Brownies can be deceptively hard to cook. If you’ve just cut into a gooey undercooked mess, you need a solution fast.
In this article, I cover three main ways to rescue your undercooked brownies:
- Placing the undercooked brownies back in the oven (or microwave)
- Refrigerating or freezing the brownies (great for those cooked-but-a-little-too-gooey ones)
- Creative uses for undercooked brownies (brownie milkshake, anyone?)
I also cover some frequently asked questions, such as if it’s safe to eat undercooked brownies, and how to ensure you get the perfect bake next time around.
Remember when you’re cooking brownies that they need time to set. Don’t cut into the brownies until 30 minutes after you’ve taken them out of the oven. If you cut them too soon, you might think they’re underdone when they just haven’t set yet.
They’ll continue to cook and firm up while they cool, which is why you should take them out a little before they’re totally cooked.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
Can I put undercooked brownies back into the oven?
Yes, it’s totally fine to put undercooked brownies back in the oven, even if you’ve left them cooling on the counter for a few hours. Put the brownies back into their baking tray, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cook the brownies until they’re done to your liking.
Check on the brownies often (I like to watch them through the glass) because they’ll cook quickly. You can use the toothpick trick to work out when they’re done.
I explain this in more detail here.
One potential issue with re-cooking the brownies is that the edges can become dry.
Brownies cook from outside in, so it’s often the case that the middle is undercooked but the edges are done.
By putting the cooked edges back into the oven, you risk overbaking them.
You have two choices here:
- Accept this might happen and serve the brownies with ice cream or a drizzle of chocolate sauce to mask any dryness.
- Cut the cooked edges off the brownie before putting the gooey center back into the oven.
If you’re worried about the top of the brownie burning, cover it with tin foil.
Note that Alton Brown actually recommends taking brownies out for 15 minutes halfway through cooking, so you might find this if one of those mistakes you’re glad you made!
Can I put undercooked brownies into the microwave?
Nuking undercooked brownies in the microwave is a quick and easy way to save them. It’s a great option if you don’t have access to an oven. Microwave individual slices in 30-second intervals.
It’s best to microwave individual slices (rather than the whole brownie) because microwaves don’t do a good job of cooking things evenly. Large slabs of brownie may become burnt in some places but stay undercooked in others.
An advantage of the microwave over the oven is that it cooks from the inside out.
This means the center of the brownie will cook first, allowing the outside to stay moist.
Put the undercooked brownie in the fridge or freezer
Putting an undercooked brownie in the fridge or the freezer is another way to salvage it. This method is for brownies that are cooked but are slightly too gooey for your liking.
There’s no extra cooking involved here, so if you’re not sure if the brownie is cooked enough to be safe to consume, go for the oven or the microwave.
The fridge temperature will firm up the brownie’s gooey center and give it a more chewy, dense texture.
The pictures below show an underdone brownie slice before (1st) and after (2nd) being refrigerated.
This is my favorite approach to saving undercooked brownies, as long as they have been cooked enough to be considered safe to eat. See my note below on eggs for more information.
The brownies maintain their fudgy and gooey qualities – so if you’re looking for fudgy (rather than cakey) brownies, this method is best.
The freezer will create a completely solid brownie that’s more like a chocolate bar. Frozen brownie pieces are the perfect addition to a decadent ice-cream sundae.
Use the brownies in a different dessert
Brownies don’t just have to be eaten on their own. Brownies that have gone slightly awry can make a great ingredient for another dessert.
Are the brownies are a bit too soft for your liking? Or maybe you’ve overbaked the outside while trying to cook the inside?
Here are some great uses for your not-so-perfect brownies:
- Brownie milkshakes
- Brownie bread pudding
- Brownie truffles
- Brownie trifle
- Brownie sundaes
- Deep-fried brownie balls
- Brownie crumbs (these make a GREAT addition to a cheesecake base)
- Brownie cake pops
- Brownie chips
My personal favorite is brownie milkshakes. Brownies, vanilla ice cream, and my not-so-secret ingredient: Oreos!
Can you eat undercooked brownies?
The main problem with undercooked brownies is the egg.
Raw, unpasteurized eggs can carry salmonella which will give you horrible food poisoning.
Therefore, you shouldn’t eat seriously undercooked or raw brownies made with unpasteurized eggs. Brownies that are only slightly undercooked or made with pasteurized eggs should be fine to eat.
The CDC states that if your brownies (or any egg dish) have reached an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) or hotter, then they will be safe to eat.
And the USDA states that in-shell pasteurized eggs are safe to consume without cooking. So even if they’re still raw, you can eat them.
All grocery-store bought eggs are pasteurized in America.
