Chewy Gluten Free Brownies

Chewy Gluten Free Brownies

If your favorite brownies are like-the-boxed mix chewy gluten free brownies with that crackly top, this is your new best recipe.

If your favorite brownies are like-the-boxed mix chewy gluten free brownies with that crackly top, this is your new best recipe.

How do you get that crackly top on brownies?

There’s a fair amount of disagreement on the Internet about how to get the crackly top on brownies. Everyone seems to be certain of their method, and the reasoning behind it. 

If you’ve been around this blog and my recipes for a while, you know that I am all about the science of baking. I try to explain why I do just about everything I do in my recipes. I find that it’s the perfect way to show you the proper respect, and to increase the chance that you’ll follow the recipe exactly as written!

I have made this recipe many, many different ways (ask my family—they’ve been all brownie all the time recently), and this recipe, with these ingredients prepared in this way makes for chewy brownies with a crackly top. I’m certain of that. I am not, however, 100% certain of why it works. 

If your favorite brownies are like-the-boxed mix chewy gluten free brownies with that crackly top, this is your new best recipe.

I do know that the crackly top looks gorgeous, and is formed when a bit of the egg whites in the recipe separate from the rest of the batter. During baking, they form a very thin meringue. I believe that the meringue is formed in this recipe because it has the right balance of ingredients, but also that they’re prepared in exactly the right way.

You must melt the butter and the sugar at the start of the recipe (and allow it to cool so that mixture doesn’t cook the eggs). You also must beat the heck out of the mixture before the flours are added. Adding additional chocolate chips to the very top of the batter (I just reserve about 1/5 of the chips in the recipe) also seems to help create that meringue.

If your favorite brownies are like-the-boxed mix chewy gluten free brownies with that crackly top, this is your new favorite recipe.

What makes brownies have that perfect chewy texture?

These are not light and cake-like brownies. They are also not super fudgy brownies. They’re a bit fudgy, but mostly they’re perfectly chewy in that really satisfying way. 

There are a few elements of this recipe that ensure that proper chewy texture. First, the chocolate in these brownies comes entirely from cocoa powder (other than the chocolate chips, of course). Using chopped, melted chocolate in the batter makes brownies denser and fudgier. 

If your favorite brownies are like-the-boxed mix chewy gluten free brownies with that crackly top, this is your new favorite recipe.

Second, melting the butter with the sugar, and then beating the egg-butter-sugar-cocoa powder mixture senseless helps a ton. I have found that, when I’ve mixed only by hand and not gone the extra mile and used the hand mixer to beat the batter, the brownies aren’t as chewy (and the crackly top was spotty at best). 

Adding very little gluten free flour, plus lightening it with some cornstarch, also help to create a lovely chewy texture. 

If your favorite brownies are like-the-boxed mix chewy gluten free brownies with that crackly top, this is your new best recipe.

Ingredients and substitutions

This is the sort of recipe that is really not a great candidate for substitutions. Each ingredient was selected specifically to achieve that fudgy-but-chewy texture and the crackly top that we all (do we?) love when we make a boxed mix. 

If you can’t have all of the ingredients in the recipe and would really like to try substitutes, I will provide as much information below as I can.

Dairy-free: These days, my favorite way to replace butter in bars and cookies is to substitute half of the weight of butter called for in the recipe with Earth Balance buttery sticks and the remaining half of the weight with Spectrum nonhydrogenated shortening. That tends to provide the best balance of moisture, fat, and flavor. 

If you do use Earth Balance buttery sticks, omit the additional salt in the recipe, though. That product is suuuuper salty already. If you’re dairy-free, be sure you’re also using dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips. 

Egg-free: There are only 2 eggs in this recipe, so your favorite egg substitute might work—but you won’t get the exact chewy texture and you won’t get the crackly top. My favorite egg substitute (for effectiveness and ease) is a “chia egg,” so maybe try that?

Corn-free: This one is actually quite easy. Just use arrowroot in place of cornstarch. Side note: If you are using Cup4Cup flour blend as your all purpose gluten free flour, just replace the cornstarch with that much more flour, gram for gram. 


If your favorite brownies are like-the-boxed mix chewy gluten free brownies with that crackly top, this is your new best recipe. #glutenfree #gf #brownies #likethebox

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 9 to 12 brownies


9 tablespoons (126 g) unsalted butter, chopped

1 1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar

2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell), at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup (80 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed)

1/3 cup (47 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

2 tablespoons (18 g) cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips


  • Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick aluminum foil (or line with regular aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray). Set the pan aside. In a small saucepan, place the butter and sugar, and place over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until melted and simmering. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside to cool until no longer hot to the touch. Alternatively, place the bottom of the saucepan in a bowl of cool water to speed the cooling process, but make sure the butter does not solidify.

  • In a large bowl, place the eggs and vanilla, and whisk until well-beaten and combined. Add the melted and cooled butter and sugar to the bowl slowly, whisking constantly. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the cocoa powder has been absorbed. Using a handheld mixer, beat until very well-combined. Add the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt, and mix with a silicone spatula or spoon until just combined. Add about 4 ounces of the chocolate chips and mix until just evenly distributed throughout the batter. The batter will be thick and sticky.

  • Transfer the brownie batter to the prepared pan and, using an offset or silicone spatula, spread into an even layer. It helps to moisten the tool you are using to smooth the top a bit to prevent it from sticking. Scatter the remaining chocolate chips evenly over the top of the brownie batter and bang the pan firmly on the countertop to help the chips adhere. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake just until the brownies are no longer wet in the center, about 28 minutes. The center may dome during baking, but the brownies will settle as they cool.

