We are firm believers that you can have a favorite recipe for brownies from scratch (this is ours) and have a favorite boxed brownie, too. These are not mutually exclusive and here's why: Once you find your favorite mix, you can rest assured that you'll have a brownie just the way you like it, wherever you are. Because sometimes you need a brownie fix with minimal input and maximum brownie enjoyment.
So, what's the best boxed brownie mix? Well, that depends. You see, everyone has a different opinion about what makes a brownie the best. Some people like them chewy, while others go for fudgy, and then there's the crowd who not-so-secretly wishes their brownies were cake.
We taste tested nine major brands against our favorite chewy brownie recipe to narrow the field to four of the best boxed mixes for every kind of brownie-lover, including a gluten-free version!
Our Boxed Brownie Taste Test Methodology
There are a lot of brownie mixes on the the market and we obviously couldn't try them all. To narrow the field, I asked friends and colleagues for suggestions, and I made sure to include our reader's favorite boxed brownie mix.
I knew I wanted a mix of well-known brands and some smaller brands, but they had to be available at major grocery store chains. I also decided to exclude any mixes with cream cheese, caramel, or mix-ins of any kind, with one exception: Most brands that promise "fudgy" brownies include a tube of chocolate syrup along with the mix.
I baked all the brownies according to the package instructions and cooled them before testing. As a control, I also baked a batch of Kitchn's chewy brownies to taste alongside the mixes.
Testers include friends and family as well as my two young children (yes, they are the luckiest kids I know). Here are the results.
If you want a brownie you can pass off as homemade
Our readers were absolutely right in deeming the Ghirardelli Chocolate's Double Chocolate Brownie Mix their favorite. This boxed mix checks all the right boxes (we had to). Crackly, shiny top? Check. Chewy corner pieces? Check. Fudgy center pieces? Check. You could definitely pass them off as homemade.
Read more: Our Readers' Favorite Brownie Mix
Tip: Ghirardelli's Chocolate Supreme tastes identical to the Double Chocolate mix our readers love, but it doesn't contain chocolate chips in the batter.
Buy It: Ghirardelli Chocolate Double Chocolate Brownie Mix, $3.50 at Jet
If you want a fudgy brownie
When I pressed my BFF for her favorite brownie mix, she declared, "The brand doesn't matter — just pick the one with the fudge sauce!" Surprisingly, Betty Crocker's Fudge Brownie Mix didn't include any extra sauce and baked up more fudge-like than the other two brands that included chocolate supplements. This mix is exactly what you expect boxed brownies to taste like.
Buy: Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie Mix, $1.50 at Target
If you want your brownie to be more like a cake
Despite its name, Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix bakes up more like a rich chocolate cake than a fudgy brownie. The chocolate is also a little mild, so you might want to consider frosting the brownie (like a cake!) to add some richness.
Buy It: Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix, $1.50 at Target
If you want a very good brownie that happens to be gluten free
I did not tell tasters that there were gluten-free mixes on the tasting table. Two other gluten-free mixes got poor reviews, but two tasters declared King Arthur's Gluten-Free Brownie Mix their favorite (despite not knowing it was GF!).
Buy It: King Arthur Gluten Free Brownie Mix, $5.50 at Walmart
Did your favorite boxed brownie mix make the cut?