One-Bowl Chewy Brownies
The best chewy brownies are packed with chocolate and made from scratch — in just one bowl, with pantry staples, in and out of the oven in less than 45 minutes. Keep reading to learn all the secrets that make these better than even the best boxed mix!
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Despite my raging sweet tooth, brownies were once upon a time the rare dessert I could resist. Call me crazy. I’d try a bite, especially from a nice crackly corner or edge, but never be tempted to eat more than that.
That said, the rest of my household is obsessed with brownies, and I aim to please, so I made them fairly often. From a box.
I’m no boxed-mix hater, and completely unscientific polling of family and friends suggests most of us really love a good boxed-mix brownie. (Pssst: our favorite brand was and continues to be Ghirardelli.) No shame in that game!
However. I couldn’t help but experiment, and eventually that led to the jackpot — brownies so chewy, so chocolatey, so crackly on top, and above all, so quick and easy to make, that they truly show boxed mixes the door.
Now? Make way. When there’s a pan of these brownies around, you better believe that everyone — myself included — is going to want in on the action. These brownies always turn out luscious and disappear faster than seems possible.
What makes a brownie chewy?
Exactly what makes a brownie “chewy,” you might ask?
Chewy brownies have a dense, substantial structure, but are still extremely moist. You might contrast them to cake-like brownies on one extreme, which would be more dry and airy on the inside. On the other side of the spectrum, there are fudge-like brownies, which can be so moist and truffle-like that they may seem to be not-quite baked through.
Chewy brownies split the difference. They’re the perfect crowd-pleasing brownie that everyone loves.
The science behind it
If you are really curious, you might want to know more about how this brownie sorting hat works. What makes one batch more fudgy or more cake-like than another?
Most all brownie recipes call for similar ingredients — chocolate, sugar, flour, fat of some kind — but the key is the different ratios of those ingredients.
The more fat, such as butter, oil, or chocolate in bar form, the fudgier the brownies will be. The more flour and other dry ingredients, the more cake-like the finished result. Pretty simple, right?
Everyone has a favorite balance and way to achieve it. For the ultimate chewy, chocolatey brownies — not at all dry, but not so gooey they can’t hold a shape — this is ours.
Ingredients for the ultimate chewy brownies
- Unsweetened chocolate: Adding cocoa in bar form means you do not need to add quite so much additional fat, because the bar contains cocoa butter. It also melts down with the butter to ensure a perfectly smooth, even texture. Using unsweetened chocolate allows you complete control over how sweet the finished brownies are.
- Butter: The best way to ensure a rich, chewy, flavorful brownie. The butter will be melted together with the chocolate, which is what creates that incredible crackly brownie top. I typically bake with unsalted butter, but if you use salted, just reduce the amount of added salt.
- Granulated white sugar: 1 and 1/3 cups adds the perfect amount of sweetness. If this seems like a lot, remember that there is no sugar coming from the cocoa in this recipe. If you want to experiment and have both on hand, you can swap up to 2/3 of the white sugar out for brown sugar. This will give a subtle molasses flavor.
- Eggs: Eggs bind everything together to give structure while making the flavor more rich and the crumb more tender.
- Flour: Only 2/3 of a cup! This is just enough to hold everything together without moving you into cake-like territory.
- Espresso powder, chocolate chips (optional): Enhances the chocolate flavor and adds that certain something. The brownies do not taste like coffee.
- Vanilla extract: Another flavor enhancer.
- Flaky sea salt: A little bit in the batter perfectly highlights the sweet cocoa flavor. You can sprinkle a little on top of the baked brownies, too, for a pretty effect.
Tips and tricks for success
- Whisk vigorously to incorporate the sugar and eggs: At this stage you want the batter to be completely even and for the sugar to almost be suspended in the melted butter and chocolate.
- But don’t over mix after adding the flour: Once the batter is even and you no longer see big streaks of flour, stop! Step away from the spatula! After the flour is incorporated, gluten — ie., structure and hold — begins to develop right away. Mixing more encourages that process, and also beats in small air pockets, either of which can negatively impact the baked brownies’ texture.
- Don’t over bake: For chewy brownies, especially if you want them on the fudgy side, a toothpick inserted in the middle does not need to come out completely clean. Also, they will continue to cook a bit in the pan, particularly a glass one, after being removed from the oven. When in doubt, take brownies out.
- Let cool for clean slices: If you want clean edges, let the brownies cool for at least 1 hour prior to slicing.
Add-ins and variations
This chewy brownie recipe is a great foundation for adding any other mix-ins you love. Here are a few ideas:
- Chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, or macadamia nuts.
- Chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, or toffee bits.
- Frosting, with or without colorful sprinkles, for a truly decadent treat.
- Chopped up candy bars, Oreos, or any other favorite cookies.
- Marshmallows, either in the batter or added to the top in the last few minutes of baking time for a s’mores effect.
More brownies and treats
Are you a brownie lover? Will you try these and see how they stack up to your favorite box mix? If you do, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. I love to know how recipes go for you, and it helps other readers, too.
One-Bowl Chewy Brownies
- 3 ounces (85 g) unsweetened chocolate
- 8 Tablespoons (1 stick, 1/2 cup, or 115 grams) unsalted butter
- 1 and 1/3 cups (265 g) granulated white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso or coffee powder optional
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- 2/3 cup (85 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chocolate chips or chunks optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Set aside an 8×8 or 9×9-inch baking pan. Line the interior with parchment paper, if you like, to make it easy to lift out the baked brownies.
- In the microwave at 50% power or in a medium saucepan set over low heat, melt together the chocolate and butter, stirring frequently. When fully melted and smooth, remove from heat. Add the sugar, espresso powder, and eggs, whisking vigorously to fully incorporate. Add vanilla and sea salt and whisk again.
- Sprinkle flour and chocolate chips over the batter. Stir with a spoon or spatula just until combined. Scrape batter into the prepared baking pan, using the spatula to press batter into the corners if necessary.
- Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs. Let cool, cut, and serve.
- Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.