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Best brownie mixes? Duncan HInes?

What's the best boxed brownie mix out there? I was using Betty Crocker Supreme brownie mixes ( a bit more expensive than the regular BC brownie mix) and was pretty pleased with that. But, I heard about Duncan Hines. What flavor is best for the Duncan Hines brownie mixes?

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  1. I don't know about Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker but if I do not make brownies from scratch (which isn't that hard), the only mix I ever use and is arguably better than scratch is the Ghiardelli one. Highly recommend it.

    34 Replies
    1. re: cookie44

      I give it a third recommendation! It tastes fantastic. The little chunks of chocolate in it are delicious. Costco sells it in my area.

      1. re: meatn3

        I bought mine from Costco, too, but I haven't seen it there lately, boo hoo.

        1. re: Full tummy

          It just returned to my local Costco. Best brownie mix hands down.

          1. re: Divamac

            I'm in Toronto, which is nowhere near you, but I will check next time I'm there, just in case.

            1. re: coney with everything

              I agree, if you MUST use a mix (honestly, brownies from scratch are SO easy...), this one is the best. None of the others come at all close.

              1. re: coney with everything

                One more the Ghirardelli. It's incredible!!!

          1. re: cookie44

            Another enthusiastic vote for Ghirardelli - and I am a huge proponent of from-scratch baking. I simply haven't been able to improve on these. I do doctor them up often - add crumbled peppermint patties, a peanut butter swirl on top, perform a rocky-road-fication, etc. People practically fall off their chairs when I tell them they're not homemade, even when they're just in their "pure" form, out of the box.

            In our area, they're available in small boxes at the conventional grocery stores, and also at Costco.


            1. re: gansu girl

              I like Ghiradhelli brownie mix when I'm not in the mood to bake from scratch. I always add a tsp of vanilla, but they are quite good.

              I sent 4 boxes back to school with my daughter because they have the use of a common kitchen on their floor.

              1. re: gansu girl

                I usually do scratch but those Ghirardelli brownies were amazing! I've never seen a brownie so dark. Very rich and moist.

                  1. re: cookie44

                    Here are the ingredients: sugar, enriched bleached flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folate), chocolate chips (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla), partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils, natural cocoa, wheat starch, cocoa (processed with alkali), salt, artificial flavor, sodium bicarbonate, natural butter flavor.

                    Natural butter flavor? What is that ? I am not a fan of hydrogenated oils. Brownies are So easy to make yourself and don't have these fakeo ingredients. You'll love yourself more if you make your own. Make alot and freeze them.

                    1. re: missclaudy

                      What is your favourite recipe? Please share...

                      1. re: missclaudy

                        FYI: niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folate - all vitamins and minerals added to flour to prevent nutritional deficiencies, most are B vitamins btw.. Sodium Bicarbonate = Baking soda. Cocoa processsed with alkali = "dutch processed cocoa"...exactly what's in the Hershey's cocoa box.

                        A lot of these "fakeo" flavors are just the chemical names for the raw ingredients you would put into your own brownies- unless you don't use normal cocoa, baking soda, chocolate chips, or flour, in which case I imagine it would be difficult to make brownies. Yes, homemade might be better, but a Ghiradelli brownie is not going to kill you much faster than your homemade ones You don't love yourself any more or less because you make everything from scratch all the time.....And some of us don't have an extra freezer to "Make a lot and freeze them"...Or the extra time! It IS a lot more time to make them from scratch- measuring out all the ingredients. You must either have a lot of space (kitchen and freezer) and/or a lot of time (or a maid to clean for you). I thought your response was offensive to be honest. The OP asked for the best brownie mix- not a speech on why you don't love yourself if you don't make from scratch every time....(and that's aside from your "Fakeo" ingredients critique that shows some ignorance of nutrition and food chemistry.).

                        1. re: QSheba

                          I agree with you QSheba. I bake from scratch a lot - but I feel no guilt whatsoever to make these brownies and serve them to my friends and family when I don't have the time and/or the energy to bake from scratch. (I don't have a maid either. ;0) )

                          1. re: flourgirl

                            What's with all the talk about maids? I must have a maid if I bake brownies from scratch? I WAS a maid, maybe that's why we are all confused.

                            1. re: missclaudy

                              I think you came across in your original post as being very judgmental about people who choose not to bake from scratch 100% of the time. We don't all have the luxury of endless amounts of time to be on top of our game 100% of the time. And unless you are constantly baking brownies, it DOES take much longer than making them from a mix. I'm a very serious home baker, I often make brownies from scratch but I think it's ridiculous to try and make people feel guilty about using mixes now and then.

                          2. re: QSheba

                            Okay, first of all, this poster was corrected a few days ago (it shows up farther down the thread) about what the vitamins and other enriching agents actually are and why they're there. And there are some odd things that go into cake and brownie mixes, like dyes and synthetic flavorings, that probably aren't the greatest thing for people to consume. If you look over her postings, it doesn't seem to me at least that she meant to be offensive, just emphatic.

