7 Tips for Making Really Great Brownies (Unlike the Disasters You Just Saw on “The Great British Bake-Off”)

updated Feb 24, 2021
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Classic brownie in center with contestants of the Great British Baking Show in top right corner.
Credit: Central image: Kelli Foster | Right corner image: Courtesy of Netflix

If you watched the latest episode of the The Great British Bake-Off this week, you saw a brownie horror show: a whole bunch of pans filled with under-baked batter and overwrought ideas. As Lottie noted, if someone had just made a simple brownie but executed it successfully, they probably could have won easily. To be fair, the contestants had a lot working against them: They’re baking outdoors in summer heat and humidity, and with a strict time limit. Given that a fudgy brownie — as requested by the judges — requires a full cool down, that’s a tall order.

But at home, you not only don’t have those restrictions, but you can also work in any number of tips from experts. We’ve collected a lot of brownie advice over the years on this site, and inspired by the contestants’ disaster bakes, we decided to collect a few of our favorite tips for achieving those perfect chocolate treats.

Credit: Kelli Foster

Chill your brownies for an hour after baking.

Sorry to the contestants: The best way to achieve prime chewiness is to just slightly underbake them and then put them in the fridge for a full hour. But their loss is your gain — just make sure to have something to distract yourself from thinking about them for the full hour!

Credit: Alton Brown

Bake your brownies twice.

Alton Brown always has a trick or two up his sleeve, and his brownie recipe is no different. He suggests that for an “ooier” brownie, you bake the brownies for 15 minutes, take them out for the same amount of time, then return them to the oven until they’re done (about 30 minutes in his recipe).

Get the recipe: Cocoa Brownies from Alton Brown

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Use your Instant Pot to make brownies.

You already know the Instant Pot can do almost anything, but you might not have realized that includes making fudgy chocolate brownies — especially useful if you are already using the oven for something else. But there’s another trick in this treat, too: Add malted milk powder for a “toasty, almost creamy quality.”

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Salt the pan before baking.

America’s Test Kitchen editor Tucker Shaw gave away his Great-Aunt Berta’s brownie secret in a tweet last year: Sprinkle the pan with salt before adding the batter. Basically, it adds the salt — a flavor enhancer — to the part of the brownie that touches your tongue first, rather than the top, where you don’t taste it until later in the eating process.

Credit: Jodi Kay

Add halva chips and tahini.

Honestly, I was surprised that nobody involved any sesame products in the bake-off challenge, since they are such a logical pairing — and even famous Brit chef Yotam Ottolenghi has pushed the idea in his recipe, which is one of the best we’ve tried. The rich, gooey brownie gets a savory hit from the tahini and halva chips just melt into the batter, leaving sugary, nutty shards — like the inside of a fancy Butterfinger candy bar. (Sesame is also the secret to these amazing gluten-free brownies.)

Credit: Amazon

Get an all-edges pan.

Even though Paul and Prue emphasized the gooey centers they wanted, everybody knows that a gooey center is nothing without the crispy edge. Which is why you can bake your brownies in a

pan designed to make every brownie a corner piece

Buy now:
Credit: Minimalist Baker

Add sweet potatoes.

Gluten-free doesn’t mean goo-free: Using sweet potato purée along with maple syrup and almond butter makes for super-fudgy brownie, without any animal products or gluten.

Try a recipe: Fudgy Sweet Potato Brownies from Minimalist Baker