  • Remove the brownies from the oven and allow them to cool in the pan at room temperature until the pan is no longer hot to the touch. For clean lines when you slice the brownies, place the brownies, still in the pan, in the refrigerator to chill for about an hour before removing them from the pan, peeling away the foil, slicing, and serving. These freeze incredibly well.


Comments are closed.

  • Josephine
    February 12, 2019 at 11:41 AM

    Hi again – it wouldn’t let me reply for some reason, but thanks for your extremely quick response! They had 40mins in the end and have turned out pretty well. Well, the kids aren’t complaining any way! I did use Doves farm, self raising, and omitted the baking powder and xantham gum as both are included in the mix. One query I had was the amount of cornstarch as two tablespoons is more than 18g…but I used the smaller amount (18g). They’re (too!) yummy regardless :)

    • Nicole Hunn
      February 12, 2019 at 4:49 PM

      Glad they turned out. Two tablespoons of cornstarch by my measurement is, indeed, 18 grams. Volume measurements are notoriously unreliable and very variable, especially between countries. Ignore them and use the weight, always!

  • Josephine
    February 12, 2019 at 10:12 AM

    Hi, I’m baking these at the moment but the skewer is still coated when I stick it in the middle after 35mins of cooking…. I’m UK so it’s 160 degrees fan oven. I’ll have to get them out in a minute as I need to do the school run! Is it like other brownie recipes where it solidifies somewhat while cooling?

    • Nicole Hunn
      February 12, 2019 at 10:15 AM

      Hi, Josephine, if the brownies are still not baked by 35 minutes, I’m afraid I don’t know where you deviated from the recipe as written but as you can see in the photos, these are not gooey brownies. They set and are very stable. If you made ingredient substitutions (perhaps the flour blend, as you’re in the UK and maybe you used Dove’s?), I’d always look there first.

  • Pamela Kitchen
    February 7, 2019 at 2:27 PM

    Hi Nicole. I am in the process of making the chewy chocolate brownies. Is the 1/3 cup flour really right?

    • Nicole Hunn
      February 7, 2019 at 3:16 PM

      Pamela, the recipe is correct as written, yes, and you can see all the comments of readers who have made these their new favorite recipe! Brownies generally don’t have a lot of flour.

  • GF Mum
    February 5, 2019 at 8:00 PM

    Definitely the best gf brownies we’ve ever had!

    • Nicole Hunn
      February 6, 2019 at 6:44 AM

      That’s awesome!!

  • Julie
    February 3, 2019 at 11:15 PM

    Perfect! Chewy but also melt-in-your-mouth. This the the first recipe I’ve made of yours. What was I waiting for! Easy and de-lush and I had all the ingredients in hand. Thank you

    • Nicole Hunn
      February 4, 2019 at 8:47 AM

      So glad you loved them, Julie! I hope you’ll stick around. :)

  • Rae
    February 3, 2019 at 4:22 PM

    What is a good replacement for xanthun gum? It is derived from corn and I cannot have it. Thanks

    • Nicole Hunn
      February 4, 2019 at 8:53 AM

      Hi, Rae, if you’re able to purchase Better Batter, their xanthan gum is not derived from corn. I’d go with that. There are also other xanthan gums available on the market that aren’t derived from corn (or wheat), either. Otherwise, you can try using guar gum 1:1, but xanthan gum is much better in heated applications (and guar gum in cold applications), so I can’t promise everything will turn out.

  • Wendy Tancon
    February 3, 2019 at 3:12 PM

    These Brownies are amazing.
    Every one in the family , even those not g f loved them. Now I’m I’ve started something. Thanks again.
    Wendy !🤗

    • Nicole Hunn
      February 4, 2019 at 8:53 AM

      Haha it sounds like you’ve started something amazing, Wendy!

  • Diane
    February 3, 2019 at 9:35 AM

    Just made these yesterday for dinner party last night and everyone loved them, even though most of the others are not gluten free. These are great and I’ll be making them from now on.
    Thanks for your persistence at coming up with wonderful and delicious GF recipes!

    • Nicole Hunn
      February 3, 2019 at 10:17 AM

      That’s so great to hear, Diane. That’s the trick, right, to fool the gluten-eaters. :)

  • Sophia
    January 31, 2019 at 10:41 AM

    What fortuitous timing for this recipe to come out yesterday, as I was in need of chocolate *something* for dessert and didn’t have a large window of time to be in the kitchen. The only change I made to the recipe was 1/2 coconut sugar with white (I love the caramelly flavor), making sure to measure my ingredients on a scale so the quantities were correct. Seeing the gorgeous shiny top was particularly satisfying as not a lot of GF brownies come out that way. Thank you so much for sharing this and helping make the end to our evening meal special.

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 31, 2019 at 3:50 PM

      Thanks for letting us know that your substitution turned out well, Sophia. I’m so glad these were the quick and easy chocolate fix you needed!

  • Angela
    January 31, 2019 at 1:02 AM

    Delicious brownie – turned out exactly as the recipe said. Thank you Nicola. This will be my go- to brownie recipe.

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 31, 2019 at 3:49 PM

      So glad, Angela!

  • Tara
    January 30, 2019 at 4:49 PM

    Hi Nicole!
    Do you think it will turn out as awesome if I leave the chocolate chips out?
    Thanks in advance, Tara

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 30, 2019 at 6:28 PM

      Hi, Tara, I’m not so sure you’ll get a proper/very noticeable crackly top without the chips, but you can certainly replace the chips with something else, like chopped nuts. Or another type of chips? You’ll need something, though.

Where should I send your free guide?

By entering your email, you're agreeing to our Privacy Policy. We respect your email privacy, and will never share your information.