                            And as for the extra mess, time, and space issues you raised...it truly doesn't take a lot more time to do brownies from scratch, unless you're doing a complicated version. That's coming from a full-time student and mother of a 3-year-old; trust me, if the time element were a killer, I wouldn't do it! You can also rest assured there is no maid cleaning up my small kitchen - I don't even have a dishwasher! I'm certainly not above making a mix batch once in a while, but I think her point - and mine - is that it's pretty easy to do brownies from scratch if you have the ingredients around the house and probably not the worst idea to avoid the odd dyes and synthetic flavors by making scratch batches when you can. It just doesn't seem like something we should all get upset about.

                            1. re: tonina_mdc

                              I'm not a big baker, but I have made brownies from scratch. Once. They were not that good. Probably a bad recipe. Or maybe not. The Ghirardelli pack I made was much praised by all who ate it, and I have to say it was quite a bit better than what I made from scratch. I invite those of you whose brownie recipes are better than a mix to share your recipes, so that those of us who feel we haven't the time or the talent to succeed sans box can try again! I am ready and willing. Just to note, though, my request to missclaudy went unanswered, and that makes me wonder, why try to proselytize when you're not really willing to go the distance? It feels a little like a lecture.

                              1. re: Full tummy

                                For a simple one, easy to clean, easy to make, try the Bakers One Bowl brownie. The key to making good home made brownies is knowing when to pull them out of the oven. When the outer 1/3 looks cooked, take them out. I won't say scratch must be better to everyone, though I prefer it, because I've found people prefer what they're used to. When people have only had box, they don't notice the gumminess in them and might prefer them BECAUSE they have that texture. So if you like the Ghirardelli, then you just might not like home made as much. No biggie. BUt, experimenting w/ brownies is always fun. If they don't turn out, crush, mix w/ whipped cream and toffee bits and you have a great dessert.


                                I'm a brownies fanatic and have a few go-to recipes. The Kraft one is my quick, in the oven in 10 minutes (or let the kids make it themselves) one. If there's another type you like, eg super rich and fudgy, marginally healthier, more adult intense dark chocolate flavor, cakey, etc., let me know and I'll post my favorite. Oh, the quality of the chocolate does matter, too. Though the recipe is for Bakers, I don't use Bakers.

                                1. re: Full tummy

                                  Fair enough! My current favorite is the scrumptious fudgy frosted brownie recipe from allrecipes.com: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Scrumpti.... I will willingly admit that the frosting part of this recipe is a bit labor-intensive (though DEFINITELY worth it if you have the time and interest!) However, the brownie part of this recipe is super yummy even on its own. This is a brownie for fudgy brownie lovers, so cakelike brownie lovers, be warned: this one may not be for you. But wow, are they ever deep and dark and delicious!

                                  1. re: tonina_mdc

                                    folks, we've removed a bunch of posts from this sub-thread. Debates about who is more or less offended or offensive really don't help anyone eat better, and we're asking that everyone let this part of the thread drop.

                                    1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                      Now I'm offended. ;) (not really, I just hadda be a smartie pants)

                                      Obligatory on topic comment:
                                      Sometimes I like mixes for time savings, and they DO save time. :) Sometimes I prefer doing from scratch because I have time and I do think it tastes better. Sometimes I eat raw chocolate because that's the easiest of all.

                                      1. re: Morganna

                                        Hahaha, sometimes I buy a brownie from a bakery because that's fastest of all, and it's the real thing, too!!!

                                        1. re: Full tummy

                                          Ooo bakery brownies can be great. Specially when they get into interesting flavours you might not actually want to make a whole pan of yourself. :) I gotta try brownies with coconut in them. Doesn't that sound good?

                            2. re: missclaudy

                              It's rare that I have had a good homemade or even bakery brownie. I've had a few, but not many. I am not a huge brownie fan, but the mixes I have had have been far superior to any homemade. I think brownies must be one of those things that are hard to do right homemade.

                            3. re: cookie44

                              I've been meaning to try the Ghirardelli mixes for a long time, but haven't gotten around to it yet. I think I've seen several varieties of their mixes in the store. Is there a particular variety that Ghirardelli Brownie Mix fans recommend?

                              1. re: Bzdhkap

                                The Double Chocolate is what they sell at Costco. This is my favorite.


                                1. re: Bzdhkap

                                  Another vote for Double Chocolate. The chips give it a nice bite/texture when cool. These are the closest I have found to homemade so I stock up when I find them on sale.

                                  1. re: iluvcookies

                                    again on the double chocolate chip. sometimes i just do the mix right from the package, sometimes I add a lot more chocolate chips (Ghirardelii of course) and sometimes walnuts or pecans (some people like nuts, some don't). the add-in's make the brownies much denser, if you like your brownies more on the cake side, reduce the add-in's, if you like them denser and fudgier, more add-in's.

                                2. re: cookie44

                                  I'll second the Ghiradeli mix. Anything with their name on it tastes great.

