These are the BEST vegan brownies, with a rich chocolate flavor, a fudgy center, and those perfect shiny, crackly tops we all adore. Made without eggs, flaxseed, or aquafaba, this easy, one-bowl recipe delivers decadent brownies in under an hour!
This recipe includes a gluten-free option, step by step photos & a video tutorial (in the recipe card below)!
Why You’ll Love This Vegan Brownie Recipe!
Calling a recipe ‘the best’ isn’t something I do lightly. But after over 20 rounds of testing, I’ve perfected what I believe is the easiest and most delightful vegan brownie recipe out there, nailing both taste and texture.
I polled my readers on Instagram to get their brownie preferences, and the results were clear: 49% love fudgy brownies, while 41% prefer a blend of fudgy and cakey (3% prefer only cakey and 7% prefer super fudgy in case you were curious).
This recipe is crafted with those insights in mind, making sure it caters to the tastes of all brownie lovers. Here are a few reasons why we love this recipe and you will too!
- Fudgy Texture That Doesn’t Stick To Your Teeth: These brownies are incredibly moist and fudgy, but not too fudgy if you know what I mean.
- Rich Chocolate Flavor: A combination of melted chocolate and Dutch-processed cocoa powder creates a deep, satisfying chocolate taste. Plus a touch of instant espresso powder and vanilla extract help enhance the chocolate!
- Shiny, Crackly Top: A feature often missed in vegan brownies, this recipe achieves that delightful shiny top.
- One-Bowl Method: This recipe is all about simplicity – everything comes together in one bowl, making cleanup easy.
- No Flaxseed or Aquafaba: This recipe uses easy to find, simple ingredients you probably have in your pantry already.
- Gluten-Free Option: I’ve tested this recipe with King Arthur’s All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend. The brownies turned out delicious…the texture was even a bit fudgier!
Why This Recipe Works
After more than a dozen years of vegan baking and too many disappointing brownie attempts, I set out to create a recipe that would finally hit the mark. Past brownie bakes often led to oily, dense, or overly bubbly textures, a far cry from the rich, fudgy brownies I craved.
Here’s why this vegan brownie recipe works!
- Reduced Fat Content: Traditional (non-vegan) recipes often rely heavily on butter or oil, but this recipe uses a balanced amount of vegan butter, offset with plant milk. This adjustment prevents the brownies from becoming oily, a common issue in vegan brownie baking.
- No Flax Eggs: Flax eggs, while a popular vegan egg substitute, can weigh down the batter, leading to dense and gooey brownies. By omitting them, this recipe maintains a lighter, more desirable texture.
- Vinegar for Lift: A touch of vinegar, combined with baking powder, provides a slight lift to the brownies, contributing to a better texture without the use of eggs.
- Sugar Dissolution for the Shiny Top: Vigorously whisking the sugar into the warm butter and chocolate mixture is a crucial step. This technique helps dissolve the sugar, creating the shiny, crackly top that is often missed in vegan brownies.
- The Right Ingredients & Method: Through more than 20 tests, I’ve learned that good vegan brownies comes from both the ingredients and the technique. Properly dissolving the sugar, avoiding over mixing, and baking for the right amount of time are key to achieving the perfect outcome!
Recipe Testing Behind the Scenes:
Here’s a little sneak peek into the testing that went into creating this recipe!
To refine this recipe efficiently, I divided the batch into four and tested different variations simultaneously in the same pan, optimizing both ingredients and time. Since I was using a full sized pan, this method allowed me to test different bake times too! Below, you’ll find just a few photos from these tests:
The Journey to the Perfect Vegan Brownie
This recipe uses 10 pantry friendly ingredients to create brownies that are better than the box mix! Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
- Vegan Butter: This is the base for our rich, fudgy brownies, providing moisture and depth of flavor. I used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks.
- Almond or Soy Milk: Adds moisture to the brownies.
- Vegan Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips: These not only contribute to the rich chocolate flavor but are also key to achieving that shiny, crackly top. I used Trader Joe’s Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips.
- Granulated Cane Sugar: Sweetens the brownies and helps to create the perfect texture.
- Pure Vanilla Extract: Complements the chocolate and adds a subtle depth to the overall flavor.
- Instant Espresso Powder: This optional ingredient intensifies the chocolate flavor, making it richer and more robust.
- Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder: For that deep, intense chocolate taste that is unmistakable in a good brownie. I used Ghirardelli Unsweetened Dutch Process Cocoa.
- Apple Cider or White Vinegar: A secret ingredient that interacts with the baking powder, contributing to the brownie’s texture.
- All-Purpose Flour: The foundation for the brownie’s structure, providing the perfect balance between fudgy and cakey.
- Baking Powder and Salt: These essentials help the brownies rise and enhance the overall flavor.
Dietary preferences or missing an ingredient? No problem! Here are some easy swaps:
- Almond or Soy Milk: Any other non-dairy milk, like oat milk, can be used in a pinch.
- Sugar: I’ve tested this recipe with half of the cane sugar replaced with light brown sugar. This made the brownies more moist!
- Cocoa Powder: Natural unsweetened cocoa powder can be used instead of Dutch Process Cocoa Powder. It will make the brownies a bit lighter in flavor and color. I do not recommend using cacao powder.
- Gluten-Free Version: I’ve tested this recipe using King Arthur’s 1:1 Gluten-free All-purpose Flour (a total of 180g). The result was delicious and slightly fudgier in texture.
- 8×8″ Square Metal Baking Pan
- Parchment Paper
- Microwave Safe Mixing Bowl
- Whisk or Spatula
- Digital Scale
Step By Step Instructions
🎥 Video tutorial and exact ingredient quantities are in the recipe card below!
