I tried making boxed brownies in 3 different appliances, and my air fryer has potential

I tried making boxed brownies in 3 different appliances, and my air fryer has potential

thre trays of baked brownies on a counter

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I love brownies, but I wanted to see if I could make them quicker or better.

Meredith Schneider



  • Being able to bake a good brownie in record time when a craving hits is important to me.
  • I made the same batter in my oven, microwave, and air fryer to see which method worked best.
  • I think my air fryer could be better if I played with the recipe, but the oven was perfect.
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I’m always looking for sneaky baking hacks, especially in the summer when my utility bills spike and my kitchen is too hot. If I’m going to spend precious gas or electricity on baking, I want to ensure amazing results.

In the hopes of finding the best method for making brownies, I baked batches in my oven, air fryer, and microwave — reviewing the appliances based on timing, taste, and consistency.

Here’s how it went.

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I started by making the batter I’d use for all three methods.

three boxes of brownie mix, a bottle of oil, and six eggs ina. pan

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I went with a simple Betty Crocker brownie mix.

Meredith Schneider



To keep the variables consistent, I used the same brownie batter for all three batches. Since I’m not as precise a baker as I’d like to be, I turned to a boxed mix for this experiment.

The basic brownie recipe ended up being a box of Betty Crocker mix, two eggs, ½ cup of vegetable oil, and 2 tablespoons of water.

In the spirit of keeping things as similar as possible, I prepared each batch exactly the same (using the instructions on the box).

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Then I found baking vessels that made sense for each appliance.

can of crisco next to an 8x8 square metal pan

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I didn’t want the batter to stick, so I lined the pans with vegetable shortening.

Meredith Schneider



I stuck with a basic square 8-by-8 pan for the oven since that’s what I normally use. My air fryer was just big enough to fit an 8-by-8 circular pan, so I ended up going with that.

Finding the right dish for the microwave was a little trickier since I couldn’t use anything made of metal. In the end, I opted for an 8-by-8 glass pie pan.

I smeared some shortening in each container to prevent the brownies from sticking and poured in the prepared batter.

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I started with my trusty oven method.

pan of brownies in an oven

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I typically bake my brownies in the oven.

Meredith Schneider



I set the oven to 325 degrees, as directed on the box. Once preheated, I put the pan in and hoped for the best.

After 49 minutes, I checked the brownies with a toothpick. They looked cooked to me, so I removed the pan from the oven and set it on the counter to cool.

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The brownies were evenly baked and nice and soft.

square pan of baked brownies

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I was very pleased with the results.

Meredith Schneider



I’ve pretty much perfected basic oven brownies over the years, and this batch was no different.

The square pan of brownies came out evenly baked, soft, and delicious.

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For my second attempt, I turned to my air fryer.

round metal pan of brownie batter in an air fryer

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My air fryer was just big enough to fit a round pan.

Meredith Schneider



The consensus on the internet seemed to be to air fry the batter at 330 degrees for 36 minutes.

I placed the circular pan into the air-fryer basket, set the heat and time, and walked away.

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The top was a little hard, but the insides were gooey.

round tin of brownies

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The middle of the air-fried brownies was totally gooey.

Meredith Schneider



The center of these brownies was almost underbaked, and I happen to like a gooier brownie.

This method may not be the best if you prefer things more well done, but I appreciated that the brownies were delicious and evenly gooey throughout the middle.

Once they cooled, a shell-like top also set in, giving the treat a bit of contrasting texture.

I think I’d prefer these brownies if they were cooked differently (either at a different temperature or for a longer time). But then the method creeps toward the oven timing, so it’s not much of a hack.

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The microwave recipe was the shortest of the three.

pie pan of brownies inside a microwave

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I ended up microwaving the batter for almost 10 minutes.

Meredith Schneider



After doing some internet research, I decided to microwave the brownies on high for about five minutes and add one- to two-minute intervals until they were fully baked.

I noticed some air bubbles forming while the pie pan was in the microwave, and they never smoothed out. They also made it a little more difficult to tell when the brownies were done.

I left mine in the microwave until a toothpick came out clean, which took almost 10 minutes.

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I don’t think I can depend on a microwave for baking.

close up of a pie pan of microwaved brownies

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The air bubbles didn’t make the brownies look super appetizing.

Meredith Schneider



The brownies were good straight out of the microwave. Some bites had a nice chew, and the center stayed fudgy for hours

But most of the pan got hard very quickly, making them almost completely inedible.

Also, since microwaves vary based on age, brand, and settings, I don’t think it’s possible to ensure consistent results.

Even though this was the fastest method by far, I don’t think it’s really worth it.

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The oven is still my tried and true method for an even bake.

three pans of brownies arranged next to each other

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I’m probably just going to stick with my trusty oven.

Meredith Schneider



After attempting all three methods, the oven brownies were still my favorite.

Consistent texture is, as it turns out, pretty paramount to me. I liked that the traditionally baked pan had a soft texture from edge to center.

I’ll continue to play with the time and temperature on the air fryer to see if I can come up with a shorter hack. But I’m not planning on making microwave brownies again anytime soon.

Click to check out the other appliances we’ve put head-to-head so far.

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This post was originally published on Insider

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