                                3. Don't know where you live, but I second cookie44's recommendation of the Ghirardelli mix. It is excellent. There is nothing about it that gives off "I'm from a mix" vibes; delicious.


                                  1. I love the one from Trader Joe's. The chocolate truffle mix, not the No Pudge (really don't like the no pudge).

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: jencounter

                                      TJ chocolate truffle brownie is the only one I would buy anymore, so darn good. I add a little kahlua or instant espresso, but it doesn't really need anything.

                                      1. re: coll

                                        This is the one I always use and add more chocolate chips, semi sweet from trader joes, to the batter. The brownies are great, and everyone loves them.

                                        The chips are the best, and are so much cheaper than the more popular one.

                                        1. re: coll

                                          I wonder if these are really Ghiradhelli under the TJ name.

                                          1. re: Jacey

                                            I don't think so, I wasn't overly impressed with the Ghirardelli when I tried it. These were love at first bite.

                                            1. re: coll

                                              I believe they are Dassant brand Truffle Brownie Mix--even the wording on the boxes is almost identical. I made the Dassant mix for years before the Truffle Brownie Mix showed up at TJ's--same size and shape of box too. They are VERY good.

                                              I add 2 T extra cocoa and 1 T of walnut oil if I have it--and they are very chewy. Love to add toasted walnut pieces too. NO frosting though.

                                      2. This is one of the best and easiest recipes, it's as quick as a brownie mix, I swear. I make 1 and half times the recipe and bake it in a 8X8 glass square baking dish lined with parchment. Baked 15 mins more than recipe recommends or until toothpick comes out clean.


                                        Edit: I forgot to post the link, so sorry.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. If you like really chewy almost fudge like brownies, I highly recommend the Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge


                                          I always add some dark chocolate chips or chunks and some broken pieces of Skor bar or similar chocolate covered toffee


                                          sometimes I even add mini marshmallows and walnuts and make it really decadent!

                                          I have tried many home made recipes but they always come out too cake like - where Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge always delivers and adding extra ingredients makes it seem like they were made from scratch! :)

                                          30 Replies
                                          1. re: LovelyAsia

                                            Have tried to make rocky road brownies, but the marshmallows melted into it -- even tried freezing them before adding to the batter. How do you keep them whole?

                                            1. re: Sarah

                                              If you want the marshmallows to stay whole, the only way I have ever managed to do it is by adding them on top in the last few minutes of baking so they just brown on top and sometimes I add marshmallows and chocolate chips for the last few minutes for a smores effect... but what I like about adding them into the mix last with nuts and then baking is they coat the nuts and caramelize which makes marshmallow / candy coated nuts in the brownies which my best friend says is the best part of the brownie!

                                            2. re: LovelyAsia


                                              People, artificial flavors (mentioned not once but twice,) hydrogenated oil, enriched (with what and why?) white flour etc.etc.make a brownie that takes 3 minutes shorter than making you own from scratch.Ones you make yourself will have real vanilla, unadulterated chocolate, fresh eggs, butter and a few other whole ingredients and will be made by you with love (or at least like) for your friends and family. Baking brownies is simple, fun and a great thing to teach kids for a first cooking project. And you won't be filling them full of all of those artificial and enriched foodlike substances.Have fun baking !

                                              1. re: missclaudy

                                                I'm on board with you in general, missclaudy. Probably 90% of the time when I bake, I make things from scratch. I prefer being able to control exactly how much of what goes into my baked goods. I don't really have any issues with enriched flour, but the whole bleached flour issue bothers me. Most importantly, I really like to bake! There just isn't anything terribly fulfilling about throwing a brownie mix package together, though we all have to do it every once in a while. But when I make something from scratch, I feel good about what I'm doing and I enjoy making other people a little happier.

                                                1. re: tonina_mdc

                                                  I'm not trying to be obnoxious, I would never,ever use a cake mix, just ain't my style.I have worked in several fantastic bakerys so I bake with ease. I just don't want to feed anyone all of those crappy ingredients.

                                                  1. re: missclaudy

                                                    I don't think it's obnoxious to want to make things from scratch, especially to limit loved ones' exposure to some of the weirdo additives that end up in mixes. I'm always looking for ways to make treats healthier (it's amazing how much sugar you can deduct from recipes for most baked goodies without affecting the taste, for instance!) and I just like to bake and cook. I just don't worry about the enriched flour part, because the items with which it's enriched are vitamins and nutrients we can all use. But the weird dyes alone in some of those cake mixes are enough to give me the creeps!

                                                    1. re: missclaudy

                                                      for those of us who don't bake often we just don't have the ingredients in the house. I live in a humid area and baking soda or baking powder last all of about 3 or 4 months before they are useless. I buy flour in small packages, enough to thicken a sauce or coat meat to be browned or battered. I used to buy 5 pound bags and keep them in the refrigerator or freezer, but even that way they tend to pick up odd flavors. I hate to have to throw out 3 pounds of a 5 pound bag of flour a couple of times a year. If I know I am going to be doing a lot of baking, sure, i'll go with scratch for a lot of things. But much of the time its just a huge waste of money.

