Who doesn’t love a freshly baked brownie? But, let’s be honest, nobody has the time to make them from scratch. That’s why box brownie mixes are so amazing!
And, there are hundreds of options available on the market to cater to virtually everyone’s needs. From vegan to keto-friendly, gluten-free to allergen-free—the list goes on and on!
Unfortunately, box brownie mixes do have a downfall. They are almost always cakey.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with cakey brownies, but we personally prefer chewy brownies. Just picture this: incredibly fudgy, moist, chocolatey brownies fresh from the oven. Yum yum YUM!
So, how do you make chewy brownies from box brownie mix? The easiest trick is to simply bake the brownies for a shorter time or at a lower temperature. Another thing you can do is adjust the recipe. Using melted butter instead of oil can help fix the texture of the brownie, amongst other adjustments.
Today, we will be looking at exactly what chewy brownies are and how to get them. We have assembled a list of our best tricks for making chewy brownies from a box mix.
And, we will explain each in great detail so that you don’t have to wonder about anything!
Brownies have actually not been around for as long as you might think. While still a relatively old concept, the first published mention of brownies only dates back to 1896.
But, despite being a newer type of dessert, they almost immediately took the world by storm, and pretty soon after, new forms developed!
Traditional brownies are considered to be a type of square or rectangular piece of chocolate cake.
However, what makes them more unique is that they are quite dense compared to regular sponge cake and are extremely rich and flavor-packed.
Usually, the cake is decorated with frosting or a filling that adds the majority of the flavor. Brownies are (or should be) served as-is.
This is why you will see that most brownie recipes contain a ton of sugar, chocolate, and liquid in the form of milk or oil.
Today, there are different types of brownies you can make, and we aren’t talking about the flavor at all! Chocolate brownies are separated into two categories: cakey brownies and fudgy brownies.
Cakey Vs Fudgy Brownies
So, in order to figure out how to make box brownies chewy, you need to understand what exactly that means. As we have mentioned, you can get fudgy and cakey brownies.
Traditional brownies are more like cakey brownies. Cakey brownies are light, airy, and quite moist compared to your average cake recipe. While they have a tight crumb (the internal texture), they aren’t dense like you would expect.
Fudgy brownies are also sometimes called chewy brownies. These brownies are very different from cakey brownies. They are extremely moist, very dense, and have an almost fudge-like texture, hence the name.
Depending on the recipe, they can also have a gooey texture. Chewy brownies are much denser compared to cakey brownies because of their high moisture content.
The difference between these two types of chocolate brownies comes down to the ingredients used in the recipe and the steps followed. Let’s have a look at some of the most important factors.
Cakey Brownie Recipe Notes
Cakey brownies usually contain a small amount of butter, sugar, and flour. Sugar especially is what makes fudgy brownies because it melts and creates a syrup-like consistency.
Cakey brownies also sometimes contain a leavening agent like baking powder to help give it some extra lift. This leavening agent is also what usually gives the brownies a cake-like soft texture.
Another factor that helps give cakey brownies their light texture is that the butter almost always gets creamed. By creaming the butter, you are incorporating air into the mixture.
When the batter is baked, the air pockets expand, further aiding the fluffy texture these brownies have.
Fudgy Brownie Recipe Notes
Fudgy brownies contain a lot more sugar and butter. The sugar melts and gives these brownies their stickiness. The butter also helps create a much moister and rich brownie.
Then, fudgy brownies also contain a lot more flour compared to cakey brownies. This is to help keep all the moist ingredients and sticky melted sugar together. By doing so, it automatically creates a much denser product.
For fudgy brownies, the butter isn’t creamed at all and is almost always melted along with the chocolate. This, again, helps add more moistness.
Fudgy brownies are also only mixed until the ingredients are just combined, especially when the flour is added. When flour is worked too much, it develops elastic gluten strands which will make the batter more elastic.
What Makes Chewy Brownies?
