How to Make Box Brownies Better

I am sure that almost all of us have reached for the convenient box brownie mix at some point. Truth be told, I keep a few boxes at my house for emergencies.

sliced brownies on parchment paper


You know, late night brownie cravings, unannounced guests, just because my daughter wants something to do. Here are my favorites ways to make boxed brownie mix better!

Why You Should Change the Box Brownie Recipe

All you need to make gourmet homemade brownies from a box is an open mind and maybe a few extra ingredients, many of which you probably already have in your pantry.

Let me start off by saying, there is absolutely no shame in this. I am a huge fan of doctoring and semi-homemade meals and desserts. Sadly, a box mix can sometimes leave a lot to be desired, but if you follow my tips on how to make boxed brownies better, you won’t be sorry.

Grab a box of brownie mix and get baking!

How to Make Box Brownies Better with these 15 tips and tricks

Make your brownies according to the back of the box, then make one or two of these adjustments (but not all of them!)

1. Up the Egg Yolk

By simply mixing in one additional egg yolk (or even make it 2 egg yolks) to the eggs that are already called for in the recipe, you are adding both moisture and fat to the batter.

One extra egg yolk gives them more structure and keeps it soft, moist, and rich. These will be cake-like brownies opposed to fudgy brownies.

2. Who Needs Water?

Does your batter need some liquid? Yes, of course, it does. Does the said liquid need to be void of any flavor? Sure doesn’t. Many box recipes call for water, but I like to use things that are a bit more exciting. 

Instead of the water, try using the same amount of strong coffee, milk or buttermilk. They will all give you the moisture you need while giving you an edge on the flavor front.

3. Skip the Oil

Most boxes call for oil to be added to the batter. While some people love that texture, I choose to skip it and instead add in the same amount of unsalted, melted butter. 

4. Bring on the Chips!

Chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, caramel chips, white chocolate chips, potato chips, cocoa nibs- anything with a little crunch and flavor will be good. Add anywhere from 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup to the batter. Any more and they won’t bake properly.

5. Add More Powder

Just a tablespoon of espresso powder (instant espresso) or instant coffee or 1/4 cup of more cocoa powder will add an intense fudgy flavor to your brownies. Espresso powder doesn’t come across as coffee-like either, just a fudgy texture with richer flavor.

But beware if it contains caffeine. Those late night brownies will make your night even later when you can’t sleep.

6. Fold in More

Chips aren’t the only thing you can fold into your brownie batter, take them next level with these ideas. Candy pieces, crushed candy bars, cookies, mini marshmallows, peppermint patties, caramel pieces, nuts or even fried fruits are all great ideas.

7. Extract the Flavor

No one ever said you have to settle for just chocolate flavor in delicious brownies. Add 1-2 teaspoons of your favorite extract to the batter. Here are my favorites:

  • Vanilla Extract
  • Almond Extract
  • Rum Extract
  • Butter Extract
  • Maple Extract
  • Peppermint Extract
  • Coconut Extract

Brownie Mix Hacks: Add a Topping

8. Get to Brushin’ 

With certain brownies and in certain cultures cakes are brushed with simple syrup, flavored syrups or even liqueur or rum to give them an extra tender bite and a bit of flavor. 

After your brownies come out of the oven, when they are still warm, brush the top of the brownies with a few tablespoons of your chosen ingredient. It will absorb into the brownies giving them flavor and moisture.

9. Frost Them

Brownies typically aren’t frosted but one of my favorite things are gooey brownies with cream cheese frosting. You can frost brownies with no shame using homemade frosting or a store bought tub.

10. Top Em’ Off

You can mix things in, but you can also top them off. Right out of the oven, add potato chips, chocolate chips, peanuts butter chips, nuts, cookies, candy pieces or even shredded coconut. This will let sink into the warm brownies, but keep their shape and texture.

11. Get Saucy

Top your brownies with sauce. Caramel sauce, fudge sauce or even a fresh fruit sauce. Whipped cream and ice cream also works nicely, who doesn’t like a nice brownie sundae?

12. Get salty

This might sound simple, but one element that makes any brownie better is a little bit of flaky sea salt. Fleur de sel to be exact. It is a less salty salt with a thin, crispy flake making for the ultimate sweet and salty dessert.

