The Brownie Experiment – Which Takes Longer to Make, Boxed or Homemade?

Well, bless my heart. The work I have to do around here for you people is sometimes just too much, you know?  I mean, after I labored over the mac and cheese experiment, spending thirty whole seconds of extra time in my kitchen to make the good, homemade, whole grain, Creamy Mac and Cheese, several of you got on your knees and begged asked me to experiment next with brownies to see which took longer – brownies from a box, or homemade brownies.  Really. Asking me to bake two pans of rich, gooey, chocolatey brownies?  I seriously had to muscle up on this request, you know?  Sometimes you all can be soooo demanding.

It’s okay though – {she says, with the back of her weary hand placed pitifully on her forehead} - I love you all enough that I was able to find the strength to serve you in this way.  If someone must make two pans of brownies to help prove a point, I will rise to the challenge.

What?  I suppose next you’ll ask me to make chocolate cake, or pudding, or fudge or something?  Who do you think I am anyway?

Okay.  I’m all done pretending to whine now. Seriously, anytime you want to ask me to make brownies, I am alllll over it.  I’m happy to “take one for the team” anytime chocolate is involved.

So here’s a little something that hasn’t been in my kitchen for several years now…

Why yes, it did feel a little funny pouring that into a bowl.  And then, because I haven’t made brownies from a box for such a long time – I actually had to take the time to read the directions.  I felt a little silly and was glad no one was in there watching me struggle to remember and figure out how to make brownies from a box.  Except now I just told you about it, so I guess you get to make fun of me anyway.

From box to pan, before going into the oven, it took me right at 4.5 minutes to mix up these brownies.  Quick and convenient?  Yep, they sure were.  (I used Olive Oil in case you were wondering.)

Next, I started to mix up my Homemade Fudge Brownies that I have been making for several years now.  I already had some whole wheat flour ground and in the freezer, but I totally don’t feel like that was cheating in this experiment because I almost always have flour ground and in the freezer for brownie emergencies baking.  It’s a little something I call “kitchen efficiency” and it totally works for me.

How long did it take for me to mix up the homemade brownies and get them into the pan?  5.5 minutes.  Why did it take me an entire minute longer to mix up homemade brownies than it took to mix up the boxed brownies?  Because I had to wait for my butter to melt on the stovetop.  Yes, the butter was taking its sweet time to liquify.  But never fear.  While my butter was melting, I got out my other brownie ingredients, washed a few dishes, and talked to my children.  All was not lost in that extra minute of brownie preparation time.

Can you tell which pan is homemade and which pan is from a box?

The blue dish holds the homemade brownies, in case you were wondering which pan to dig into first.
Not that you can, however, because they are sort of gone now.

So, did making brownies from a box save me any time?  Yes.  One whole minute.  Score one for boxed brownies.

Did I feel better about using an extra minute of my life to melt some butter and mix up brownies with sucanat and whole wheat flour?  Well, of course I did.  Plus I got some dishes done while my butter melted.

By the way, do you know why it only took me one extra minute to mix up the homemade brownies?  Because I have made homemade brownies so many times that I don’t even have to think about it anymore.  Truly, the more you cook from scratch, the easier and faster it becomes. If you’re new to baking and cooking outside of the box, don’t lose heart!  It gets easier the more you do it!

And then, it won’t be long until you’re like me and have to cock your confused head to one side while you try to read the directions on the back of a box.

Crazy but true.  ;)

I’ve got more experimenting to do, so stay tuned for more fun updates.  I think muffins are the next on my list.

So tell me – do you make homemade brownies or boxed brownies? If you haven’t attempted to make them homemade, I encourage you to give them a try.  Yes.  That’s an order.  Hey, it’s chocolate.  Who’s going to argue with that?  :)

Comments

  1. says

    My husband loves boxed brownies… no matter how I make them. I’ve actually got a fudgy recipe waiting for me to try, that I’ll use regular old sugar in but at least they will be homemade… and only, only for special occasions (like his birthday!) I love them homemade but sucanat does take a little getting use to!

