How To Make the Easiest Brownies Ever

updated Oct 6, 2023

Some might call these basic, no-bowl-required brownies desperate, but we call them delicious.


Prep22 minutes

Cook30 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Brownies, like chocolate chip cookies, are one of those baked goods where it’s best to have a few favorite recipes rather than just one. You need a brownie recipe for every occasion: a favorite boxed brownie, a favorite cocoa brownie, a favorite brownie hack, and a favorite easiest-ever brownie (that’s where these come in).

I like to call these desperation brownies. They require just a few pantry ingredients and no mixing bowl, meaning you can make them at a moment’s notice in almost any kitchen. The best part? They’re just as chocolatey and fudgy as any brownie recipe we know.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

The Easiest Brownies, Ever

It wasn’t enough for these brownies to be a one-bowl, pantry-raid brownie. No, I wanted them to require even less than a bowl. So these brownies are mixed directly in the pan they bake in, meaning you can measure everything into the pan, mix, and top with chocolate chips in less time than it takes to preheat the oven.

Here’s what you can expect when they come out of the oven:

  • Crisp edges: Thanks to the oil that coats the pan and makes the brownies moist.
  • A cake-like texture: Since these brownies are cocoa-based, they lean towards a more cake-like texture with a moist, tender crumb.
  • Extra chocolate: Topping them with a handful of chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) makes them even chocolatier, if that’s a personal goal for you (it is for me).
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Some Brownie Tips

  • Preheat the oven first! Most ovens take 20 to 30 minutes to reach temperature, so turn on the oven before you search for your brownie pan or pull out your ingredients because these brownies come together faster than the oven takes to heat.
  • Swirl the oil in the baking pan first. It’s important that the baking pan be well-greased since we’re mixing these brownies right in the pan. Add the oil first and swirl it up along the sides of the pan before adding the brownie ingredients.
  • Mind the pan corners. Start mixing the batter in the middle of the pan, but be sure to run a spatula along the corners to ensure that no flour, cocoa, or sugar goes unmixed.
  • Make these brownies mix ahead of time. You can mix up the dry mix for these brownies and keep it stashed in your pantry for future brownie cravings. Or, you can use it as a hostess, holiday, or housewarming present. Just combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, and salt in a jar (quart-sized works well) and then print the below directions to accompany the jar.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Lauren Radel

1-Ingredient Upgrades

These brownies are perfect as-is, but it’s easy to play around with them, too. Below are our nine of our favorite variations.

  • Chocolate chip cookie dough: Brownies stuffed with cookie dough are as good as they sound. Simply nestle premade cookie dough into the batter.
  • Marshmallow fluff: To make the sticky ingredient easier to swirl, mix it with a little water first.
  • Freeze-dried strawberries: Hold off on adding the strawberries until the last 10 minutes of baking to avoid burning.
  • Pretzels: For the perfect balance of sweet and salty, add a layer of mini pretzels on top.
  • Oreos: For easier brownie slicing, it’s best to coarsely chop the chocolate sandwich cookies (or use the mini kind!).
  • Caramel: Rather than swirling the caramel into the brownie batter (it just disappears this way!), we like to drizzle it on top after they’ve baked and cooled. A sprinkle of flaky sea salt would be a welcome addition.
  • Sprinkles: You never go wrong with rainbow sprinkles.
  • Potato chips: Crinkle-cut chips stands up particularly well to chewy brownies.
  • Peanut butter cups: You could press full-size whole cups into the batter for a stuffed effect, but we’re partial to seeing the ridges of the chopped up minis on top.

How To Make the Easiest Brownies Ever

Some might call these basic, no-bowl-required brownies desperate, but we call them delicious.

Prep time 22 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Serves 9

Nutritional Info


  • 1/2 cup

    neutral oil, such as canola or peanut

  • 1 1/4 cups

    granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup

    natural cocoa powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon


  • 2

    large eggs

  • 2 tablespoons


  • 1/2 cup

    chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (optional)


  • 8x8-inch metal baking pan

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Spatula or wooden spoon


  1. Heat the oven and prepare an 8-inch metal baking pan. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Pour the oil into the 8x8-inch metal baking pan and gently swirl the oil around the pan and up the sides.

  2. Add the dry ingredients to the pan. Add the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, and salt to the baking pan.

  3. Add the eggs and water and stir well. Crack the eggs directly into the baking pan and add the water. Use a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon to first puncture the yolks and then mix the batter until completely wet, about 1 1/2 minutes of stirring. Stir in the chocolate chips (save a few to sprinkle on top), if using. Use the spatula to spread the batter in an even layer, being sure to work it into the corners of the pan.

  4. Bake 25 to 28 minutes. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out mostly clean, 25 to 28 minutes. Cool the brownies on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before cutting into 9 squares for serving.   

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, and chocolate chips and store in an airtight container (a quart-sized jar works well) at cool room temperature for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, heat the oven and prepare the pan as directed. Follow the directions for mixing and baking.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.