Filed under: Bars / Brownies & Blondies
April 15, 2021

Emergency Brownies

Perfect fudgy brownies with chewy edges and soft gooey middles; these super simple to make; one bowl, ten minutes and just six ingredients.

Yield: 4
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If you ever find yourself needing fudgy, rich brownies, asap, these are for you. One bowl, ten minutes and only six ingredients away. 


small batch brownies


I’ve been toying with the idea of posting a minuscule recipe of these brownies ever since last spring when we were all in lockdown and groceries were hard to come by. When I was asked how to adapt the original, I say to cut the recipe and bake it in a loaf pan. But recently I developed a quicker, seamless way to make this batter and do away with the double boiler. I know at least my one yolk cookie fans will appreciate these. 

Small Batch Fudgy Brownies, STAT 

My undergrad self would have loved so many of these quick, easy recipes. Having only dabbled in baking back then, and stationed far from my mother’s baking and all my favorite european chocolates, I’d get hit with a craving for brownies or chocolate chip cookies that needed to be met asap, and since I lived alone, needed to be super small. Brownies for one. Cookies for just me. I didn’t even have a hand mixer back then. I’d hop to the nearest bakery to find something that did the job, but was…meh. Nothing like the homemade stuff I craved.



Oh the name! A reader commented on my egg yolk cookies that they keep dough balls in the freezer as ‘emergency cookies’ and that resonated with me so much. When I ran the name idea by my husband he asked: are they quick? Yes, it’ll take ten minutes. Are they easy and simple to make? Yes, microwave! I looked up the potential name and it turns out Nigella has an ‘emergency brownie’ recipe; hers use a regular cocoa and add nuts. 

What you’ll need to make these small batch brownies 

Butter, sugar, cocoa, and an egg are the essentials. It doesn’t matter what kind of butter you use, you can use brown sugar if you want too. These can’t be made eggless unfortunately. And I will urge you to use dutch process cocoa which is smooth, rich and deep in taste. Some cocoa brands I like: The Saco Pantry, Rodelle, and Guittard Rouge.

Since we’re making this as simple as possible I’m not going to ask you to measure out the vanilla and salt; do it by eye. The chopped chocolate isn’t completely essential but it’ll ensure that signature shiny top and fudgy texture. 

If you want to make these gluten-free, simply substitute with any gf flour (oat, almond, gf 1 to 1, etc).


What to get right for the perfect brownies, in an emergency

You need a microwave, a bowl and a whisk. Our goal is to melt the butter first, then add sugar and heat them together. This melts some of the sugar granules before the batter goes into the oven. While this mixture is still hot you’ll add the cocoa and whisk it in well and it will cool. Avoid the egg or the chocolate going in before the cocoa as the heat will cook the egg and melt the chocolate. But once you whisk the cocoa in along with the salt & vanilla the mixture will cool. 

It’s essential to really, vigorously whisk the egg into the mix. That’s what will give us a nice fudgy texture and a smooth batter. The chocolate; chop it really finely and maybe leave a couple of slightly large pieces if you like the ‘chip’ texture in your brownies. 

What if you don’t have a microwave? You can do this over a pot of simmering water but you’ll adapt the method a bit: melt the butter first, and once it’s melted add the sugar and let it cook until it’s quite hot. Then remove from heat and proceed as directed below. 



Notes on Emergency Brownies

An earlier recipe of these was half of what’s listed below to make a pretty thin brownie but after feedback from some readers, I re-made and re-wrote the recipe to be thicker. If you want something like a ‘brownie thin’ then halve the recipe below. 

If you like a little bit of ‘goo’ in your brownies you can slightly underbake these, 25-30 minutes total.

Emergency Brownies

Recipe for a small batch of fudgy, delicious brownies that are made in one bowl and in less than half an hour!
quick small batch brownies
Yields: 4
4.80 from 44 votes


  • 1/2 cup or 113g butter
  • 1 cup or 220g granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup or 30g dutch process cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • Small splash of vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup or 30g all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup or 50g very finely chopped dark chocolate


  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a standard-size loaf pan with a thin layer of oil and line with parchment paper.
  • Place the butter in a heatproof bowl and set in the microwave, heat it until it has just melted.
  • Add the sugar and whisk to combine. Return the bowl to the microwave for another 30 seconds. Whisk the mixture vigorously. It should be hot to touch, if not return it for another 10-20 seconds to the microwave.
  • Whisk in the cocoa, vanilla and salt. The mixture should still be warm but not really hot.
  • Add the eggs and whisk for a full minute, vigorously, until you have a shiny batter.
  • Fold in the chocolate and flour.
  • Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-35 minutes.

