Brownies really are the most versatile of all cakes and desserts. Eaten on their own or topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, brownies are a sweet treat that really no one can resist.
A quick search online will produce any number of brownie recipes, all the way from your classic brownie to cream cheese brownies to blondies made with brown sugar instead of chocolate.
Most recipes are fast and easy to put together and, with the basic rule of never over-mixing, will generally turn out perfect every time. That is, unless you have difficulty removing them from the pan.
Then your dessert sensation quickly turns into a mess of bits and pieces of brownie rather than nice, neat squares.
This has happened to me numerous times to count, so I now have several different techniques I use to remove brownies from the pan.
Try them all and see which one works best for you.
Baking with the Right Sized Pan
When it comes to baking brownies and being able to successfully remove them from the pan, using the right baking pan is going to make all the difference.
Brownie recipes usually use an 8 or 9-inch pan. If you use a bigger pan, the batter spreads out and bakes too quickly, with the end result being brownies that are overbaked and sure to stick to the pan.
On the other hand, if you use a pan that’s too small the batter will take longer to bake in the middle which means you’ll end up with an under-baked brownie cake that’s going to stick to the bottom of the pan.
Baking With the Right Type of Pan
Just like pan size matters, so does the type of pan you bake with. Most of us bakers will have a huge variety of different baking pans to choose from.
To keep my brownies from sticking, I get the best results with my metal aluminum 8×8 pan. The heat is distributed evenly throughout the bottom of the pan so the center bakes at the same as the outside edges, reducing the risk of the brownie sticking.
Non-stick pans are another good option when baking brownies, although even when I use my non-stick 9×9 pan, I still grease the bottom and sides so I’m absolutely sure the brownies won’t stick.
Non-stick pans usually result in brownies that are nice and soft in the center and crisp and chewy on the outside.
Glass pans are less ideal for baking brownies unless the pan is greased and floured really well. Brownies baked in a glass pan also usually result in a brownie that’s a little drier and cakier, which is perfect if you’re looking for a more cake-like brownie over one that is moist and chewy.
If using a glass pan, it’s best to let the brownies cool and rest in the pan for at least an hour before attempting to cut into pieces.
Disposable Foil Pans
Consider using a foil pan if you’re going to a potluck or party and want to bring a disposable pan.
Be sure to grease the pan thoroughly and into all the corners so the brownies don’t stick. Flour well, making sure to reach all corners with the flour coating.
After baking, let cool and then cover lightly with plastic wrap before transporting. When serving you can cut the brownies into pieces, carefully removing the first piece with a flat spatula.
You can then easily cut and remove the remaining pieces to a serving platter, or just let everyone take pieces directly from the pan.
How to Remove Brownies from a Pan
Grease and Flour the Pan
The best way to get brownies out of the pan is by carefully greasing the pan using butter, shortening, or a baking spray. I use a pastry brush or paper towel to make sure the entire pan is greased, getting into all four corners.
Once the pan is greased, sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of flour and shake to thoroughly coat the pan. Turn over the pan and shake out the excess flour.
Bake the brownies as per recipe directions and then let cool completely before turning the pan over and inverting the entire brownie cake onto a plate.
Dust Pan with Sweetened Cocoa Powder
When you want to add a bit of extra chocolate flavor to your brownies, use cocoa powder to flour the pan rather than flour.
After greasing the pan, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder mixed with 1 teaspoon of white sugar into the pan. Shake around to coat the pan and then tip out the extra cocoa mix powder.
After baking, let the pan cool completely before flipping the pan and turning the brownie cake onto a plate. The sweetened cocoa powder will have baked nicely into the bottom and sides of the brownie.
Use Parchment Paper
Lining the pan with parchment paper is a method that works well for me to easily remove brownies. Cut paper so that it’s large enough to line the sides of the pan, with enough hanging over the edges so the brownie cake is easy to lift out of the pan.
Then you’ll need to prepare the pan before lining with paper by buttering the bottom and sides of the pan. Add a tablespoon of flour, shaking out the excess.
Take the parchment paper and line the pan, pressing the paper into the corners. Pour the batter into the pan, spreading evenly before baking.
After baking, I let the brownies cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing it all with the parchment paper and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.
When cool, the parchment paper should easily remove from the brownies.
Try the Foil Method
Using aluminum foil works nicely as well as a liner for the pan to get the brownies out in one piece.
Cut a piece of foil so that it’s big enough to line the pan and also extend over the edges for about 2 inches. Press into the pan and butter or use baking spray. Add the batter to the pan and bake as per the recipe.
When baked, remove the brownies from the oven and let the pan cool for about 10 minutes.
When the brownies are still a bit warm, hold onto the foil and pull the entire brownie cake from the pan, placing onto a wire rack.
I let the brownies cool for another 20 minutes before peeling back the foil and placing the entire brownie cake onto a plate to cut into pieces.
I find that using foil is a good method to use when I’m baking a batch of brownies to which I’ve added nuts or chocolate chips, which can make the batter heavier. The foil has a little more strength to it than parchment paper.
Heat the Pan
If you’ve greased and baked in the right brownie pan and the first brownie is still sticking, don’t worry. There’s still a way to get that first brownie square onto a plate.
Turn a stove burner on low heat and place the brownie pan on top. Let heat for one minute– the heat will melt the butter or shortening that you’ve used to grease the pan, helping to release the cake from the bottom of the pan.
This is my fool-proof method that works whenever I forget to grease my brownie pan.
Tips for Sticky Brownies
There are going to be those days when none of my techniques to remove my brownies from the pan works. My family enjoys them anyway:
Brownie Cake Pops
Cake pops are just as popular for my family now as they were when they first hit the baking scene.
Crumble up the pan of brownies and press together into small balls. Add a little bit of homemade or canned chocolate frosting if needed to help the brownie cake form into balls.
Put a lollipop stick into the center of each and freeze for a few minutes. Then dip in melted milk or white chocolate.
I add some sprinkles for the youngest in our family to enjoy.
A little more sophisticated than the cake pop is the brownie truffle. Crumble up the pan of brownies and roll into bite-sized balls – again, add a bit of chocolate frosting if needed to bind the cake together. Roll balls into powdered sugar and arrange on a dessert plate to serve.
For more flair, add a bit of cocoa powder to the powdered sugar to increase the intensity of the chocolate flavor.
Brownie Strawberry Dessert
Take the broken pieces of brownie and layer into individual serving bowls. Add a layer of fresh strawberries on top – dollop with whipped cream for a quick and easy week-day dessert.
Using my techniques here will help you remove brownies from the pan quickly and easily. Or use one of my tips for creatively using stuck-on brownies in a dessert.
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.