy that ooey-gooey middle. If your brownies are to share, take a little time to cut them nicely for a picture-perfect presentation.

This is where lining the pan comes in handy. Lift your brownies out of the pan and move them to a cutting board. Then using a sharp knife of bench scraper, you can measure and cut the brownies any way you like: squares, wedges, slices—any way you like ’em!

Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is a former Taste of Home editor and passionate baker. During her tenure, she poured her love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa also dedicated her career here to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.