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The Best Brownie Mixes

Packaged mixes are convenient, but are any worth making?


Published Feb. 22, 2022.

See Everything We Tested

What You Need To Know

There's nothing like freshly baked brownies. We love baking them from scratch, but we also love the ease and convenience of brownie mixes. With so many products on the market, we wanted to know which one is best. Our lineup included nine nationally available brands—including a reader favorite from Trader Joe's. 

Looking for Rich Chocolate Flavor

First and foremost, brownies should be chocolaty, and some brownies in our lineup were more chocolaty than others. They all contained cocoa powder, a common ingredient in chocolate desserts since it’s powdered and has a high proportion of flavorful cocoa solids. All but two brownie mixes included Dutched cocoa, which has been treated with an alkalizing agent that neutralizes the cocoa’s natural acid. Dutched cocoa is darker in color and provides deeper, earthier chocolate notes than nonalkalized cocoa (natural cocoa powder). One brownie mix containing only natural cocoa powder produced light-colored brownies that were a little lacking in chocolate flavor. The other had two additional ingredients, melted chocolate and coffee sprinkles, that helped it taste more chocolaty (more on that later).

Even some of the mixes that contained Dutched cocoa powder produced brownies that didn’t have enough chocolate flavor. Without strong chocolate flavor, these brownies tasted too sweet.

All our favorite brownie mixes got chocolaty boosts from an additional ingredient (or two), including chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, melted chocolate, a blend of cocoa powders, and even coffee sprinkles (see “Why Are Some Brownies More Chocolaty Than Others?”). These ingredients provided impressively strong, chocolate-forward flavor that our tasters loved. 

We Like Crackly, Shiny Crusts and Fudgy, Moist Interiors

In general, brownies range from cakey to fudgy in texture. Most of the brownies in our lineup were fudgy, and our tasters loved their moist, chewy textures. However, three of the brownies were disappointing. One was particularly “sticky,” like “taffy.” Another was a touch dry, and the last was almost too moist; tasters found it “a bit gummy.”

The tops of a few of the brownies were crackled, and we loved this textural contrast; the textures of other brownies were more uniform from top to bottom. Over the years we’ve developed many recipes for brownies, and we've learned that sugar, fat, and egg all play a role in achieving this crackled surface. Some of the manufacturers had clearly engineered a crackly, crispy top for their brownies, and we loved it when they did.

Making Boxed Brownies Should Be Simple

There’s one more thing to consider when buying brownie mixes: how convenient they are to make. Th...

Everything We Tested

*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.

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The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing.

Carolyn Grillo

Carolyn is a senior editor for ATK Reviews. She's a French-trained professional baker.