Melt the Chocolate Chips, Whisk Sugar & Bloom Cocoa Powder
STEP 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line an 8×8” metal baking pan with parchment paper, making sure it overhangs the sides. This will allow for easy removal of the brownies once they’re baked.
STEP 2: In a microwave-safe large bowl, combine the vegan butter, dairy-free milk, and ½ cup of chocolate chips. Microwave this mixture for 1.5-2 minutes, stopping to stir every 30 seconds, until the butter is fully melted and the mixture begins to simmer slightly.
STEP 3: Add the granulated sugar immediately to the large mixing bowl and whisk vigorously for about one minute. This process is key to dissolving the sugar, which is essential for achieving that desirable shiny, crackly top on your brownies.
STEP 4: Add the vanilla extract, espresso powder, and cocoa powder to the bowl. Whisk these together until thoroughly combined. Then, mix the vinegar into the wet ingredients.
Make the Vegan Brownie Batter
STEP 5: Sprinkle the flour, baking powder, and salt over the wet mixture.
STEP 6: Using a fork, gently mix these dry ingredients on top before folding them into the wet mixture with a spatula. It’s important to mix until just combined.
STEP 7: If you’re adding extra chocolate chips or nuts, fold them in at this stage.
STEP 8: Transfer the brownie batter into the prepared baking pan. Smooth the top and place the pan on the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 36-38 minutes, or until the top is glossy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.
STEP 8: Allow the brownies to cool in the pan at room temperature. This step helps them set properly and helps keep the inside moist.
STEP 9: Then, lift them out of the pan using the overhanging parchment paper and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Once cooled, cut them into squares and serve.
Enjoy these brownies warm, gently heated in the microwave or toaster oven, perfectly paired with a cool glass of almond milk for a comforting treat. For an indulgent twist, top them off with a generous scoop of ice cream.
Here Are a Few Batter Mix-In Ideas:
- Chopped Walnuts – Introduce a satisfying crunch.
- Peanut Butter Chips – Add a layer of creamy, nutty richness.
Here are a Few Topping Options:
- Vegan Caramel Sauce – A sweet drizzle to elevate each bite.
- Vegan Vanilla Ice Cream – Transforms a simple brownie into a decadent dessert.
- Coconut Whipped Cream – Offers a subtly sweet and airy contrast.
- Dark Chocolate Drizzle – For an extra touch of chocolate indulgence
Just a note: as time passes, the brownies develop an even richer, fudgier texture!
Here are some ways to store this recipe once the brownies have cooled:
Room Temperature Storage:
- Keep in an airtight container or wrap well in plastic.
- They’ll stay fresh and delicious for 2-3 days.
Refrigeration for Extra Fudginess:
- For an intensified fudgy texture, store the brownies in the refrigerator.
- Use an airtight container to maintain moisture and avoid fridge odors.
- To extend their shelf life, wrap the brownies well in plastic wrap.
- They can be frozen for 1-2 months, making sure you have a tasty treat on hand whenever the craving strikes.
Brownie Baking Tips
To make sure you make the BEST vegan brownies, here are some tips based on my testing:
- Heat Butter, Milk, and Chocolate Until Slightly Bubbling: It’s important to get the mixture of vegan butter, milk, and chocolate chips just hot enough. The mixture should be slightly simmering. This temperature is key for the next step – it ensures that the sugar dissolves properly.
- Dissolve the Sugar: Once you add the granulated sugar to the hot mixture, whisk it vigorously. This step is about dissolving the sugar into the mixture. Properly dissolved sugar is what gives the brownies their characteristic shiny top.
- Bloom the Cocoa Powder: Add the cocoa powder while the chocolate mixture is still hot. This process, known as blooming, enhances the cocoa’s flavor, making it richer and more pronounced. It’s a simple step that makes a significant difference in the overall taste of your brownies.
- Use a Scale to Measure Ingredients: Precision is key in baking. Using a digital scale to measure your ingredients, especially the flour, ensures consistency and accuracy. This can be the difference between dry, cakey brownies and amazing brownies. Eyeballing or using cup measurements can lead to variations that might affect the texture of your brownies.
- Mix Until Just Combined: Once you start combining the wet and dry ingredients, mix them until they are just combined. Overmixing the batter can lead to gluten development, which might make the brownies tough or chewy. Stop as soon as you see just a few trails dry flour only the sides of the bowl.
I don’t recommend substituting oil for vegan butter. In my tests, I found that vegan butter, like Earth Balance, provides a richness and flavor that oils can’t replicate. Using oil might also affect the texture, so it’s best to stick with vegan butter for this recipe.
Almond flour or oat flour isn’t recommended for this recipe. If you’re looking for a gluten-free option, I suggest using King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free All Purpose Flour. This flour worked excellently in my tests, delivering perfectly fudgy brownies.
Sinking is usually caused by underbaking, where the middle isn’t set properly when removed from the oven. Another cause can be too much leavening; even an extra ¼ teaspoon of baking powder can make the brownies rise excessively and then collapse.
Dryness is often due to too much flour. Always measure flour accurately with a kitchen scale or use the spoon and level method. Even a small excess of flour can lead to cakey, dry brownies. Overmixing the batter is another common cause; mix just until combined, leaving a slight ‘trail’ of flour.
A shiny top is achieved when the sugar is fully dissolved in the hot melted butter/plant milk. If the sugar isn’t dissolved properly, or if the melted chocolate in the batter has a low sugar content, it can affect this ratio, resulting in a top that isn’t shiny.
Looking for more Vegan Baked Goods?
- Chocolate Puff Pastry Twists
- Vegan Chocolate Crunch Cake
- Amazing Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies (no egg replacer needed)
- Vegan Chocolate Chip Protein Blondies
- Dairy Free and Vegan Biscoff Cake