Food Facts

How to Make Great Brownies

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Brownies are an iconic chocolate dessert with a lot to love. So let’s learn more about them and how to make the best brownies on the block.

What Makes a Brownie Fudgy?

A fudgy brownie is not just an underbaked brownie. A fudgy brownie is very dense and moist with lots of chocolate flavor.

Fudgy brownies have minimal flour and a higher level of fat than cakey or chewy brownies. Flour absorbs the liquid, making the resulting brownie a little drier. This is why less flour is found in fudgy brownies. They also don’t contain any leavening, such as baking powder or baking soda.

What Makes a Brownie Chewy?

A chewy brownie is moist but not gooey with a chewy texture. The chewiness comes from using a little more all-purpose flour and usually an additional egg. The whites in the eggs provide more leavening and structure than what is found in fudgy brownies.

What Makes a Brownie Cakey?

Cake brownies are slightly fluffy and soft. Less fat is added than fudgy brownies. They also have a leavening agent such as baking powder which adds significantly to the fluffy texture.

Some recipes call for creaming the butter and sugar together instead of using melted butter. This adds more air and makes the brownies fluffier.

Can I Substitute Oil for Butter in My Brownie Recipe?

You can substitute oil for butter in a brownie recipe. Because butter is made up of fat, water, and milk solids, you don’t need as much oil as butter. The rule of thumb is 3/4 as much oil as butter.

So if the recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, use 3/4 cup oil. If the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of butter, use 6 tablespoons (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) of oil.

Butter adds to the brownies’ airiness, so using oil instead will have more effect on cakey brownies. But it is acceptable to substitute oil in either situation.

overhead shot of brownies on parchment paper

Brownie Troubleshooting

Why Do My Brownies Sink in the Middle?

The biggest reason for brownies sinking is that they are underbaked. If they aren’t baked enough, the structure won’t be strong enough to hold the brownies, and they will sink.

How do you know your brownies are done? Check before the recipe tells you to (to prevent overbaking). The center of the pan should be set, and a toothpick stuck in the middle should come out with just a few moist crumbs clinging. If there is wet batter, bake three more minutes and test again.

Another possibility is they have been overbeaten. This adds too much air to the batter. Then, even if baked long enough, the structure isn’t strong enough to hold up and will sink.

Why Do My Brownies Crack?

Some cracks or crinkles are normal. The batter dries as it bakes, which may leave a few cracks. But if you have a lot of large cracks, there may be an issue.

Too many cracks can cause the brownies to collapse or lose their structural integrity. You may find that your brownies are crumbly and falling apart.

This is often due to overbeating the brownie better. If you overbeat the mixture once eggs are added, this adds air to the batter. The bubbles expand in the oven but collapse once they meet the much cooler air outside of the oven. The more air bubbles, the more cracks. When mixing brownies, mix batter only until the ingredients are combined.

Why are My Brownies Hard?

Your brownies will likely harden some as they cool. But they should still be soft and pleasant to eat.

Hard brownies are usually due to overbaking. Like I said above, check your brownies before the recipe tells you to (to prevent overbaking). The center of the pan should be set, and a toothpick stuck in the middle should come out with just a few moist crumbs clinging. If there is wet batter, bake three more minutes and test again.

If you continue having issues, try purchasing an oven thermometer to ensure your oven is actually at the temperature you set it at. Metal pans also make your brownies cook faster as they conduct heat better than glass pans.

Another possibility is they have been overbeaten. This can overly develop the gluten in the flour and cause brownies to be tough.

Why are My Brownies Stuck to the Pan?

If brownies are overbaked and become very hard, they may be difficult to remove from the pan. Properly baked brownies should be easy to remove as long as the pan has been greased.

You should thoroughly spray your baking dish with vegetable spray before baking. The other option is to rub butter in the pan. You can put foil into the baking pan before baking to leave less mess, but you still have to grease the foil, or you will be peeling the foil off of your brownies. No thank you!

Now go out and make some awesome brownies! Check out this article to learn more about how brownies were invented. If you’re looking for some fantastic brownies, check out these unique brownie recipes you need to try.

Hello! I'm Nichole and I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. I have a bachelor's degree in Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science and a master's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. I love cooking, baking and anything food related. I look forward to teaching you more about food and sharing my favorite recipes with you. Enjoy!

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