Brownies for a Crowd

Brownies For A Crowd Recipe

There are two kinds of people in the world: fudgy and cakey. I’m cakey! And I never make a small pan of anything. I make a large batch of these brownies for a crowd and freeze the leftovers.–Ina Pinkney

LC Brownies For A Small Crowd Note

“Cakey and chocolatey and everything a brownie should be.” “Sure satisfies a chocolate craving.” “A nice balance between a cakey and a fudgy brownie.” “So satisfying.” That’s what folks are saying about this crowd-pleasing recipe. Should you fear that creating such a big batch of chocolate sumptuousness would lead you straight into temptation and yet still want to experience these chocolate brownies for yourself, simply cut the recipe in half and bake the brownies in a single 9-by-13-inch baking dish. But shhhh, don’t tell author Ina Pinkney. We’re fairly certain she never, ever resorted to small-batch baking thanks to her eponymous restaurant that was a Chicago institution for more than two decades. Perhaps it’s time you start thinking of her as the other Ina in your life.

Special Equipment: A 12-by-18-inch baking pan or a couple 9-by-13-inch baking pans

Brownies For A Crowd Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 1 H
  • Makes a couple 13-by-9-inch pans


  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 18 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 extra-large eggs (about 13 1/2 ounces total)
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Line a 12-by-18-inch baking pan or a couple 9-by-13-inch baking pans with aluminum foil or parchment paper cut to fit. Lightly butter the foil or parchment. [Editor’s Note: We found that if you’re short on baking pans it also works to divvy the batter in one 9-by-13-inch baking pan and one 9-inch-square baking pan.]
  • 2. In a small saucepan, bring the water, butter, and sugar to a simmer and stir until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves.
  • 3. Dump the chopped chocolate, salt, vanilla, and baking soda in a bowl and pour the hot liquid over it. Let the mixture sit for a minute or so and then gently stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Let cool for about 5 minutes.
  • 4. Add the eggs to the batter, 1 at time, mixing with a whisk just until incorporated after each addition. Add the flour and whisk just until incorporated. Add the chocolate chips or chopped chocolate and stir just until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
  • 5. Bake until a tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan and cut into brownies of the desired size.

Brownies for a Smaller Crowd Variation

  • To make brownies for a smaller crowd, simply halve the ingredients and scrape the batter into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. The baking time remains the same.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Recipe Testers Reviews
Testers Choice
Natasha Taylor

Apr 11, 2015

I was VERY skeptical of this brownies for a crowd recipe when I first read it. The technique seemed a bit cumbersome and strange for brownies. In my experience, great brownies are not rocket science, and the step of boiling water seemed strange…but they came out fantastic! Although they weren't as dense as brownies that are labeled fudgy, these were not exactly cake-like. Mine came out at about 1 1/2 inches thick, and I think of a cakey brownie being more like 2 or 3 inches high. The texture was great—nice and moist, not dry at all, and the top had a nice crackle to it like a bakery brownie, which I really liked. The chocolate flavor was rich and intense but not overwhelming. These are pretty sweet, though—not for the faint of heart. They'd be great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, although they stand up on their own just fine. When I poured the boiling water, sugar, and butter mixture over the chopped chocolate, it didn't melt all the way on its own. I had to put it into the microwave for about 45 seconds on high (2 rounds of about 20 seconds each) to melt all the chocolate. I baked my brownies for 40 to 45 minutes, which was a bit longer than indicated in the recipe. I checked it at 30 minutes (the center was obviously still unbaked), at 36 minutes (the toothpick came out with batter clinging to it), and then again at 42 minutes (the toothpick came out clean but not everywhere, as the chocolate chips left some chocolate on the toothpick). The top was a light brown with a few cracks in it. This was the best indication I could find that the brownies were done. This recipe was clear and easy to follow.

Testers Choice
Alexander Cowan

Apr 11, 2015

I thought the little intro from the author was pretty fun; however, I'm in both brownie camps. I'd even go as far as calling myself brownie-versatile. I love brownies and even their albino brothers, blondies. There aren't too many brownies I'd take a pass on, and with this recipe, I have another brownie that I just love. While they were cakey and each bite felt like I was eating a brownie, they also had a nice chewiness and rich fudgy chocolatiness. So satisfying. These took less than an hour to make, not including the cooling time at the end. I went with 35 minutes total baking time, rotating my pan 90 degrees after 15 minutes to avoid any hot spots (my oven is horrible). When I inserted a toothpick at the 35-minute mark, the center was domed slightly, and the edges were firm and slightly crackly. My toothpick came out perfectly clean. I baked the brownies in a 12-by-18-inch cake pan, and I was worried that with my shallow sheet pan, the batter would bake right over the edge and cause a huge mess inside my oven. Not even close. The brownie batter was tame and set perfectly in the pan. I think the addition of the chocolate chips before baking is overkill. They don't melt into the brownie but rather firm up when cooled. So when you bite into a chip, it's pretty hard. Next time, I'll omit the chocolate chips. As I sit here writing, I'm trying my best not to get any of these moist delicious brownies for a crowd onto my keyboard. Now on my shirt, that's a different story.