Flour is also not recommended to consume unless it’s been heated to 160°F (71°C) or hotter. Most people don’t know that flour can also contain sickness-causing bacteria!
It’s worth noting here that the risk from eating undercooked eggs/flour is actually pretty small when compared to the risks you face from eating undercooked chicken or fish.
So if you’re reading this after eating a slice (or several) of some undercooked brownies, try not to worry too much.
Why are my brownies always undercooked?
If undercooking your brownies is a common occurrence, there could be a simple fix.
Here are three of the most common reasons for undercooked brownies (and how to fix them).
Wrong temperature or cooking time
If the whole of the brownie mix is undercooked, the oven temperature is too low, or you’re simply not cooking the brownie for long enough.
But more commonly, people have a problem whereby the brownies are overcooking at the edges while still being raw in the middle. This is a classic sign that you have the oven temperature too high.
The edges of the brownie are cooking too quickly and the middle can’t keep up.
To fix this, turn the oven down by 25 degrees and see if this fixes the issue. If it doesn’t, turn the oven down by another 25 degrees on your next attempt.
If you have a convection (fan) oven, these always require an adjustment to the temperature. The fan pushes heat all around the oven resulting in dishes cooking faster than they usually would.
Sometimes recipes will only give a temperature for a standard oven, and you will need to remember to lower it by 25 degrees to account for your convection oven.
Also, make sure to preheat your oven before cooking the brownies.
Not preheating the oven can lead to uneven cooking. Rotating the pan halfway through cooking is another way to ensure even cooking.
Wrong sized pan
If you’re following a recipe, it likely calls for a certain sized pan.
That’s because the pan size you use will affect what temperature you cook the brownies at, and for how long.
If you use a smaller pan than what’s called for, the brownie mix will be thicker than it should be (and will cook slower). This often ends up in undercooked-in-the-middle brownies.
You may have to go through a bit of trial and error before you find the perfect cooking time for your exact pan.
But once you crack it, you’ll get batch after batch of perfect brownies! (as long as you use the same pan every time).
Another thing to note is that brownies take longer to cook in glass pans than they do in metal pans. This is because glass takes longer to heat up than metal.
Uncalibrated oven temperature
Quite often the temperature you set your oven to doesn’t accurately reflect the actual temperature inside the oven.
For example, you may have set it to 350 degrees, but it’s actually only heating to 325 degrees.
This might not matter much when you’re heating up a casserole, but it can have serious implications when it comes to baking.
To test this theory, get yourself an oven thermometer. Then you can tell exactly what temperature your oven is and adjust it accordingly.
How to tell if brownies are cooked
It can seem like an impossible task to take the brownies out of the oven at just the right time.
But here are some tips to help you.
The toothpick test
The toothpick test for brownies involves sticking a toothpick into the middle of the brownies and seeing how it comes out.
What you’re looking for depends on how you like your brownies cooked.
If you’re looking for cake-like brownies, you want the toothpick to come out mostly clean.
For fudgy brownies (the best kind) the rules are a little different.
- If the toothpick comes out completely clean, take the brownies out IMMEDIATELY. They’re likely a little overdone.
- If the toothpick comes out with a few moist (not wet) crumbs stuck to it, this is perfect. Take the brownies out and leave them to cool.
- If the toothpick comes out with brownie mix smeared on it, they need a little longer.
Toothpicks are better than knives for these tests because they’re more sticky. Knives can come out clean even when the brownie isn’t quite done.
Start the toothpick test a few minutes before you think the brownies will be cooked. This gives you a bit of leeway if they’ve cooked faster than you anticipated.
Brownies can go from perfect to overdone very quickly.
Got chocolate chips in the brownies? Remember that a smeared toothpick could just have hit a melted chocolate chip! To get around this, prick the brownie in 2-3 different spots for a more accurate assessment.
Katzie Guy Hamilton (Master Baker) says that a good visual clue of done brownies is cracking. As soon as you notice the first cracks appear on the surface of the brownie, they’re done.
The center of the brownie should be set and not wobble when you shake the pan. And the shininess of the wet batter should have dulled slightly.
Check the internal temperature
Another way of knowing when your brownies are done is by taking their internal temperature. This is easy with a cooking thermometer.
165-210 degrees Fahrenheit is the range you’re looking at when it comes to brownies. At 165 degrees Fahrenheit, they’ll be cooked but still nice and fudgy in the middle.
If you prefer a cakey texture, then wait until the brownies reach 210 degrees Fahrenheit.
Note that this is a rough guide, and it will depend on the exact recipe you used. Some recipes won’t be done until the internal temperature reaches 180, and at 210 they’ll still be fudgey.
I use a temperature probe to ensure the temperature has gone above the safe 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and the toothpick to see if I think the brownies are done or not yet.