David Lebovitz’s Best Brownies

These best brownies by David Lebovitz are chewy fudge brownies that are easy and moist and homemade from scratch and all the things a chocolate brownie ought to be.

A parchment-lined square pan filled with pecan-studded best brownies.

Best brownies. That’s quite the claim, we know. Yet this recipe, courtesy of famed cookbook author and blogger David Lebovitz, possesses that irresistible crackly surface and that elusive consistency that’s ever so slightly cakey on the outside and superbly, gloriously, unforgettably fudgy on the inside. If that’s how you like your brownies, these are the most superlative rendition you’ll find. They’re also exceptionally easy to make. Lebovitz learned recipe from the late Robert Steinberg, cofounder of Scharffen Berger chocolate, who in turn had adapted the recipe from a recipe by cookbook author and baking legend Maida Heatter.–Renee Schettler

David Lebovitz's Best Brownies

  • Quick Glance
  • (36)
  • 15 M
  • 30 M
  • Makes 9 brownies
4.8/5 - 36 reviews
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Ingredients


Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Line an 8-inch square pan with 2 long lengths of aluminum foil or parchment paper, positioning the sheets perpendicular to one other and allowing the excess to extend beyond the edges of the pan. Lightly butter the foil or parchment.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the chocolate and whisk until it’s completely melted and smooth.

Remove the pan from the heat and, still using the whisk, stir in the sugar and vanilla until combined.

Whisk in the eggs by hand, 1 at a time. Add the flour and whisk with everything you’ve got until the batter loses its graininess, becomes smooth and glossy, and pulls away a bit from the sides of the saucepan, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Seriously, time yourself. During stirring, the batter may appear to separate, and midway through stirring it may appear grainy, but when you keep whisking with vigor, you’ll end up with a batter that’s rich and thick.

Stir in the chopped nuts and scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the center is almost set, 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overbake.

Place the pan on a wire rack and let the brownies cool completely—yes, we understand how difficult this can be—before removing them from the pan by lifting the foil or parchment paper. Cut into 9 squares. (In theory, the brownies will keep, covered, at room temperature for up to 4 days and in the freezer for up to 1 month. But c’mon. We both know that’s not going to happen.) Originally published April 6, 2010.

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    Variations

    • To add a little bling to these best brownies, stir in any of the following….

      1/3 cup chopped dried cherries

      1/3 cup cocoa nibs

      Crush the contents of one 50-­gram tin of peppermint Altoids in a sturdy resealable plastic bag. Add the crushed mints to the batter along with the nuts (or, if you prefer, omit the nuts). If you like very minty brownies, add 1/2 teaspoon mint extract along with the crushed mints.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    Anything with “Best” in the title has to be worth a try. The flavor was superbly rich and chocolatey. The preparation for these brownies is simple and straightforward.

    The chocolate melted within 90 seconds of being added to the butter. About 25 seconds into the “energetic” mixing section of the recipe, the batter looked like it might separate. I kept up my mixing for the duration of the minute and found that the batter turned glossy and began to pull away from the pan in its entirety—no separating. The brownies baked in 30 minutes, and they looked beautiful with their crackly surface. When I cut into them, the brownies were fudgy but in no way underdone. Almonds added a bit of crunch and texture.

    All in all, was it the best brownie? I think they’re pretty close to one of the best brownie recipes I’ve ever tried. I think I will continue to test other recipes, though, just to be sure.

    I was craving brownies and needed a brownie fix and SCORE! I had all of the ingredients for these best brownies in my pantry. "Best Brownies" is quite a claim, but this recipe lives up to the name in my book. I have to say, this has instantly taken the spot as my new personal favorite brownie recipe. I love a fudgy but not gooey decadent brownie with a crackly top and just a bit of cake or crumb. And this recipe delivers on a rich, deep, buttery, walnut flavor with a chocolatey goodness I was hoping for.