                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                        Look, scratch versus mix is a matter of preference and opportunity, not a moral decision! I completely understand the desire not to waste ingredients. For several years, my family and I lived in a teeny house where the kitchen was right next to my infant/toddler son's room. He was a light sleeper, so I couldn't use my kitchen without waking him. During that time, I used mixes if I made anything and for the most part we lived off of prepackaged foods! Now that we live in our own home and I have a (still small, but not postage stamp-sized) kitchen where I can make all the noise and mess I like, I make 90% of my baked goods and main dishes from scratch. It just makes me feel accomplished to make my family's food myself. I do worry about all the unpronounceable ingredients in the mixes and convenience foods, but mostly I prefer to make things like brownies from scratch because I didn't really have that opportunity in the past. It's a luxury of sorts for me. :-)

                                                  2. re: missclaudy

                                                    As a result of processing all white flour has lost the nutrients originally found in the whole grain. Many companies replace the vitamins and minerals that have been lost, in the DH case - NIACIN, IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID - to compensate. It is a practice that started during WWII, when nutrients from other sources were hard to come by. It is the same flour you will find in all packaged white bread and, unfortunately, a lot of packaged "whole wheat" bread. Many people choose to eat products made with whole grains - I always check that my bread is made with stone ground or whole wheat flour - but I thought I would answer your question, lest you think it is enriched with frog saliva or recycled rubber tires. Nope. Just nutrients.

                                                    1. re: Justpaula

                                                      Thanks for the info. Don't you hate the taste of that funky frog saliva? I'd probably prefer it to some of the weird chemicals and fake flavoring they put in food though.

                                                      1. re: missclaudy

                                                        The frog saliva is why all cake mixes taste the same--they all use it. I hate the taste/smell.

                                                      2. re: Justpaula

                                                        Alas, I've never found me a stoneground wheat brownie I could enjoy, haha. It goes without saying that brownies are not the healthiest of foods, and I believe the enriched flour used in mixes is the exact same flour we purchase in the store to make our not particularly healthy homemade brownies. But, it's true, some of those ingredients are unhealthier than what I would use at home. That said, I don't keep packaged brownie mixes, and I probably shouldn't get used to making them from scratch, either.

                                                        1. re: Full tummy

                                                          Oh, totally. I made brownies tonight, from scratch. using my plain old white flour. Probably the same stuff in Wonder bread - and brownie mix. But, for an everyday thing like toast, I prefer to use the whole grain stuff. Mostly because of the fiber though.

                                                          1. re: Full tummy

                                                            King Arthur's whole wheat brownies are excellent, very fudgey, and even better the day after being baked. I don't think they're healthy (full of fat and eggs) but you get your fiber and phyonutrients from the whole grain.

                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                              Is that a mix? I'm in Canada, and I've never seen that.

                                                              1. re: Full tummy

                                                                I use the recipe but it might be a mix. KA has quite a few mixes but I don't know what there is. Here's a recipe:


                                                                And a variation that looks really good:


                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                  I guess the use of whole wheat flour makes them marginally healthier. Would you say they compete, flavour- and texture-wise, with brownies made with all purpose flour? As in, if you made a try of each, they would both be as well enjoyed? as quickly eaten? I'll have to try it; maybe I'll be a convert.

                                                                  1. re: Full tummy

                                                                    I'd say you probably couldn't tell they were whole wheat and they're really fudgey. But, I'm picky about my brownies and have a few favorite recipes, all for different reasons so it's not my main go-to brownie. They do compete w/ the other ones. One of the reasons I even tried it is because my kids don't get enough fiber but don't have weight prolems so it's just one more way of getting fiber into them. I'm not fooling myself in any way that they're healthy. They do disappear quickly when I've brought them out, but so do the tofu brownies I've made. Then again, most people bring box brownies and they also disappear so maybe there's just no bad brownie. :-) Personally, though, I'd take them over any box brownies I've had, even the Ghirardelli, going just by taste.

                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                      Wow. Tofu brownies. I salute your effort to be as healthy as possible when making brownies, but those sound kind of scary. I'm just not a tofu person, so that's a personal taste issue. And as for the notion that there is no such thing as a bad brownie...I made a batch of Duncan Hines brownies a few years ago because that was the only box mix I had and I wasn't doing scratch stuff at that point. I didn't realize that the mix was incredibly old. The brownies were literally half an inch thick. I wouldn't have given them to another living soul for anything. Yuck.

