A photo showing all the brownie recipes from Hummingbird High's brownie bake off.

My Search For The Best Brownie Recipes On The Internet

In case you missed it, I spent this month baking brownie recipes from my favorite cookbook authors and recipe developers on the internet! I chose the following recipes:

Admittedly, all the brownies were pretty delicious. Below is a summary of each recipe, with notes on the good, bad, and a “grade” ranking the brownies out of 10. I hated grading them because— let’s be honest—tastes are pretty subjective. What I like best in a brownie isn’t necessarily what YOU like best. So definitely read through my notes to find the recipe that appeals most to you!

A photo of Claire Saffitz's brownies.

My Review of Claire Saffitz’s Brownies

I’m going to be honest with you guys—Claire Saffitz’s brownie recipe is not my favorite brownie recipe. It’s good, but not great. I like milk chocolate, but when combined with the other chocolate elements in Claire’s recipe, it was almost too much. Because of the milk chocolate, I found her brownies to be overly sweet. I realized I much preferred brownies made with dark chocolate.

Another thing I didn’t like about her recipe? It was super fussy and more time consuming than it should have been. Although I liked her technique of blooming the cocoa powder, I didn’t think that her technique of chilling the brownies was worthwhile. The brownies were plenty chewy already (especially since she instructed you to mix them for longer than what’s normal).

Finally, of all the brownies I baked this month, Claire’s recipe made the least appetizing-looking brownies on many levels. First, the batter was unappealing. At several points of the recipe, I was worried it had split like ganache. Although she does warn you that the batter won’t come together until after the eggs are added, no other recipes had this issue.

The finished product itself had a lot to be desired. Other brownie recipes I baked had shiny chocolate tops that flaked like paper when sliced. Claire’s brownies, on the other hand, had a dull and matte sheen. They were the only brownies that didn’t flake when sliced. I think it has to do with the malted milk powder in the recipe—I noticed bakers who had made the recipe but omitted the milk powder had that shiny top. But I was reluctant to leave it out of my version since Claire hyped up the ingredient so much!

TL/DR Notes About Claire Saffitz’s Brownie Recipe

  • The Good: This is a great brownie recipe for those who love milk chocolate, and those who like their brownies on the sweeter and chewier side.

  • The Bad: Three major strikes here: 1)The recipe uses a kinda obscure ingredient (malted milk powder). 2) It is time consuming to make—Claire’s recipe instructs you to chill the brownies for an hour or two after baking them. 3) The original recipe creates pretty unappetizing looking brownies, with a curdled looking batter and brownies with a dull, matte top. Eeeek.

  • Final Thoughts: Not my favorite brownie recipe. The recipe in her cookbook contained a handful of errors and questionable techniques that didn’t really pay off in terms of flavor. Both the batter and finished brownies didn’t look great in terms of appearance. That being said, I made some changes to her recipe that I think led to better results? I liked the recipe a lot better after the changes!

  • What I Would Improve If I Made Them Again: I actually listed all the changes I made to her recipe in my blog post about her recipe! I corrected the measurement errors in her original recipe, as well as added a milk chocolate topping to hide its lackluster top. I also think I would skip the chilling process she instructs you to do. It really doesn’t seem necessary!

  • If I Had To Grade Them: I would maybe give her original recipe a 6.5 out of 10? Though I upped it to a 7, 7.5 out of 10 after I made my changes. Interestingly enough, Claire Saffitz’s brownie recipe came out on top in this brownie bake-off on Camille Styles… so again, take my opinions with a grain of salt!
A picture of Sarah Kieffer's brownies.

My Review of Sarah Kieffer’s Brownies

Of the four brownie recipes I made this month, Sarah Kieffer’s brownies tasted the most like boxed mix brownies. They were lighter, less intense, and less chocolaty than the other brownie recipes in contention.

I’m pretty sure it’s because, of the four recipes I tried, it was the only one that used a leavener (baking powder). The baking powder gave the brownies a lighter, airier texture. I am always suspicious of brownie recipes with either baking powder or baking soda in their ingredients list. Leaveners tend to make brownies more cake-like. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Sarah Kieffer’s brownies still had a fudge brownie texture—just not one quite as fudgy as my recipe, Stella’s, or Claire’s.

Another thing that distinguished Sarah’s recipe from the other brownie recipes was her use of oil. Her recipe uses more oil than the other brownie recipes I tried this month. While using oil can make brownies chewier, it can also make them blander. At the end of the day, I think the high amount of oil in her brownies are the reason why Sarah’s brownies tasted less intense and chocolaty.

Although it sounds like I didn’t love Sarah’s recipe, I actually liked her brownies a lot! I think her recipe is a good one to make if you want brownies that are less heavy and rich. I also appreciated that, unlike Claire’s or Stella’s recipes, her recipe came together quickly and easily. There were no surprising or time-consuming steps. It was the only recipe that I didn’t make any major changes to (though, I did increase the Bake Time slightly because I found the time listed in her book to be too short).

I definitely want to make Sarah Kieffer’s brownies again. However, I think I would play around with its butter and oil ratios. In the future, I plan on increasing the amount of butter relative to oil to give the brownies more flavor.

TL/DR Notes About Sarah Kieffer’s Brownie Recipe

  • The Good: This is a great brownie recipe for those who love boxed mix and less intensely chocolaty brownies. The recipe comes together quickly and easily, with no overly fussy or complicated techniques.