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    Lori Reply:

    My husband grew up on boxed everything so he rarely likes healthy stuff, but I finally after many tries have found a recipe for brownies that is even better than boxed! yes I do use white flour and I used organic sugar not honey or sucanat, but I figure its better than modified food starch adn hydrogenated powdered oil and whatever else is in boxed brownies now.

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    Daria Reply:

    I agree! My husband doesn’t like raw sugar in anything really so we just use white mostly. I figure its better to have homemade than boxed too! At least I can use all real ingredients

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  2. Shara says

    Well, I know what I want…your homemade brownie recipe. :P Every one I have tried from scratch are so sad…no one will eat my “real” brownies. lol

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    Laura Reply:

    Yes, you’ll definitely have to go check out my homemade brownie recipe! (It is linked in the post, so you can find it easily!)

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  3. Laura says

    I have to say, I have made both, and I love Ghiradelli’s Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix. I get the Costco box and use Coconut Oil for the oil called for in the recipe, plus eggs from our chickens. Those 2 things make me feel better about making boxed mix and everyone LOVES those brownies! Probably not the right answer for trying to do things homemade, but I have to pick my battles, and occasional brownies isn’t it. :)

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  4. Sara B says

    Homemade. I agree…just as easy as the box kind once you’ve made them a few times & soooo much tastier!

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  5. says

    Love this, Laura! I have never understood how boxed brownies became so popular when brownies are one of the quickest baked things to make. I can taste a boxed brownie right away now, since it’s been years since I’ve eaten any boxed mixes- even cakes and muffins. Isn’t it weird how our taste buds adapt? :)

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  6. Lisa H. says

    I’ve never tried making boxed brownies…. so my head would really be cocked….
    Only homemade for me… it’s so easy a six-year-old can put it together, so long as I help pour the the hot melted butter!
    Thanks so much! These are fun (for us, and they seem to be fun for you too) and informative experiments.

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  7. JulieG says

    I recently made box brownies which I haven’t had in a long time. They never did get done in the middle, stayed gooey. I think people in NC like that sort of thing as the cookies, biscuits, etc bought here are not done in the middle either. I prefer cake brownies and your brownie pics look so good! Thanks for the recipe.

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  8. crystal garcia says

    Hi,laura thanx for your effort. I new immedietly which were the homemade and which were the box i have made lots of box brownies but no more i finally bought sucanat and coconut oil i found them in whole foods. Why do people say it takes a while to get used to sucanat? What does it taste like????

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  9. says

    I prefer homemade to the boxed brownie – hands down! Awhile ago I got a really good deal on boxed brownie mix that was on sale plus with the coupons I had it made them 29 cents a box. I bought 10 of them! I’ll be glad when they are gone and I go back to the homemade ones. I swear I can taste the box. LOL!

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  10. says

    I have tried homemade brownies several times and I will admit that I can’t make them taste as good as store bought. Well specifically one particular brand. Betty Crocker, Dark Chocolate family size. It is the only kind of box brownies that don’t make my husband sick. I add chocolate chips to the mix and it changes the texture in a fantastic way. Unfortunately, homemade brownies are usually far more expensive as well, mostly because of the price of butter and coco powder. I’m willing to keep trying but thus far they just don’t turn out as well plus when I make them the homemade kind do take me way longer for some reason. Probably poor kitchen organization.

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  11. Kathleen K says

    Homemade. Many box mixes have stuff I can’t pronounce, and I have no idea what it is or why they’d put it in “food”. But I have found a solution for those who can’t spare the extra minute it takes to make homemade: make several batches of dry mix and put each one in a plastic baggie. Then when you want to make them, you just dump baggie into a bowl and add butter, eggs, etc. Just like box. Except you know what went into it! I don’t know how long these bags will store….we never manage to keep them on hand for long. This same idea can also work for muffins too. (Especially handy for those who bake gluten free and use an assortment of flours)

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    Daria Reply:

    Love this!

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  12. Susan Alexander says

    Only homemade here. Haven’t bought boxed in years. :) Actually I have a recipe challenge for you that you are SURELY up to – it’s a cake and it has fruit in it. So yummy, but super processed as written since it uses a cake mix… Care to take it on?