                                                                      1. re: tonina_mdc

                                                                        Bad brownies do exist. I made brownies last night, from a recipe that found online. I was trying to incorporate some overripe bananas. Well, they were horrible. I took one bite and, then even tried another bite this morning and tossed the whole pan. I did not know that texture like that could even happen to brownies. It was a shame, I tell ya. They made me wish I had picked up a box mix. So, I made oatmeal raisin cookies tonight. :)

                                                                        1. re: Justpaula

                                                                          I had a squash bread I tried this summer turn out like that. My summer squash plant went nuts and hyperproduced (even for the normally prolific squash, this was excessive!), so I tried a bread recipe similar to a zucchini bread that was supposed to work specifically for summer squash. I was really excited. My husband and my mother both tried it and then tried to find something nice to say. I tried a bite and promptly tossed it. It was the crumbliest, most hideously dry baked good I'd ever made. I do have a chocolate cake recipe that uses zucchini that turns out similar in texture to a moist cake brownie, if anyone is interested.

                                                                        2. re: tonina_mdc

                                                                          Tofu brownies were made for a vegan friend but everyone liked them so I've made them now and again when I want a cakey brownie. But, they are more time consuming than regular brownies. I think anyone who wants healthy brownies are kind of fooling themselves. I use butter, all eggs, etc.

                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                            Yes, if anyone ever manages to make a healthy brownie it'll either be the size of a microchip or taste like kelp. I just had a couple of bad tofu experiences in college, so the thought of tofu makes me shudder. I make my stuff with quality ingredients and I try to add fiber and cut back on sugar. But there's no getting around the fact that I'm using butter, whole eggs, a fair amount of sugar, etc. I try to make my brownies healthier - that does NOT mean they're healthy! But wow, they sure are good. :-)

                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                              I make a vegan chocolate cake that is one of the best things you will ever put in your mouth. It's no healthier than any other cake, although it is cholesterol-free if that's a concern, and it's one of the easiest recipes ever. I imagine you can tweak the recipe to make brownies if you understand how to do that. I do not. Perhaps I will try to figure that out.

                                                                              Didn't mean to change the subject to cake...

                                                                              1. re: Divamac

                                                                                I have a recipe I got here for vegan chocolate cake, it uses avocado. I only have one friend who is vegan and planning on trying it on her next time I see her (she lives over 1,000 miles away unfortunately).

                                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                                  No avocado in the one I make. I read somewhere (probably here) that cakes made without egg and milk were popular during the Depression and WWII. My guess is the the recipe I have is a product of that time. I just moved all of my of Internet print-outs into MacGourmet, so I tracked down the original recipe I use: http://dolphyn.com/recipes/ChocolateC...

                                                                                  1. re: Divamac

                                                                                    Holy jumping cats! I looked at that recipe and it sounds amazing! I know it's unfair, but when I think "vegan food," I usually think it'll be tasteless and/or expensive. I'm going to try it out as soon as I can. Thanks for the recipe!

                                                                    2. re: Full tummy

                                                                      KIng Arthurs is a whole catalogue of stuff that I always buys when I go over the border to the states...at one time they wouldn't export it to Canada, but I am not sure if that is still the case...maybe I'll 'google' it.

                                                              2. re: missclaudy

                                                                Well, there is a time & a place for everything....I scratch bake 99% of the time. But when renting a beach house this brownie mix is top of my list. I'm schleping enough stuff to cook for a week, so I really don't want to mess with partially opened bags of flour, sugar, cocoa, etc. Our group goes crazy over the brownies, often making several batches a day. I buy the package because it is fool proof, even the primary schoolers can make a batch.

                                                                1. re: meatn3

                                                                  Oh, absolutely. There is no way I'm dragging 90,000 baking supplies around with me on vacation or if we're moving or anything like that. I love to cook and bake from scratch, but the mixes have their role too. I can't wait until my little boy is big enough to help me make a batch of brownies!

                                                            2. I used to use Duncan Hines until I discovered Ghiardelli at Costco. Though speaking of Trader Joe's, I discovered a wonderful s'more this weekend-replace the chocolate bar with Trader Joe's miniature peanut butter cups that the marshmallow melts. Awesome.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: turqmut

                                                                The miniature peanut butter cups are reason enough to stop at Trader Joes occasionally.

                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                  Or a reason not to because I could probably eat the whole container in one sitting.:-)

                                                              2. I hate the Duncan Hines mixes, personally, but I'm a big fan of really fudgy brownies and the DH mixes always turn out cake-like for me no matter what I do. The Ghiradelli ones are good for a box brownie. If you're willing to invest the time, I highly recommend the following recipe when made with Ghiradelli chocolate: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Scrumpti... The brownies from this are the darkest, fudgiest brownies I have ever tasted in a lifetime of brownie adoration, and the icing is now my go-to if I can possibly clear time to make it.

                                                                1. I recently tried the Ghiardelli ones when I saw the mix at Target. I know I am in an absolute minority on this one, but I can't say I loved them. Call me simple, but I like the CHOCOLATE EXTREME version from Pillsbury. They are really fudgy. I think I will keep them as my go to, when I am not making homemade Peanut Butter-Nutella Brownies. :)

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Justpaula

                                                                    Oh my Lord! Peanut butter-nutella brownies?!? Would you please, pretty please, pretty please w/nutella on top, post the recipe? They sound divine. And you're right about the Pillsbury brownies - a lot of their varieties are decent. However, I do like the ghiradelli mixes the best if I'm not going to just do them from scratch.