    The brownies are somewhat dense but still light. This recipe was so easy to make, especially because I tag-teamed it with my husband and he did all the measuring, stirring, and assembling. (Often when we cook together, I read out the recipe and he cooks to speed up the process. It made for a quick assembly. My husband put this recipe together in less than 5 minutes.) I love that only 1/4 cup of flour was used in the whole recipe. One alteration we made was cutting the sugar down to 1/2 cup and I am glad my husband decided to do so, mainly because we were using Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup) instead of bittersweet. The brownies were almost on the verge of being too sweet but were perfect. For semisweet chocolate, 1/2 cup sugar is enough sweetness, although I would use only 3/4 cup sugar with bittersweet chocolate.

    I did not toast the walnuts ahead of time but they still tasted toasted in the finished product. We started to smell an intense brownie aroma at 22 minutes and by 25 minutes they looked done with a crackly top and a toothpick coming out practically clean. We pulled the pan out just at the right time. Sorry, we just couldn't wait till they cooled. The brownies were delicately cut into squares and were fine even when slightly warm. Boy, did these make a good brownie sundae!

    Picking the best brownies recipe is a lot like picking a favorite child. It just can’t be done. Sometimes you’re in the mood for one, sometimes the other, and sometimes having them both around you at once is the best. And there’s always room for more good ones, just as with these brownies. The recipe worked as written and gave me a fudgy brownie with crisp sides. I used the nuts and found that toasting them really enhanced their flavor.

    Mixed by hand with a wooden spoon, the batter is easy to make, easy to clean up, and yummy to lick from the spoon. Not sure about absolutely the best, though. Maybe they should be called “absolutely include these in your brownie recipes brownies.”

    These brownies are very quick and easy to put together. The vigorous stirring for 1 minute is a must. You can see the very grainy texture before you mix, but as it goes along, everything comes together. What a difference 1 minute makes!

    I made 2 batches of this best brownies recipe—one with pecans and one without—and they both turned out fantastic. The batch with the nuts almost acted like bread because the batter started pulling away from the side of the pan while you stirred. There is still a slight grainy texture when you finish mixing, but that’s okay. It produced a fairly thin, dense, moist, fudgy brownie. I suggest cutting them into 12 bars because these are very sweet. Everyone said they wanted the recipe because it will be the only brownie they make from now on—these brownies are that good. Now all I need to do is make more brownies because both batches are gone.

    These brownies have entered the weekly rotation at my house. They are as delicious as they are simple and quick.

    You can easily shift the flavor profile by using semi or bittersweet chocolate, adding different nuts, or even using orange- or mint-infused chocolate. Cook them for less time for a very fudgy result or longer for a more traditional brownie chew.

    I saw David Leite’s comment about espresso powder, so we added a teaspoon of King Arthur Flour Espresso Powder to the latest batch. This wasn’t enough to give the brownies a discernable note of espresso so we will definitely add more next time. However, we added a teaspoon to the cream we were whipping and this put the brownies over the top!

    HUNGRY FOR MORE?

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    Comments

    1. David Lebovitz’s Brownie recipe is terrific. It was snowing yesterday. So after we came inside after shoveling, and I made this recipe along with some lavender and honey tea. It was just what we needed. These brownies are so easy to make and I will be making them again, but I don’t need to wait for a snowy day!

      1. That sounds so perfect, Mary! Sure wish there had been one of these brownies waiting for me after I came in from shoveling!

    2. Made these today and they are really good, and I think adding about 1/4 teaspoon salt would bring out the chocolate flavor a bit more.

      1. Peggy, absolutely you could do that! Kindly let us know if you do and how it works…we’d love to be able to add that as a variation if you find that it does the trick!

    3. Could I make this with 100% cacao chocolate & just increase the granulated sugar?

      I’ve made this many times as it is in the recipes & it has always turned out amazing!!!

      1. Anum, I wouldn’t. I, too, have made this many times to great success. Recently, I fudged around with the recipe, and it failed. One-hundred percent cacao is much more acidic than semisweet, and it will change the chemistry.