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  13. Kristin says

    My homemade brownies definitely take longer then box brownies, 10 minutes to warm the eggs to room temp in a water bath, time to melt butter, boil water for blooming cocoa, etc. though they are not difficult. I never understood using a box mix when homemade brownies taste SO much better. I, like you, have my recipe memorized. I am known for my brownies as I usually bring brownies to pot lucks, bake sales, etc. because I always have the ingredients for brownies in the house. The key to a prefect brownie are two things, Penzy’s natural bark cocoa and blooming the cocoa with boiling water, to bring out the chocolate flavor. I still use white sugar(organic) as it creates a superior texture, but I do substitute white whole wheat for half of the white flour. (My husband finds them too wheaty with all white wheat) I guarantee you my recipe could beat out a box mix for intense chocolate flavor and fudgeyness. (is that even a word?) They are even better a-la-mode with homemade vanilla or peppermint ice cream and homemade dark chocolate sauce :)

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  14. mindy says

    It took you an extra minute to make the “homemade brownies”, however you did not have to go to the store to buy anything unlike the box brownies, so you should add that time into the box brownies.

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  15. Meghan V. says

    I made boxed brownies last week just b/c I had them and brownies sounded good. But I noticed in the directions- to make it “low fat” you could use applesauce instead of the oil. So I did that to make it ‘healthier’ (although usually I don’t care if it has good fat). The texture was different but you otherwise couldn’t tell that there was applesauce in it. BTW I used unsweetened applesauce.

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  16. Catherine says

    Laura, now that there are 2 posts, this is officially a “series”! I love getting confirmation that the “from scratch” way is not taking me a lot more time.

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  17. says

    Love this!

    I actually made two boxed brownies yesterday for a church thing. I don’t know why (since I make almost everything homemade), but it didn’t even occur to me to make these from scratch. That and I had two boxes of brownie mix sitting on my shelf from like a year ago…

    Next time for sure from scratch!

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  18. Nicole Boyle says

    I abhorr boxed baked goods! I do not like the aluminum and preservatives and chemicals and cheap chocolate and artificial flavors they use! They have an aftertaste! I can taste the difference between real and fake and my family can now, too!
    I only make baked goods from scratch. Like you said, I do not even have to use the cookbook when I make loaves of bread because I do it every week, I know the recipe and what the bread should feel like all by heart now, thank God. I also feel like the Holy Spirit helps me bake, too! Some of my meals are so good I tell my family they are Holy Spirit inspired creations…because He gives us knowledge.
    I also like to use quality chocolate and dark chocolate in my baking and you are not going to ever get that in a mix. I won’t use chocolate chips made from liquor or vanillin, only real chocolate and real vanilla. I can’t wait to make my own vanilla extract like you were talking about.
    I got tired of paying so much for a local candy shops chocolate covered almonds, so I make my own now, and they taste way better for a fraction of the cost!
    I love your blog and appreciate your sense of humor and down to earth attitude.

    Sincerely,
    God Bless,
    Nicole

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  19. Rachel B says

    My parents owned their own small bakery when I was growing up so boxed ANYTHING is bordering on sinful in our family. ;) Never understood the attraction, anyway. The dry ingredients are the easy part!

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  20. Carrie says

    I laughed when I saw that you took so long reading the directions on the box – that happened to me a couple of weeks ago! I had to make a giant cupcake and thought two boxes of cake mix would “save me time.” I swear I wasted a ton of time re-reading the directions ten times. I thought was going crazy, so thank you for making me realize I’m just becoming healthy!! :)
    God bless!

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  21. Jennifer S. says

    I don’t think I’ve ever done boxed brownies. I have a fabulous recipe that I think I’m going to make now and time to see if I can do them as fast as you, Laura. :)

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  22. Tara says

    I love these experiments! It’s nice to see that only spending an extra minute or two can provide my family with much healthier food. It makes me want to go home and bake something.

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  23. Heather K says

    I was grinning the whole time reading this post…you’re so funny and I love it! thanks for the chocolate sacrifice. ;0)

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  24. says

    “..they are sort of gone now.” LOL

    Love these experiments! People really do think making everything from scratch takes a million times longer; they don’t believe me when I say it’s practically the same!

