When that chocolate craving strikes, there’s nothing like a rich, decadent brownie to satiate it. It can be tantalizing to wait for them to cook, and frustrating when that process seems to be moving slower than it should.
Even worse, what happens when your brownies aren’t cooking, and are coming out swampy and raw in the middle?
Follow Your Recipe Exactly
There are a lot of mistakes that you might make along the way when making brownies that can result in an undercooked final product. That is why it is important to follow your recipe exactly.
Baking and cooking are different. Baking depends very much on getting the chemical reactions and bonding of ingredients just right. For that reason, there isn’t as much room to customize recipes until you really know what you’re doing.
First, read through your entire recipe, from beginning to end, before you start the cooking process. That way, you can make sure you have all of the necessary ingredients and equipment. If not, either choose another recipe or make a run to the store.
You’ll want to prepare all of your ingredients, measuring carefully (more on that below), before you begin.
Then, read and reread as you go along. Be especially careful to mix ingredients exactly as the recipe directs. Typically, you want to mix brownie ingredients until they’re just incorporated, no more and no less.
The Best Way to Measure Your Ingredients for Baking
Put away your measuring cups, folks. Did you know that measuring cups often yield an inaccurate amount of food?
Measuring cups measure your ingredients by volume, but most recipes are designed for a precise weight measure. Therefore, it is better to use a kitchen scale or food scale.
Look for a recipe that calls for ingredients in weight. Otherwise, you just need to convert your ingredients to weight using a conversion calculator.
Ribbon Your Eggs and Sugar
To help your ingredients along in the combining process, you might want to follow a technique called ribboning. It is pretty simple: whip your eggs and sugar together using an electric beater until they form a pale-yellow color.
It is likely that your recipe calls for you to combine eggs and sugar separately, and if so, this is the best method. If not, and there aren’t other specific instructions for the eggs and sugar other than to add them to other ingredients, you can still utilize it.
Ribboning helps prevent undercooked brownies because the eggs are one of the wet ingredients and combining them well with the sugar helps them bind to the other dry ingredients, thus preventing them from clumping.
Bonus hint: let your eggs come to room temperature before you begin, since cold eggs don’t mix as well. Just give them about 30 to 45 minutes on the counter.
Check Your Oven Temperature
The problem might actually lie with your oven itself. First, double check your recipe and make sure you’ve preheated your oven to the correct temperature, and always wait for your oven to completely preheat before putting food inside.
Don’t open your oven once the brownies are in until it’s really time to check them. Frequently opening and closing the oven door—even for a brief second—alters the internal temperature of your oven and affects the cooking process.
If that isn’t the problem, you might want to check the temperature of your oven manually using an oven thermometer, which is available online, at many big box stores such as Home Depot and Target, and restaurant supply stores.
This will tell you if your oven temperature is accurate. If not, you can temporarily adjust it, using the thermometer to tell you when the oven is properly heated. Don’t put your brownies in the oven until it is.
To fix this annoying problem, you’ll need to recalibrate your oven. Try to dig out the manual that came with your appliance or find it online.
Bonus hint: if your oven has an internal fan, turn it on. These fans circulate air throughout your entire oven and help avoid cold or hot spots that can impact even baking and baking times.
Use the Right Pan
Read your recipe carefully and make sure you’re using the correct type of baking dish or pan. Here are a few different types that you may have on hand and that your recipe might call for:
- Glass: these are your typical clear, heavy baking dishes. Pyrex is one of the most common brands, but there are many others. Typically, a slightly lower oven temperature (by about 25 degrees Fahrenheit) is appropriate for a Pyrex or glass pan.
- Aluminum: a lightweight aluminum pan heats very quickly and evenly, which makes them ideal for baking brownies.
- Non-stick: non-stick pans are typically dark from the non-stick coating, which means the parts touching the pan cook much faster. This might result in brownies that are burned or hard on the outside and undercooked or raw in the middle.
- Tin/disposable: especially if you’re making your brownies for someone else or for a bake sale, you may have picked up a disposable tin at the store. These work well, but they are not very sturdy.
- Stoneware: these are your Le Creuset and similar brands. While the stoneware material provides very even heating, their thickness is going to give you the same problem as glass pans.
We recommend using a lightweight metal pan, like the aluminum or disposable tins. Pyrex baking pans take longer to get hot because they are so thick, which can cause undercooked brownies.
Finally, while we’re on the subject of pans, size matters! If your recipe calls for an 8×8 or 9×13 or something in between, make sure that is what you are using. The wrong pan size can be seriously disastrous for brownies.
Let Them Cool Completely
We know how hard it is to see and smell those fresh brownies and stop yourself from diving right in. But improper cooling might make brownies seem undercooked.
Even though they’re out of the oven, baked goods don’t stop cooking. Since they’re still hot, that internal heat helps them finish the process while they cool down.
It is likely that if you cut your brownies straight out of the oven, they’ll turn into a mushy mess. Give them at least 30 minutes.
Try Something Unconventional
Kitchen guru Alton Brown, as well as other experienced and experimental bakers, have a neat trick for baking perfect brownies: take them out of the oven to let them rest in the middle of the cooking time.
When the brownies are almost done, take them out of the oven and let them rest on the counter for 15 minutes. This allows the heat to redistribute to the center of the brownies. Put them back in for about 30 minutes, or until they’re done.
This might be a good solution for your undercooked brownies, since it’s most likely that they’re too gooey in the middle, even after the recommended baking time. The cooling period allows the brownies to even out.
Don’t Eat it Raw
We have probably all been cautioned by our moms not to eat raw brownie (or cookie or cake) batter. The advice is sound.
The biggest reason is those raw eggs. Yes, raw eggs are more dangerous for very young and very old people and those of us with weaker immune systems, but there are also good reasons why no one should eat it.
Raw eggs may contain salmonella, a type of bacteria that can cause dangerous food poisoning. The risk of dehydration is severe, and this has led to death in some cases.
Many of us are accustomed to eating runny eggs, but this is not the same thing as raw eggs—runny egg whites are usually cooked, and the yolks have been heated, killing some (but not all) bacteria. This heating greatly reduces the risk of salmonella poisoning.
Completely raw eggs, like the ones in brownie batter, have not been heated at all. It is best to avoid them altogether, as the high risk is not worth it.
Fix it Fast
Don’t throw it away! Let’s finish up with some tips and tricks for salvaging undercooked brownies.
You always have the option to put them back in the oven to give them more time. You might want to lower the oven temperature, which slows the cooking process on the outside of the brownies and gives more heat to the center.
You may also want to cover the undercooked brownies in tin foil when they go back in the oven. This serves both to trap the heat in the pan and prevent a lot of further browning or hardening of the edges.
You can try microwaving them, as long as they’re in a non-metal pan (obviously) and are only slightly underdone.
Your last option? Eat them anyway.
The raw eggs have heated enough to be safe for most people to eat. Even if they’re not perfect squares, serve the crumbles over vanilla ice cream for an amazing dessert, and enjoy!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.