As long as I can remember, I have been in love with chocolate. And chocolate comes in many forms, but I must admit that I am pretty smitten with brownies and probably always will be. They are easy to make, even easier to eat, and there are about one million delicious variations out there. I’ve shared a number of brownie recipes here on our blog (like these marble pumpkin brownies) and I’m going to share another with you today from our cookbook. But a couple months ago, I got it in my head that it might be fun to try and find the very best brownie recipes on the Internet and put together a kind of guide. I love creating and sharing my own recipes, of course, but I also love making (and promoting) other’s amazing recipes too. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea.
There has been one “drawback” though, and that is I ended up baking a LOT of brownies over the last few months. So to all my friends and family members that I pushed these extra brownie test batches onto … thank you for your support. Ha! I also have consumed an embarrassing number of brownies lately too—but it was in the name of research.
The building blocks of a great brownie are really quite simple. Brownie = fat + chocolate + sugar (or sweetener) + flour (or other grain, depending).
Some brownies are cake-like while others are more like a fudge. Many contain nuts, some have frosting, salt is pretty important to me personally, and there are are a million more things you can add or change along the way. Although I do have a few all-time favorites, I also have to admit that it somewhat depends on what you want out of your brownie. I’m going to share a bunch of quality recipes that run the brownie gamut, all of which I personally tested and many of these I’ve made MANY times to date. 🙂
Are you ready to bake some brownies?!?!
Let’s start with the basics. When I think of basic, or classic brownies, I tend to think of them in two categories: brownies made with melted chocolate, and brownies made with cocoa. There are also recipes that use some of both, but I tend to gravitate toward these two options. Why? Honestly, I think it’s because sometimes brownies are a spur of the moment thing I bake and there are times I don’t have chocolate or chocolate chips to melt, but I almost always have cocoa and the other ingredients I need in my pantry. So I tend to make brownies with melted chocolate IF I have good chocolate on hand, but if I don’t I make cocoa brownies. Maybe some of you are like this too?
With that in mind, here is my favorite brownie recipe made with melted chocolate: My Favorite Brownies from Smitten Kitchen. I have made lots of recipes from Deb’s blog (and cookbook) over the years, but these are a must-bake! If I had to pick only one brownie recipe from everything I tested that was my favorite, this would be the one. They are super simple and the perfect, fudge-like texture that I love. So Deb, if you’re reading this, thank you for your contribution to the world. 🙂 The only (very minor) thing I change from her recipe is I always add flaky sea salt (my favorite is Maldon) to the top before baking. And I tend to bake these closer to the 24-25 minute mark (Deb suggests 25-30 minutes), as I like my brownies lightly underbaked. I do believe my oven runs a little hot (everyone’s oven is a little different, so just figured I’d mention—adjust as you need for yours).
My favorite brownie recipe made with cocoa: Best Fudgy Cocoa Brownies from Cafe Delites. They are indeed fudgy. These are great with nuts or chocolate chips added, but I also baked a plain batch and they were still totally delicious. This brownie recipe is soft, almost creamy but not underbaked at 20 minutes for me. If you don’t have chocolate on hand, only cocoa, I recommend you bake these.
With both of these classic brownie recipes, since the ingredients are so simple, it’s best to use the highest quality chocolate or cocoa that you can. In a pinch, anything will do, but the quality will show through in these recipes, making them go from really good to something truly special. My favorite chocolate bars and cocoa are from Askinosie Chocolate, which you can buy online as well as at specialty stores across the country.
What about a great brownie recipe with frosting? I cannot think of frosted brownie recipes without thinking of the Little Debbie variety that comes in small plastic sleeves (especially the Cosmic kind). During high school, I ate these at lunch more often than I care to admit. As a fan of frosted brownies, this is my favorite recipe I tested: Easy Double Fudge Brownies from Crazy for Crust. I like that you can simply use the frosting recipe only on top of a brownie recipe you already like (or a box mix if you want). And the flavor and texture is awesome! But if you’re looking for a frosting that mimics that Little Debbie vibe, you’ll want to refrigerate or even freeze before serving as the frosting is quite soft at room temperature.
