When you’re crunched for time, nothing beats a good boxed brownie mix. Here are 8 great ways to jazz them up!
We’ve all been there. We need to bring a dessert somewhere, and there’s no time to look up a recipe and make anything from scratch.
Or maybe you have no desire to make something from scratch (lol)—that’s a valid reason, too!
When those times come, I turn to my pantry and my stockpile of boxed brownie mix. Ghirardelli is my favorite, but tell me in the comments if there’s another mix that I’m missing out on!
The brownies are delicious themselves, but I like to add a little something to make them even better. It fools people into thinking they are made from scratch every time!
#1: Add Espresso Powder
Coffee and chocolate are a natural combination. Add ½ teaspoon of espresso powder to the dry brownie mix. It adds just a little “something” that jazzes up the deep chocolate flavor of the brownies.
#2: Sprinkle with Flaky Sea Salt
Right before baking, sprinkle ⅛ teaspoon of flaky sea salt on top of the brownie batter. Salt makes any flavor pop, brownies included! Or sprinkle it on the bottom of the pan. When the brownie hits your tongue, it’ll get a bit of salt, too!
This is also a great trick for chocolate chip cookies.
#3: Swirl the Top with Caramel Sauce
I keep a jar of caramel sauce (or salted caramel sauce—yum!) in my fridge at all times, mainly for this purpose. Before baking, drizzle ¼ cup of caramel sauce over the top of the brownie batter, and use a knife to swirl it into the batter.
Don’t go crazy with the swirling. I like seeing some caramel sauce still pooling on top for dramatic effect. 🙂
#4: Stir in More Chips
Many mixes already comes with chocolate chips, but I like to add butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, or even more chocolate chips (like bittersweet or dark chocolate) to the batter. I love the slight crunch that they contribute!
#5: Top with Candy
I don’t think anyone would hate you for crumbling some chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups of brownie batter before baking. Same goes for M&Ms or whatever your favorite candy is. You could also press them into the brownies right when they get out of the oven.
#6: Layer in Some Cookies
Raid your pantry for some cookies. I’ve used both Oreos and leftover Thin Mints from the Girl Scouts. Place them in the bottom of the pan and then pour the brownie batter on top. Bake as directed and enjoy the extra surprise on the bottom!
#7: Spread with Frosting
Chocolate lovers, this one is for you. Bake the brownies and let them cool (I stick them in the fridge or freezer, or outdoors in the winter, to expedite this process).
As they are cooling, beat the following together in a large bowl with hand mixer: 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons softened butter, 2 tablespoons milk, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1½ cups powdered sugar. Frost the cooled brownies with this mixture.
#8: Top with Frosting and Toasted Coconut
For a fancier upgrade, follow the steps in #7 for frosting the brownies. Toast coconut chips (I found them at Trader Joe’s) at 325°F for 6–8 minutes. Sprinkle the coconut chips on top of the frosted brownies, pressing in slightly to make them stick.
You could use any one of the upgrades above, or even combine a few! Here are some ideas:
- Caramel sauce + butterscotch chips
- Espresso powder + flaky sea salt
- Flaky sea salt + caramel sauce
- Oreos + caramel sauce
- Oreos + frosting
Do you have any go-to ways to make boxed brownie mix better? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!