Recipe Review

Alton Brown Has a Clever Trick for Making the Best Brownies Ever

published Aug 8, 2019
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Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani

Alton Brown is the ultimate food nerd, so if there’s anyone I trust to write a good brownie recipe, it’s him. As the host of Good Eats, he understands the science behind baking and uses that knowledge to develop recipes that are the best they can possibly be — relying on scientific methods to achieve great results. So, when searching for the ultimate brownie recipe, I knew I needed to test his recipe.

Brown’s brownie recipe is fairly straightforward, but uses one unique technique to upgrade them: whipping the eggs. This adds air to the eggs and helps fully emulsify the whites with the yolks to create a smoother batter. He also ditches the chocolate altogether and relies solely on cocoa powder to give the brownies their flavor. Both approaches are a slight departure from my usual brownie-making method, but I trusted Brown and knew it was for a good reason.

But does whipping the eggs really make a difference? Is it actually worth schlepping out your stand mixer to make them? And can a brownie recipe taste good if it only uses cocoa powder and no actual chocolate? I whipped up a batch to find out.

Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani

How to Make Alton Brown’s Cocoa Brownies

You’ll start by beating eggs in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on medium speed until fluffy. (They should look ribbony and pale yellow.) This process adds air to the eggs and makes sure the yolks and whites are completely combined.

To that, you’ll add both white and brown sugar, along with all of the remaining ingredients — melted butter, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, sifted flour, and kosher salt — and mix it until combined.

You’ll pour the brownie batter into a greased and floured 8×8-inch baking pan, smooth out the top, and transfer it to a preheated oven and bake until a toothpick comes out clean. Once baked, transfer to a cooling rack and let cool before cutting into squares.

Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani

My Honest Review of Alton Brown’s Cocoa Brownies

This recipe is proof that simple is best. When I think of the perfect brownie recipe, this is it. It’s crispy on the edges, has a beautiful shiny top, and is rich and fudgy on the inside. Whipping the eggs seemed to improve the texture and give them a moist crumb that isn’t gummy or too heavy. The texture is somewhere between fudge and chocolate cake — decadent without being heavy or fatiguing to eat.

Sometimes the most fuss-free baked goods are the best, and this recipe is proof positive. The recipe lets the flavor of the cocoa shine with just enough support from salt and sugar. While you could technically add nuts, chocolate chips, or other mix-ins to the batter, there’s no reason to. I wouldn’t even suggest topping them with ice cream. These brownies are wonderfully simple as is — why mess with perfection?

In addition to being delicious, these brownies were also super easy to make. (The easiest of all the brownies I tested.) It took me no longer than 15 minutes to make them and they used ingredients I already had in my pantry. It’s a perfect recipe that takes practically no effort to pull off: a true win-win. I can honestly say this is the best brownie recipe I’ve ever made.

Credit: Charli Nowak

If You’re Making Alton Brown’s Brownies, a Few Tips

When you’re ready to bake Alton Brown’s cocoa brownies, here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Whip your eggs until light and ribbony: Because this recipe doesn’t use any chemical leavening agents (like baking powder or baking soda), it’s important that you whip the eggs for long enough to incorporate air into them so your brownies have some lift. You want the eggs to be light yellow in color and thick, so be patient.

2. Use a high-quality unsweetened cocoa powder: Because this recipe relies entirely on cocoa powder to give the brownies their flavor, make sure to use a cocoa powder that actually tastes good. If you have a fancy cocoa powder hanging out in your pantry, this is the time to use it.

3. When checking the brownies for doneness, a little bit of wet crumbs stuck to the toothpick is OK: Unlike cakes, it’s OK if a bit of wet crumbs stick to the toothpick when you check them for doneness. It’s best to err on the side of underbaking these brownies versus overbaking them, so don’t wait until the toothpick is completely clean.

4. Allow the brownies to cool completely before cutting into them: If you try to cut the brownies too early, they will crumble apart and stick to your knife, so give them at least one hour to cool before attempting to cut them.

  • Difficulty to Make: 2/10
  • Taste/Texture: 9/10
  • Appearance: 7/10
  • Overall Rating: 9/10

Have you ever made Alton Brown’s cocoa brownies? Tell us what you thought! 

Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani

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