We have all had that unmistakable craving where you just need a chewy, chocolatey brownie and nothing else will do. You must satisfy that craving!
Then comes the big problem- you don’t have the ingredients needed to make brownies. What now?!
Don’t panic- you can still reach your chocolate goal as long as you have a simple box of cake mix. We will help you turn that cake into brownies and all of your brownie dreams will come true!
Once you understand the differences between brownie mix and cake mix, making brownies from cake mix isn’t that hard.
In short, it’s as simple as skipping the liquid, reducing the eggs, and using oil in place of butter. You will also want to reduce the baking time significantly.
For even more of a brownie fix, see what you can do with leftover brownies!
Brownies vs. Cake
Before we magically change cake mix into brownies, what actually is the difference between a brownie batter and a cake batter? While they both have a lot of the same ingredients, (eggs, flour, oil, sugar etc) the quantities are very different.
Cake recipes have almost double the amount of flour as brownies which is one reason cakes have a spongy texture while brownies are much more dense. If you are making a chocolate cake, there will be cocoa powder for sure but not nearly as much cocoa powder as if you were whipping up some brownies.
You will also notice that a very important cake ingredient is missing in a brownie recipe- baking powder or baking soda! Brownies don’t need a leavener. In fact, they are better when they stay dense and thick- you don’t want light fluffy brownies…
So, there are some clear differences between cake and brownies that we will need to combat when using a pre measured cake mix to make brownies. Not a problem! These tricks will fight that cake mix until it succumbs to being the brownies you crave.
Skip The Water
No matter what brand of cake mix you buy, the directions are almost always the same with all of them asking you to add around a cup of water or milk to the recipe. Skip this; you don’t want to add any liquid to your mix.
Adding water to the cake batter loosens up the mixture and makes it easier for the cake to rise while it is baking. Of course, you don’t want your “cake” to rise; you want dense brownies!
Many box cake mixes also ask for you to add hot water which helps activate the baking powder or baking soda that is in the mix. Once again, you don’t want to activate that leavener any more- in fact, you want to dull it as much as possible.
Bottom line, goodbye water. Nobody needs you to make brownies.
Cut the Eggs
The average cake mix calls for the addition of three eggs (although these can easily be substituted). Eggs have two purposes in a cake: Number one is to help emulsify and stabilize the air bubbles in the cake and second, to act as a leavening agent.
While stabilizing the batter is a good idea in brownies, there is that pesky problem of leaveners again! While you don’t want to eliminate eggs completely from the recipe (they do add a lot of flavor and tasty, healthy fats…aren’t you looking for healthy brownies?!?), you can reduce the amount of eggs that is suggested.
Drop the egg quantity down to two rather than three and your cake mix will be more dense like a nice, yummy brownie. Fewer eggs will also make a more fudge like brownie so definitely follow this guideline if you are looking for a chewy brownie creation.
Out of eggs? Here are some ways to make brownies without eggs.
All About The Fat
Some cake mix recipes say to use butter however, butter has milk solids in it and also lactic acid which can react with the leavener in the cake mix (aka baking powder) and help it to rise.
Replacing the butter with oil will prevent this from happening. Oil is typically used in recipes for fudgey brownies for just this reason! Oil is also a more neutral flavor than butter which allows the chocolate in the brownies to shine though.
One third of a cup of oil is the perfect quantity to make a regular sized box of cake mix into brownies. While the recipe on the back (for the cake) may say more or less, go with the 1/3 cup. This is just enough to make your brownies chewy and rich while not being too greasy.
Vegetable oil is the number one choice but melted coconut oil will also work great (and give your brownies a subtle and tasty coconut flavor!). You can even use olive oil if you want.
Cakes made from box mixes usually take around 40 to 45 minutes to bake depending on the size pan you use. After you make the box mix into brownie batter, you are going to want to cook it significantly less.
When baking a cake, you really want it to be completely cooked through to ensure the center isn’t dense and raw. But in brownies, undercooked is a good thing!
When the brownies are slightly underdone (but still baked enough to be safe to eat), they will be ooey and gooey and oh so chewy!
Pour the brownie batter into a square eight or nine inch pan and bake for just 25 to 30 minutes. Keep the same 350 degree F baking temperature that the box suggests- this is a perfect universal temperature for cakes, brownies and cookies (when in doubt, cook at 350!).
Now that you know how to make brownies from cake mix and also know why each change is made, I’m going to make it even clearer:
- 1 box of cake mix
- 1/3 cup oil
- 2 eggs
- 25-30 minutes baking time
- Easy enough!
While brownies typically constitute chocolate and therefore chocolate cake mix is needed, did you know that this general recipe will work for any flavor cake mix?
That’s right- you can make brownies from funfetti cake mix or toss in a bag of red velvet cake mix to create some beautiful red rich brownies.
You can even mix in some chocolate chips or candy bar pieces to make your brownies even more decadent. The possibilities are endless!
Making brownies has never been easier than when you just use a box of cake mix to make the batter. Why even go through the trouble of making brownies from scratch when it is just so simple to use this method.
So grab that box of cake mix (any kind!) from the store and make brownies, not cake. Ignore the package directions, brownies are better than cake anyway- you’re such a rebel!
If you give this a shot, let us know how it goes in the comments below!
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.