  • The Bad: When doing a side-by-side taste test of all four brownie recipes, Sarah Kieffer’s brownies definitely tasted the most bland. This is due to the high amount of oil in her recipe. The other brownie recipes primarily used butter, and you could really taste the difference!

  • Final Thoughts: I liked Sarah Kieffer’s brownie recipe a LOT. This is definitely one I’m bookmarking for when I’m craving lighter brownies.

  • What I Would Improve If I Made Them Again: I would want to play around with the recipe’s butter to oil ratio. I think swapping out half of the oil in her recipe with butter will lead to more flavorful brownies.

    On the flip side, Sarah’s recipe inspired me to try subbing out the butter in my brownie recipe to make their texture chewier!

  • If I Had To Grade Them: 8.5/10
A picture of Stella Parks' brownies.

My Review of Stella Parks’ Brownies

Of the four brownie recipes I made this month, Stella Parks’ brownie recipe was my favorite (beyond my own). I loved their rich, decadent flavor. I thought they were the perfect thickness, and I could not get over how glossy and shiny their tops were. That being said, many of the folks I gave samples to found her brownies to be TOO decadent. Her brownies are definitely intense! Even despite my major sweet tooth, I found it hard to have more than one brownie at a time. While some people argued that this was a bad thing, I thought it was a favorable quality since their richness kept me from overindulging.

The only “con” I could really think of was that her recipe was pretty time-consuming and fussy when compared to other brownie recipes. Although it doesn’t take quite as much time as Claire Saffitz’s brownie recipe, there were several steps—like browning the butter, and whipping the sugar and eggs—that still took a fair amount of time. It was also the only recipe that used a stand mixer and two different attachments, leading to more clean-up afterwards. This is definitely not the brownie recipe to make if you’re in a rush.

TL/DR Notes About Stella Parks’ Brownie Recipe

  • The Good: This is a great brownie recipe for those who don’t mind a more time consuming and involved baking recipe with potential new-to-you techniques, and/or love super thick, rich, and indulgent bakery-style brownies.

  • The Bad: If you’re used to the ease of boxed mix brownies, this recipe might shock you. It involves several time consuming techniques (like browning butter and whipping the batter for a significant amount of time). It also calls for more specialized baking equipment like a stand mixer with both a whisk and paddle attachment.

  • Final Thoughts: If I owned a bakery and wanted to sell brownies professionally, I would probably steal Stella’s recipe. These are definitely “professional”, “bakery-style” brownies in terms of flavor, appearance, and the amount of work required!

  • What I Would Improve If I Made Them Again: In the blog post, I’ve already outlined the minor changes I made to Stella’s brownie recipe to make the recipe more friendly to the average home baker. In the future, I plan on playing around with the brown butter component of the recipe. While the brown butter is delicious, I’m curious to see if the recipe would work with melted butter. Using regular melted butter would certainly shave off Work Time from the recipe and make them more weeknight baking friendly.

  • If I Had To Grade Them: 9.5/10
my best fudgy brownies recipe

My Review of My Best Fudgy Brownie Recipe

I’m not going to lie—I was nervous to see how my best fudgy brownie recipe would stack up against the other brownies from heavyweight professional recipe developers. I’m happy to say that my recipe held up! I think, of all the recipes I tried this month, my best fudgy brownie recipe was the best in terms of flavor and the level-of-effort required to make the recipe.

That being said, when comparing them to the other recipes, I do think there’s STILL some room for improvement. My best fudgy brownie recipe made brownies that were much thinner than the other recipes’ brownies. In the future, I plan on playing around with the ingredient ratios to produce a thicker brownie. I’m also not sure if the chocolate chips in the recipe are necessary. While the chips make a beautiful brownie, they kind of distract from the shiny, glossy top of the brownies. I also think I prefer a brownie that’s tender all the way through, without the texture of chocolate chips.

So look out for a new-and-improved “My Best Fudgy Brownies Recipe” sometime in the near future!

TL/DR Notes About My Best Fudgy Brownies Recipe

  • The Good: This is a great brownie recipe for those who don’t want to put in a ton of effort into making brownies, but still want something that tastes delicious and more elevated than boxed mix brownies. The recipe comes together quickly and easily, with no overly fussy or complicated techniques.

  • The Bad: If you want super thick, bakery-style brownies, this recipe might not be for you. The recipe makes thinner-than-usual brownies. Their thinness, however, ensures that the brownies aren’t too intense and rich.

  • Final Thoughts: When I want to make delicious, better-than-boxed-mix brownies quickly, this will still be my go-to brownie recipe!

  • What I Would Improve If I Made Them Again: In the future, I plan on tweaking the recipe to produce slightly thicker brownies. I also want to remove the chocolate chips to create a brownie that’s tender all the way through, with an uninterrupted shiny, glossy top.

  • If I Had To Grade Them: 9.5/10

Future Recipe Bake-Offs

That’s all for now, folks! Please let me know if you enjoyed this series. If you did, I’d love to know what recipes you would want to see in a bake-off next. Chocolate chip cookies? Banana bread? Blueberry muffins?

You know I’m down for anything.

Michelle holding Weeknight Baking cookbook covering her face.

buy the book
Weeknight Baking:
Recipes to Fit your Schedule

Over the past several years of running Hummingbird High, I kept a crucial aspect of my life hidden from my readers: I had a full-time, extremely demanding job in the tech world. In my debut cookbook, Weeknight Baking, I finally reveal the secrets to baking delicious desserts on a tight schedule.