Other Box Brownie Hacks

13. Sift!

For the love of all that is good and holy, sift the dry ingredients. All too often, these boxes are sitting around for a while at the store or on your shelf and home and they get lumps. These lumps will not mix into the batter easily and can create dry pockets in your cake. 

To get rid of them use a fine mesh strainer or a proper flour sifter and sift your dry ingredients into your wet. This goes for boxed cake mix too.

14. Mix It Up

Another common mistake is not mixing the batter long enough once the wet and the dry ingredients are all together. Be sure you have a smooth batter with no lumps. When the box says to mix for “2 minutes” or more, follow the instructions!

15. Combine the elements

Use one, two or even three or more of the above techniques to make the best, most gourmet brownies you’ve ever tasted!

No box mix lying around? No problem, use this simple brownie box mix recipe to make your own dry mix and then get ready to doctor them up!

dry brownie mix in a glass mixing bowl

You can also try our box cake mix hacks!

Box Brownie Recipe: How to serve

Is there a wrong way to eat a brownie? Cut a slice and enjoy warm, room temperature or even chilled.
Frost with buttercream or cream cheese frosting or make into a brownie fudge sundae.

Older brownies can be crumbled and layered with pudding or whipped cream to make a brownie trifle.

How to Make Boxed Brownies Better FAQs

What type of pan is best for making brownies?

Lightweight aluminum pans are actually best for brownies because they heat super fast and also cool faster.
Heavy metals, glass and ceramic are more durable, but also take longer slow to heat and stay hotter longer so the brownies can overcook even after they are removed from the oven. They are best reserved for entrees and dishes you want to stay hot.
This rule also applies for cakes and other baked goods.

What is the best way to store box brownies?

Dry brownie mix is stored best in an airtight container in a dry place for up to 1 year.
Cooked brownies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week. Try laying pieces of flat sandwich bread overtop of the brownies to help them stay moist.
Wrapping them in a damp paper towel and then reheating in the microwave for a few seconds can also revive a slightly stale brownie.

How long do box brownies last in the freezer?

Frozen brownies will last up to 6 months if properly stored. Brownies can be wrapped individually or a large batch in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, then place in a freezer bag. Air is the enemy so you’ll want to protect them against that as much as possible.
To thaw, simply place them on a plate or platter for an hour or two.

More brownie recipes you might enjoy….

stack of brownies

Nutella Brownies

4.53 from 21 votes
Homemade Nutella brownies are made in one bowl. With 7 simple ingredients and in less than 1 hour you can enjoy a piece of this delicious brownie recipe!
See The Recipe!
close up of pumpkin cheesecake brownies

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownie Recipe

4.70 from 10 votes
There is no better gooey brownie recipe than these Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies! Fudgy brownies, pumpkin cheesecake and a gooey layer of chocolate.
See The Recipe!
Stack of Flourless Black Bean Brownies with a glass of milk

Flourless Black Bean Brownies

4.84 from 25 votes
Black Bean Brownies are delicious, rich gluten free brownies. Since they’re flourless brownies and the black beans are full of fiber, this is actually a healthy brownie recipe!
See The Recipe!
straight on shot of plate of brownies

Fudgy Brownie Bar Recipe

5 from 8 votes
Fudgy Brownie Bars are an easy dessert recipe with layers of brownie, cookie and chocolate ganache, the ultimate chocolate lovers dream!
See The Recipe!
cut cream cheese brownies with fresh raspberries

Cream Cheese Brownies

4.89 from 9 votes
These Cream Cheese Brownies are chocolatey and delicious. Made with a swirl of cream cheese on top, they taste even better than they look!
See The Recipe!
angled shot of plate of junior mint brownies

Junior Mint Brownie Recipe

4.20 from 5 votes
Junior Mint Brownies are homemade brownies blended with cool, creamy Junior Mints. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream for an amazing Brownie Sundae!
See The Recipe!
sliced brownies on parchment paper
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Questions and Reviews

  1. I LOVE all of these tips! Boxed brownie mix is so easy (and delish) so this guide is so perfect. Can’t wait to try the butter extract add-in, yummm!