                                                                    1. re: tonina_mdc

                                                                      This thread mae me want to make brownies. I have about six over-ripe bananas in the freezer, so I am looking for a brownie recipe where I can incorporate banana. But I usually make these.

                                                                      Peanut Butter-Nutella Brownies
                                                                      Adapted from Culinary in the Country

                                                                      1 cup butter (2 sticks), melted
                                                                      2 cups granulated sugar
                                                                      2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
                                                                      4 large eggs, room temperature
                                                                      4.5 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour (I always weigh my flour when baking)
                                                                      3/4 cup cocoa
                                                                      1/8 teaspoon salt
                                                                      1/2 teaspoon baking powder
                                                                      1/2 cup Nutella
                                                                      1/2 cup peanut butter

                                                                      In a medium bowl combine all-purpose flour, cocoa (sift this in to get rid of lumps), baking powder and salt. Set aside.

                                                                      Over low heat, melt butter and stir in sugar and vanilla extract until well combined.

                                                                      To the butter-sugar mixture add eggs, one at a time. With a wooden spoon vigorously mix in each egg until well-combined.

                                                                      To the butter-egg mixture whisk in the cocoa mixture until fully combined.

                                                                      In a microwave safe bowl add Nutella and peanut butter. Heat in the microwave in 20 second intervals until it reaches a runny consistency. Stir this mixture into the batter. Stir less, if you prefer streaks.

                                                                      Pour the batter into a glass 9 x 13 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

                                                                      Let brownies cool completely before cutting.


                                                                      1. re: Justpaula

                                                                        THANK YOU!!!!! That recipe sounds unbelievable! I can't wait to give it a try. My whole family may freak out when I ask for trial run volunteers!

                                                                  2. Yep, add another vote for Ghiardelli. Awesome! :)

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. I make my brownies from scratch using Ina Garten's recipe that I think is fabulous. I have seen that mix at Williams Sonoma. As I've never tried it before, I don't have an opinion as to how it tastes. But if it is close to the one from scratch, you'll be in for a treat.

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                        I have wondered about that William Sonoma mix, but the price was enough to send me home to chop some chocolate! Maybe somebody else has tried the WS mix?

                                                                        1. re: LJS

                                                                          Yeah, the price of the mix is kind of expensive. But it seems that every time I make Ina's recipes for the brownies, my grocery bill is pretty high as well. It does call for a LOT of butter and chocolate. It's fudgier and richer than other brownie recipes, calling for probably twice the amount of chocolate than other recipes which contributes to the cost.

                                                                          1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                            I haven't priced it out but I'd guess that making brownies from scratch costs more than a mix. I was surprised at how cheap a box cake mix is. But then, it depends on the quality of the ingredients you use.

                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                              You have to take into account the quality, as you mentioned, and also the fact that with many mixes, there are ingredients that still need to be added, so you have to factor that into the cost, as well. I think that, all things being equal, boxed mixes probably end up being more expensive. However, since all things aren't usually equal, box mixes with cheaper ingredients end up being cheaper than making from scratch brownies with top quality ingredients.

                                                                              1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                Thanks--that's true. I forgot you need to add things to the box mix. And, it's the more expensive things that you need to add, not the basic, flour and sugar. Sometimes I see deals, like $10 for 10 boxes and think, "Wow, that's cheap!"

                                                                      2. Ghiardelli. Amazingly yum, and I don't even really like brownies.

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                        1. re: dagwood

                                                                          There's one in every crowd, I guess. sorry, but I tried the Ghiardelli and I thought they had no flavor whatsoever. I use their chips, cocoa, and chocolate sometimes when baking from scratch and am happy with the flavor I get with those products, but I only bought the mix once and was disappointed. The one I bought at Costco had, I believe either 2 or 3 batches in the box, and I made all of them, thinking that in the first one I made an error. Unfortunately, none of the batches had any discernable flavor at all. I have also found this to be true at Fudruckers and with Domino's pizza. Neither of these places create food with any discernable flavors. Another pet peeve is Hooters. How can a company serve such horrible wings as a signature product? And even the ladies were unattractive at the one that eventually closed in my town. I guess maybe that's why it closed, huh?

                                                                          1. re: richopp

                                                                            What is your favourite brownie mix or recipe?

                                                                            1. re: Full tummy

                                                                              I will have to get back to you on that one. I don't make them often, so I will have to look for it. It MIGHT be in The Cake Bible or in Fanny Farmer, which has surprisingly good things that you sometimes have to adjust a little. Her chocolate drop cookies are super--I leave out the coffee as I don't care for it, and add white chips to the chocolate ones for fun. I do use Ghiradelli products when I make them, however. And of course, who doesn't love going to the Ghiradelli Square store when in SF if for nothing else just to smell that place. Gets me every time!

