Best Chewy Brownie Recipe (Recipe Reviews)
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So why bother with homemade? If you’re like me, you crave the sense of pride that comes with creating something out of nothing. While boxed brownies are enough for movie nights at home, I prefer to bring something homemade to a potluck or dinner party. Plus, knowing that I have a foolproof, go-to recipe for something as universal as brownies gives me comfort. (Yes, that’s the kind of thing that keeps me awake at night).
In order to find this perfect brownie recipe, I started by considering the beloved qualities of a boxed brownie. The best ones are packed with chocolate flavor, have a crisp, shiny top, and have crisp edges and tender, moist centers. But above all, they are soft. Not gooey and gooey, not chewy and chewy, but deeply, deliciously chewy. This is, I believe, the texture that most brownie lovers crave – and what recipe developers promise when they say “better than canned”.
With that in mind, my mission was clear: to identify the best chewy brownie recipes and compare them side by side. Could it be the ingredients or the method that creates the thick and chewy crust, or maybe a combination of both? Are the chocolate chips a distraction or do they complement the treat? And do I ultimately learn how to properly test a brownie for baking? Keep reading to find out.
Meet our 4 chewy brownie contenders
To qualify for this matchup, recipes had to be described only as “chewy” in their title, which immediately eliminated all “chewy moist” recipes. Mixes and icings — except for chocolate chips or pieces — were banned. I was also looking forward to trying recipes that relied on different forms of chocolate. In the end, I landed on four popular recipes that each took a very different approach to getting that sought after chew.
Handle chewy brownies from the heat were obvious. It’s the first to appear in a Google search for “chewable brownies”, has a rating of 4.84 from over 700 votes, and has included a significant amount of detail surrounding its methodology. He attributes his chewing to an extra egg yolk, a mixture of oil and butter, and the use of cocoa powder rather than melted chocolate. Cornstarch is also used to give brownies a thick texture and a shiny, cracked crust.
Cook’s Illustrated Chewy Brownies are a scientifically developed recipe directly inspired by box mix brownies, so I knew we shared the same goal. They claim that the oil-to-butter ratio is what gives brownies their chewiness, and that a mix of cocoa powder and unsweetened melted chocolate is key to their intense chocolate flavor. Pieces of bittersweet chocolate are also folded into the dough before baking.
Delish’s Best Chewy Brownies take inspiration from chewy ginger cookies and yeast breads to create their chewy texture. The dough is made with molasses and light brown sugar, and the eggs are separated and the whites are mixed into the flour (mimicking the development of gluten). Their chocolate flavor comes only from cocoa powder processed in the Netherlands, meaning it was the only recipe that didn’t include shavings or chunks. Could this unconventional approach be the secret of success?
The soft brownies of your dreams from Bigger Bolder Baking have a high rise and melting chocolate puddles, and therefore immediately caught my eye. A meringue-like chew is promised from a unique mixing technique, in which the wet ingredients are beaten at high speed for five minutes before being combined with the dry. This recipe doesn’t skimp on the chocolate: it calls for a huge cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, and chopped sweet and sour chocolate is folded into the batter and sprinkled on top.
How I Tested Chewy Brownies
I used the same brands for all the basic ingredients: Domino sugar, Crisco vegetable oil, chips and Ghirardelli bars. I used Divine cocoa powder for recipes requiring Dutch processing and Hershey’s for recipes requiring unsweetened.
I baked all the brownies in the same oven on the same day and followed each recipe’s instructions for cooling and slicing. When it came time to dig, I asked several friends to take part in a blind taste test. In the end, we landed on a clear winner, which will be the only recipe I’ll use from now on.
1. The Also Chewy Brownie: Delish’s Best Chewy Brownies
although I thought I was looking for the fluffiest brownie, this recipe proved there is such a thing as too soft. The thin, flat brownies baked with no outer crust or shiny top, meaning there was no wrinkled or crispy edge to break up the chewy texture. I attribute this to the sole use of brown sugar. Since brown sugar is wetter than granulated sugar, the surface of the brownies is probably too moist for a crust to form.
I liked how the molasses and espresso powder brought out the dark chocolate flavor of the cocoa powder, and cutting the oil with butter gave the brownies a nice richness. Next time I’ll try baking them with the recommended jam swirl, or sandwiching them with ice cream for chewy brownie ice cream sandwiches.
2. The fluffiest chewy brownie: The chewy brownie of your dreams
This brownie making experience was certainly unique. Beating the butter, oil, sugars, eggs and vanilla for a good five minutes created a bubbly, pale yellow mixture – similar to thick pancake batter – that only thickened with the addition of cocoa powder and flour. The final batter looked like a solid buttercream frosting (or “chocolate lava”, as the video describes), which was very different from the loose, pourable batter of the winning recipe. I could barely lift the mixing bowl to scrape the batter into the pan.
Unfortunately, beating all the air into the batter (and adding so much starch-filled cocoa powder) made the brownies mushy instead of chewy. The recipe warns that this can be caused by overcooking, but I’m pretty sure I undercooked mine. (All the melted chocolate on top made it nearly impossible to tell when they were done.) Thanks to the dark brown sugar, a healthy dose of vanilla, and the mountain of chopped chocolate, these brownies were incredibly rich, too. It was difficult to eat more than a few bites.
If you’re looking for a thick, decadent, mushy brownie, this will definitely satisfy. But unfortunately it didn’t have the chew factor I was looking for.
3. The fluffiest chewy brownie: Handle the best chewy brownies from the heat
This recipe gets major brownie points (hahaha) for its ease. It came together quickly in one bowl, didn’t require any fancy technique, and the instructions were incredibly thorough. And the brownies looked great too! They rose beautifully in the oven and formed a shiny, crackled top. It’s the platonic ideal of brownies.
On the cakey-chewy-fudgy spectrum, these brownies sit firmly between chewy and fudgy. Their thickness, cracked tops and soft edges kept them from falling off totally in fuzzy territory, but they were definitely slimier than what I was looking for. Cutting the brownies into small squares helped, but even still, they were very, very rich. That said, I think they would be a hit with most crowds and are a great option when you need brownies ASAP.
4. The Perfect Chewy Brownie: Cook’s Illustrated Chewy Brownies
These brownies were just what I was looking for. Using unsweetened melted chocolate in addition to the cocoa powder gave them a great chocolate flavor that wasn’t overpowering and ensured the brownies didn’t bake too dry. The bittersweet chocolate chunks provided a welcome contrast to the decadent centers, and I preferred their slightly more bitter flavor to Handle the Heat’s semi-sweet crisps.
The best part, of course, was their texture! The scientifically calculated 1:3 ratio of butter (a saturated fat) to oil (an unsaturated fat) resulted in thick, chewy, satisfying brownies. Instead of leaving me feeling sick to my stomach, these brownies made me want more. Unlike super fudgy brownies, which are too sweet for any decoration, these would be perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
I also appreciated the detailed instructions on how to check the doneness of the brownies. Not only does the recipe tell you what to look for on the toothpick (a few wet crumbs), but it also tells you precisely where to test (halfway between the edge and the center). With these helpful tips, I was able to skip the guessing game that usually comes with baking brownies. The specific cooling instructions were also helpful, as I think cooling the brownies completely helped them chew.
My only complaint is that the brownies are stuck to the foil frond, so next time I’ll add more release spray, use release paper, or try parchment paper instead. But that’s a small price to pay for the world’s best chewy brownies, and that certainly won’t stop me from giving them a 10/10.
Do you have a favorite chewy brownie recipe? Let us know in the comments!