These fudgy brownies are rich and chewy but so easy to make! Bonus: they're dairy-free, and lower in saturated fat than brownies with butter!
Do you know anyone that doesn't like brownies? I sure don't.
Brownies are great because they're versatile. Want to eat one with your hands standing over the kitchen sink? Go ahead! Want to dress one up by serving it warm with a scoop of ice cream and hot fudge sauce? Totally do-able!
And as a bonus, they're super easy to make, with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry (and fridge). At least these ones are.
This recipe was born at the start of the pandemic when baking ingredients were scarce. I wanted to make my kids a treat, but butter was in short supply and I didn't have any chocolate. So I made brownies without them, using cocoa powder and oil instead.
I was amazed at how great they turned out, and because they're so easy to make, this has become my default brownie recipe. Read on to find out how to make them.
How to make Fudgy Cocoa Brownies:
One of the reasons I love this brownie recipe so much is because it's so easy! You won't need any special equipment you don't already have, you don't need to use an electric mixer, and the ingredients are probably already waiting in your pantry!
All you need to do to mix up this brownie batter is to whisk together the dry ingredients, then whisk together the wet ingredients, then fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a spatula.
Once that's done, you simply spread the batter into your baking pan, and bake. Just make sure you don't leave them in the oven too long, or you may end up with dry brownies (see FAQ's, below).
Fudgy Cocoa Brownie Ingredients:
- All purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Cocoa powder: I've always used Dutch-processed cocoa in this recipe, but natural cocoa (like Hershey's) will work just fine too.
- Powdered sugar: This helps to thicken the batter and make the brownies more chewy.
- Kosher salt
- Instant coffee powder: When you use instant coffee in small amounts in your baked goods, it helps to intensify the flavor of chocolate - not make them coffee flavored. If you don't have any, feel free to omit it.
- Canola oil: Or substitute any other neutral flavored cooking oil.
- Water: Helps to keep the brownies soft and moist. You could replace with cooled coffee if you don't have any instant coffee powder.
- Vanilla extract
- Chocolate chips: I like the texture of having bits of chocolate in my brownies. However, you could skip them if you prefer plain brownies, or replace with other mixins. Chopped chocolate of any type is an option (try white chocolate for visual interest, or Andes mints would make a great chocolate-mint flavor). Or replace with chopped nuts like pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts. Or try candies like M&M's or toffee bits.
Why are my brownies dry?
The biggest factor in whether your brownies turn out dry, or soft and fudgy is how long you cook them.
If your brownies end up dry, you probably overcooked them. You want to pull your brownies out when the top is dry, but before the center has fully set.
If you use the toothpick method to test for doneness, it will still have a wet coating on it, and that's ok. Don't overcook your brownies!!
How do I get my brownies out of the pan without them falling apart?
Follow the instructions in the recipe below to prepare your baking pan with parchment paper and oil.
I've tried lots of different methods in pan prep including just greasing the pan (the brownies stuck to the pan) and using foil instead of parchment (the foil stuck to the brownies, and was difficult to peel off).
Also, make sure your brownies are cooled before trying to cut and remove them from the pan. Otherwise, the brownies will be too soft and will fall apart when you try to cut them up.
Can I change the brownie recipe?
I don't recommend changing the base brownie recipe significantly, as it may negatively affect the quality of your brownies.
However, I did find in testing that the sugar could be cut down to ¾ of a cup without a significant negative effect. If you don't want your brownies very sweet, try using ¾ of a cup of granulated sugar.
Any less sugar than that resulted in brownies that were too dry and not sweet enough. Any more sugar than 1 cup (I tried using up to 1 ½ cups of granulated sugar) resulted in brownies that were very sweet.
Want more chocolate dessert recipes?
Easy Cocoa Fudgy Brownies Nutrition Notes:
The nutrition information in the recipe below is for the recipe as written, including the optional chocolate chips. If you skip the chocolate chips or use a different mix-in instead, the nutrition information will be slightly altered.
Note that these brownies will be lower in saturated fat than brownies that use butter in the recipe, which means they are slightly heart-healthier.
However, they are still dessert, and still high in fat and calories overall, so enjoy in moderation.
Easy Fudgy Cocoa Brownies
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup cocoa powder
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon instant coffee powder
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup canola oil
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup dark (semisweet) chocolate chips optional
- Heat oven to 325°F and move oven rack to the middle position. Cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a 9x9" baking pan (trace around the bottom of the pan on a piece of parchment with pencil, and cut it out). Generously oil the sides of the pan, and lay the parchment on the bottom of the pan (gently oil the bottom of the pan to help the parchment stick). Set the prepared pan aside.
- Sift together the granulated sugar, flour, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, salt, and instant coffee in a medium bowl. Whisk gently until mixed.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, canola oil, water, and vanilla. Pour the dry ingredient mixture over the egg mixture and fold together until mixed. Fold in chocolate chips (if using) until incorporated.
- Spread the batter (it will be thick) into the prepared baking pan. Do this carefully so that the parchment doesn't slide around. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top appears dry, but the center will not be set (a toothpick will still have a chocolatey coating). Do not overbake.
- Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the freezer.
Nutrition Disclaimer: I try my best to make sure the nutrition information I provide is accurate to provide you with the best information possible. However, due to ingredient discrepancies and other factors, the above nutrition information should be considered an estimation only.