So, bottom line, chewy brownies recipes contain more liquid ingredients and sugar. Liquid ingredients can include oil, eggs, or even milk.
And, the increased sugar content creates the sticky-like fudgy consistency that these brownies are known for!
When the above-mentioned ingredients increase, so does the flour content as you need something that will hold everything together. This creates a much denser product.
And, of course, the production method will also affect the final texture of the brownies. Butter is melted along with the chocolate to help add moisture and create a rich, uniform batter.
No air is incorporated when making these brownies (like when creaming them for cakey brownies).
Chewy brownies are also mixed as little as possible to prevent gluten from forming and the batter being elastic, which will cause it to rise more.
How Do Box Brownies Work?
Box brownies are similar to cake mixes. It is a combination of a bunch of regular dry brownie ingredients.
All that you have to do is add some ingredients to hydrate the mixture and create a batter. This can include anything like water, milk, cream, oil, or eggs.
In terms of the dry ingredients that a brownie mix contains, that includes flour, dry cocoa powder, leavening agent, flavoring agents, and maybe some stabilizers and dry preserving agents.
Once some wet ingredients have been mixed with the dry brownie mix, the mixture is whisked until a smooth lump-free batter forms. Then, the batter is decanted into a cake pan and baked according to the boxes’ instructions.
Now, the ratios of the dry ingredients vary from brand to brand, which is why there are hundreds of brownies mixes available to choose from. However, most brownie mixes create cakey brownies.
There are a few exceptions here and there, but we have found that even when your box states “fudgy” or “moist” brownies, they usually still turn out pretty dry.
Luckily, there are many ways in which you can turn any brownie made from a dry mix into much more chewier brownies.
How To Make Box Brownies Chewy
Below are some of our best tips for making box brownies better. Some of these tips can (or rather, have to) be used in conjunction with other tips.
You can even apply the majority of these steps for the best results. In the end, the best trick is the one that works best for you.
1. Substitute The Oil For Melted Butter
Both oil and butter are fat-based liquid ingredients that are often added to batters, especially cake-like batters like brownies. These ingredients help tenderize the product by allowing it to coat the protein strands in the flour.
This helps prevent the flour from clumping and forming a lumpy batter, but, more importantly, it also slightly helps prevent gluten formation, which isn’t really ideal for making brownies, cakey or chewy!
For chocolate brownies, fat is essential as chocolate can turn out pretty dry if there isn’t enough moisture (fatty moisture) provided. Simple milk or water won’t cut it!
When it comes to brownie mixes, oil is usually recommended, most likely because it is a much more affordable liquid fat to use. However, we would highly recommend substituting it with melted butter (salted or unsalted).
Again, both of these ingredients will pretty much do the same thing, but butter has a much richer flavor compared to oil. Butter will help you create a more tender chewy brownie that will have a much richer flavor.
2. Adjust The Eggs
Most brownie mix recipes call for 2 large eggs to be added. We would highly recommend reducing this number to 1.
By reducing or completely removing any eggs, you are creating a much denser brownie which will automatically have a chewier texture.
If you still want to add eggs, then maybe opt to only use the egg yolks. Egg yolks are rich in flavor which will go great with the chocolate. And, it will still help bind the other ingredients while giving the batter the needed moisture!
3. Add More Chocolate
There are a few ways in which you can add more chocolate to the brownie box mix.
By adding more melted chocolate, you are increasing the moisture again and thereby preventing your brownies from being dry once baked. And, it doesn’t hurt that it simultaneously makes your brownies extra creamy and chocolatey!
We recommend starting with only 2 tablespoons of melted chocolate; however, as we have mentioned before, different mixes contain different ratios of ingredients and therefore might react differently to your adjustments.
You can also add some milk to your melted chocolate to help it incorporate batter into your brownie batter.
You can also use cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate. You can add it directly to the dry brownie mix before you add the wet ingredients.
When using cocoa powder, you will have to add slightly more liquid. This can either be butter, oil, or milk. You only need to add a tablespoon or two.
