How to Cut Brownies Cleanly

Goodbye, cracked edges.

December 15, 2021
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1158800336

Photo by: Lindsay Upson/Getty Images

Lindsay Upson/Getty Images

By Fraya Berg for Food Network Kitchen

Fraya is a chef and a contributing writer at Food Network.

It doesn’t matter if you’re making gooey, fudgy brownies from scratch or brownies from a mix you picked up on your way home from work: you want them to be cleanly, perfectly cut. Surprise, cutting perfect brownie squares starts before you’ve even put the pan in the oven. Read on for all our smart tips and tricks.

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862289822

Basic homemade brownie or chocolate cake raw dough in baking pan. Cooking (baking) homemade chocolate cake or brownie.

Photo by: Mizina/Getty Images

Mizina/Getty Images

How to Bake Brownies with Crisp, Square Edges

The first step in baking brownies is choosing the right pan. If you want brownies to be perfectly square, it’s easier if you bake them in a square pan. If the recipe calls for a 13-by-9-inch baking pan, you can still cut perfect squares, it’s just a bit harder to eyeball it. You should also make sure to reach for a metal baking pan not a glass baking pan. As our baking expert Jessie Sheehan explains in her story What's the Difference Between Glass and Metal Baking Pans?, metal pans create sharp, aesthetically pleasing edges on baked goods, while glass pans create rounded edges.

Next you should make sure you prep your pan so the brownies will easily and cleanly release from it. Removing your baked brownies from the pan is much easier if you line the very bottom of it with foil or parchment paper. Place the pan on top of your sheet of foil or parchment and trace around the bottom. Cut the foil or parchment with a pair of scissors, place the shape inside the pan and coat it with vegetable cooking spray or smear it with butter.

How to Properly Cool Brownies

The single most important step in cutting brownies cleanly is to be sure they are completely cooled before you attempt to cut them. We have methods that will give you perfect brownies but none of them will work if you’re impatient and cut hot or even warm brownies. If the recipe you’re using gives instructions for a specific cooling method, follow it and wait for your brownies to cool completely. If there aren’t specific instructions, leave the brownies in the pan, put the pan on a rack and let them cool completely (which means a 2 to 3 hour wait). You can speed the cooling process by refrigerating the brownies in the pan, or by freezing them, but we think letting them cool at room temperature will give you the best results.

How to Neatly Remove Brownies from a Pan

When your brownies are completely cool, take them out of the pan and put them on a cutting board. The best way to do this is to place a lightweight cutting board over the top of the pan. Flip it and set it on the counter. Gently pull the pan from the brownies to release them, then carefully peel off and remove the foil or parchment paper. Place another lightweight cutting board on top of the brownies and flip them right-side-up. The bottom of the brownies should now be on the cutting board.

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1301628638

Homemade chocolate brownie with chocolate chip and cup on grille

Photo by: Mumemories/Getty Images

Mumemories/Getty Images

How to Cut Brownies Cleanly

No matter which tool you use to cut brownies, use with long, confident strokes. Hesitating and moving the knife back and forth or in a sawing motion will not give a clean cut. If you want perfect squares or rectangles, you can do what food stylists do: use a ruler. Very lightly score the brownies along the edges with the tip of a paring knife to create guides for yourself of where you’ll be making longer cuts.

How to Cut Brownies Cleanly Using a Plastic Knife

Plastic knives are inherently nonstick, making them the perfect utensil for cutting brownies cleanly. Who knew? A plastic “dinner” knife isn’t long enough to cut the entire length or width of a baking pan in one decisive cut, so you’ll have to make two. Make your first cut halfway down the length of the brownie. Stop. Use a warm, damp cloth or paper towel to wipe the knife clean of all brownie crumbs. Turn the brownie around and cut across to meet the first cut. Stop. Clean the knife. Keep cutting, stopping after every cut to clean the knife.

How to Cut Brownies Cleanly Using a Chef’s Knife

The benefit cutting with a chef’s knife? The long blade can swipe across the length of a pan in one cut. Chef’s knives aren’t nonstick, so you’ll need to lightly spray the blade with vegetable cooking spray on both sides before making your first cut. After making the cut, stop and wipe the blade clean with a warm, damp cloth or paper towel. Lightly spray the blade with cooking spray again. Continue cutting, wiping and spraying.

If you’d like your chef’s knife to seemingly melt right through the brownie, warm it up before cutting with it. Keep the knife in a tall container of very hot water and dip it and wipe it between each cut to rewarm the knife and remove the crumbs. This hack isn’t just for brownies: it’s how we cut birthday cake perfectly, too.

How to Cut Brownies Cleanly Using a Pizza Cutter

If you own a pizza cutter, great news: it’s a fast, easy way to cut brownies perfectly. Spray both sides of the blade lightly with cooking spray and make one firm, confident swipe across the width of the brownie to cut it in half. Wipe off the blade, spray the blade and cut, repeating the wiping and spraying process, until you’ve cut up the entire brownie.

How to Store Brownies

Whether you want perfectly clean-cut edges on your brownies or not, you definitely don’t want them to get stale. When brownies are well-wrapped, then sealed in a zip-top bag, they can stay at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. After that you can freeze them for up to 3 months.

Brownie Recipes

Classic 100 Brownies

Photo by: Caitlin Ochs

Caitlin Ochs

“Fudgy” is code for wonderfully decadent: butter, two kinds of chocolate, heavy cream and espresso powder amplify the chocolate flavor. In a word, these brownies are luscious.

Caramel, chocolate and salted peanuts come together in a brownie that could pass for a candy bar. Vanilla ice cream is the perfect topper.

Hot Chocolate Everything; Hot Chocolate Brownies

Photo by: Armando Rafael ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Armando Rafael, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

This recipe leans on leftover hot cocoa mix to achieve that signature flavor. Pure brilliance.

FNK CLASSIC BROWNIES **CLASSIC** Food Network Kitchen Food Network Unsalted Butter, Allpurpose Flour, Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, Semisweet or Bittersweet Chocolate, Sugar, Eggs

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

If you can’t decide between fudgy or cakey brownies, bake these classic brownies—they’re right in the middle.

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856FN088.tif

Food Stylist: Brett Kurzweil

Photo by: Lisa Shin ©Lisa Shin Photography, Inc.

Lisa Shin, Lisa Shin Photography, Inc.

This is the brownie equivalent of a loaded baked potato. Bake the brownie, add toppings of chocolate, peanuts and marshmallows and bake for another 5 minutes. Consider cheating and using a brownie mix like one of the reviewers did.

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