                                                                            2. re: richopp

                                                                              Try the Pillsbury mixes. I like the Ghiradelli mixes myself, but I've always had good luck with Pillsbury. Domino's pizza is an abomination, bleeech! As for the wings - just go to a Buffalo Wild Wings. Awesome wings and sauces and the restaurants aren't watered-down strip joints like Hooters.

                                                                              1. re: tonina_mdc

                                                                                I have not tried Buffalo WW yet, but will do so. Thanks very much for the suggestion. In my town we have a small, independent place that has been making my favorite wings for over 20 years, so when i need a wing fix I go there. I have tasted wings from other places, of course, but still prefer our little hometown place. FYI, I get them plain with sauce on the side so I can control the heat factor! Their sauces tend to be hot, so this helps me with that part. There is a Buffalo WW place around here somewhere, however, so I will find it and check it out! Thank you!

                                                                              2. re: richopp

                                                                                That's how I recall it, they had no flavor. Has anybody that says they're the best even tried the Trader Joes?

                                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                                  Well, there's no such thing as Trader Joe's in Canada, so I'm comparing it to the brands available here.

                                                                            3. We are a Ghiardelli family - we alternate weeks - brownies this week, chocolate chip cookies the next. Our intensely competitive Mrs. Kravitz neighbor thought the brownies this week were homemade. Which beat her from-a-mix cupcakes by a mile. She even used canned frosting! Heavens to Betsy!

                                                                              1. Of all the boxed choices, I suppose I agree that Ghiardelli is about the best one.
                                                                                But really, brownies are _so_ easy to make from scratch and take almost no effort; they always taste better than the boxed mixes can produce, and it doesn't take any longer to make them. The problem with most of the boxed mixes is that they are far too sugary sweet.
                                                                                As a result, I very, very rarely buy even the Ghiardelli anymore.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: The Professor

                                                                                  Do you have a favourite, from scratch, recipe you use?

                                                                                  1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                    OK I'm going to put my two cents in here. I grew up on Bakers chocolate brownies, so I'm probably prejudiced. A really upscale bakery around here makes the best brownies I've ever tasted outside home, and she told me....ta da...she uses the Bakers recipe but uses Ghiardelli chocolate in it.

                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                      Any idea which Baker's recipe? Their website has a lot of them. I'd be willing to try their recipe with Ghiardelli chocolate!


                                                                                      1. re: Divamac

                                                                                        I'll have to investigate, but I'm sure she meant the one my Mom used back in the 50s and 60s, right off the box. All I remember off hand is you melted the chocolate in a double boiler and added butter, then sugar in there too, then added this weird looking mess to the dry ingredients. Really good, even with Bakers. It just sort of sunk in and cracked when it cooled, the fudgiest of them all I would say.

                                                                                        OK I googled and this should be it

                                                                                        I see others that are basically the same but say microwave the chocolate and butter, so I guess it's been modernized since my childhood.

                                                                                2. Much as I like Duncan Hines and Ghirardelli, I've had my greatest success with Quaker Oats brownie mix. It comes in a bag and makes two batches. And to ensure max richness, I use half olive and half canola oil. It has an intense chocolatey taste and I get rave reviews each time I bring a batch anywhere. For variety, I add chopped pecans. And at Christmas, I put half the mix in the pan, then layer York Peppermint Patties, followed by the other half of the mix. Yummmmmm

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: cat7

                                                                                    I've never seen Quaker Oats mix!? But then again, I'm not at the conventional supermarket very often either. The York Peppermint Patties "recipe" you cite is my secret, killer recipe. I use the Ghirardelli mix, then layer like you - and people go CRAZY over the finished product. All for maybe 10 minutes of effort!


                                                                                    1. re: gansu girl

                                                                                      I don't know if they exist in the States, but I live in Canada and buy them at the local grocery store. I can only find Ghirardelli occassionally and only at COSTCO, which I don't get too very often.

                                                                                      If you like the York "recipe", another good one - so long as you like coconut - is to do the same thing with Bounty bars. If you can't find Bounty, I suspect that any other dark chocolate covered coconut candy bar would work too.

                                                                                      My personal fave is dried cherries or cranberries and chopped pecans mixed into the batter. It's like a Black Forest variation on brownies.

                                                                                      Cheers, E.

                                                                                      1. re: cat7

                                                                                        Oh my goodness, I'm stuffed beyond belief from dinner but the Bouty bar idea is making me bonkers! I am the only coconut fiend in the house, but that might warrant an 8X8 experiment some day soon - we have Mounds bars here that are similar. The dried cherries & pecans sound fab too - my husband would dig those, for sure. Thanks for the tips!


                                                                                  2. I rarely make brownies from scratch. Don't have the ingredients at home, and don't really care that much. Went to a party last week and a friend brought these brownies. These were AMAZING.

                                                                                    Brownie batter:

                                                                                    1 stick unsalted butter

                                                                                    3 ounces good unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped (I used a 3.5 oz bar of ghirardelli)

                                                                                    1 cup sugar

                                                                                    2 eggs

                                                                                    ½ cup all purpose flour

                                                                                    pinch salt

                                                                                    ½ t vanilla (optional, I used it)

                                                                                    ½ to 1 cup choc chips (optional, I used them)

                                                                                    you could also add nuts

                                                                                    Cream cheese swirl:

                                                                                    4 ounces cream cheese

                                                                                    ½ cup sugar

                                                                                    1 egg

                                                                                    1. preheat oven to 350. grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish

                                                                                    2. combine butter and unsweetened chocolate in a small saucepan over very low heat, stirring. when choc is just about melted, remove from heat and continue stirring until smooth.

                                                                                    3. transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in sugar. then beat in the eggs, one at a time. gently stir in the flour, salt, and vanilla. Stir in chocolate chips.

                                                                                    4. If not adding cream cheese swirl: pour into pan and bake until just barely set in the middle, 20 to 25 minutes

                                                                                    If adding cream cheese swirl: beat together 4 ounces softened cream cheese and ½ cup sugar until fluffy, then beat in an egg. Pour half of brownie batter into pan, spoon in the cream cheese mixture, and cover with the rest of the batter. Use a knife to swirl. Bake 30-35 minutes.

                                                                                    1. Absolutely, Ghiradelli is soooo good. I make a dark chocolate ganache and add Grand Marnier, they are the best.

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                        OK, people, do we need to start another thread on how to doctor up your boxed brownie mix? These replies are makin' me crazy! I'm tempted to march right down to the basement and grab a box of Ghiradelli mix and start mixin' in now.

                                                                                        CC - do you put the Grand Marnier in the brownie, or in the ganache?


                                                                                        1. re: gansu girl

                                                                                          Add a pinch of cinnamon to the mix - or - instant espresso powder. Kicks it up a notch! Best way to doctor up the brownie IMO is a high quality ice cream! :)

                                                                                          1. re: gansu girl

                                                                                            A new thread might not be a bad idea. While I'm here, however, try adding 2 teaspoons of instant coffee to whatever liquid you add to your browne mix. Then add some of your favorite coffee liqueur to a chocolate ganache and voilà! You have heavenly mocha brownies.

                                                                                            PS. I'm trying to diet. Reading and writing about brownies is my guilty treat, instead of eating them! :)

                                                                                        2. I'm a partisan of TJ's Truffle Brownie Mix, but try this fudge topping on any brownies: in a saucepan put 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup each of milk and butter. Bring to boil and boil 1 minute by the clock. Remove from burner and dump in 1 cup chocolate chips. Stir until they are melted then immediately pour over the brownies while they're still hot. The topping sets up as it cools and makes a fudge layer.

                                                                                          1. If you don't want to make from scratch I think the best box mixes are Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Brownie and Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Brownie mix are two of the best! Last time I made the dark chocolate brownies I added chopped candied orange and walnuts..yummy. I've also added chopped crystalized ginger and rose essence on prior batches. I LOVE LOVE brownies....give me a brownie over a cookie any day!

                                                                                            1. I take back what I said up thread about not being as impressed with Ghirardelli as everyone else. My Mom made the Double Chocolate ones on Friday night for a holiday dinner and they were incredible. I am not sure the Apple Cake I brought, which I made from scratch - and which by all accounts was excellent - could hold a candle to these mix brownies!

                                                                                              1. I honestly *HATE* the Ghirdelli's brownie mix. Betty Croker's is the way to be. I don't eat a lot of sweets but show me some Betty Croker's brownies and I'll devour them. I won't get near the Ghirdelli's garbage. WAAYYYYYY TOOOOO sweet and cake like.

                                                                                                1. I like the Duncan Hines dark chocolate brownie mix. Recent favorite mix-in is chopped up peanut butter snickers sprinkled on top. Underbake about 3-5min if you like really chewy,fudgy brownies.

                                                                                                  1. Cooks Illustrated did a box brownie mix taste test in 2008 and after reading this thread, not surprisingly Ghiardelli was #1. The very expensive Ina Garten Barefoot Contessa Outrageous Brownie Mix came in second. Pillsbury Brownie Classics Traditional Fudge Premium Brownie Mix was third but was "recommended with reservations" as was fourth place Betty Crocker Hershey’s Ultimate Fudge Supreme Brownie Mix. Fifth place Duncan Hines Family-Style Chewy Fudge Brownies was "not recommended".

                                                                                                    The test also included mixes from King Arthur and Cherrybrook Kitchen but like the Duncan Hines mix, they were "not recommended".

                                                                                                    Personally, when the brownie urge strikes I go for the Ghiardelli that I buy in a multi-pack at Costco. I do add a teaspoon of instant coffee, otherwise it's straight out of the box easy. Easy and yummy. Did I mention easy?

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: ski_gpsy

                                                                                                      I dont care what any report says :) ... Ghiardelli's is way too sweet.

                                                                                                      1. re: ski_gpsy

                                                                                                        After years of baking brownies from scratch, I ha ve to admit that after discovering Ghiradelli's (thanks to Chowhounds!) I just grab a box and make my life easier. I also add the instant coffee, and walnuts.