Testers Choice
Adrienne Lee

Apr 11, 2015

These brownies have a good flavor and weren't difficult to make. Mine turned out with a nice balance between a cake and a fudgy brownie. I made half the recipe and used a 9-by-13-inch pan and this size worked well. To simplify the recipe, you can melt the chocolate with the butter in the microwave. Then add the boiling water and sugar to the butter and chocolate mixture. You can prevent the potential curdling by keeping out some sugar and beating it into the eggs before adding the hot liquid. However, I didn't find the mixture too hot by the time I needed to add the eggs.

Testers Choice
Natalie Reebel

Apr 11, 2015

There's nothing like a brownie. While I don't have a strong preference for or against cakey brownies, I do not enjoy a dry brownie. These brownies are cakey and dense and filled with incredible chocolate flavor. I found the recipe itself easy to follow and time-saving. By the time I finished stirring the hot water, sugar, butter, and chocolate together, the batter was cool enough for the addition of the eggs. I appreciate that the recipe yields 2 full 9-by-13-inch pans. The recipe gave me 48 good-size brownies which were quite addicting. My brownies took 43 minutes to bake. I knew they were finished baking when I jiggled the pan and the center of the brownie was set. The brownies had a lovely cracked top and were fudgy in the middle. Everyone loved them.

Testers Choice
Joan Osborne

Apr 11, 2015

Even though I prefer fudgy brownies over cakey brownies, these were still quite good and well worth making. I loved the chocolaty chips in this recipe, which sure satisfies a chocolate craving. I didn't have the pan size called for so I used a pair of 9-by-13-inch pans instead and they worked perfectly. The brownies were perfectly baked after 35 minutes when a toothpick came out clean. I used buttered aluminium foil to line my pans and this made removal of the brownies very easy after cutting them into squares. My squares were some big and some smaller and I got 40 brownies. This recipe makes plenty for sharing and I did with some co-workers and my daughter. I think these would be even better with some frosting on top and next time I think that's what I'll do.

Testers Choice
Ellen Fuss

Apr 11, 2015

These should be called cakey brownies for a crowd. Be forewarned, the recipe makes enough brownies for a small army. My yield was 36 generous servings—luckily there are a lot of people who love brownies where my husband works! The brownies were met with rave reviews from the cakey brownie fans. They were easy to put together and would be a good addition to my volumes of brownie recipes. They are simple, unfussy, basic brownies. I made these in a half sheet pan and had enough that I could have opened a small bake shop on my driveway. Luckily I discovered that they freeze quite well, as most brownies do. I lined my pan with parchment. I wondered if it was supposed to be the sides as well…but as it was not clear to me, I did the bottom only. The parchment stuck to the brownies a bit...I was able to peel it off but it annoyed me. I wondered if the same would have happened if I had used foil. Also, perhaps if i had chilled them prior to cutting them, the parchment would not have stuck. After adding the eggs, I did find that the mixture was a bit gritty at this point (I'm guilty of tasting batter as I go—always!) but perhaps I didn't let the sugar dissolve long enough. It did not seem to affect the texture of the final produce but next time Baking time was 35 minutes-tooth pick had crumbs in the center but came out clean closer to the sides of the pan. The cake did not dome in the middle. Overall these are a winner if cakey brownies are your texture of choice. It is a huge commitment of chocolate (a total of 30 ounces) but I love the way the chips add some texture to the brownies and I can think up a ton of ways to serve these at a summer bbq, which i .a good thing since I still have some brownies in my freezer.

Testers Choice
Elie Nassar

Apr 11, 2015

I really love my brownies fudgy and dense. Cakey brownies are not really true brownies in my book. They are more like fudge cakes. With that mindset, I figured I'd give these a shot and see how they fair. Well, in all honesty, I can say that they deliver on what they promise perfectly and are utterly delicious. They are rich, full of dark chocolate flavor, and contain lovely molten chocolate bits here and there. Are they going to replace my go-to fudgy brownies? No. I still think this is a fudge cake, but a fantastic one and a dessert that was a hit with everyone. I do not have a 12-by-18-inch cake pan (I have baking sheets this size but figured these might be too shallow). I used a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and a 9-by-9-inch baking pan and split the batter between them. It's annoying when a recipe uses egg sizes other than large. I only buy large eggs. I went by weight and figured 6 extra large eggs (64 grams each) is a bit less than 7 large eggs. So I used 7 large eggs. I would think melting the chocolate separately over a double broiler then adding the butter and sugar would be a better idea. With the size pans I used, I ended up with 48 brownies. They were about an inch thick. The baking time is accurate. The cake rises flat, with not much doming. The surface looks dull and a toothpick comes out clean.

Testers Choice
Lila Ferrari

Apr 11, 2015

My testers loved these brownies because they were cakey and chocolatety and everything a brownie should be. I did half the recipe and am glad I did because it produced about 50 brownies. They're rich enough that you don't need a huge morsel. The recipe was easy enough. Next time, I will add nuts.

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