Cocoa Brownies

Cocoa Brownies Recipe Video (scroll down for printable recipe)

I first shared this brownies recipe with the (very tiny) world of the HilahCooking newsletter, gosh, probably two years ago. That’s hard to believe. Then I put it into the Learn to Cook book since it’s easy as hell and perfect for beginners. Once, right after we released the book last year, I was so excited because a lady wrote about how she was so glad the brownies recipe was in the book because she’d tried it from the newsletter and loved them, but then deleted the email and thought it was lost forever. But now it’s back! For everyone to share! I’m sorry; that story was probably super-duper boring to you. Thanks for indulging me, or at least glazing over this part and on to the brownie picture below.

What is the gol-dang big ol’ deal about these brownies, goshdangit, though?! In my brownie-world, these are the king. They are super-dense and fudge-y and chewy. If there’s one thing I hate it’s a brownie that thinks it’s a cake. Ugh. Get over yourself, fluffy brownies! I also love that this recipe uses cocoa powder rather than chocolate squares which may seem like a bunch horse-shit to some people, but I never keep baking chocolate around the house so this works out well for me and my impromptu cravings for brownies.

Cocoa Brownies Recipe – Printable!



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4.9 from 15 reviews

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, soft
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • Optional: 1/2 cup chopped nuts


  1. Set the oven to 350ΒΊF. Grease an 8×8″ or 7×11″ pan.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl.
  3. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
  4. Stir in flour and cocoa. The mixture will be very thick and stiff. Add nuts if you want them.
  5. Spread it into the greased pan as evenly as possible.
  6. Bake 25 minutes in a 7×11″ pan, or 30 minutes in a 8×8″ pan.
  7. Cool and cut into 12 squares.

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I don’t remember where this recipe came from — if I found it in a book or made it up — since I’ve been making these brownies for at least 20 years. But evidently my grandmother Hornsby liked them enough that she wrote the recipe down for herself, titling it “Hilah’s Cocoa Brownies”. I found this in her recipe collection and it makes me smile when I look at it.

brownies recipe


  1. Mother Effingby on October 11, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    My sister has been making ‘medicinal’ brownies with kief butter and all her friends rave about them. I’d love to rave about them too, and all their healthing mediciny qualities, but she won’t make me any. I feel to pout.
    On the other hand, I make mine with a nice shot of bourbon. They don’t behave cakishly at all!

    • Hilah on October 12, 2012 at 9:03 am

      Ooh, you put bourbon in before baking? That does sound nice, ME! And, uh, the other thing too. πŸ˜‰

      • moz on October 12, 2012 at 9:28 pm

        If your going to put bourbon in before, try finishing them with boubon right out of the oven- .5 cup poured over the top, .5 hr in fridge to set up, Bam! Boozy deliciousness! If you really want your brownies to be eaten in one sitting, also add crispy bacon bits… They’ll be gone before you finish making dinner.

        • Hilah on October 13, 2012 at 10:21 am

          Yum! Kinda like my grandma would pour bourbon over fruit cakes… Thanks so much!

          • Mother Effingby on May 14, 2013 at 8:07 pm

            I will~ sounds like a great idea!

  2. Kerry | Yum and Yummer on October 12, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Cake brownies are snake brownies.

    They’re like raisin cookies masquerading as chocolate chip.

    And they need to be eliminated.

    • Hilah on October 12, 2012 at 8:59 am

      Amen, my brother. Nothing worse than an unexpected raisin cookie.

    • Mother Effingby on October 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm

      And I thought I was one of the few people who detested cake brownies. If I want cake, I’ll eat cake, dammit!.
      I like to make my brownies in a pie. seriously. You should try it with a flaky bottom pie crust. Blind baked and then pour the lovely goo in and finish it off. Adding bourbon out of the oven is one I must do! It makes more sense to do it after baking than before baking. After all, if you’re going to be decadent, you might as well really fall off the wagon.

      • Hilah on October 15, 2012 at 12:46 pm

        I have heard tell of this “brownie pie” and it does sound lovely.

  3. Kendra on October 12, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    A friend of mine is a big time brownie lover. I’m going make your recipe for him as a little surprise gift. He likes them dense, so it was cool to hear that they are. πŸ™‚

    • Hilah on October 13, 2012 at 10:21 am

      The heat is on now! Hope he likes them. πŸ™‚

      • Kendra on October 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm

        The heat was on me. Making brownies wasn’t exactly in my wheelhouse. I tossed in a some of pecans and it was on, grinning friend and all. They were the perfect consistency. How did this American kid go through childhood without making brownies I’ll never know.? πŸ˜‰ I gotta call my mom and explain how she failed me…

        • Hilah on October 15, 2012 at 12:46 pm


  4. Merline on October 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Its my birthday today so I’ll make this since luckily I have all the ingredients. πŸ™‚

    • Hilah on October 15, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      Happy birthday, Merline!

  5. Robert Pepin on October 15, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    I took out the vanilla and added tangerine zest, tangerine juice, and, because I had some left over, raspberry extract. I highly recommend it!

