Food & Drink

3 Simple Hacks Sure to Improve Any Boxed Brownie Mix

Boxed brownies are already delicious, but we’ve found ways of making them even better.

boxed brownies
Photo: Cole Saladino/Thrillist; Illustration: Maitane Romagosa/Thrillist

We could all use a little bit of extra comfort these days. Sure, you can warm up a can of soup or opt for a steaming cup of tea, but what’s more blissful than a fudgy brownie that takes less than an hour to whip up thanks to the genius that is prepackaged mixes? 

I grew up on boxed brownies. In fact, it never occurred to me to make brownies from scratch because the ease of baking prepackaged brownies has been instilled in me since I was seven, and the flavor tastes just as good as the ones where you have to deal with measuring out your own sandstorm of cocoa powder. It’s nostalgic, it’s comforting, and it’s the absolute best nightcap. The smell of baking chocolate that wafts from the oven is like a hug in itself that we could all use right about now -- so we’ve decided to celebrate the humble brownie mix with a few updates of our own.

For these recipes, all you’ll need is a boxed brownie mix and a handful of additions or substitutions. Transforming your plain chocolate brownie -- something that’s already delicious -- into a more nuanced dessert is as easy as digging through your pantry and sprinkling a bit of extra magic.

For those who can’t decide between cookies and brownies for dessert

It’s hard to decide between a gooey chocolate chip cookie and a fudgy brownie. They’re both sweet, chocolaty, and comforting; how can you choose between the richness of a dark chocolate brownie over the buttery, brown sugar base of cookies? Luckily in this recipe, you don’t have to. Prepare the brownie mix as suggested on the box (I typically substitute water for milk to make the brownies richer). Add globs of cookie dough to your brownie batter and sprinkle in chopped Oreos for additional crunch and more intense cookie flavors, swirling batter to ensure even distribution. Bake and never pick between two halves of your heart again. 

For those who miss trips to their favorite coffee shop

Remember ordering a hot mocha at your favorite coffee shop? Turn your boxed brownies into a version of that experience by swapping out the water for your cold, coffee leftover from your morning brew. For extra coffee flavor, sprinkle a teaspoon of instant coffee into the batter and mix well. Top the brownies off with espresso powder once they’re out of the oven and be amazed at how the bitter notes of coffee bring out the richness of chocolate.

For those who wish Girl Scout Cookie season was year round 

Samoas are my favorite Girl Scout Cookie because of the combination of toasted coconut, caramel, and drizzles of chocolate (Thin Mints, who?). A brownie, rather than shortbread cookie, also makes for an acceptable base for the comforting flavors of a Samoa. Follow the brownie box mix as usual and add stripes of caramel -- store bought or homemade -- over the top, scoring the batter with wavy designs. Evenly sprinkle the brownies with sweetened shredded coconut and bake as normal; you can either toast the coconut ahead of time for a more roasted flavor, or allow the coconut to lightly toast in the oven on top of the brownies. Enjoy and pretend that Girl Scout Cookie season is forever.

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Kat Thompson is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn