Food

The Best Boxed Brownie Mix: A Taste Test!

The Best Boxed Brownie Mix: A Taste Test!

This might sound funny but…

I’ve never made a batch of brownies from scratch that could compete with the ones I’d bake as a kid, the box mix kind that call for two or three eggs and some hydrogenated oil and maybe even a “chocolate flavor packet” if you feel like getting fancy. For a significant portion of my adult life, when the bake sale required brownies, I’d deliver a from-scratch Alice Medrich batch, only to watch the kids bypass my sea-salt-sprinkled beauties for the crinkly-topped box kind with its (somehow delicious) artificial aftertaste. These kids are no dummies.

Eventually, I accepted the fact that no homemade brownie — no matter how artisanal or cheffy — would ever win in the fight against nostalgia. A realization, of course, which begged a very important question: Which supermarket box mix brownie is best?

The Best Boxed Brownie Mix: A Taste Test!

We turned to an expert to make the call. When we found out that Chocolate For Basil‘s Jerrelle Guy was swinging through town from Dallas for the James Beard Awards (her awesome book Black Girl Baking was nominated), we jumped on it and organized a box mix brownie taste test.

The Best Boxed Brownie Mix: A Taste Test!

Not surprisingly, Jerrelle, who describes herself as a “hypersensitive baker” in her book, has a very specific idea of what makes the ideal brownie: “It has to have a sturdy edge and be fudgy in the middle,” she told me, while surveying the array of baked goods before her. “In a perfect world, my ideal brownie is warm, and I’m an edge girl, so a double-edge brownie is going to always have a leg up.” What about chips? I ask. “No chips or anything else!” she said, as though I’d suggested arsenic. A purist! Just as we figured.

The Best Boxed Brownie Mix: A Taste Test!

Jerrelle tested five of the most widely available brands: Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Whole Foods and Ghirardelli. Almost all of these brands have a line of brownie mixes — Fudgy, Chewy, Cakey, Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Double Chocolate, Triple Chocolate, Chocolate Supreme, you get the idea — so to keep things as straightforward as possible, we decided to test their “Chocolate Fudge” versions. All were baked according to package directions, which for the most part was in a butter-greased 9-by-9-inch dark-coated baking pan at 325°F.

The Best Boxed Brownie Mix: A Taste Test!

Like all of our taste tests, this one was blind — Jerelle didn’t know which brand she was trying. Between each bite, she cleansed her palate with a few sips of oat milk.

The Best Boxed Brownie Mix: A Taste Test!

As she chewed and analyzed, I asked her to report on the following factors: texture (was it dry? fudgy? cakey?); crinkliness (obviously what it looks like on top is a huge consideration); and flavor (was the chocolate authentic or artificial tasting, keeping in mind, one might not necessarily be better than the other?). Finally, as I played stenographer in the corner of the kitchen, I asked her to give an overall score, from 1 to 5 (5 being the best).

The Best Boxed Brownie Mix: A Taste Test!

#1: Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge (The Winner!)
Score: 5 out of 5 points

“This one wins,” Jerrelle said definitively as soon as she took a bite of the Pillsbury. It was the last one in the lineup, and it followed Duncan Hines, which was her childhood favorite (“I always remember Duncan Hines as the special one, the fancy one”), so this news was no small thing. “The flavor is better than all of them,” she reported. “The chocolate has a nice roundness. And it’s soft chewy, not dense chewy.” As for the crucial texture on top: “I like that the top is thin and crackly, but that I still get a chewiness,” she said, closing her eyes. “Which is really an accomplishment. I’ve gotta give it a 5.” Wow.

The Best Boxed Brownie Mix: A Taste Test!

#2: Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge Brownies
Score: 4.5 out of 5 points

You could see all kinds of synapses lighting in her brain when she took a bite. “Oh, this one is nice! Tastes almost buttery to me.” (Note to reader: Definitely no butter.) “Something special about this one,” she reported, clearly tapping into something sentimental. “I give it a 4.5.” (So close!)

The Best Boxed Brownie Mix: A Taste Test!

As for the rest of them?

#3: Ghirardelli, the most expensive brand, still scored well — 4 out of 5. “My mom likes her brownies cakey, and she’d really like these,” she said. “You can tell it would be good with ice cream.”

#4: The Whole Foods’ brand (scoring a 3.5) was a little too cakey. Still, Jerrelle appreciated the richness of the flavor, which reminded her of a strategy she uses in her own kitchen. “I add espresso to my chocolate baked goods,” she said, which enhances the flavor. (Pro tip! And no, this doesn’t make her chocolate taste like coffee.)

#5: Lastly, Betty Crocker scored the lowest — a highly specific 2.9 — because she thought they tasted “chemically.”

The Best Boxed Brownie Mix: A Taste Test!

The Best Boxed Brownie Mix: A Taste Test!

What was most interesting about the experiment was how many helpers came out of the woodwork to assist with the taste testing. (Shown above: Sadie, who lives in the home where we held the photo shoot; and Eric, Jerrelle’s boyfriend.) Can you blame them?

Thank you so much Jerrelle! We love your book! For more Jerrelle, you can follow her on instagram.

P.S. Two more taste tests: ice-cream sandwiches and jarred pasta sauce. And homemade brownies recipes: salted caramel brownies and brownies with buttermilk frosting.

(Photos by Christine Han for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Gaby says...

    Bob’s Redmill gluten free brownie mix is my favorite – gluten free or not!

  2. ahk says...

    Unrelated but important- what is this nail polish called?

  3. Angela says...

    I always make the Alice Medrich brownies, to the point that people are disappointed if I show up to an event without them!! (though that is when I am baking for adults … kids don’t care what kind of brownies they are!). But for year, my go-to was Duncan Hines Triple Chocolate Chunk mix, slightly under baked for maximum fudginess.

  4. Sally K says...

    The Katharine Hepburn brownie recipe first appeared in the August, 1976 issue of Ladie’s Home Journal. I have the clipping. If I don’t make those brownies, I make Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies. I think they’re the best box mix.

  5. Paige says...

    My mom has always taught me to use two boxes of brownie mix in one 9×13 pan. You have to bake them a lot longer, but you get these super thick and delicious brownies. So good!

  6. Alex W. says...

    My entire life my dad has had a few boxes of brownie mix in the pantry at all times. We call them Emergency Brownies, because you knew that if you were having that kind of day a warm brownie was just twenty minutes away (and then the whole house smells like brownies which is a pick me up on it’s own.)

    • Sasha L says...

      I love this! Because sometimes you really do just desperately need brownies. They are so comforting.

  7. Tara says...

    To my eternal shame, I’ve been baking and sharing box mix brownies for years – and lying about it out of embarrassment! Friends would gush and ask for the recipe, and I WOULD GIVE THEM A RANDOM RECIPE, knowing it wouldn’t come out like my brownies because mine came from a box! This is one of my biggest, most shameful secrets. Shhh, don’t tell anyone! :)

  8. I HAVE TO TELL YOU THIS. Trader Joe’s GLUTEN FREE Brownie Mix is hands down the best brownie you will ever taste, boxed or not. I accidentally bought it one time and when I got home was so bummed it was gluten free, thinking they were going to taste like chalk, but I made them anyway. There is never a better time to say O.M.G. Now I buy them pretty much weekly and are a staple to take to parties.

    • Kate says...

      Yes! I love these! I bought a brownie at a school event bake sale and later emailed the mom who made them for the recipe because they were so good. She emailed me back the following recipe: “Go to Trader Joe’s and buy their gluten free brownie mix. Follow directions on box.” I make them all the time now.

    • Nora says...

      I’ll try these – I wanted to weigh in to say no results are final unless you add Trader Joe’s Truffle Brownie mix to the test. I tried a zillion different recipes in the first years of knowing my stepson, and this mix was superior to all of them.

  9. Mary says...

    Just a quick thank you for this VIP – very important post. No more pondering for for.ev.er over the insane brownie selection at Safeway.

  10. Allison Gryski says...

    I make the brownies out of the kids cookbook Clueless in the Kitchen and they are dangerously easy and so good. I like to use a coffee liqueur (like Tia Maria or kahlua) in place of vanilla extract in the recipe.

  11. Jimmy Lewis says...

    My favorites are pillsbury milk chocolate, and Duncan Hines. Unbeatable.

  12. Cara says...

    I’m going to have to respectfully disagree here because the Betty Crocker ones are the best. Have to undercook them a tad every time, though.

  13. Stephanie Zercher says...

    I love the Ghirardelli ones, and yes, they are very good with ice cream. Try them with coffee, dulce de leche or black raspberry ice cream. But they are just fine with classic vanilla, too!

  14. SCK says...

    I love this recipe!

  15. SCK says...

    I am not GF but Bob’s Red Mill GF Brownie Mix wins, hands-down (sorry, Pillsbury!). Especially when I add a teaspoon of instant espresso powder or swirl in some peanut butter!

  16. DN in NYC says...

    I was looking for a non-dairy brownie recipe and discovered the wonderful world of olive (or other) oil brownies. Oil rather than butter is the key to box-like brownies, and they are really easy to make and very delicious. This is the recipe I’ve been using: http://www.simplemathbakery.com/blog/2010/02/28/olive-oil-brownies. My pan is larger, and I double the recipe and keep a close eye on the doneness. These are always a hit.

  17. Thomas says...

    This was so much fun and so fascinating to read! My husband and I are partial to Ghirardelli. And she’s right, it does go well with ice cream :)

  18. Lis says...

    Box mix brownies are my love language and hands down Duncan Hines is best!

  19. christi says...

    I go with boxed just because it’s easier, usually, but I swear Fine Cooking’s scratch recipe is just as good! Ali Stafford (alexandracoooks.com) posted them a few years ago on her blog, and I’ve been making them (with a little more time) ever since! https://alexandracooks.com/2016/02/13/my-favorite-brownies/

    Still, though, I’ll be buying the Pillsbury ones to try soon! :) Another fun post, as always, CoJ!

    • Haive says...

      YES! THIS!!I agree. The recipe Ali Stafford posted is now my go-to forever. The first recipe I ever found that was as good as the boxed mixes!

  20. Thuy says...

    My go to is Ghiradelli but I randomly got a box from the brand Kodiak Cakes when it was on sale at Target- it has higher protein and I think made from whole grains. I didn’t have high expectations and thought they’d taste too “healthy” but they were actually pretty good – more cakey than fudgey. I don’t know how the nutrition ultimately compares and I should probably just go for the regular boxes, but it made me feel less guilty when I ate almost half in one sitting. :)

    • gracemarie says...

      They are really good! I was happily surprised. And super filling. I buy their dark chocolate waffles when they are on sale.

  21. Rebecca says...

    Annie’s Organic brownie mix is HANDS DOWN the best brownie mix. I’m sad that it wasn’t in this taste test. My family can’t tell if they are homemade or not. And, no nasty chemicals either.

  22. Nina says...

    Funny, I like boxed best too. I think I usually buy Duncan Hines cause it’s so easy to see (red) but will definitely get the Pillsbury next time. I like less cakey ones too. Non-pro tip: Add your own homemade vanilla, which I make by putting vanilla beans in rum or bourbon (not vodka).

    Thanks for this.

  23. Not to be That Guy but don’t sleep on No Pudge Fudge Brownie mix. Problematic name for the best box mix in the game. Just add yogurt!

  24. Lauren E. says...

    I’ve tried every from-scratch brownie recipe known to man and my husband — every. single. time. — will say, “Yeah, these are good… But next time can you make the ones from the box?”

    I’ve changed his mind on mac and cheese from scratch, pancakes from scratch, even hamburger helper from scratch! But brownies, I just can’t compete.

    • Ginny says...

      I have found one recipe better than the box. But it involves the double boiler, multiple bowls, and a lot of extra work. So, 90% of the time I just go with the box.

  25. Eva says...

    I’m so curious about that tip to add espresso to chocolate baked goods! Did she give any detail on how much? A pinch, a teaspoon, a quarter cup?

    Thanks for the fun lunch time reading!

    • Erika says...

      Just replace the water that the mix calls for with espresso or coffee. I keep instant espresso powder in the pantry for this very reason. So good!

  26. Barbara says...

    I make brownies with boxed mix and add chocolate chips. Then I top them with peanut butter frosting. It’s seriously the best.

    I only make them once or twice a year.

  27. Ellen says...

    I’ve never made box brownies and have always been a little puzzled why anyone would…because from-scratch brownies are so *easy.* When I was a kid we always used the recipe on the back of the baking chocolate box.

  28. Jill says...

    Trader Joe’s Truffle Brownie mix is the best! I always have a box in my cabinet for an impromptu brownie moment.

  29. Sara says...

    The secret to best brownies.. slightly undercook them. They continue to cook after you take them out of the oven. I test with a fork to see if the insides are “mostly” done. Once they reach that point, I take them out of the oven ASAP. The result is gooey brownie goodness.

    • Rachel says...

      Ohhhh, yes. Promise me anything, but give me underdone brownies.

    • Ginny says...

      In college my friends described by brownie baking method as “just put them in the oven long enough to scare them”. I’m sure technically they were under baked, but delicious!

  30. Kelley says...

    King Arthur Gluten-Free Brownie Mix! Every time we make them people ask for the recipe. And no one suspects they are GF.

    • I second this motion!

    • shade says...

      Completely agree!

    • Maggie says...

      I made these for a gluten-free friend thinking it would be a compromise – they were amazing!!

  31. Alison says...

    ALDI BOX BROWNIES win. Hands down. She’s gotta check them out.

  32. Sinds says...

    I am in love with this. The other taste-test post you all did (marinara sauce) seriously changed my life – I had never heard of Rao’s before and now I’m obsessed with it.

    More posts like this! And more featuring Jerrelle – she (and her cook book, which I bought after seeing another post on here with her) are amazing!

    • Bonnie says...

      I agree! That post changed my spaghetti life as well. :)

  33. Chiaki says...

    My husband makes the Ghiradelli triple chocolate brownie mix only available at Costco and adds a little coffee to the batter to deepen the chocolate flavor. It’s always a hit especially among men for some reason.

    • Kelly says...

      YES that brownie mix is also my go-to. I almost always bake from scratch except for brownies because that mix is SO GOOD.

    • Teri Wade says...

      Yes! My family favorite, hands down! They definitely picked the wrong Ghirardelli mix to test.

  34. Amber says...

    Here’s my tip when making a 9×13 pan. I take a box of Ghirardelli and a box of Duncan Hines and combine the mixes. Somehow it comes out the perfect mixture of decadent and rich, but not overly sweet.

  35. awads says...

    Remember the “black bean (healthy) brownie” trend? (Puree’d can of black beans + brownie mix = some kind of dreck). so glad that’s over! Google “man-catcher brownies” and you’ll find a delicious recipe for scratch brownies, but i’m sticking with the 6-pack of Ghiradelli that you get from Costco. That has saved my butt many, many times when i’ve needed a last-minute dessert.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      YES That was a dark period in brownie history! Followed closely by the hide-spinach-in-your-brownie era.

    • Sinds says...

      Ha! I still make Chocolate Covered Katie’s black bean brownies every once in a while because I genuinely like that flavor – it sort of reminds me of the sweet red bean treats you get in Japan and China.

    • neens says...

      Wait, TAHINI?? I need to know more

  36. Lauren says...

    Stella Parks aka BraveTart, the Pastry Wizard at Serious Eats, specializes in American desserts and just posted a from-scratch brownie recipe that is supposed to be like boxed ones with the crinkly crust on top, but made better with 2x the butter and chocolate. Haven’t tried it yet but it sounds amazing!
    https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2018/02/bravetart-glossy-fudge-brownies.html

  37. Cynthia says...

    I’ve never made brownies from a mix. I use the recipe from the back of the Nestle cocoa can, and they are super. I’m sure you could get it from the Nestle website. They’re fudgy and chewy. I don’t like a cakey brownie. I made tons of these and my girls did too, when they were in school.

  38. Katie C says...

    I’m shocked! I don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything Pillsbury that I didn’t think was completely gross…save for their toaster strudels that I used to eat as a kid😳😂 But everything else is nasty. Especially those crescent rolls and the freezer cookies that come in a tube!

  39. Melanie says...

    I did this exact taste test and ended up with the same results. Validated!

  40. Ann-Marie says...

    Foodstirs Organic Chocolate Lover’s Brownie Mix is my favorite! :)

  41. shannon says...

    In college I had four roommates. About once a week, someone (could be any of the five of us) would make a box of brownies…the smell would fill the apartment and we would all inevitably find our ways downstairs to eat brownies and pile on the couch to watch Friends DVDs or a Disney movie. It strikes me now that we were perhaps a little homesick and needing the ritual and nurturing of a fresh from the oven treat, feel good tv, and companionship.

    Ten years later, I still make box brownies (Ghiradelli dark chocolate has been my go to), and I like trying homemade recipes too. You don’t have to choose one or the other!!

    • Sinds says...

      I did this exact thing too with my college roommates! I still strongly associate brownies with them, even though I made them all the time growing up at home.

  42. Whitney Olson says...

    I’ve tried so many from scratch recipes and nothing will every match a box brownie. I will never make the effort again.

  43. Kim says...

    I actually love making brownies from scratch. They are so easy! I prefer a more cakey texture. When it is too fudgey all I can think about is that it’s not cooked enough and/or the egg balance is messed up. I do like dark chocolate chunks (the Whole Foods ones) mixed in.

  44. Elizabeth says...

    I’ve been making Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies with added semi-sweet chips for years. In my opinion, you can’t beat ’em.

    • Lauren R says...

      yeah, this is what my grandma always used and she also adds chips, and i still love it!

  45. Grace says...

    Wait what about the yellow box brownies from Trader Joe’s??? Those have been our favorite for years

  46. Elizabeth says...

    Let me change your life real quick:

    Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a mug.
    Add 2 Tbsp sugar, 2 Tbsp flour, 1 Tbsp cocoa powder, 1 Tbsp water, and a tiny bit of salt and vanilla.
    Microwave 30-45 seconds and eat with a spoon after your kids go to bed.

    *Mug desserts usually don’t live up to the real thing. This is an exception to the rule!!!

    • Sinds says...

      I have been buying those ridiculously expensive “brownie in a cup” things from Whole Foods just to achieve this. THANK YOU.

    • Lisa says...

      This sounds delicious and a perfect portion size! Thanks for the idea!

  47. Coleen says...

    Fat Witch Brownie Mix from New York is a good choice as well.

  48. Bess Williamson says...

    I’m sure these are good but Trader Joe’s truffle brownies (their main brownie mix) are amazing, especially if not-too-overcooked. That said, they make a very thin brownie in a 9×9 pan.

  49. K says...

    Very funny report-
    I, too, am a from-scratch baker but cannot find the recipe that matches the boxed version of brownies. It’s just not the same.

    BUT

    Betty Crocker fudge brownie gets my number one.

  50. Lulu says...

    That kitchen looks great – I’m curious about the rest of the home. May we please
    have a house tour?

  51. Abesha1 says...

    Gluten free box mix: the ones from Trader Joe’s. Brown rice is the flour and they’re chewy, crackly, densely fudgy.

  52. Roxana says...

    I really want a brownie now, but there are none :(

    I will go raid the kids’ Easter basket candy instead.

    Sniff. . . sniff. . .

  53. Christina says...

    This is so funny. For YEARS, I have sworn that Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge 13×9 is the best brownie mix. I do a lot of cooking and baking from scratch, but I’m with Jenny – there’s something so comforting about the ones from childhood. I’m glad to finally have science to back up my claim!! Thank you, CoJ, for the fun, lighthearted pieces.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      I think you mean “science” :)

  54. Sarah M says...

    I love this series! My favorite mix is harder to find but so good…the “No pudge! Fudge” brownies. All you need is plain yogurt and is sooo delicious.

  55. My family was the baked-goods-from-scratch-purist kind growing up… except for brownies. I don’t know if that was because it was easier or just somehow more enjoyable, but we were right there with you, Jenny. We always made the Ghirardelli kind and served them with ice cream. Nostalgic heaven.

  56. Katy says...

    Honestly, the Cup of Jo Best Salted Caramel Brownies are the easiest and most delicious dessert I know how to make — that I’ll never buy another box mix again.

  57. A says...

    Am I the only who wants to see a beauty uniform post from Jerrelle!?

  58. Marisa says...

    I swear by that Duncan Hines mix – two boxes, 9×13 pan, and follow the directions for fudgy NOT cakey brownies. Perfection.

  59. Brooke says...

    The timing on this is crazy! I made boxed brownies last night at 11pm (don’t ask!) and brought some to work today. I haven’t made brownies in YEARS and then to read this today! So weird! Unfortunately, I think mine were the last place brand…but I liked the flavor of nostalgia! I’m going to go buy the Pillsbury ones next time.

    • Cecilia Jennings says...

      Yes, this is my go-to as well!! I recently had a friend tell me he only eats box brownies (sounds like he’s on Jenny’s team on this subject!) — but these were a hit!! Plus they smell sooo delicious right from the start

    • Amy says...

      These are also my now-only brownie recipe! Although, this recipe does come from Alice Medrich via Deb ;)

    • Louisa says...

      Ditto! I mix it all in a big Pyrex measuring cup. So simple and so perfect.

    • Bates says...

      Also my go to. Although recently started making the brownies in Brave Tart. Also delish.

    • Chelsey says...

      I was waiting to see this comment! 100% yes

  60. Lexy says...

    I’m a firm believer in a crispy lid and a chewy center. I don’t want cake—I’m eating a brownie. And though I applaud blind taste tests and quick fixes, I just can’t quit Deb Perelman’s favorite brownies: https://smittenkitchen.com/2012/08/my-favorite-brownies/

    I can customize them depending on my mood, but I always freeze the leftovers in one-inch squares as a love letter to myself in the future (also my kids never look there!).

    • Lucy says...

      Hahaha! These are my favorite (and my kids’ favorite). I will have to try your trick of hiding them in the freezer :)

    • Lulu says...

      Hi Lexy,

      I love the idea of freezing one-inch squares of brownie ( or anything delicious really) I also ADORE the idea of this being a ‘love letter to myself in the future’.

      You’ve made my day : )

      x Lulu

    • Tammy says...

      Just two days ago I told my husband that if I’d known about this recipe earlier, I would quit buying boxed brownies a long time ago. SO easy and SO delicious. Smitten Kitchen forever!

  61. Heidi says...

    Ghirardelli. (The red box not the purple pictured.) With a Tablespoon of Espresso powder added to the mix.

    The only way.

  62. Becca says...

    I swear by Aldi’s brownie mix. It’s better than any other I’ve tried, and it’s 89 cents!!!

    • Amanda says...

      I was just coming down here to say this. Aldi’s box mix is the absolute best no debate.

    • Laura says...

      Yes! The Aldi mix is my go-to as well.

    • Anna says...

      Yes yes yes!!!!! Perfect every time! I get SO many compliments every time I make them & there are NEVER any leftovers. Truly the best.

    • Cindy says...

      totally agree that Aldi has the BEST boxes brownie mix! I try different, fancier brands but keep coming back to Aldi. Anna is right – NEVER have leftovers.

    • Heather says...

      These! I’m a teacher, and the dessert the kids have raved the most about has been the brownies from the Aldi mix!

    • Alison says...

      Yep! 100%

  63. Mallory says...

    And I just want to know what color her nail polish is! Ha!

    • Hani says...

      Yeah! Scrolling the comments to see if anyone else asked&got that answered! :D

    • Laura says...

      Same! I feel like I desperately need to know as it looks like the perfect neutral which is so hard to find.

  64. Emily says...

    Annie’s (as in Annie’s mac and cheese brand), has a great box brownie mix. Hard to find, it’s only at one of our four area grocery stores (Safeway).

    • Katie Larissa says...

      Try Annie’s cinnamon rolls in a can! They actually taste homemade!

    • Claire says...

      Yes, agreed! In our household we don’t even consider another recipe, less we risk disappointment and heartbreak.

  65. Karina says...

    I am a bit disappointed by this post as i never use ready made cake mixes; I always bake from scratch. It’s not surprising that I just love baking.
    Brownies are so easy to make and I like to know what goes into them. Most cake mixes have a whole lot of stuff in them that is just not good. The recipe I love is ‘Nigel Slater’s Very, Very Good Chocolate Brownies’ (I live in England). I have adapted it, adding more chocolate chunks and a variation of nuts and they always get great reviews. Much better than a mix!

    • Michelle says...

      Not everyone may have the time or ingredients on hand to bake things from scratch. COJ is providing readers informative choices when they go to the grocery store. Also, last December, COJ posted a brownie recipe with instructions on how to make it if that makes you less disappointed.

    • jill says...

      Totally agree Karina! Hv a beautiful day!

    • Hilary says...

      I agree brownies are simple to make, but I think the point of this post is that many actually prefer the taste of boxed mixes! I know I’ve tried a ton of recipes and every time, our guests say that the Ghiradelli ones are tastier!

  66. Rosie says...

    The Ghiradelli brownies but made with olive oil are the best boxed option in my opinion. I love the recipe inside the Bakers SemiSweet box as well.

    • Carol-Anne Powell says...

      I agree! I thought for certain that Ghiradelli would be voted number 1. They’re the best I’ve ever eaten!

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      I am VERY intrigued by the olive oil idea here. Definitely going to try that out down the road!

    • LB says...

      Same. I made Ghiradelli when I was in a pinch this past weekend for a birthday party and they were devoured.

      More and more, I try to make sure my chocolate isn’t from soul-crushing, earth-destroying companies like Nestle.

    • KC says...

      Note: different Ghirardelli mixes taste different – my absolute favorite brownie mix is their double chocolate, but I tried the triple chocolate once, and meh. So there is that: choose your Ghirardelli wisely. :-)

  67. Chris says...

    The chips must have ruled this one out of contention for the taste test, but Ghirardelli Double Chocolate for life. It’s been featured on a previous Cup of Jo post and for good reason.

    • Ali says...

      Definitely the best!

    • Roxana says...

      Yes, yes and yes! I completely agree. Best brownies.

    • Sarah says...

      Agree x1000

    • Erin says...

      My pantry is never without Ghirardelli Double Chocolate. Ever.

    • Rebecca says...

      Totally agree! Ghirardelli Double Chocolate are the best!

  68. Emily says...

    These series’ are so fun! Is there anything better than warm brownies from a box with a scoop of ice cream? Would be fun to serve as dessert at a dinner party.

  69. Susan says...

    I have never made a box mix brownie in my life— homemade ones are so easy and superior! (In my opinion). Brownies are better slightly under-baked, than over. One of my go-to recipes is Nestle Toll House double chocolate chip brownies. Yum!

  70. Cheryl says...

    I can also vouch for the Ghirardelli double chocolate. I always have some on hand for school bake sales or a last minute dessert (preferably with ice cream). For the GF among us, I second the vote above for Krusteaz GF brownies. They are dense and chocolatey and altogether fantastic. Everyone in our house (GF or not) gobbles them up. The mix can be a bit hard to find, however. Walmart usually has it, or Amazon (but you might have to buy in bulk).

  71. Hannah says...

    I use Betty Crocker Fudge, but with one modification: I pulverize and add 10 double stuffed Oreos into the batter. I mix it in really well, so there are no Oreo pieces, but it gives the brownie a richer chocolate taste, you get an added milkiness from the cream, and the chemical taste is totally gone.

    You can add the pulverized Oreos to any brownie mix, but BC is usually the easiest to find at our little neighborhood market.

    • Robin S. says...

      You’re a genius.

  72. Elizabeth R says...

    Also, she should get the just the edges brownie baking pan.

  73. Elizabeth R says...

    I am team Betty Crocker Triple Chunk.

  74. Anne says...

    I just add a generous squeeze of chocolate syrup to whatever mix I make. Extraaaaa fudgy!

  75. rosy loves cupofjo says...

    so sorry offtopic but Jerrelle – what nailpolish are you wearing? it’s the perfect shade!

    • Ashley says...

      I thought the same thing!!

    • Laura says...

      Same! I need to know!

  76. DEB says...

    Aldi has a great brownie mix too.

    • Becca says...

      YES!!

  77. Ghiradelli fan here…. I stock up on them at Grocery Outlet when they’re on sale. The triple chocolate or dark chocolate always make my brother happy.

    I can’t stand anything Pillsbury… they always just taste chemical-ly to me.

  78. Lisa says...

    Trader Joe’s Brownie Truffle Baking Mix FTW! I keep a box of this mix whenever I need a last minute something to take with me. I get asked about them every time.

    • Valerie says...

      Agreed!! Also a pantry staple for me. People lose their minds! To be fair they call for an entire stick of butter… yum.

    • Claire says...

      Yassss! The Trader Joe’s Brownie Truffle Baking Mix is my go-to also!

    • Lisa says...

      Yes, this should have been included! Best box mix brownie for sure!

    • Lacey says...

      Same! I’m making them for book club tonight! They are superior to all other box brownies. But, I know not everyone has a TJ nearby.

    • Hilary says...

      Omg I’m a HUGE TJ’s fan, but I’ve never read anything about their brownie mixes. I’ll need to pick up a box!!

    • Bess Williamson says...

      yes. above and beyond and people are always amazed thinking that I must have made them from scratch.

  79. Ashley says...

    Trader Joe’s Brownie Truffle Baking Mix can’t be beat!

  80. Alyssa says...

    I am deeply committed to Ghiradelli’s Dark Chocolate mix. Perhaps this is the first step in developing the skills necessary to buy something else at the store.

    • Brownie inside and out! says...

      Me too- for at least 12 years now I have been committed to Ghirardelli’s Dark Chocolate brownies baked for exactly 42 minutes, no matter what the directions say. No more, no less. Baking time, even a minute or two, can make or break any brownie recipe in my opinion!

  81. Olivia says...

    What a cute idea! As the wife of a man with celiac disease (bummer for us both, I’m not some monster who’d make gluten-containing desserts at home!), I’d like to recommend Krusteaz brand. Their pancakes mix is also fantastic. The best I’ve had, though probably very expensive, are Williams Sonoma.

    BAD brand (for brownies) is Bob’s Red Mill…there’s nothing fudgy or yummy about them.

    • Maggie says...

      Thank you for this. My son has celiac disease and I’m always looking for recommendations. Trial & error adds up!

    • Sara says...

      David Lebovitz’s GF brownie recipe is amazing (so good that it’s our go-to brownie, even though we are not a GF household) – it doesn’t have any weird ingredients or alt flours. The GF binder is cornstarch! Potato starch also works as a 1:1 sub for the cornstarch. I made 4 other brownie recipes this year and had settled on Smitten Kitchen’s Favorite Brownie as our go-to before making these on a whim for Passover and being blown away by their fudgy, super chocolatey deliciousness.

    • Christina says...

      Thanks, Olivia! My brother-in-law has celiac disease. I’ve tried the Betty Crocker gluten-free brownies (yellow box) and the mixing / add-ins are soooo different than glutenous brownies, but I actually like them better than any other box mix! I will have to try Krusteaz next.

    • Emily says...

      I feel totally different about Bob’s! I am not gluten-intolerant and don’t have celiac but I made them and they are my FAVOURITE boxed brownie. My favourite brownie, at all, to be honest. Maybe I under-baked them a little? Whatever happened, it was magic.

  82. Hannah G says...

    I grew up in a bake-from-scratch household, and when I was 35-ish weeks pregnant I flew home so my mom could baby me for a week (before I had to do the baby-ing). Bless my parents, they were in the middle of a move and the house was filled with boxes and they threw a “Brownie Sundae Sunday Night” as a going-away/celebrate our daughter party. The brownies were the best thing I ever put in my mouth and when I asked my mom for the recipe she laughed and said,”They’re just the Ghirardelli from Costco.”

    That right gave me the permission I didn’t know I needed to let boxed brownie mix into my life, and Ghirardelli became my new-mom, “I need chocolate now!” sanity saver. Always and forever Ghirardelli brownies, who knew?

    • Genevieve says...

      Your parents sound amazing, Hannah!

    • Robin says...

      Made the Ghiradelli double chocolate brownies for a super bowl party one year. Asked by many for the recipe, I simply responded that they were from a secret family recipe!!! So delish. Although we are a grain-free family now….

  83. Colleen says...

    I just started following the FoodBabe on instagram (thanks to Sara Blakely of Spanx) and I wonder what she would think about the ingredients on the box.

  84. Charlotte K says...

    I think the one pot brownie recipe from the Bakers Chocolate bar makes the best brownies (it uses real butter) and it’s easy as any of the mixes. I always underbake them a bit. I’ve tried making brownies with fancy chocolate and it doesn’t pay off.

    • Rosie says...

      I just got on here to say that! I’ve been making those since I was a child and they’re still my favorite.

    • Gigi says...

      100%!!! I was going to comment this too. These have the absolute best real chocolate buttery flavor. Been making them since I was little.

  85. H says...

    Was just thinking about making some brownies for The Bachelorette premier girls night next week (I know, I know) but haven’t bought a box mix in years. So helpful and SO timely! Thanks, CoJ!!
    xo

  86. my fave is Namaste Brownie mix – it’s gluten free and, most importantly for me, dairy free. it is so SO GOOD.

  87. Rachael says...

    I made the Pilsbury boxed mix once, and we were totally out of vegetable oil, so I subbed olive oil and it was the best brownie I have ever had.

    • SB says...

      And apparently, according to my olive oil place, you can sub in like raspberry or lemon infused olive oil for the best dang brownie of your life? I’m wheat and almond flour intolerant so can’t experiment easily but y’all gotta give this a go for me!

    • Cory says...

      I bake with olive oil all the time, it is so good! And the comment below about the infused olive oil reminded me of vanilla ice cream with good lemon olive oil drizzled on it. Sounds crazy but it is unbelievable!!!

    • Katie says...

      I’ve made brownies (Duncan Hines Fudge, for the record :)) with blood orange olive oil–heaven!!