    • Hilah on October 16, 2012 at 8:42 am

      Oh, yummy! Raspberry would be so good with the tangerine and chocolate. Thanks for sharing, Robert!

  6. AC on October 21, 2012 at 12:09 am

    My sister and I tried this recipe, only we replaced the butter with an equal amount of pumpkin puree–we were trying to replicate the Pinterest two-ingredient pumpkin brownie recipe. Supposedly it cuts in half the amount of fat that’s in the brownies (and pumpkin puree just makes it richer-tasting). SO GOOD! Loved the intense chocolate flavor and richness that the pumpkin adds. Bookmarked this post and it’s now my go-to brownie recipe!

    • Hilah on October 22, 2012 at 3:09 pm

      Wonderful! That’s a great idea. Thanks so much for sharing it, AC!

  7. Priya on October 22, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Hey , wow… Thanks for the recipe. I tried Brownies with some other eggless recipes and cooked them in the microwave and it turned out to be good. Now I am going to try these. Just the fact I am scared of baking them in the oven as I have never tried one and the house I live in has got some old oven πŸ™‚ but anyways thanks loads for the recipe ! Will try them out and will post the pics soon. It’s the festive season called Navarathiri meaning nine nights and thus can’t use eggs , so will have to wait till another 2 to 3 days πŸ™‚
    As always love your videos … Keep rocking πŸ™‚

    • Hilah on October 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm

      Okay, let me know how it goes, Priya! And don’t be afraid of the oven. It’s probably just fine. πŸ˜‰

  8. Amy on October 22, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Hilahhhhhhh!!! Shut up!!! I just made these a dang!!! All I can
    Say is YUMMMY!!:-) yet another home run for
    Hilahhhhh!!:-) now get your butt to h- town yo!

    • Hilah on October 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm

      Awesome! Thanks for the update! Hoping to get to H-town someday… πŸ™‚

  9. Shane on November 6, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Hey Hilah,
    I made this recipe a week or two ago and it was AMAZEBALLZ!!!! But just one question, i was wondering if i could pour cheesecake batter on top of this batter and bake it to make cheesecake brownies. I said i would ask because im not sure if the brownie batter would survive being in the oven for an hour. or would it be ok because it would be buried underneath the cheesecake???

    • Hilah on November 6, 2012 at 11:41 am

      Hi Shane!
      That is an unusual question… if I tried that, I would reduce the oven temperature to 325ΒΊ instead of 350. That should keep the brownie layer safe and that is also a better temperature for cheesecake. Let us know if you try it and how it works!

      • Shane on November 7, 2012 at 9:43 am

        Oh god Hilah, you need to try this. It was AMAZING. I doubled the brownie recipe to fit my rectangular pan. Halved my cheesecake recipe. Baked for about 50 mins in a 350 oven. Let it chill overnight and am eating one right now. AMAZING. I’m spatchcock chicken tonight so i’ll have one for dessert :D. Thanks alot Hilah, keep on keepin on πŸ˜€
        <3 from Ireland.

        • Hilah on November 7, 2012 at 10:14 am

          Awesome! That is so great to hear! Such a marvelous idea, Shane. Thank you!

  10. Kerry | Yum and Yummer on November 6, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    GASP. I emptied half a packet of Starbucks Via (instant coffee, ugh, stop judging) into the batter, which brought out the chocolate ten fold. It also gave it a slight coffee taste, which me totally gusta. I tried it again with dark brown sugar instead of regular white, which didn’t have much of an effect on the taste of consistency, but helped me use up that dark brown all quick like.

    • Hilah on November 7, 2012 at 10:13 am

      I don’t judge! Instant coffee is great for baking and that sounds delightful.

  11. MBowers on November 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Just made these for my kiddos and actually got hugs for making them!!! Had all the ingredients on hand so I figured, why not? Thanks a bunch!

    • Hilah on November 19, 2012 at 9:03 am

      Thanks for the feedback! I’m happy y’all enjoyed them. I love this recipe because I seem to always have the ingredients on hand.

  12. Diyanah on December 8, 2012 at 12:57 am

    I just made this recipe and I’m so glad it wasn’t cakey like other recipes I’ve tried. THANKS SO MUCH! Will be making another batch of this soon for sure.

    • Hilah on December 8, 2012 at 9:57 am

      Thanks, Diyanah! I’m glad you liked it! They’re my fave.

  13. Vicky on January 5, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Hey, haila i really love your cooking but what can i use to replace the egg, cuz my husband dont like eggs.

    • Hilah on January 7, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      Hey Vicky! If he doesn’t like the taste of eggs, I don’t think that is a problem here and you could just use the egg and not tell him. πŸ˜‰ If he can’t eat eggs, you could try a 1/4 cup of applesauce or plum baby food (fruit puree) to replace it.

  14. Steven on April 11, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    I’m going to have to try this, because I also don’t like cakey brownies, and the couple of recipes I’ve tried just isn’t dense enough. When I was a kid I loved to freeze brownies and pretend I was chewing a chunk of tobacco.

