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Bye, Bye, Basic Brownies!

By Annalise Sandberg
Created January 10, 2017
Start with a box of fudge brownie mix and add these easy, creative mix-ins and toppings for a batch of brownies that will be anything but ordinary.

There’s no substitute for a good, fudgy brownie. Whether you’re at a shower, birthday party, holiday celebration or even just looking to make a special dessert for your family without spending hours in the kitchen, brownies are the perfect go-to.

Now, I’m not trying to knock a plain brownie, but sometimes I crave a bar with a little extra pizzazz. Good news: There are a few foolproof ways you can take a box of Betty Crocker fudge brownie mix from good to wow with hardly any fuss or extra effort! With a variety of mix-ins, toppings and a dash of creativity, you can create new tasty treats. Here are five of my favorites!


Sweet and Salty Brownies


A little sweet, a little salty, these brownies have something for everyone! Prepare the brownie batter as instructed on the box, and then stir in 1 cup mini pretzels, 1/2 cup salted peanuts and 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the pan, drizzle with 1/3 cup caramel sauce and gently swirl it into the batter. Bake as directed.

Cookies and Cream Brownies


Brownies and cream cheese is already a fan-favorite combo. Add in some Oreo™ cookies chunks and you get a treat that is over-the-top delicious! Prepare the brownie batter as instructed on the box, then stir in 1 cup chopped Oreo™ cookies and spread the batter into the pan. In another bowl, beat 4 ounces cream cheese, 1 egg, 3 tablespoons powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract until smooth. Spoon over the brownie batter and use a knife to gently swirl them together. Top with 1/2 cup chopped Oreo™ cookies and bake as directed.

Ultimate Candy Bar Brownies


These brownies loaded with M&Ms™ and your favorite candy bars will be a hit with the kids (and the kid in you, too!). Prepare the brownie batter as instructed on the box. Then, stir in 1 cup of M&Ms™ and 1 1/2 cups of chopped candy bars—Snickers™, Rolo™ candies, Kit Kat™ bars or Reese’s™ miniatures are all great options. Spread the batter into the pan and top with some more M&Ms™ then bake as directed. This is a great dessert for using up any leftover candy from Easter, Halloween or Christmas.

Cherry Almond Brownies


Chocolate and cherries make a perfect match and these brownies prove it. Combine the brownie mix with a can of cherry pie filling, 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon of almond extract. Stir 1 cup sliced almonds into the batter and spread into the pan. Sprinkle with more almonds, and then bake as directed. For even more flavor, try lightly toasting the nuts before mixing them into the batter.

Samoas® Brownies


Girl Scout cookies get the brownie treatment in this twist that features the best flavors of Samoas®. Prepare and bake the brownies as instructed on the box, then let them cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, combine 1 cup of toasted flaked coconut and 1 1/4 cup caramel sauce or caramel ice cream topping. Spread on top of the brownies. Next, melt 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave and drizzle on top. Chill the brownies in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Expert tip:

  • I prefer baking my brownies in an 8- or 9-inch square pan so they’re thicker and taller. But you can easily use a 13x9-inch pan for these brownie treats, too. Just adjust baking time based on the instructions for a 13x9-inch pan on the back of the brownie mix box.