Recipe Review

I Tried Ree Drummond’s “Chuckwagon Brownies” and Yes, They Are “To Die For”

published Dec 28, 2023
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Chuckwagon brownies stacked with bite taken out.
Credit: Kiersten Hickman

In my opinion, no brownie recipe has ever competed with the quality of a good ol’ boxed brownie mix. Nothing homemade has really ever compared; they are perfectly crinkly, chewy, and fudgy, and they easily come right out of the pan. Any other homemade recipe I’ve attempted has either been too cakey, too gooey, and just overall not as good as the boxed stuff.

So when I came across Ree Drummond’s chuckwagon brownies recipe, I, of course, was skeptical. Could they really live up to my favorite boxed brownie mix? 

Get the recipe: Ree Drummond’s Chuckwagon Brownies

How to Make Chuckwagon Brownies

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9×13-inch pan with butter, then set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup of cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon of instant espresso powder, and a pinch of kosher salt. Set it aside.

In a medium-sized saucepan, melt two sticks (1 cup) of salted butter. Once the butter is melted and slightly bubbly, remove it from the heat and add in 1 1/3 cups of granulated sugar and 1/3 cup of powdered sugar. Whisk until the sugar is incorporated and everything is well combined. Toss in 4 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate, then whisk that until combined. Lastly, add in 2 large eggs and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, whisking until everything is combined well.

Sprinkle the bowl of dry ingredients into the saucepan with the wet ingredients. Fold the ingredients together until everything is combined.

Scrape the brownie batter into the prepared baking dish, spreading the batter evenly at the bottom of the pan. Top the brownies with 8 ounces of chopped semi-sweet chocolate.

Bake the brownies for 22 to 25 minutes, or until they are just set in the middle. Let the brownies cool on the counter completely before slicing and serving.

Credit: Kiersten Hickman

My Honest Review

From this boxed brownie lover, I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by these chuckwagon brownies. The texture was perfect; chewy and chocolate-y, but the bottom was cooked well enough where these brownies have a nice hold when you pick it up. The taste is also extraordinary; every bite of this brownie is a chocolate-lover’s dream.

However, my only issue with the recipe is the amount of chocolate on the top. Ree’s recipe calls for two bars of chopped chocolate on top, which felt a little excessive to me. I simply topped it with one bar of chocolate and it was the perfect amount for these brownies — especially given the brownie batter is already chocolatey enough as is. 

I also think you could top these brownies with a flaky sea salt. They are dark enough that cutting the bittersweet chocolate with a hint of salt might pair really nicely together.

All in all, I will definitely be making a pan of these again… and I just may be ditching the boxed stuff for good.

Credit: Kiersten Hickman

3 Tips for Ree Drummond’s Chuckwagon Brownies

  1. Use half the amount of semi-sweet chocolate: Although the recipe calls for 8 ounces (two bars) of semi-sweet chocolate, I think you really only need half of the amount in this recipe. Unless you truly want the tops of your brownies covered in chunks of chocolate, I think you still get the tasty effect without a chocolate overload by using half the amount of chocolate on top — a.k.a., just one bar. 
  2. Or use semi-sweet chocolate chips: While these traditional chuckwagon brownies have chunks of melty chocolate on top, if you only have semi-sweet chocolate chips, that could also work sprinkled on top of your brownie! The texture will be slightly different but the taste will be all the same.
  3. Swap with unsalted butter to control the salt in your recipe: Ree’s recipe calls for salted butter in the recipe, as well as a pinch of salt. However, it’s hard to determine how much salt is really in the salted butter that you buy, hence why most baking recipes call for unsalted butter so you can control the amount. If you care about the amount of salt in your desserts, I highly recommend controlling the recipe by using unsalted butter and then adding in 1/2 teaspoon of salt instead of a “pinch of salt” with your dry ingredients. You could also top the brownies with some flaky sea salt!