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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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Katy in Africa

Sunday 16th of April 2023

Hi Kristen! I've used this recipe many times, so was surprised to not find it written in my personal go-to cook book. While I'm baking them today, I'm remedying that! I like have a physical copy, instead of using my phone when baking. Thanks for a great recipe!


Saturday 28th of January 2023

Thanks for bringing these back. I needed a dessert for a friend-gathering, and they came out great. And they use slightly less butter and half the eggs of my usual homemade brownie recipe, which is a real plus these days when eggs and butter cost so much.


Tuesday 18th of October 2022

Can you use a sugar substitute here? Monk fruit? Thanks in advance.


Tuesday 18th of October 2022

I have never tried it, but if you do, please do report back and let us know!


Tuesday 30th of August 2022

I've made these three times in the last month! Tonight's batch is for my son and daughter in law who are coming for dinner. 100% on the Hershey's Special Dark cocoa and the touch of espresso powder. I used salted butter and did not adjust the salt in the recipe because I'm a rebel. Also, I found that my second batch was better because I had old baking powder on the first, which I dutifully replaced. Ten out of ten easy brownies and quite delicious.


Tuesday 5th of April 2022

Making your brownies right now! Excited to try them out.


Tuesday 5th of April 2022

Yay! I hope you like them!

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