Seriously, these are the BEST vegan brownies. They’re easy to make, perfectly fudgy, with a few key ingredients and techniques that yield a gorgeous shiny, crackly crust.
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10 tries later and we finally have it. The PERFECT vegan brownies! Seriously, these are so good. I know all food bloggers say their recipes are “the best,” but these really are. They’re fudgy, but not too fudgy, have a gorgeous shiny, crinkly crust (I’ll explain the method soon), are made in one bowl, and work with gluten free or regular flour!
As I’ve been testing this recipe, I’ve done a whole lot of research into what gives a brownie it’s characteristic shiny crust. There are a lot of theories out there. Some say it’s the sugar, some say chocolate, some say eggs, but I’ve tried so many things and many of them just didn’t work.
Until I tried one unique method: melting the sugar into a bit of water before adding it to the batter. This essentially creates (sort of) an eggless meringue which rises to the top of the brownies as they bake and give a crackly, shiny crust.
In a small bowl, whisk together the 2 tbsp ground flax plus 5 tbsp of water. Set aside to thicken. You can also use 1/4 cup of applesauce in place of the flax if you’re worried about any weird flavor. I’ve tried both methods and love both!
In a medium pot on the stove, add the sugar and water and whisk together. Heat over medium/low heat. Stir occasionally, but after about 5-10 minutes, the sugar should completely dissolve. You can see the two images below for reference.
Be sure you don’t add any extra water. The water will look somewhat cloudy, but you shouldn’t notice any clumps of sugar. This is key for the shiny crust!
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together all dry ingredients. Once the sugar has completely dissolved, give it a final whisk, then pour it into the dry ingredients.
Add all remaining wet ingredients, including the flax egg, and mix together with a wooden spoon until a batter forms. Careful not to overmix.
Fold in the chocolate chips if using. They’re optional, but they do help the crust get shinier.
Sprinkle with additional chocolate chips if desired. Transfer to an 8×8 baking dish lined with parchment paper. If you only have a 9×9, that will work, but I generally recommend an 8×8 for brownies for the best results.
Bake for 35-45 minutes. About 38 was perfect in my oven, but all ovens are different. You’ll know they’re done when a toothpick comes out clean, but bake for longer if you don’t like a fudgy inside.
Remove from the oven, let cool, then slice into 16 squares & enjoy!
What kind of cocoa powder should I use?
I’m not loyal to any one brand, but often buy the Whole Foods 365 or Trader Joe’s cocoa powder. Hershey’s and Ghirardelli are all great options.
Which chocolate chips are best?
I’ve recently been loving the brand Guittard because they are made in a gluten-free facility (I love the semi-sweet chips), but Enjoy Life, Lily’s and Trader Joe’s all have great ones as well.
The chocolate chips are really optional in these vegan brownies, but I will say that the crust does get quite a bit shinier when you include them! Even just a few sprinkled on top makes a difference.
A few final thoughts & tips
- I of course use gluten free all purpose flour for this recipe, but regular all purpose flour will work just as well. Whatever you use, be sure you spoon and level the flour into your dry measuring cups, don’t scoop from the bag!
- You may be wondering: what’s the best way to keep brownies moist? Honestly, you don’t need to worry with these ones! The method of dissolving the sugar into the water adds a lot of moisture to the brownies and they really should stay moist for several days.
- Avoid using a whisk to stir the batter. This will force too much air into the batter and can change the final texture. A wooden spoon is best!
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Leave a comment and rating below if you try this recipe and let us know how it turns out!
Best Vegan Brownies
- 1 1/2 cups very finely ground granulated sugar (the brand Domino is best)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp ground flax seed OR 1/4 cup apple sauce
- 1/2 cup oil (I used vegetable)
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the 2 tbsp ground flax plus 5 tbsp of water. Set aside to thicken. Skip this step if using the apple sauce. Some people notice a flavor when using the flax (I never have this issue) so if that worries you, stick to the applesauce. The texture will be slightly different, but still delicious.
- In a medium pot on the stove, add the sugar and water and whisk together. Heat over medium/low heat. Stir occasionally, but after about 5-10 minutes, the sugar should completely dissolve. Be sure you don't add any extra water. The water will look somewhat cloudy, but you shouldn't notice any clumps of sugar. This is key for the shiny crust!
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together all dry ingredients. Be sure to spoon and level the cocoa and flour into dry measuring cups, don't scoop right from the bag or you will inadvertently end up with more flour than needed.
- Once the sugar has completely dissolved, give it a final whisk, then pour it into the dry ingredients.
- Add all remaining wet ingredients, including the flax eggs once thickened or the applesauce and mix together with a wooden spoon until a batter forms. Careful not to over mix, stir just until combined.
- Fold in the chocolate chips if using. They're optional, but they do help the top get shinier and add a richer chocolate flavor.
- Transfer to an 8×8 baking dish lined with parchment paper.
- Sprinkle with additional chocolate chips if desired.
- Bake for 35-42 minutes. about 38 was perfect in my oven, but check with a toothpick. Bake for longer if you don't like a fudgy inside and shorter if you want them really fudgy.
- Remove from the oven, let cool completely, then slice into 16 squares & enjoy! The longer you let cool, the easier/cleaner the cut will be.