There's nothing wrong with brownies from a boxed mix — they're fast, delicious and cheap — but there are ways to make them even better.
With a few easy ingredient swaps and simple additions, you can turn a batch of boxed-mix brownies into something that tastes like you've spent all day in the kitchen baking from scratch.
Here are a few tips to try:
1. Get creative with add-ins
Add nuts, cookie bits or crunchy pretzels to take boxed brownies to the next level and give them a homemade feel.
Some popular add-ins include M&Ms, crushed Oreos, a handful of butterscotch or chocolate chips, white chocolate, walnuts, potato chips — seriously, the list is endless. Choose your favorite, toss it right in the batter when you're mixing, and that's it.
I added marshmallows, chocolate chips and walnuts to a batch to make "rocky road" brownies and the result was delicious. (Pro tip: If you're also adding marshmallows, just add them to the top of the brownies right before you take them out of the oven. If you add them directly to the batter, they'll most likely just burn up and evaporate, which is what happened to me, although they were still good.)
2. Swap coffee for water
Coffee is known to enhance the flavor of chocolate. (This tip works well if you're making chocolate cake from a boxed mix, too.) And it's simple: If the box says to add a quarter cup of water, try a quarter cup of hot coffee instead — voila, now you have mocha brownies.
It's a subtle change, as most boxed mix brownies don't call for that much water in the first place, but it's a nice way to elevate a recipe, especially if you're a fan of coffee.
3. Adjust the number of eggs
If you prefer a fudgier brownie (and really, who doesn't?), reduce the number of eggs in the mixture. Most boxes call for two eggs, but try adding just one.
I wasn't so sure about this trick, but it worked well, resulting in a dense, gloriously fudgy brownie. I didn't miss the extra egg at all.
Alternately, if you prefer a brownie with a more cake-like texture, add an extra egg to the recipe.
4. Use melted butter instead of oil
This tip worked so well that it made me wonder why the boxes call for vegetable oil in the first place. Why not just tell people to use butter?!
Anyway, this is another simple trick: If the recipe calls for a half cup of oil, add a half cup (one stick) of melted butter instead. These brownies were definitely richer and more decadent than the others.
5. Cut the bake time
The easiest tip of all? Don't bake the brownies as long as the instructions tell you to.
I usually set my timer for 5 minutes before I'm supposed to, which yields a deliciously fudgy brownie every time.
And one tip we're not so sure about ...
I came across a few recommendations to add avocado to boxed brownie mix to make them creamier. So I tried it: I mashed up one whole avocado and added it to the batter. But I wasn't in love with the result. They had the texture of a sponge cake (my husband described them as "bouncy") and the avocado reduced the sweetness.
Unless you're looking for a way to add some healthy fat to a batch of brownies, or if you just really love avocado, this is a tip to skip.
But there are plenty of other ways to make brownies extra special. Have fun experimenting!