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 / 45 votes
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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.)
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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!


Originally published April 6, 2010

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Comments

  1. I’ve made this recipe many times without incident. And, I have done some minor experimentation other than mix-ins.

    One of those experiments was to bake them for two minutes longer to achieve a slightly crispier/chewier edge while maintaining the fudge-like center quality. It did have the intended effect. While this is a preference for me, I don’t recommend this for everyone’s tastes. But, with homemade ice cream and caramel sauce, they’re sinfully delicious. It really is the best recipe and after I saw David’s article on this several years ago, I made them and I was hooked. Thanks DL. ( I also made your chocolate ice cream recipe, too and it was almost as good as se….nm )

    I do have a question though. If I want to add cocoa to this recipe as a mix in, is there a corresponding amount of butter I should add or am I messing with the brownie gods? I have some Pernagotti cocoa I want try in this recipe.

    And yesssssss, I’m a brownie-aholic. : )

    1. Hi Gregg, I asked Cindi, one of our professional bakers, about adding in the cocoa. She thought that you might be messing with the brownie gods but suggested you could try “blooming” a bit of cocoa as a small addition to achieve an extra deep chocolate flavor. She’d start by using 2 tablespoons cocoa and enough boiling water to make that into a paste. How much will depend on the cocoa solids and fat in the cocoa. Generally speaking though, she had the following caveat; “I’m against chocolate substitutions in general except for bittersweet and semisweet which are (well, at least used to be before all the artisan chocolate hit the market) very close in style and composition. When substitutions are suggested they try to compensate for the sugar and fat to supposedly make the substitutes equivalent. But chocolate is much more complex than just the numbers show. It is indicative of that complexity that chocolate makers are willing to put percentages on the labels but would never ever reveal the exact process of their manufacturing. Roasting, conching, and, of course, the type of beans all can make significant differences.”

  2. I’ve noticed that the edges turn dry on these brownies after a day, so what is the best way to store them to ensure moistness?

    1. Hi KC, I’ve never actually had them a second day. They’re usually gone the day they’re baked. I’d suggest a really good wrapping of plastic wrap, then place them in a zip-top bag, and place that in another zip-top bag.

  3. 5 stars
    These are quite good–fudgy with a lovely top crust. I would suggest humbly the addition of a bit of salt to this recipe. I made these with unsalted butter. I also had a melange of chocolates to use up, and it is a great way to have a chocolate cocktail of sorts.

    I used a heavy wire wisk to to the heavy stirring, and I found that it was more efficacious than using a spoon. I baked in a 9 inch, foil lined cake pan. They were perfect. Thank you for this recipe.

    1. Leisa, I think baked good always benefit from a pinch of salt. And I think David Lebovitz does, too. I think he was being truthful to the source in this one. But I’m so glad you like it. It’s my favorite brownie recipe.

      1. 5 stars
        I’ve now made these brownies three times, and they are my go-to. Rave reviews. Luscious, intense flavor. Made them for my father for Father’s Day. Here are my lay cook’s notes. The addition of salt (as I noted before) is an absolute (for my tastes anyway); abandoning the wooden spoon for a hand mixer is another change. I made this change this batch, and there was no difference other than a noticeable lack of arm fatigue! I always fork scramble any called for eggs prior to adding them. So much easier to pour gently a scramble than plopping a whole egg into a concoction–particularly a warm concoction with no separate tempering step. I use Valrhona 64% Manjari chocolate feves. Simple reminder that to bring eggs quickly to room temperature, fill a bowl with hot tap water and set your eggs in their water spa while arranging other ingredients. They will then be relaxed and ready for use!

  4. 5 stars
    Awesome brownies. It was wise to leave Absolute Best in the title. We prefer the fudgy to the cakey as well. I added chocolate chips to the top as we have a child with a nut allergy (of all things to be allergic to) and the chips gave it another texture as would the nuts. Just my 2 cents…

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