Homemade Brownies

Fudgy, rich brownies don't just come from bakeries.

Southern Living Homemade Brownies on a plate to serve with a glass of milk

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Active Time:
15 mins
Bake Time:
30 mins
Cool Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
1 hrs 50 mins
24 brownies

Homemade brownies are my go-to crowd pleasing dessert. Sure, it’s easy to opt for a boxed mix, maybe with a few additions, for quick preparation. But, a rich homemade brownie is worth a few extra ingredients and time.

The issue is most versions end up too cakey, or too fudgy, and not chocolatey enough. After years of perfecting it, this recipe yields perfect moist-in-the-center, crackle-topped, rich chocolate homemade brownies.

They also make a great base for ice cream sandwiches, holiday versions like pumpkin- or peppermint-swirled brownies, and layer well in chocolate trifles.

Southern Living Homemade Brownies cut

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Ingredients for Homemade Brownies

  • Cocoa powder: There are lots of varieties of cocoa powder out there. I always use Dutch process cocoa powder because it has a neutral flavor that allows the chocolate to shine. Cocoa powder in its natural or unprocessed form, sometimes called unsweetened or pure, has a complex and bitter flavor. It’s also light brown in color compared to the darker Dutch processed. 
  • Neutral oil: You may be tempted to use your trusty olive oil, but don’t succumb. Olive oil has a distinct flavor that will change the profile of those fudgy squares. You don't want the oil you use to take over the flavor of your homemade brownies. Options like canola and vegetable oil are great choices for their neutral flavor.
  • Chocolate chips: I always opt for dark chocolate chips in brownie recipes. I like the 60% to 70% range for its intensity without too much bitterness. If you want a more traditional chocolate chip, opt for semisweet. It has a slightly sweeter flavor than dark. Milk chocolate chips are an option as well, but keep in mind they are the sweetest variety and have added dairy—this lends a smoother texture, but also can tip the scales to being too sweet.
  • Butter: Butter adds richness and helps the brownies rise while baking.
  • Eggs: Eggs help form the cakey texture of a brownie, so the more eggs there are, the more likely you'll have a cake-like brownie.
  • Sugar and brown sugar: A lot of the sweetness in brownies comes from the chocolate, but regular sugar helps complete the flavor. Brown sugar isn't used as often in brownies, but we like the bit of complexity it adds to the final flavor.
  • Vanilla extract: In most desserts, vanilla extract is the superhero—though often unseen and uncredited. It helps elevate all the flavors of the dish and infuses it with delicate vanilla and floral notes.
  • Instant espresso powder: Like vanilla extract, espresso powder is often an unseen hero of baked goods, particularly chocolate ones. In most cases, you'll never know the espresso is there. It just helps to make the chocolate flavor more intense.
Southern Living Homemade Brownies ingredients

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Which is better in brownies: oil or butter?

Unsalted butter creates a cakier crumb, while oil lends a softer crumb and helps with that cracker-crisp top. A little neutral oil can also lend a moistness to homemade brownies that butter alone cannot.

If you wanted straight-up butter, just go with three sticks and eliminate the oil, but you may not get that fudgy consistency.


You’ll see some optional items in the recipe ingredients, and I highly suggest using them all.

  • Espresso powder amplifies chocolate flavor.
  • I also love to mix in a little cinnamon and cayenne pepper. They add depth and spiciness to the chocolate without the heat normally associated with these spices. It will be that thing people can’t quite put their finger on that puts them over the top in the homemade brownie competitions.
  • You can also stir in some extra chocolate chips for another layer of texture and gooeyness.
  • Nuts make a nice addition in the texture department as well.
  • If you want something a little festive around the holidays, swirl in some pumpkin pie filling, or frost them with peppermint icing and some crushed peppermint candies

How To Store Homemade Brownies

Once cooled and cut, store in an airtight container with sheets of wax paper in between layers to prevent sticking. Even when I’m making gift boxes for family and friends, I use the wax paper dividers to keep everything from crumbing together.

They are good for one week stored at room temperature. You can also freeze them for up until 6 months.

And if you are feeling adventurous, crumble a few up to freeze and stir into your favorite ice cream.


  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, plus more for buttering pan

  • 1 cup chocolate chips

  • 6 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 tsp. instant espresso powder (optional)

  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)

  • 1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (optional)

  • 1 1/3 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 tsp. baking powder


  1. Prepare pan:

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 13- x 9-in. pan. Alternatively, you can also line it with parchment, butter that, and you’ll be able to turn the entire pan out at once.

    Southern Living homemade brownies lining the pan

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

  2. Melt butter and chocolate:

    Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

    Southern Living homemade brownies butter melting in saucepan

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

    Add chocolate chips and stir constantly until combined and melted. Remove from heat to cool slightly.

    Southern Living Homemade Brownies melting chocolate chips into batter

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

  3. Combine sugars and eggs:

    Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, vanilla extract, eggs, and oil in a bowl. Add espresso powder, cinnamon and cayenne if using.

    Southern Living homemade brownies eggs, sugar, and oil in a mixing bowl

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

    You can whisk by hand or use an electric mixer on medium speed. Mix until well combined and smooth.

    Southern Living Homemade brownies whisking ingredients together in mixing bowl

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

  4. Combine dry ingredients:

    Sift flour, baking powder, and cocoa together into sugar and egg mixture.

    Southern Living homemade brownies sifting dry ingredients into wet ingredients

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

    Add chocolate mixture. Whisk (or mix on medium) until smooth and glossy.

    Southern Living Homemade Brownies whisking in chocolate

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

  5. Add batter to pan:

    Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes.

    Southern Living homemade brownies batter in pan before baking

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

    You’ll know it’s done when it only jiggles slightly, the top has a crust, and a toothpick comes out with only crumbs.

    Southern Living homemade brownies in pan after baking

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

  6. Cool brownies:

    Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack for at least 1 hour, cut, and store in an airtight container with sheets of wax paper in between layers to prevent sticking. The brownies will stay fresh for one week stored at room temperature or up to 6 months frozen.

    Southern Living Homemade Brownies cut

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I need baking powder if I use all-purpose flour?

    Even all-purpose flour needs a little leavening agent. If you want brownies that hit the sweet spot of cakey and fudgy at the same time, add a teaspoon of baking powder to your flour. It gives them enough rise without taking away the moistness.

  • What makes brownies fudgy or cakey?

    The key to brownie texture is the fat-to-flour ratio. If you want a cakier brownie, you want less fat to flour. But if you like fudge-like brownies, you need more fat, and in brownies, that usually comes from chocolate, butter, or oil.

  • What happens if you add an extra egg to brownie batter?

    Eggs help brownies and baked goods rise, so the more eggs you have, the more cake-like the final brownies will be.

  • What is the toothpick test for brownies?

    For cakey brownies, you can use a toothpick to test doneness. When the edges of the brownies begin to pull away from the pan, stick a toothpick near the middle of the pan. If the toothpick comes out clean, the brownies are done.

    If you like fudgy brownies, stick to the times suggested in your recipe. These brownies won't pull away from the edge of the pan, and they will fail the toothpick test—but they'll be plenty fudgy.

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