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.

I have a blanket mistrust of any recipe with a superlative in the title. “The Ultimate” or “The World’s Finest” always makes me raise an eyebrow. But how else can I describe these brownies? I’ve made a lot of brownies in my life, and these really are the best. I learned to make them from the late Robert Steinberg, who changed the world of American chocolate when he cofounded Scharffen Berger chocolate. Part of Robert’s unique charm was that he was quick to argue and that he, like most people who hold strong opinions on things food-wise, was invariably right when you would taste the results. He adapted his brownie recipe from one by cookbook author Maida Heatter. The first time I made the brownies, they were a dry, crumbly disaster. Unconvinced that they were worthy of their accolades, I listened carefully as he walked me through the steps. When he asked if I had stirred the batter vigorously for 1 full minute, I stammered and then finally admitted that I cut that step short. “Aha!” he said. So I made them again and discovered that was one life-changing minute.–David Lebovitz

WHY DO I HAVE TO STIR ENERGETICALLY FOR ONE MINUTE?

As David Lebovitz says in the author note, above, he doubted this direction himself—and paid the price. We really, really, honestly, suggest that you time yourself doing this. Vigorously stir until the batter loses its graininess and lightens in color. You’re doing this for the sake of the texture of your finished brownies. As the batter becomes thick and glossy, your brownies will become fudgy and rich because you’ve smoothed out all the graininess and made a more cohesive batter. It’s a simple trick but it works.

David Lebovitz's Best Brownies

A parchment-lined square pan filled with pecan-studded best brownies.
I’ve made a lot of brownies in my life, and these really are the best.
David Lebovitz

Prep 15 mins
Cook 25 mins
Total 40 mins
Dessert
American
9 brownies
401 kcal
4.72 / 38 votes
Print RecipeBuy the Ready for Dessert cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Ingredients 

  • 6 tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted or salted butter cut into chunks, plus more for the pan
  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chopped
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or pecans toasted and coarsely chopped

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.)
4.72 / 38 votes
Print RecipeBuy the Ready for Dessert cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1brownieCalories: 401kcal (20%)Carbohydrates: 33g (11%)Protein: 6g (12%)Fat: 28g (43%)Saturated Fat: 12g (75%)Trans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 63mg (21%)Sodium: 22mg (1%)Potassium: 260mg (7%)Fiber: 4g (17%)Sugar: 23g (26%)Vitamin A: 319IU (6%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 40mg (4%)Iron: 4mg (22%)

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!


Originally published April 6, 2010

HUNGRY FOR MORE?

#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this recipe the other day, and the brownies were incredibly rich, chocolate-y, and oh-so-easy to whip up. I used a wooden spoon to stir it all by hand, and the texture went from grainy to grand in about 1 minute. They were even better the next day when the flavors melded. The next time I make them, I’ll add a bit of espresso powder to kick up the flavor and make it more complex.

  2. I came across these brownies via The Tig. I should very much like to try this recipe, please, but it must be egg free. Is there an egg free recipe for these brownies? Many thanks in anticipation.

    1. Patricia, I, too, am on a restricted diet in terms of some ingredients being a no-go, so I understand. I’m afraid we haven’t tested an egg-free version of this recipe so I can’t offer any suggestions. I will ask some folks I know who may be familiar with tweaking recipes to be egg-free and report back if I receive any suggestions!

  3. When I pulled my brownies from the oven at 30 minutes, they looked like no brownies I’ve ever seen — they were bubbling. Now that they’ve been sitting out a few minutes they look….well, not quite appetizing. Gloppy. GREASY. I reviewed the recipe to see if I got any amounts wrong. (I didn’t). I used cold butter, room temperature eggs. I used 8 ounces of chocolate that I chopped up; one box of semisweet. One box of unsweetened. The texture of the dough tasted (yes, I lick the bowl) tasted like ordinary brownie dough. I stirred vigorously a little over a minute (per my digital timer). I don’t know what I did wrong. I added walnuts and some cocoa nibs too.

    1. MiChal, i’m so sorry you had a problem with the recipe. It can be a tricky one. I’ve made it many times and never had an issue. I wonder if the unsweetened may have cause the problem?

    2. Oh dear, MiChal, so sorry that you had issues with the brownies! It sounds like your batter may have broken at some point during the heating process, possibly heating too quickly when initially melting the butter and chocolate or an improper oven calibration. Have a look at this article that we published on the science of brownies. It might give you a bit of insight into making the better brownie, and let us know if you try them again.

  4. This is a great post with interesting comments. Especially interesting are the comments about how much bakers like Valrhona chocolate. Guittard is my chocolate of choice, but I am going to get some Valrhona and compare the two. I am a little confused about the discussion of 9-inch v 8-inch square pan because the instructions here definitely call for an 8-inch square pan even though the original recipe called for a 9-inch pan. Perhaps I’m missing something.

    With regard to Cooking in Minnesota’s excellent, detailed comment, it’s worth noting that the area of an 8-inch square pan is the same as the area of a 9-inch round pan, 64 inches, so they should be interchangeable. I always make my brownies in a round pan so they look like a cake and can be cut like a cake. Pecans are my favorite nut for brownies, and I am glad to see that they are toasted here because I find that makes a huge – and good – difference.

    Alice Medrich has a great post about adapting pan sizes. In that post she says:

    “How many times should you multiply an 8-inch brownie recipe to fill a 9- x 13-inch pan…? To figure this out, divide the area of the larger pan by the area of the 8-inch pan. For the 9- x 13-inch pan: 117 divided by 64 = 1.82, which is close enough to 2 that you can confidently double the recipe for the larger pan.”

    Perhaps the people who want to do that with this recipe should go for it and report back.

    I made my own favorite brownie recipe yesterday so won’t make these today but will definitely try them out next weekend.

    1. Victoria, thank you so much for your pan size insights and advice. I know I’m not the only person who finds it helpful. We simply found the texture of the brownie to be more consistently cooked in an 8-inch-square pan as opposed to a 9-inch-square pan. The doubling advice for the 9-by-13-inch pan is especially helpful and practical. And yes, there’s so much variance among chocolate brands, and so much of it has to do with personal preference. Look forward to hearing what you think of Valrhona. Also look forward to hearing what you think of the next recipe you try from the site! Again, thank you.

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Rate this recipe!

Have you tried this recipe? Let us know what you think.

Upload a picture of your dish