We Tried 7 Boxed Brownie Mixes & This One Blew Us Away
Sure, homemade brownies are delicious. But sometimes, you just want something a little simpler. Enter boxed brownie mixes, which promise all of the delicious fresh-baked taste with decidedly less effort. But there are so many brownie mixes at the store—which one is the best?
To figure out the absolute best brownie mix once and for all, we put seven contenders to the test. Our 10 tasters ranked the mixes based on texture, appearance, and—most importantly—taste. The mixes we sampled included Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie Mix, Cherrybrook Kitchen Buster Fudge Brownie Mix, Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix, King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Fudge Brownie Mix, Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix, Simple Mills Gluten-Free Brownie Mix, and Trader Joe's Brownie Truffle Baking Mix.
Here's what our staff thought of each brownie option, ranked here from worst to best.
Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie Mix
Betty Crocker is a supermarket staple, but our tasters didn't love this mix. One editor said that it didn't have "nearly enough chocolate flavor," and multiple people said these brownies had an artificial taste. Two staffers also noted that these brownies tasted like they were made with a lot of oil, which isn't what you want from a baked good.
Other feedback on these brownies included the fact that they didn't have much flavor and weren't moist. The color variation in the center was a plus, but this was one brownie mix we'd definitely leave on the shelf.
Cherrybrook Kitchen Buster Fudge Brownie Mix
This brownie mix is great for those with food restrictions, as it's free of dairy, eggs, and nuts. But all of our tasters eat dairy, and this didn't land in our top choices.
The recipe calls for melted margarine, and we used melted butter instead. Still, the lack of eggs and milk chocolate led to a brownie that our tasters just couldn't get behind. "It leaves a bad aftertaste," one editor wrote. The texture also played a major factor here—these brownies didn't stay together, and one editor noted that they were "lacking the crispy top part of the brownie" that makes this treat so delicious.
"For anyone who observes Passover, these taste like the kosher for Passover Manischewitz brand brownies," one editor wrote. "These will do when you can't have yeast but leave you feeling sad and wanting more legit brownies."
Simple Mills Gluten-Free Brownie Mix
We included two gluten-free brownie mixes in our taste test, and this one fared worse than the other. The consistency gave away the fact that these were gluten-free, and our gluten-tolerant tasters weren't a fan of the texture. One person described these as "bread-like" and "salty."
"I am all for the gluten-free movement, but this tastes like a stick of butter," one editor said of these brownies. "I can't get the taste out of my mouth, and that's not a good thing."
Aside from the texture, though, our tasters did like the authentic chocolate, with one person praising the "strong cocoa flavor" in these brownies. "I actually enjoyed the chocolate taste," wrote one editor who didn't love the texture of these brownies. So if you are gluten-free, these could be a good option.
King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Fudge Brownie Mix
King Arthur Flour edged out its gluten-free competition, Simple Mills, in this taste test. The brownies looked like what you'd expect from a boxed mix, and the texture tasted more like a traditional brownie. "These are delicious and I would have never even known they were gluten-free," one editor raved.
"As someone who eats gluten, I unfairly tend to assume that GF products don't measure up, but color me impressed," one editor wrote. "The flavor was chocolaty, strong crust content, and impressively fudgy. If we were grading on a curve, I think they could compete for the gold!"
Trader Joe's Brownie Truffle Baking Mix
Trader Joe's brownie mix was filled with chocolate chips and was very rich—there's a reason "truffle" is in the name. Our tasters loved the chocolate chips in each bite, though some weren't impressed with the dry appearance of these brownies.
One taster described this mix as tasting like "hot chocolate if it were a brownie." Another taster said that Trader Joe's brownie mix "tastes homemade," which is always a good thing.
"They might not look the most appetizing, but the taste is next level," one editor wrote of these brownies. "The chunks add so much, making them perfectly chocolaty. These would be great with some ice cream."
Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix
These fudgy brownies took the silver medal in our taste test, with two tasters giving it the first-place spot. "The chocolate flavor here is strong, and I'd expect nothing less of Ghirardelli," one editor commented. Other tasters loved the crispy edges on these rich brownies.
"It's the right amount of fudge and is just the right amount of sweetness, too," another editor said of the Ghirardelli treats. "The chocolate flavor lingers in a good way."
One of our tasters who ranked these brownies as #1 noted that they taste less sweet than Pillsbury, which was a plus. "This is just an impeccable brownie," she said.
Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix
You can't go wrong with a classic, and that was definitely true in this taste test. The Pillsbury Doughboy's classic boxed mix earned our top spot, with one editor describing the result as "exactly what a brownie should taste like." Another taster praised the Pillsbury brownies' "soft and pillowy texture."
The Pillsbury brownies were chewy, soft, and fudgy, with an appealing dark brown appearance. Our tasters described these brownies as having a "classic flavor," and you can't go wrong with this mix. Pair a Pillsbury brownie with a glass of milk, and you're good to go.
"These are everything I want a brownie to be: fudgy, chocolaty, a nice thin top crust that cracks when you break off a piece," one editor raved. "Hard not to giggle like that little Doughboy when eating these delicious treats!"
If you eat gluten and eggs, Pillsbury is a safe bet for all your brownie needs.