How to Make Brown Butter Blondies, 4 Ways

December  3, 2014

When she has the kitchen all to herself, Phyllis Grant of Dash and Bella cooks beautiful iterations of what solo meals were always meant to be: Exactly what you want, when and where you want them.

Today: A brown butter blondie that could get you through anything -- and 4 variations to make it your own. 

brown butter blondies

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Extra chocolate chips. Hella brown sugar. An overflowing tablespoon of vanilla extract. 

For my daughter after her pull-ups. For my son as he tries to conjugate the verb dormir. For my husband as he drives away from our Thanksgiving weekend, away from our unit of four, away from our fully-loaded Christmas tree. For my mother because there is nothing better than feeding your mother.

Brown butter with toasted walnuts. No chocolate chips. Less brown sugar. 

For me, right before bed, drifting off to sleep with butterscotch on my tongue after defiantly ignoring my toothbrush because I'm 44 and I can do what I want. 

Chocolate stirred in while the dough is still warm. Crinkly on the top, marbley brownie on the inside. 

For my grandmother, accompanied by lukewarm Lipton tea. Eaten with my hand resting on her impossibly fragile arm. In her hospital bed. After she says "I don't like blondies." After I say to the nurse, "did you know that I wanted to be my grandmother when I was little?" Before she actually bites in and smiles and reaches for more.

brown butter blondies

A heaping teaspoon of salt. Just enough chocolate chips so the butterscotch flavor doesn’t have to compete. Balanced. Nuts optional. 

Brought over by my neighbor: on my birthday or my son’s or just because, at the end of many rough days, after yet another miscarriage. Eaten while sobbing, letting the buttery chocolate squares fill me back up again. Shared with no one.

Versions of all four batches rest in my freezer, cubed and Ziplocked. Up for grabs. For the forgotten second-grade-holiday-party-potluck. For late nights with "The Newsroom" and red wine. For anyone who stops by. For Marianne, Simon, Margi, Sarah, Amy, Yalda, Laurel, Jen, Anya, Anna, my brother, my mom, my dad. I promised you all some blondies. Come over. Let me feed you.  

brown butter blondies

Brown Butter Blondies 
(See headnote for all 4 variations) 

Serves 9

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
4 teaspoons good-quality vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar 
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

See full recipe (and save it and print it) here. 

Photos by Phyllis Grant 

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Phyllis Grant is an IACP finalist for Personal Essays/Memoir Writing and a three-time Saveur Food Blog Awards finalist for her blog, Dash and Bella. Her essays and recipes have been published in a dozen anthologies and cookbooks including Best Food Writing 2015 and 2016. Her work has been featured both in print and online for various outlets, including Oprah, The New York Times, Food52, Saveur, The Huffington Post, Time Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, Tasting Table and Salon. Her memoir with recipes, Everything Is Out of Control, is coming out April 2020 from Farrar Straus & Giroux. She lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and two children.


