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 / 42 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. 5 stars
    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. 5 stars
    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.

  3. 5 stars
    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. 1 star
    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. 5 stars
      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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