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Easy, Frugal, Not-From-A-Mix Homemade Brownies

easy homemade brownies

I always am hesitant to make a chocolate recipe that calls for bars of unsweetened chocolate (and many brownie recipes do).

While not exorbitantly expensive, unsweetened chocolate is more pricey than cocoa powder, which means I prefer cocoa powder. I’m not called The Frugal Girl for nothin’.

homemade brownie bites

So, I’ve got a no-unsweetened-chocolate brownie recipe for you fellow frugal people.

Not only does this recipe use cocoa powder, is is also very, very easy and it yields dense, chocolatey, moist brownies.

worn brownie recipe

This recipe has been used a lot!

I don’t know exactly how these compare price-wise to brownies from a box, but I do like them better. Plus, they have no artificial ingredients or preservatives.

And since they require ingredients you probably always have in your pantry, you can make them at a moment’s notice.

How to make brownies, step by step

First, preheat your oven to 350°F. Melt 5 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over low heat.

melted butter for brownies

While the butter is melting, mix the dry ingredients together (except the sugar! That will get mixed with the melted butter later.)

brownie dry ingredients

Cocoa powder is notoriously clumpy, so I always sift mine when I’m adding it to the dry ingredients.

When the butter is melted, take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the sugar. The mixture will be a sandy texture.

sugar and butter for brownies

Stir in the eggs, vanilla, and the dissolved instant coffee.

dissolved coffee for brownies

The original recipe says to stir for about 40 strokes…I don’t usually count.

liquid ingredients for brownies
Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir for 40 strokes. I counted when I first made this recipe, and discovered that 40 strokes IS right about what it takes to get the flour mixed in.

So, just mix the flour in and you should be good.

The original recipe says to use a wooden spoon, which I dutifully do. A metal spoon probably won’t ruin your brownies, though!

homemade brownie batter

Does this not look delicious?? At this point, I am always sorely tempted to take out a spoon and start eating.

Pour/scrape the batter into a greased 8×8 inch baking pan:

unbaked brownie batter

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Check them at 20 minutes; when a toothpick is inserted, it should still be a little wet and gooey.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack and cut brownies into squares.

homemade brownies

homemade brownies on a plate.

Easy, Frugal, Not-From-A-Mix Homemade Brownies

Yield: 1 8x8 pan
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

These brownies don't require a mix and come together in about 15 minutes. Super simple!


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder dissolved in 1 teaspoon hot water (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sifted cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Remove pan from heat and stir in sugar (texture will be sandy).
  4. Stir eggs, vanilla, and espresso mixture into butter/sugar mixture until thoroughly combined.
  5. Stir dry ingredients into egg/butter mixture, and mix until no streaks of flour remain.
  6. Scrape batter into greased 8x8 inch baking pan and bake 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of pan comes out slightly gooey. Cool pan in wire rack, then cut into squares.


A plastic knife works amazingly well to cut brownies. Give it a try!

What’s your opinion on boxed brownie mixes? I know a lot of die-hard scratch bakers love the boxed mixes, so no shame if you love ’em too!

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Friday 26th of February 2021

Omg. Amen! I haven't made this but all my years of baking (a little under 2 decades) I have NOT ONCE made a brownie recipe that calls for whatever type of block chocolate, for the exact same reason you mentioned. If I were trying a brownie recipe, it ALWAYS had to be 100% cocoa powder. Btw have you tried the 50 cals brownies by the Broma Bakery? Very few ingredients and uses cocoa and oats and a couple of other ingredients. If made with real sugar obviously it'll up the cals but will lower the cost and up the taste lol.

P/s- gonna make your recipe tomorrow!


Thursday 12th of November 2020

I made this today and it turned out perfect! This is my favorite brownie recipe from now. Thank you for sharing this recipe.


Thursday 5th of November 2020

Last time I ordered from King Arthur Flour I bought their brownie mix because I like their other mixes, especially the gingerbread one. Haven't tried the brownie mix yet but I'm sure it will be good.

So glad you posted this recipe. My sister gave me a bunch of cocoa powder and I have been trying to use it up. My husband loves brownies so I will use it to make some for his upcoming birthday.


Thursday 5th of November 2020

I make one ,but no cofffee in it. They are very good. But since I am diabetic, do not make them very often. Today is Thankful Thursday and I am pretty happy. 1. Snow is melted,will mulch garlic 2. Talked to our Army deployed daughter this morning 3Made an apple gallette , one crust apple pie. 4. Good doctor reports yesterday! 5.Have 80% of my Christmas Shopping done, trying to avoid any more large store shopping. Will enjoy a Hallmark movie this afternoon.


Thursday 5th of November 2020

ooh num nums...

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