I was curious about what might be the best vegan or non-diary brownies out there and this is my favorite: Vegan Brownies from Gimme Some Oven. Ali’s food blog is not strictly vegan, just FYI. I’ve made quite a few of her recipes and they always turn out awesome, so I wasn’t surprised when these brownies turned out to be the bomb, too. Instead of butter, the fat used in this recipe comes from a ripe avocado (trust me, these don’t taste like guacamole—they taste like delicious chocolatey brownies). And these are also super soft and cake-like so if you’re into that, even if you don’t care about them being non-dairy, I would still recommend this recipe. Yes, it’s that good! 🙂 The only change I make to Ali’s recipe here is I add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the batter and (of course) my favorite flaky sea salt. I also found that these are quite soft, so I bake them for closer to the 18-20 minute mark (Ali suggests 15-20 minutes).
What about gluten-free brownies? I’ve tried many and here’s the truth—my all-time favorite gluten-free brownie recipe is in the Tartine All Day cookbook. Now I know this is a guide to the best brownies on the Internet and here I am recommending a recipe in a cookbook. I promise this is the only one not available online. But it really is, in my opinion, the BEST and worth baking even if you don’t care about gluten-free because it’s just so good. So I just have to mention it since we’re on the topic of brownies; it just wouldn’t do to leave this recipe out.
We’ve talked classic brownies, frosted, vegan, and gluten-free; so now I feel like it’s time to move on to wild-card brownie recipes I want to mention. I had it in the back of my mind that I needed to share some version of a brownie recipe that included caramel or salted caramel. That’s just feels right, no? But I ended up testing and loving this Dulce de Leche Brownie Recipe from David Lebovitz and although it’s not salted caramel, it’s just so similar and this recipe is so good (and easy!) that I decided to share this instead. The brownie base is similar to Deb’s My Favorite Brownies (so it’s a fudge-y one) and then no matter if you make your own or use store-bought dulce de leche, these brownies turn out delicious and extra special.
Also have to mention that David’s blog is excellent and I own two of his cookbooks, and they are both out of this world in quality. If you’re looking for great dessert or ice cream recipes, David is the guy. 🙂
I also have to mention, like it’s mandatory because these are so dang good, Better than Crack Brownies from How Sweet Eats. These are glammed up brownies featuring delicious things like peanuts, peanut butter cups, and Rice Krispies. It’s basically like three-layer brownies that are SOOOO good. Bake these. They are showstoppers for sure.
And here is another classic with a twist, favorite brownie recipe. It’s from our cookbook, Weekday Weekend, which has a variety of healthy and indulgent recipes for you to try. And even though I’m giving you this brownie recipe from the book (see the printable recipe at the end of this post), I would be thrilled if you check out our cookbook because we have quite a few other dessert recipes I know you’ll love.
What about brownie mixes? Even though this post is all about sharing some of the best brownie recipes out there, I did want to mention three tips to make boxed brownies better.
-Use coffee instead of water. Whatever amount of water the box recommends, swap it out with (cooled) coffee because it will enhance the flavor!
-Add 1/2 cup or more chocolate chips. This ups the flavor and texture fo any box mix.
-Add flaky sea salt to the top before baking. It’s delicious and it ups the gourmet factor of your brownies too.
So those are many of my favorite brownie recipes, plus a few helpful tips and tricks! If you all have favorite online brownie recipes you’ve tried (or created and published yourself), please leave us all a link in the comments! xo. Emma
Love bakery treats? Try our bakery style giant rice krispies treats!
Double-Chocolate Surprise Brownies
- 1 zucchini 6 oz
- 1/3 cup melted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2/3 cup cocoa I like Dutch-processed here best
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips semi-sweet is my favorite
- candies or nuts for the topping optional
Preheat the oven to 350°F
Put the zucchini in a food processor and blend well. It should be like a very thick juice at this point. You don't want any large pieces.
In a large bowl, stir together the zucchini, butter, eggs, vanilla, and sugars until just blended.
In another bowl, whisk together the cocoa, baking powder, salt, and flour. Stir the dry ingredients in with the wet ingredients until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into an 8-inch square baking pan lined with parchment paper. Top with nuts or candies if using. Bake for 20-25 minutes.