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Boxed Brownie Mixes

Published December 2008

How we tested

There are times, like a last-minute bake sale or Cub Scout meeting, when the convenience of a boxed brownie mix is appealing. To find out which of these mixes are any good, we rounded up seven national brands of boxed brownie mixes, did extensive pretasting to determine a sole contender from brands that offer different styles, baked them according to package instructions, and called our tasters to the table.

As expected, the majority of the brownies were awful, featuring “chemical” flavors, cloying sweetness, and a distinct lack of chocolate flavor. There were, however, two bright spots. A pair of brownie mixes from chocolate manufacturers were actually pretty good—not as good as homemade, but surprisingly close.

What separated these brands from the pack? For one, they were the only mixes to include additional sources of chocolate (other than chips). One mix comes with a packet of chocolate syrup; another mix has both semisweet chocolate chunks and mini chocolate chips. Tasters also praised the “rich,” “balanced” chocolate flavor of these mixes, which comes in part from their inclusion of both natural and Dutch-processed cocoa powder. (Our third-place also contains both types of cocoa.) We often find natural cocoa powder bitter, but used in conjunction with milder Dutch-processed cocoa, plenty of sugar, and another source of chocolate, it can make for richer, more chocolaty brownies.

Most mixes call for vegetable oil; one of our winning mixes calls for butter, which contributes richness and flavor and gave this brand a significant leg up in our tasting.

The Results

  • Recommended

    • Winner

      Ghirardelli Chocolate Supreme Brownie Mix

      $3.69 for 18.75 ounces
    • Winner

      Barefoot Contessa Outrageous Brownie Mix

      $8.99 for 20.8 ounces
  • Recommended with Reservations

    • Pillsbury Brownie Classics Traditional Fudge Premium Brownie Mix

      $2.59 for 19.5 ounces
    • Betty Crocker Hershey’s Ultimate Fudge Supreme Brownie Mix

      $2.99 for 21 ounces
  • Not Recommended

    • Duncan Hines Family-Style Chewy Fudge Brownies

      $1.69 for 21 ounces
    • King Arthur Flour All-American Fudge Brownie Mix

      $3.83 for 18 ounces
    • Cherrybrook Kitchen Fudge Brownie Mix with Chocolate Chips

      $5.29 for 16 ounces
*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.