    I just baked a batch of the Texas Chews recipe from your recent newsletter–although I guess I took the Texas out of them because I didn’t have pecans (I had almonds though) and I also wish I had coconut, but I didn’t, but I did have semi-sweet chocolate chips so I tossed some in there. They turned out really nice and chewy. I guess you can really make endless variations of this!

    • Hilah on April 12, 2013 at 7:45 am

      Let me know how you like them, Steven!
      So happy to hear you tried the Texas Chews, too! πŸ™‚ Almonds and chocolate sound great, even if not totally Texan. πŸ˜‰

      • Steven on April 22, 2013 at 12:10 pm

        Okay, wow–these are the brownies for me! I tossed away the other brownie recipes I had tried before. I did not know you didn’t have to put in baking powder in brownies. No leavening = no cakey brownie! Awesome! And only needing cocoa powder rather than chocolate is definitely a plus.

        • Hilah on April 22, 2013 at 12:25 pm

          Hurrah! That’s great, Steven! πŸ™‚ I love this recipe so much. Glad you do, too.

  15. Helen on May 11, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    These are excellent! I fell into the trap of making box brownies. These are only 30 seconds more work and taste way better. And no fake stuff! Hilah, you’re the greatest!

    • Hilah on May 12, 2013 at 9:00 am

      I completely agree! Boxed baking mixes have done a heckuva job marketing themselves as amazing timesavers, haven’t they? πŸ˜‰ I’m glad you found this recipe worth the extra bit of time, Helen!

  16. Meg on May 14, 2013 at 2:19 am

    hi hilah! thank you for sharing this recipe ^.^ baked a batch of this goodies and sold them in a bake sale..and it was a hit! ooyeah! they can’t get enough of this gooey scrumptious stuff (accdng. to my niece, she’s your 6 year old fan by the way, she says hi!)

    • Hilah on May 14, 2013 at 10:06 am

      Oh that is so sweet, Meg! Yay! I’m really happy to hear people still have bake sales. There is something so wholesome about baking things to share with people and raise money for a cause at the same time. Tell your niece I said “hi!”

  17. Polly on October 11, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    You are awesome! I’m a Texan living in Oregon, so I have to make all my favorite dishes from home. I can’t cook my way out of a paper bag and your recipes have been the only ones I’ve had 100% success with. I’ve used that as the reason I had to buy every. single. cookbook. you have written.

    These brownies are my all time favorite! My hubs likes cake brownies and I get to gorge on the entire pan myself. I don’t know what I’m going to do when my girls are old enough to want some. The brownies are going in the ‘mommy only’ category like a few of my drinks do. That’ll buy me a few more years before I’m faced with actually having to share…or give me time to convince them to eat their dad’s.

    • Hilah on October 12, 2013 at 9:07 am

      Oh wow! Thank you a million times, Polly! πŸ˜€ That means to world to hear, really and truly.
      Here’s hoping your daughters take after your husband’s taste in brownies and that you will forever get all the fudge brownies to yourself. Hugs!

      • Polly on April 30, 2016 at 2:15 pm

        Well, it turns out my girls love these brownies! The oldest also requested them as her birthday cake this year. πŸ™‚

        • Hilah on April 30, 2016 at 2:40 pm

          Yay! Happy birthday! πŸ˜€

  18. zekeriya on December 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    I am zekeriya I love you hilaaaaa you are so beatiful.

  19. Cate on December 8, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Taste of Home says it’s National Brownie Day so I think I’ll give this recipe a try today to celebrate!

    • Hilah on December 8, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      Oh, cool! Good plan, Cate! πŸ™‚

  20. Barb on December 21, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Thank you for this recipe I had my grandson to help bake these brownies and he is 7 years old. He said these are the best he has ever tasted.

    • Hilah on December 23, 2013 at 11:53 am

      That makes me so happy to hear, Barb! Merry Christmas!

  21. rio on February 27, 2014 at 2:33 am

    hi hilah!

    i want to try these brownies together with my 2 kids, may i know what kind of butter did you use? is it unsalted or salted?

    thanks hilah!

    • Hilah on February 27, 2014 at 8:06 am

      Unsalted butter! Enjoy, Rio!

  22. Anis on July 22, 2014 at 9:04 am

    Made this last night for dessert (after eating your Chick Fil Gay sandwich for an awesome dinner!) and they were the best brownies I’ve ever made! I finally have a brownie recipe! Yay! My husband and daughter thank you, Hilah! So, so, so excited to try your other recipes!

    • Hilah on July 22, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      Yay!! I agree these are the best brownies! Really happy your family loved them, too, Anis.
      And now I am craving a batch for myself. πŸ™‚

  23. Sue on February 4, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    I recently made this recipe and gave the brownies to my dentist as a thank you gift. He immediately ate 2 before anyone else had a chance to see what was in the box! I saved a few for myself and they are awesomely fudgy! I used the recipe in your book; “Learn to Cook” and added the chocolate ganache icing as well. You are right as you stated in the book, these are awesome and rich even without the icing & they were delicious! πŸ™‚

    • Hilah on February 6, 2017 at 2:17 pm

      So glad to hear, Sue! πŸ˜€ Thanks for the feedback!

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