Sometimes a craving hits and nothing will do but a pan of brownies. With a few pantry ingredients on hand you can whip up a batch nearly as fast a using a boxed mix. If you’ve never made brownies from scratch I hope this recipe inspires you to give it a try.

I came across this recipe in a cookbook devoted to all types of brownies. It was a really fun to see how many different brownies you could make with basically the same ingredients. I’ve adapted the original recipe to use cocoa powder instead of baking chocolate. Since I always keep cocoa powder on hand I often use the substitution for baking chocolate. This is the bulk cocoa powder I buy. For every ounce of baking chocolate called for, use 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon of butter. It works like a charm!

Simple Brownies Recipe

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 11 tablespoons butter, I use salted
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour

Melting the Butter and Cocoa

Start by measuring the cocoa powder and butter into a saucepan to melt over low heat. Whisk occasionally to make a smooth mixture. Do not give into temptation and taste this even though it looks delicious. Tasting plain cocoa powder is not a pleasant experience! Heat just enough to melt the butter, it shouldn’t be too hot because you’re about to add it to the eggs.

Butter and cocoa powder for Simple Brownies.
Melted butter and cocoa powder for Simple Brownies.

Whisking the Sugars and Eggs

In a mixing bowl measure the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt. Give them a mix and break up any clumps of brown sugar. I never pack brown sugar when I’m baking. A few years ago when I was trying to reduce the sugar in our diet I tried just measuring brown sugar instead of packing it. It worked just fine and reduces the sugar in recipes and the amount I need to buy. That’s a win!

Add the eggs and vanilla to the bowl and whisk them well with the two sugars and the salt. Don’t worry about it looking grainy just make sure it’s well combined.

Granulated and brown sugar for Simple Brownies.
Eggs and sugar for Simple Brownies.

Once the egg mixture looks smooth start to slowly whisk in the cocoa and butter mixture. Start slowly at first to temper the eggs. Tempering eggs just means you add the hot mixture to the eggs very slowly so the eggs don’t cook. Add a tablespoon or two and whisk. Add another tablespoon or two and whisk again. After repeating this a few times you can add the rest of the hot mixture more quickly.

Whisked eggs and sugar for Simple Brownies.
Combining melted butter and cocoa with eggs and sugar for Simple Brownies.

Finishing and Baking Simple Brownies

Once your melted chocolate mixture is incorporated into the sugar and eggs, it’s time to add the flour. Measure the flour by scooping flour into the measuring cup and scraping off the excess. You never want to tamp flour down or tap it to level the cup. Lightly scooping the flour and scraping off any extra with a butter knife or something similar will make sure you aren’t using too much flour. Too much flour will make your brownies or whatever you are baking turn out dry.

Add the flour to the liquid mixture then gently and quickly stir together. Don’t worry about small lumps, they will dissolve while the brownies bake. Make sure there are no large pockets of flour in the batter, taking care to scrape the bottom of the bowl.

Pour the batter into a buttered 8 inch square metal pan and smooth out evenly. Put the brownies in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes. You can bake a shorter amount of time for gooey fudgy brownies and a few minutes longer if you like them more cakey.

Simple Brownies ready to bake.
Freshly baked Simple Brownies.

Cool and Enjoy!

Set the brownies on a wire rack to cool before cutting. These happen to be extra good if you chill them first but I’m not usually that patient. Feel free to add nuts or chocolate chips to the batter if you prefer. I do prefer but people have strong opinions on this topic so I usually sprinkle some over half the batter and leave the other half plain. This makes 16 two inch square brownies but you can cut them any size you like.