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  25. Debbie says

    Thanks for “taking one for the team”!!! We sooooo appreciate your efforts :) Gotta love chocolate!!!!

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  26. says

    Homemade! After baking homemade brownies several years ago we simply cannot enjoy the boxed ones as we once did. The only times we eat boxed ones now are at family events or church events where someone brought them. Even then we try to help the children make a better selection for dessert or we split it several ways and end up with a small portion each. I love your recipe…I made them for my son’s birthday party last year and they were easy and delicious.

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  27. Lisa says

    With the exception of making bread, cooking from scratch doesn’t hardly take any more but a few minutes than box cooking.

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  28. Heather says

    I have been making your brownie recipe for a while now…love them! However, I made a batch of your cheesecake brownies last night…oh my…delightful! This Canadian brownie lover thanks you!

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  29. Brighid says

    Too funny! The in-laws are bringing over boxed brownie mix tonight! We’ll try homemade later on this week. :)

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  30. Lyndsay says

    I am pretty sure that my whole family would protest greatly if I tried to make brownies from a box. I haven’t for several years now, and once you make homemade, there is really no going back! I love trying new brownie recipes, and my kids and husband sure don’t argue with helping to try them out!

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  31. Erin says

    I love brownies that when you eat, you are all the time wondering if they are actually done but I don’t actually worry about raw eggs and eat them regardless. I also love crust around the edges. Are these brownies like that? Oh please, oh please . . . And I have to laugh at the mixes available. Honestly I think that you have to add nearly as many things as you would from scratch–They make Banana Bread Mix!!! It must just be white flour and sugar plus chemistry lab materials. Please tell me there isn’t powdered banana. That doesn’t exist, does it? Oh, I’m sure it does. I’ve seen blueberry muffin mix with little dehydrated, something kind of blueberries that are probably not real.

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  32. Tricia says

    Growing up we ate nothing out of a box (my mom has her own catering company) with the exception of 3 things…cereal, cake mix, and brownie mix. She does have a fabulous homemade brownie recipe that we enjoy, but it is made with high quality bittersweet chocolate making it SOOOO expensive over a box mix. I haven’t found a homemade brownie recipe made with cocoa powder that we actually like :(

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  33. Diane says

    I don’t use the box anymore. I love to use my Sunbeam mixer for mixing up homemade brownies. They really are easy to whip up for those brownie cravings. Thanks for the encouraging posts and for a laugh!

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  34. Jenika says

    I always, always, always make them from scratch…for all the reasons you mentioned. I certainly have never found that they take too much time. I am always thrilled with brownies b/c the whole bowl goes into the pan at once, not like with cookies!

    I make a pretty awesome gluten free brownie…wonderful!

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  35. Lisa M says

    Homemade brownies for us. The boxed ones really make me fell terrible. I love to make gluten free black bean brownies.
    Once when I was very sick and sleep deprived I used a box mix Ghiradelli’s as part of a recipe for a brownie ice cream cake (thinking it would be easier or quicker). My son was 2 and every time we went to the store after that he would ask for a box of “his brownies” when he would see the box.

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  36. says

    Your brownie recipe was one of the first recipes I tried on heavenlyhomemakers.com. We all loved them and I was surprised how easy they were to make, I had always made them from a box not even thinking you could make them from scratch. We made them all the time for awhile, but we have ventured out to so many other great homemade desserts that I haven’t made brownies in awhile. Sounds like we might be having brownies tomorrow.

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  37. says

    Homemade brownies are so much healthier. Here is a quick tip. When I make a batch of homemade brownies I get out a gallon size zip lock bag. As I measure out the dry ingredients I put the same ingredients into the bag. So the next time I want to make brownies I have my own homemade “boxed” brownie. Then I just need to measure in the liquid ingredients. I often write the rest of the instructions right on the bag with a sharpie. It works great for biscuits and cakes too.

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  38. brent says

    Ran across this article and read some of the replies. Which way is cheaper to make – homemade or boxed brownies

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    Laura Reply:

    Boxed is cheaper, but following my homemade recipe, they are WAY healthier!

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