Our Essential Brownie Guide

March 22, 2016

There are two types of people in the world
There are as many types of brownies in the world as there are people
There are a heck of a lot of brownie recipes out there, and you might already have one you're comfortable with.

...But has that ever stopped you for looking for more?

Photo by Mark Weinberg

Whether you're on the lookout for a brownie recipe to call your own—to memorize and tweak and weave into family lore—or you've already got one in your wheelhouse but you're playing the field, we've got a recipe for you:

If you want the classics:


Crackly on the top, fudgy in the center, with just a liiiiiiiiittle bit of chew, these just-right brownies are made from an equal mix of butter and oil and get their chocolate flavor from semisweet chocolate (not cocoa powder).

These are, as the name implies, for hardcore fudgy fans, and they're made from butter instead of oil and cocoa powder and chopped semisweet chocolate. Mix in cocoa nibs if you want a bitter zing.

When you don't have any chocolate in your house, fear not. Alice Medrich's Genius recipe gets its flavor from cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process) alone! You're only 40 strokes with a wooden spoon away from brownies with soft middles and shiny, candy-like tops.

And, by riffing on Alice Medrich's recipe, Phyllis Grant created a gooier, fancier version. Press chocolate chips into the center of each cupcake-shaped brownie to create a molten center, then underbake them so that the edges are set by the insides are still jiggly.


These have more flour (1 1/2 cups) than the other classic recipes listed here, which yields a brownie with a cakier—but still moist and tender—crumb.

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As the story in the headnote goes, the recipe's author Phoenix Helix made batches of several different famous brownies and gave one of each to her husband: "Mollie’s won hands down. I thought, 'How is this possible? The others have more chocolate, more butter, more ingredients, or more steps, yet somehow less flavor.’"

If you want an extra layer of chocolate (in the form of frosting):

ChefJune's recipe, which graces the cover of Baking, makes a half-sheet pan-worth of rich, truffle-like brownies spiked with espresso powder and chopped nuts. They're good enough to eat on their own, but even better if you frost them with a coffee-and-Cognac chocolate ganache.

Just how much chocolate can you handle? This classic recipe from Baker's Chocolate for one-bowl brownies is made even more intensely chocolatey with a tangy, sweet chocolate buttermilk frosting.

Okay, so this is really a cake. But it's dense and rich enough that you just might mistake it for a brownie. (It's also gluten-free, but you wouldn't know that from tasting it, either!)

If you're all about the "stuff":

Add crushed peppermint candies; salted peanut butter caramel; dried cherries and dates, candied orange peel, and plenty of nuts, for a nod to fruitcake; or graham cracker crumbs and chopped roasted hazelnuts.

If you want just a little bit of brownie:

Then make them a layer of a grander, taller, more-involved dessert: ice cream sandwiches, ice cream cakes, or cheesecake-topped bars.

If you really just want to be eating fudge...

Then call an ace an ace and go straight for the chocolate—skipping flour altogether. Pour a glass of milk and make chewier, boardwalk-style fudge, or go for slightly more adult ultrasmooth truffles and a glass of red wine.

If you consider blondies to be brownies, too:

Are blondies brownies? Does God exist? Does life have a purpose?

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“German Chocolate Brownie sounds divinely scrumptious. I'm still searching however for a fudgy-bottomed brownie. In the early 80s, a person told me she put something atop and it melted down to the bottom. Anybody?”
— Gralan

Skip these hard questions and get to baking. Blondies are less in-your-face intense as their chocolate-based counterparts, but they have a buttery, caramelly richness all their own. Try a version with a warm savoriness from brown butter or a heavy hit from 4 teaspoons (!) of vanilla extract. Or, go really crazy and add miso paste and butterscotch chips or coconut flour, dried cherries, and dark chocolate.

If you're looking for a different sort of edible treat:

The pot is optional. The chocolate is not.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Gralan
  • Maggie
  • AntoniaJames
  • ChefJune
  • Sarah Jampel
    Sarah Jampel
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Gralan April 15, 2016
hear, hear! German Chocolate Brownie sounds divinely scrumptious. I'm still searching however for a fudgy-bottomed brownie. In the early 80s, a person told me she put something atop and it melted down to the bottom. Anybody?
Maggie April 16, 2016
Try chocolate?
Gralan April 20, 2016
Thanks Maggie, I'll get that a shot or three.
Maggie March 28, 2016
Ohhhhh. I bet Mario Batali has at least one great recipe for pot brownies ?
AntoniaJames March 22, 2016
ChefJune, I have never, in all my years of hosting dinner parties, served a brownie for dessert - but that is about to change. How could I have overlooked yours as the perfect choice for so many occasions? I need to spread my wings a bit, clearly.
My go-to has been, resolutely (perhaps to the point of stubbornly) Alice Medrich's recipe noted above, since shortly after it appeared here. ;o)
P.S. Did you say German Chocolate Cake?! I'm in. Totally.
ChefJune March 22, 2016
AntoniaJames: actually, I said "German Chocolate BROWNIE!"
AntoniaJames March 22, 2016
ChefJune - yes, I understood that. I am all in on the German Chocolate Brownie! (Did you ever taste Baskin-Robbins's German Chocolate Cake Ice Cream? Now that stuff was really good. I think it contained little bits of chewy brownies along with the classic GCC ingredients.)
;o) P.S. You must post that recipe.
ChefJune March 22, 2016
Sarah, I just loved the way you started this piece. :) I agree, there can never be too many brownies. And have I told you about the one made with German's sweet chocolate and frosted with a traditional German Chocolate Cake frosting???
Sarah J. March 22, 2016
Thanks, ChefJune. And I'M ALL EARS!