Ingredient Intelligence

What’s the Difference Between Cocoa Brownies and Chocolate Brownies?

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

Brownie connoisseurs already know this to be true: not all brownies are created equal, but there’s room in our lives for lots of them. Cocoa brownies and chocolate brownies both have a place in our kitchen, although they bake up with slight idiosyncrasies. Here is everything you need to know about the differences between the two.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Brownie Basics

Both cocoa- and chocolate-based brownies include sugar, eggs, and flour. And to some degree you can very the amounts of those ingredients for a brownie that is chewier, or more fudge-like, or even cakey. Cocoa and chocolate brownies differ the most from an ingredient standpoint when it comes to the type of fat used: cocoa brownies often use oil, and chocolate brownies use butter. This, partnered with the flavor that cocoa and chocolate each give their brownies, is the biggest difference in the texture of either type.

Cocoa brownies also tend to be softer, while chocolate-based brownies are fudgy and chewy. Cocoa brownies are richer in chocolate flavor, while chocolate brownies are lighter and sweeter in flavor.

Cocoa Brownies

Cocoa brownies use dry unsweetened cocoa powder as a base ingredient. This has many advantages — including the fact that you probably already have some in your pantry right now. But the cocoa powder also allows you, the baker, to control the fat and sugar content of your brownies. Cocoa brownies typically call for oil as the fat, and many call for blooming the cocoa in the oil, making for a deeply colored and distinctly chocolatey brownie. If a cake-like brownie is your ultimate goal, cocoa brownies are the best place to start.

Get a recipe: Pantry Cocoa Brownies

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate brownies start with unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate that is melted with butter as the base for the brownies. The thing to know about these brownies is that the cocoa butter in the chocolate is firmer at room temperature, so they are more fudge-like and firmer than cocoa brownies. Because the chocolate can contain some sugar, chocolate brownies tend to be sweeter with a less chocolate-forward flavor than cocoa brownies.