    4. This recipe is the first in my 15+ years of baking on my own (and I’m less than 30 years old) that turned out genuinely not good. I stirred vigorously for at least two full minutes—- while the batter did turn glossy, it remained grainy-looking and released more and more of the oils/ fats until I gave up on it coming together properly and put it in the oven regardless. It baked in a bubbly pool of its own fat and came out crumbly and not at all the fudgy brownie that was promised.

      I usually trust David Lebovitz recipes but I cannot recommend this one to anyone. Please look elsewhere. I’ve never been so disappointed by a recipe.

      1. I had the exact same problem when I made these last night! I can’t figure out what I did wrong, as I have had this recipe turn out beautifully multiple times. The batter felt extremely thin. I would love to know if anyone has any insight.

        I will check the percentage on the chocolate per another poster’s comment. It is the “dark” chocolate from Trader Joe’s.

        1. That could have been a factor, Bonnie. Sorry to hear they didn’t work out for you this time.

      2. If you haven’t tried the Katharine Hepburn Brownies on this site, I highly recommend them. Dead simple to make and comes out great every time. I will have to try this recipe but Katharine is a goddess, in my book. And I agree with you about David Lebovitz recipes…usually delicious. Once I found his Chicken Marsala recipe, I’ve never tried another.

        1. We couldn’t agree more, Anne. Both recipes are excellent. With so many wonderful brownie recipes, we always have trouble deciding which one to make!

      3. Yael, the recipe states to beat exactly 1 minute. I’ve made them countless times, and they have always worked. Was your egg at room temperature? And did you beat very vigorously?

        1. My eggs were close to room temp, may have been a little colder. I didn’t notice any cooking of the eggs when I added them.

          I beat vigorously and only continued past the one minute mark because at one minute the batter was still grainy and separated and I hoped that more beating would help bring it together.

          I did take the chocolate-butter mixture off the heat when it was not yet completely melted and stirred off the heat until fully melted— I always do this when melting chocolate to avoid burning it. Do you think this could have resulted in my batter not being hot enough?

          Thanks for the reply and I apologize for the brusqueness of my initial comment— it was a frustrating moment for me, being my first ever baking failure.

          1. Yael, no worries. We all can get brusque when things mess up in the kitchen. Just ask The One!

            Removing the chocolate from the heat early could have affected it. It might have cooled down too much.

            Did you use a wooden spoon? I know this is a weird question, but some people have had trouble with silicone spatulas, etc.

            Did you beat in the eggs completely?

            1. I did, in fact, use a wooden spoon as the recipe specified :) and I beat the eggs in completely.

              I may be too traumatized to try the recipe again… but if I ever do I will try to be even more careful.

            2. Yael, one thing I just thought of–if you live abroad, the difference in flours can wreak havoc on baked goods. I couldn’t successfully male any of my cakes while living in Portugal.

            3. Interesting, I do in fact live abroad. I haven’t had problems in general with most recipes, but this may be an especially finicky one.

            4. What percentage was your chocolate? I’ve read elsewhere that if you use anything over 72% or so, the mixture may be too acidic and not come together properly.

    5. Just in time! This time of year, we in The Land of Chocolate (Switzerland, France, and Austria) are confronted with incredible sales of all brands of cacao decadence. Suchard was 99 cents/100g this week, and I carted off all my hot little hands could carry, including 86% and 70%. (I’ve read that Lindt has a 96% version coming soon!) One obvious end for my bounty was brownies, and reading this recipe I can tell it’s going to be great, not to mention easy. I’ve had good fun giving brownies to my neighbours…a number of them know about brownies from their visits to the US–but having a fresh, warm, gooey plate of them delivered? Heaven…and I’m going to hand them out for Halloween, a relatively new mania for Europe, where you can actually give kids home-made goodies.

        1. Just to follow up, I did make these today, using a mixture of local choggi that came out just north of 65% cacao. I used local butter and range-free eggs. They were done in 27 minutes, had a shiny, crispy top crust, and were tender and moist. Flavour was excellent–the perfect balance of cake and fudge. I ate 2; I’ll confess to nothing more. Thanks, David (and my trick-or-treaters thank you, too)!

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