In pursuit of the perfect “everyday” dairy-free brownie recipe, I tested nearly a dozen variations. Some were lackluster, some had a funny aftertaste, and some went seriously overboard with the whole moist and fudgy thing. These delicious dairy-free brownies have a well-rounded, clean, and rich chocolaty flavor. They’re soft and chewy with a hint of fudginess, and have that lightly crackly top, just like the classics!
These Dairy-Free Brownies are Chewy, Chocolaty Deliciousness
I ended up modifying my favorite coconut brownies recipe, from Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook, to create this perfect recipe for classic dairy-free brownies. I cover the ingredients in more detail via the FAQs below.
Where’s the Baking Soda or Baking Powder?
In my opinion, classic brownies should never contain leavener. There are variations, particularly with egg-free brownies and vegan brownies, where leavener can help. But adding it to these dairy-free brownies would make them cakier. And we aren’t making chocolate cake, we’re baking soft, chewy, chocolaty brownies!
Why Do You Use Oil Instead of Butter or Butter Alternative?
Many classic recipes use oil, not just dairy-free brownies. That’s because it provides a more pure chocolate flavor that lets the chocolate take center stage. Also, dairy-free buttery spreads and sticks each have their own flavor nuances that can assert themselves when baked. If you opt to go buttery and notice any “off” flavors, it’s due to the butter alternative. Finally, butter alternatives add water to the recipe, which can skew the texture and also makes the brownies go stale more quickly. Oil is pure fat, so there is no evaporation or drying out.
But Can I Use Butter Alternative Instead of Oil?
You can, but I haven’t specifically tested it in this dairy-free brownies recipe, so it’s hard to say which amount would work best. If you do opt to use a butter alternative, you might need to increase the amount for the best texture. The fat in 1/3 cup oil is equivalent to about 7 tablespoons of butter alternative (with 10 to 11 grams of fat per tablespoon). I wouldn’t melt the butter alternative before mixing. If you do use more, and melt it, the batter will be thinner, causing the chocolate chips to sink.
I’d Like to Reduce the Sugar. Will They Work?
Sugar contributes not only to the flavor, but also to the texture. It helps to create those chewy bonds. Just keep that in mind if you opt to lower the sugar. I think you can reduce it to 3/4 cup for a dark chocolate style brownie that’s a little less fudgy and chewy, but I wouldn’t reduce it more than that. And please keep in mind that I haven’t tested that amount! We thought these dairy-free brownies were perfectly sweetened as is!
Can I Use a Different Sweetener?
You can use another granulated sweetener, like brown sugar, evaporated cane juice, or coconut sugar. If you are using a coarse sugar, like coconut sugar, you might want to grind it into a powder first. This step is optional, but coconut sugar doesn’t dissolve as easily. I don’t recommend substituting a liquid sweetener, and don’t have experience with sugar-free sweeteners. There are some granular sugar-free sweetener baking blends, like King Arthur Baking Sugar Alternative and All-Purpose In The Raw Zero Calorie Sweetener that could work just fine.
Doesn’t Chocolate Contain Dairy?
Real chocolate does not contain any dairy! It’s what companies often add to their chocolate that’s the issue. Fortunately, there are now many companies that respect quality chocolate, and now don’t add milk ingredients. You can see our Dairy-Free Chocolate Chips Guide. For brownies, I’m currently using Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips or their Chocolate Chunks (depending on my mood), both of which are allergy-friendly.
What Type of Dairy-Free Brownies are These?
As mentioned, they’re soft and chewy, like classic brownies, with a touch of fudginess from the chocolate chips. You can also bake them for the lesser amount of time for a more moist and fudgy brownie. You’ll notice that the flavor of these dairy-free brownies has more depth than most basic brownie recipes. That’s because the majority of them use too little salt. You don’t need a lot of salt, but you do need enough to make the sweetness and chocolate pop and to make the overall taste cohesive.
What Type of Pan Do You Use?
I use a metal, non-stick, 8×8-inch baking pan. There is a lot of argument online about whether glass or metal is better for baking brownies, but most lean toward metal. Glass pans don’t conduct heat as well, causing brownies to overbake around the edges while remaining undercooked in the middle. This can also cause sinking in the middle. But darker metal pans can cause the brownies to heat too quickly. If you have lighter colored metal pans, that works best. These dairy-free brownies will sink a little bit as they cool (they’re a little puffy when done), but should still be relatively flat on top.
Special Diet Notes: Classic Dairy-Free Brownies
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, and vegetarian.
For gluten-free dairy-free brownies, your favorite gluten-free flour blend (grain-based, not almond or coconut flour) might work just fine. But I haven’t tested it. Alternatively, you can try my favorite Flourless Brownies (with eggs) or Fudgy Gluten-Free Vegan Brownies.
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- ⅓ cup oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease and line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa powder.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk or mix the sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla, and salt until creamy and emulsified.
- Add the flour-cocoa blend to the wet ingredients and stir or mix just until combined.
- Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Scrape the batter into your prepared baking pan and even it out.
- Bake the brownies for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or mostly clean. You can bake them a little less for fudgier.
- Let the brownies cool in the pan for 10 minutes or so, then remove them to a cutting board to cool completely.
- Once cool, cut them into thirds each way for 9 larger brownies, or into fourths each way for 16 smaller brownies.
Coconut Oil Option: Coconut oil used for the oil will add a little richness and a little more fudginess. I recommend using refined coconut oil if you don't want any hints of coconut in the flavor. Also, melt the coconut oil, then measure, and make sure your eggs are at room temperature before using. Any cold ingredients will cause the coconut oil to "bead up" (create little solid bits in the liquid oi).
Double Batch: Double all ingredients, use a 9x13-inch baking pan, and follow the directions as is. The baking time will be similar, but you might need a few more minutes.