Finally, you can add chocolate pieces to the batter. Once your brownies bake, the pieces will melt and help cerate an uber moist and chewy brownie!
This is where you can really experiment with consistency and flavor.
4. Substitute The Water
Never, ever, use water for dry brownie mix. Water does nothing for your mix except hydrate it. Instead, use butter or oil. These ingredients will help tenderize your brownies and add a ton of flavor!
Also, never substitute the ingredients called for with water unless you absolutely have no other option. As a last resort, you can even substitute plain water with cooled black coffee.
5. Do Not Overmix The Batter
So, there are a few reasons that correct mixing methods are crucial when it comes to using a brownie box mix.
The first is that overmixing will help aerate the batter. You absolutely do not want this for chewy brownies! It’s the same reason we use melted butter instead of creamed butter.
The air inside the batter will expand when you are baking it and create a more cake-like texture instead of a dense and chewy one.
The next reason is that overmixing helps gluten form. Now, most brownie box mixes contain some type of leavening agent.
When gluten forms, it makes the batter more elastic. This, paired with the leavening agent, helps create a very cakey texture.
So, to prevent the formation of gluten, or at least reduce it by as much as possible, you should mix the ingredients together until they are just combined.
We recommend mixing the liquid or wet ingredients (anything that isn’t part of the dry brownie mix) in a separate bowl until you are ready to add them to the dry ingredients.
Once ready, add the liquid ingredients to the dry mixture and whisk gently (to prevent incorporating air) and again, until the dry ingredients just disappear. Still, make sure that there aren’t any lumps.
If you do see lumps, do not continue whisking them to try and remove them. Instead, allow the batter to stand about 5-10 minutes before whisking briefly again.
The standing period helps soften the dry ingredients and essentially, helps them dissolve.
6. Choose Your Pan Size Wisely
This is honestly something we see all too often; people using just any old pan they can find to bake their goods into.
Now, we get it, sometimes you simply don’t have the correct size pan the recipe calls for. And, it is unreasonable to expect you to have pans in every shape and size.
But that doesn’t mean a sheet pan will make the same type of brownies a 7 x 7-inch pan would have.
The larger your pan is (compared to the one that the recipe calls for), the thinner the layer of batter will be, and you have to adjust the baking conditions then (which we will get to shortly).
But, the best trick is to simply choose a pan that is closest in size to the one the recipe calls for, even if it has a different shape to it.
7. Bake At The Correct Temperatures
This rule applies in a couple of scenarios. First, if you are already making a batter of box brownies that says “chewy”, then make sure that your oven is set to the correct temperature.
Now, on average, brownies bake at between 320-360°F. Simply adjust the temperature and keep an eye on your brownies.
Then, you can also slightly lower the temperature for more chewy brownies. But, you don’t have to if you keep an eye on them.
And finally, you should definitely lower the temperature of your oven if you are baking the brownies in a bigger pan than your recipe called for.
When you are baking brownie batter in a larger pan, the batter has a bigger surface area and is thinner. This means that the brownies will bake through much quicker compared to when they are thicker.
8. Bake For The Correct Amount Of Time
People almost always overbake their brownies. If your brownies don’t look baked but they have baked for the correct amount of time (as stated on the box), then take them out.
Remember, you are making chewy brownies. Your testing skewer will come out with batter on it! Do not continue baking the brownies.
It’s hard for us to give you an accurate time frame for which brownies bake.
The time depends on the size of your pan, the temperature of your oven, the amount of batter inside the pan (the thickness of the brownies), and even the ingredients in the box mix!
Brownies usually bake for at least 20 minutes but can take up to 45-50 minutes.
9. Underbake The Brownies
On the topic of baking times, our final tip is to slightly underbake your brownies. Simply take between 5-10 minutes off of the baking time. Trust us, your brownies have definitely been fully (or safely) baked after 30 minutes.
By slightly underbaking them, you are essentially preventing them from drying out and giving them that extra chewiness and fudgy texture.