Michelina C. January 2, 2018
WAY TOO SWEET for me! I wouldn't use more than 1 cup of brown sugar... these are just way too sweet with 1 3/4 cup.
Vee February 8, 2015
This recipe, but more importantly this story and the knowledge of your blog, came to me in a particularly difficult time, and I've clung to it since. Not to mention that chocolate chip cookies have been one of my biggest demon dishes in the kitchen, and this was everything I needed and didn't know I could have in a delicious, butterscotchy bite. Blessings of all kinds for your wonderful words and sanity saving food.
AdventureGirl December 27, 2014
My Gosh. This recipe is the BOMB. Totally delicious. Sent Christmas packages with this brownie included, and received many compliments .... leading to me sending and sharing this recipe across the nation to friends and family. Just took my last bite tonight .... guess who's remaking this tomorrow morning? Can't wait for your cookbook!
Sherry December 15, 2014
Insanely delicious!
Shayna December 15, 2014
1/4 cup of Maker's Mark, an extra tablespoon of flour, hefty dose of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Insane.
Sherry December 14, 2014
No baking powder or soda in these?
Phyllis G. December 14, 2014
nope. no baking powder of soda necessary.
sweetE December 13, 2014
We just made (on Food52's suggestion) the cookies in a skillet, and my husband has been nagging me to make them ever since (like since the next morning!) I think these look like excellent candidates for our cast iron! Making them today, I'll have the kids help me pick the variation. :)
Phyllis G. December 14, 2014
i have to try in a skillet. love it.
Cynthia C. December 12, 2014
So incredibly beautiful. Thank you for the lovely words and for this delectable recipe.
Phyllis G. December 14, 2014
thank you.
Courtenay P. December 7, 2014
Yes! There really is nothing better than feeding your mother, though feeding kiddos, neighbors, friends, family, acquaintances, strangers, and anyone else I can find is a close second. I've accepted, embraced, and celebrated the fact that I am a "feeder". I love your recipe and love your writing! I so understand eating to fill the soul back up again as well. Thank you!
Phyllis G. December 14, 2014
i love feeding everyone. thanks for writing. means a lot.
Morgan July 23, 2017
Food is a love language. :-)
Cindy December 7, 2014
That's funny, conjugate dormir. Irregular verb, yo duermo, ud duerme, nos dormimos, uds duermen. Can't believe I still remember that. This recipe sounds great, will definitely make these next Saturday for canasta (juego) day. Y servire adentro de una canasta tambien.
Kaitlin B. December 6, 2014
going through chemo so i don't really cook or eat much right now...but i am reading and commenting to let you know your writing is beautiful and i finally understand the connection between cooking/baking and emotions. i love your "oversharing" (btw...there is no such thing when you are a writer).
Phyllis G. December 6, 2014
I will continue to overshare. I'm not sure there is any way to stop me. Luckily I have a wonderful editor guiding me (go, Kenzi Wilbur!). Sending love. Sending breath. Sending strength. And this will resonate with me all month: "i finally understand the connection between cooking/baking and emotions." That's so beautiful. Thank you.
cheesypennies December 5, 2014
Blondies are totally "Newsroom" worthy. What a shame we only have 2 more chances to consume and commune at the same time.
Phyllis G. December 6, 2014
super bummed that "Newsroom" is almost over. what are we going to do?
Matilda L. December 4, 2014
I can hardly wait until your cookbook is published--wonderful piece. I love how your voice expresses the good, the bad and the sublime of your life as a cook, a nurturer, a woman .
Phyllis G. December 6, 2014
Matilda. Thank you. That's the balance I'm striving for. Nice to hear when it works. xoxo
Susan W. December 3, 2014
These are incredible. I did the swirly version. AND, I am so excited to try your "almost Mirabella chicken". I have my original Silver Pallet books and it was my first fancy chicken. Yours sounds even better. Shhh...
Phyllis G. December 4, 2014
Yay for the swirly version! To be honest, my faux Mirabella chicken is way easier than the original but not nearly as tasty. It's more of a jumping off point for a week of dinners. But let me know.
Susan W. December 5, 2014
The chicken was delish. I used prunes because figs are gone until next summer. I haven't made Marbella in years, but I may soon.
lisasibony December 3, 2014
Lovely inspirational writing about one of my favorite treats! I'll never forget the story a good friend told me about the secret the delicious blondies that she made.... She used the leftover milk collected from the cereal bowls of her 3 boys! A little extra special flavoring :-)
Phyllis G. December 3, 2014
That's genius! I will now admit something. Whenever I have a sip or two or three of red wine left, I pour it into a jar and save it to braise beef. I'm totally doing the milk thing. It's always so depressing to throw out all that milk! Thanks so much for the story.
Annie S. December 3, 2014
Just ...Thank You...grateful for the total share.
Phyllis G. December 3, 2014
my pleasure. "the total share." that's really moving to read. i woke up thinking i had overshared. letting go of that now. thank you.
Amy B. December 3, 2014
Can substitute gluten free flour (like cup4cup)? Please say yes.
Phyllis G. December 3, 2014
I don't know. But let me refer you to the gluten-free experts in my life. Erin Scott at Shauna Ahern at Check out their blogs and books. You will find answers there. But hopefully someone from the food52 community will chime in with an answer for this specific recipe. Sorry I can't help!
Susan W. December 3, 2014
Amy, you may want to post your question over on the hotline. There are a couple of gluten free gurus over there.
Amy B. December 3, 2014
Thank you!
Amy B. December 3, 2014
Thank you Susan and Phyllis!
Rebecca @. December 7, 2014
For the Cup4Cup question, I would guess yes!! I sub it in baking all the time and it works beautifully!! ...Phyllis, every iteration looks amazing!! These are going to have to be squeezed in between the Christmas tree decorating, cleaning and wk today.
vivanat December 7, 2014
Although I have not made this particular blondie recipe, I sub Cup4Cup in at least three other iterations with great success on a regular basis.
Amy B. December 7, 2014
Thank you! I can't wait to try these! Thank you to everyone!
Susan W. December 3, 2014
Love the writing. It's as cozy as the blondies sound.

My question is how do you blend in the chocolate if you want the swirly version. It says stir it in while the batter is warm, but I don't see where it is warm unless we're to take it out of the oven and mix in the chocolate.
Phyllis G. December 3, 2014
Great question. I was struggling with how to show the variations and I see that the swirly version isn't clear. I will insert some clarity into the recipe. This happened to me by accident because i was in a hurry. I didn't cool the brown butter completely, the batter was warm, and the chips started melting before baking. Turns out it was a happy accident. To recreate this, let the brown butter cool for about 5 minutes, then add the brown sugar, and proceed with the recipe. You don't want it so warm that they completely melt. Just enough for that swirl. I hope this helps!
Susan W. December 3, 2014
Oh makes perfect sense. Thank you!!
Skiingstella June 17, 2015
I let cool for 5 minutes but couldn't get the swirly effect which I was going for. I think I'll have to try again and immediately mix in the rest of the ingredients.
Merrill S. December 3, 2014
Lovely piece, Phyllis. And these look amazing.
Phyllis G. December 3, 2014
Thank you, Merrill. I'm making another batch right now (don't tell Kenzi, she will think I'm insane!). Enjoy the Food52 Market. I do wish I could stop by. xoxo
Kenzi W. December 4, 2014
Another batch?!?
Eline -. December 3, 2014
Wow, bold and impressive writing. Really like the recipe with the good amount of vanilla and salt, mm!
Phyllis G. December 3, 2014
Thank you! And yes to salt and vanilla. I definitely felt brave with them. And it paid off!