Sure, you can find all kinds of brownie mix brands at the supermarket, but there’s something special about making brownies from scratch. While many factors must align to create a perfect brownie, texture is without a doubt one of the most divisive—and important.
Our Test Kitchen compared four different brownie recipes—fudgy, cakey, crispy, and chewy—to see which textural powerhouse would come in first place. We also analyzed the differences in chocolaty flavor, sweetness, and overall method.
This fudgy brownie recipe yields the thickest brownie of the four. It’s got a really nice crinkle top that you could knock on and a center you could roll into a ball. Fans of fudgy texture can thank the extra sugar in this recipe.
What makes them so fudgy? Sugar is hygroscopic, which means it attracts water. This helps interfere with gluten formation in baking, making these brownies more tender and moist. They also tend to keep their texture longer than lower-sugar baked goods, because more sugar attracts more moisture from the air. Yay, science!
These cakey brownies are super light and fluffy. With texture that’s a bit more crumbly than fudgy, they make the perfect base for frosting! The flavor and texture somewhat resemble a chocolate muffin, so you might as well have one of these for breakfast.
With less sugar and more baking powder, you are left with a slightly lighter texture that is still moist and springy.
This crispy brownie brittle has great chocolate flavor and is reminiscent of a brownie with the texture of bark. It’s broken into crunchy shards and easily customizable with different mix-ins and toppings. In combination with the cocoa powder, the optional espresso powder adds a rich chocolate flavor.
Very small amounts of fat and flour make the brownie brittle super short and crispy. Breaking it into pieces after drizzling with chocolate is the fun part; just make sure you let the chocolate cool and dry first!
These chewy brownies are the perfect treat for someone who doesn’t really consider themselves a “sweets person.” The cocoa flavor is subtle and the sweetness level is somewhat low, allowing you to have a few without feeling like you’ve overindulged (we won’t judge).
These brownies absolutely live up to the name, as they are the chewiest brownies we’ve sunken our teeth into. A dab of corn syrup makes all the difference. Don’t expect to speak after you’ve taken a bite of one of these: give yourself a moment to enjoy…and chew!
The Best Overall Brownie?
When it comes to making the perfect brownie, it really comes down to what your deal breakers are. If you live and breathe for moistness and indulgence in your brownie experience, we recommend the fudgy brownies. If you’re looking for a great brownie base for a whipped cream or frosting, then the cakey brownies are the way to go.
If you think brownies should be shorter, crispier and resemble beautiful shards of broken chocolate, your heart is leading you to the brownie brittle. And if you’re looking for lighter flavor and sweetness level, without compromising on decadent chewiness the chewy brownies are your best bet.
Basically, whichever you choose will not disappoint!
How to Customize Your Brownies
Chocolate chips and chopped nuts are classics, but we have a few other ideas to really elevate your brownies. Try any of these combos to take a basic brownie recipe, or a boxed mix, to a whole new level:
- S’mores: Marshmallow, graham cracker and milk chocolate
- Snack Time: Pretzel, potato chip and butterscotch
- PB&J: Peanut butter swirl with chopped peanuts and freeze-dried strawberries
- All Grown Up: Candied orange peel and ginger, dark chocolate and pistachio
Brownies are such an easygoing bake, so you can really get creative. Use all this know-how and you’ll be whipping up your dream brownie recipe in no time.