5 Mistakes to Avoid When Making Brownies

updated Dec 10, 2022
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A stack of three brownies with a glass of milk in the background
Credit: Kelli Foster

If there’s one dessert I cannot resist, it’s a rich and fudgy chocolate brownie recipe. It’s hard not to love these timeless sweets. And while easy to make, there are a few tips that will ensure a stand-out batch every time.

So before you get ready to bake your next batch, be sure you’re not making any of these common mistakes.

1. Not picking the right recipe (for you).

Brownies fall into two delicious camps: fudgy and cakey. It’s crucial you know which kind of brownies you want to make when selecting a recipe; if your heart is set on a batch of fudgy brownies, but you use a cakey recipe, you’re in for a big letdown.

Follow This Tip: Which kind of brownies are you after? Know which kind of brownies you want to make before getting started, and be sure you’re using the right recipe.

2. Not letting the chocolate cool after melting.

You’re making a delicious brownie recipe, which probably means you’re about to melt some chocolate. As much as you want to speed the process along, wait a few minutes before mixing the hot melted chocolate into the eggs and sugar. You otherwise run the risk of cooking and scrambling the eggs.

Follow This Tip: After melting the chocolate over low heat, set it to the side and let it cool before adding it to the eggs and sugar.

3. Not using the right pan for the job.

Just as important as using the right amount of ingredients is using the right baking pan. Most brownie recipes will either call for an 8- or 9-inch pan. Use a pan that’s too big, and you’ll end up with thin, overcooked brownies. On the flip side, if you use a pan that’s too small, the result is undercooked brownies.

Follow This Tip: Use what’s specified in the recipe, but also know that smaller pans make thicker brownies (and need more cook time), while larger pans make thinner brownies (and require a shorter cook time).

4. Waiting until there are no more crumbs stuck to the toothpick.

If you’ve waited to take your brownies out of the oven until there are no more crumbs stuck to the toothpick, brace yourself for the disappointment of overcooked brownies. Instead of soft and fudgy, these are more likely to be dry and crumbly.

Follow This Tip: Start testing the brownies with a toothpick a minute or so before you think they’re done. Take them out of the oven when there are still some crumbs on the toothpick. The brownies are just about done, and will continue to cook as they cool.

5. Cutting into fresh-baked brownies too soon.

The smell of fresh-baked brownies just pulled from the oven is beyond amazing. I mean, how could you not want to dig your fork into the corner, or cut out a warm, tiny piece (not that I’ve ever done that)? Resist the urge. Wait until they’re cooled, and you’ll be rewarded.

Follow This Tip: Muster up all the restraint you can; I promise it will be worth the wait! Giving your brownies ample time to cool will make for a nicer, cleaner cut.

But more importantly, once they’ve had time to set for an hour or two, the flavor will be more developed and taste even better than when they first came out of the oven.

What are your best tips for making really good brownies?