When you’re crunched for time when baking, nothing beats a good boxed brownie mix. Today, I’m sharing ways to make boxed brownies better. And everyone will think they are homemade!
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 there’s no desire to make anything 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!
Upgrade #1: Espresso Powder
Coffee and chocolate are a natural combination. Adding ½ teaspoon of espresso powder to the dry brownie mix adds just a little “something” that jazzes up the deep chocolate flavor of the brownies.
Upgrade #2: Flaky Sea Salt
Right before baking the brownies, sprinkle ⅛ teaspoon of flaky sea salt on top of the brownie batter. Salt makes any flavor pop, brownies included! This is also a great trick for chocolate chip cookies.
Upgrade #3: 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. 🙂
Upgrade #4: More Chips
Ghirardelli brownie mix 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!
Upgrade #5: 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.
Upgrade #6: 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!
Upgrade #7: 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.
Upgrade #8: Frosting & Toasted Coconut
I hope I’m not getting too fancy here, but this one is just too delicious to leave out. Follow the steps in #7 for frosting the brownies. Top the frosting with coconut chips (I found them at Trader Joe’s and toasted them at 325°F for 6–8 minutes while the brownies were cooking.
You could use any one of these upgrades, 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!