Out Of The Box Brownies: Magical brownie recipes that start with a box



Lose your box brownie recipe?

If you find yourself without the box to show you the instructions for your brownie mix, fear not. I can help. Most brownie box mixes call for about 1/3 cup of oil, 1/4 cup of water, and 1 or 2 eggs. For dense, fudgy brownies, use 1 egg; for taller, more cake-like brownies, use 2 eggs. If the batter is way too stiff to pour, add more water. Bake in a greased pan in a moderate temperature oven (350F or 175C). Baking times vary from about 20-40 minutes, but it mostly depends on your pan size. A bigger pan needs less time to bake because the shallow batter has more surface area exposed to the heat. Always trust the toothpick test (below).


The toothpick test

Insert a wooden toothpick near the center of your baking brownies. If it comes out wet, they need more time. If it comes out perfectly clean and dry, hustle those brownies out of the oven because they’re already a little over-done. The perfect done-ness is evidenced by a toothpick that pulls up just a few moist crumbs of brownie.


Cut brownies with a plastic knife

Cut ‘em while they’re warm. And use a plastic knife. Yep, that’s what I said. Plastic. I read all about it here: http://amysfinerthings.com/how-to-cut-brownies


Richer-tasting brownies (butter)

It’s a simple and inexpensive substitute, but you’re gonna love it. Most box mixes call for 1-2 eggs, some water, and about 1/3 cup of vegetable oil. When I want a richer brownie, I use melted butter or margarine INSTEAD OF the oil. I just cut 5 tablespoons (about 1/3 cup) of the golden stuff into a microwave-safe dish, and I microwave it for about 20-25 seconds. DON’T put your buttery product into the microwave for a full minute at 100% power — or you’ll be scrubbing oily splatter off the top of your oven’s roof. Not fun.


Richer-tasting brownies (coffee)

On your brownie box mix, look at the recipe. There is usually a small amount of water needed, maybe 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup. We’re going to JAZZ UP that water by adding instant coffee to it. Into a small bowl, pour your water, but make sure it’s the hottest your tap will allow. To the hot water, stir in 1 teaspoon of instant coffee. Stir this coffee water into your brownie mix instead of just plain water. Then follow the rest of the box instructions (usually 1-2 eggs and some oil). You’ll be surprised, but the coffee flavor blends right in. Most people won’t be able to put their finger on why your brownies are so tasty, but you’ll know!


Richer-tasting brownies (vanilla)

Most people have vanilla in their cabinets, so this is an easy one. Follow the directions on the box. Then add 2-3 teaspoons of vanilla to your batter. It’s subtle, but it gives a nice richness to your brownie batter, and it smells heavenly during baking!


Easier cutting and serving

Before baking, cut an extra-long piece of baking parchment, waxed paper, or aluminum foil (for those who speak Queen’s English, “al-u-min-i-um” foil). The piece should be longer than your pan by about 7-8 inches (18-20 cm) in both width and length. Line the pan with the foil/paper (some suggest putting cooking spray under the liner and on top of it too), pour batter on top, and bake. After cooling, you can gently pull up on the sides of the paper/foil and tug out the entire pan of brownies, for easier cutting. Reynolds Wrap has a quick trio of photos that demonstrate exactly how to do it.

12 Comments to “Tips”

  1. YoYo Marie says:

    I just did the butter, coffee, and vanilla all in the same batch, and (O_O)!!! They’re sooo good and moist. I used Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge brownie mix. Thanks for the tips!

    • Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador says:

      All three? That makes me happy. My mission is to Share The Brownie Love — and you just did it for me. Thank you! YoYo Marie, you are my new Honorary Brownie Ambassador.

  2. michelle says:

    I love to cook, but for some reason have a hard time making brownies moist…even when from a box. Thanks for the advice! My neighbor swears by making them in the disposable foil trays from the grocery store. Just throwing that out there in case that is a pro tip.

    • Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador says:

      Try the Tin Roof Brownie recipe on my site, Michelle. It has hot fudge swirled into the batter, so it has extra moisture.

      Also, if you bake brownies and they’re too dry, you can still eat them and love every bite: Serve them as part of a brownie sundae! Of course, I have a couple of easy sundae recipes on my site! Thanks for checking out my site.

  3. I use the coffee and butter every time I make brownies.. Definitely will try the vanilla next time too! I took some to my dance class and got so many questions like “how do you make them taste so good from a box?!” Can’t wait to make another batch now and try the vanilla. Sounds yummy!!

  4. These look yummy!!! thnx for sharing!

  5. just tried it yummy!!!!! my recipe called for 2\3 cup of oil though so i had to use 10 tbs. of butter!

  6. YO YO Marie me too!!! yumm yumm

  7. I am so happy I found these tips! Thanks for sharing

    • Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador says:

      Welcome to Brownie Nirvana, Rosemary! I hope you come back and try some recipes sometime.

  8. I never was good at making brownies but I made the Richer brownies with butter and olive oil, 3 eggs, coffee instead of water and line the pan with parchment paper. I’m in love with these brownies and I will continue to make him this way!!! thank you!

    • Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador says:

      Yum! Of all your tricks, I’ve never tried using olive oil. I’ll definitely do that soon. Thanks for sharing!


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