The $2 Aldi Baking Mix That More People Should Be Talking About

updated Sep 20, 2022
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Credit: Patty Catalano

Among the great culinary debates, the battle between fudgy, chewy, and cakey brownies is among the most divisive. Not too far removed is the decision to be made between homemade and boxed brownies. I have made dozens of homemade brownie recipes in my career as a recipe developer, but I will always (yes, always) reach for a boxed brownie mix over a recipe card. I’ve long relied on a national brand of boxed brownies (including the one that snagged the top spot in our annual list of Kitchn Essentials groceries), but because brownies are among the most personal of sweet treats, I’ve often wondered which box is the best one for me.

On a recent visit to Aldi, I realized that the mid-sized market carries not one, not two, but three varieties of boxed brownies. While there’s a lot of buzz about Aldi’s pizza, the cheese selection, and frozen foods (hello, red bag chicken), the lack of culinary chatter around this pantry staple was surprising. I added the boxes, plus some eggs, butter, and vegetable oil to my basket and headed home to perform a taste test of these chocolatey treats to determine Aldi’s very best box.

Credit: Patty Catalano

How I Tested the Brownie Mixes

I purchased all three varieties of boxed brownie mix that my Aldi carried along with the large eggs, butter, and vegetable oil required. Two of the three packages provided instructions for a variety of pan sizes, but one just called for an 8×8-inch pan. To maintain consistency between boxes, I prepared all three of the varieties in the same 8×8-inch pan. I sprayed the pan with cooking spray and lined it with a parchment paper sling so that the bars of brownies could be easily removed from the pan, allowing me to bake batches using the same pan without cutting into the brownies early.

Following the package instructions for each box, I added the specified amount of oil or butter, water, and eggs, then baked them at the suggested temperature and removed each from the oven after the lowest time suggested. All batches of brownies passed the toothpick test. I cooled the brownies in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes until they were set enough to be safely removed with the parchment sling. The brownies continued to cool completely on the wire rack before tasting.

I cut the brownies into squares, placed them on three numbered plates, and served them to a group of family and friends. We evaluated the brownies based on a variety of criteria including texture, flavor, and appearance. The best brownies should have a shiny, crackly top; a rich, chocolatey flavor; and be an excellent representation of their respective texture, whether that be cakey, fudgy, or chewy, per the package descriptions.

Credit: Patty Catalano

The Best Brownie Mix: Specially Selected Double Chocolate Premium Brownie Mix with Chocolate Chips

While I would never turn down a bite of any of these brownie mixes, the square from Aldi’s Specially Selected line was the top treat of this taste test. These brownies straddled the line between chewy and cakey in the best way possible — neither dry nor overly dense. The brownies had a slight rise, so the consistency was not compact, nor was the texture dry and crumbly. I did notice that this package had the longest bake time of all three options tested, so if you favor a very moist, chewy brownie, simply underbake the brownies by several minutes.

This boxed mix delivers chocolatey flavor from the cocoa powder in the mix, but also from chocolate chips. This extra dose of chocolate helped to push this mix into the top spot. The tops of the brownie had the tell-tale sheen and crackly consistency of a home-baked brownie. When I shared them with more friends the following day, nobody guessed that this sweet came from a box.

Did we choose your favorite boxed brownie mix? Share your pick in the comments.