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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    These brownies really came in clutch for a late night craving. My new favorite—emergency or not! I don’t like my brownies super gooey so I baked them until there were just a few moist crumbs stuck to the toothpick, which took about 35 min. Perfect amount of moist for me with delicious chewy edges. I also sprinkled toasted walnut on top before baking because that’s how I roll. Thank you, Sam!

  2. 5 stars
    I love everything about these brownies. You can make them in a pinch. The recipe is easy peasy as long as you have chocolate on hand. Sam does a great job simplifying every step. Make the emergency brownies.

  3. 5 stars
    Love love making these, but always baked them for longer! Now I know why, I use a glass bread pan! Just ordered some metal ones off Amazon! Thanks Sam!

  4. 5 stars
    These are great emergency brownies! Made from ingredients I know I’ll always have and came together really quickly. Next time I think I might cut the flour. It didn’t seem super necessary to the structure and the flour makes it a tiny bit caky and I prefer my brownies as dense as possible. Please don’t tell anyone I ate these with a spoon right from the pan 10 minutes after they came out of the oven!!

  5. 5 stars
    These rock! I was given a lb of dark chocolate as a gift and just knew I needed some brownies. These hit the spot! Super fudge like and yummy. A win of course.

  6. 5 stars
    These truly are emergency brownies! I have already made these twice this week because I needed brownies. At this rate, I should probably use a recipe that makes more than 8 small brownies, but there is just something so satisfying about whipping these brownies up and eating them fresh out of the oven. I added Heath chips to mine the last time I made these instead of the chopped chocolate and it was delicious. The edges are perfectly crunchy and the middle is soft and gooey. The best!

    Thanks for this awesome recipe Sam!

    • 5 stars
      I have been baking for years looking for a recipe that makes the perfect fudge brownie and this is it. The only thing I change is baking for 30 minutes and leave in the pan for for another 30 minutes. Then lift out from the partchment to allow to cool. Use Dutch cocoa. You will never want another brownie recipe. Yum!

  7. 5 stars
    I make these all the time and love them! My husband has been on a coconut oil kick and requested these with the oil. I used a glass bowl to whisk sugar and oil and followed the rest of recipe as written. Just as good as regular! Original recipe as written is better but the sub was really good too. Thank you!

  8. 5 stars
    These were the best brownies I’d ever tasted. So easy to make and so delicious! Perfect level of sweetness and chocolate ❤️

  9. 5 stars
    Recipe was soo ooey and gooey and delicious have to play with the baking time because that was the only thing that was off, but I’m sure it was user error. Recipe was super easy to follow, will be making again!

  10. 5 stars
    very easy, very tasty! 10/10. do recommend!

    I always stand over a stove burner to heat my brownie butter and sugar, but now that I’ve had success in the microwave with this recipe, I might never go back!

  11. 5 stars
    Can I give these 10 stars? Truly a perfect recipe in every way. Has become our go to recipe for brownies… because honestly, doesn’t every week have a moment that calls for EMERGENCY 🚨 BROWNIES??!

  12. 5 stars
    I LOVE these. They have saved us on many late night cravings. My husband loves any dessert I make of yours BUT he has absolutely no self control. These are the perfect size and taste PHENOMENAL. Super super easy, he can even make them himself HAHA! I’ve used with regular and brown sugar and both ways are delicious. You introduced me to Guittard coco rouge and I make everything I can with it. Thank you!

  13. 5 stars
    These are very very good brownies and are a great size if you want a smaller batch. Definitely a go to recipe now. So much deep chocolatey flavor! I like a good chewy edge so I baked a little longer and they were still nice and fudgy in the middle. Very quick and easy recipe too.

  14. 5 stars
    Made a double batch this weekend after a last minute invite to a BBQ. They were gooey and better than any box brownies! Such a hit that both pans were gone in an hour

  15. 4 stars
    Cooked the full time and still came out super gooey. I checked the recipe three times to make sure the measurements were right. I think I needed 10 more mins in the oven and a non glass pan? Great flavor and will try again but will have to tweak the recipe.

  16. 5 stars
    These were absolutely amazing. My husband and I both agreed that this was the best brownie recipe I’ve tried out. Perfect amount of fudgieness. And it was such an easy and quick recipe!

  17. 5 stars
    Made these last night and they are perfect! I have a combination microwave/tiny oven and while it bakes most things fine, I usually have trouble getting brownies to bake for the right amount of time. But these turned out perfectly! Not too gooey, not too done. I think microwaving the sugar and butter is a game changer! This will def be on rotation for me now

  18. 5 stars
    These are so sasy and so good!! Had a friend for dinner and afterward decided maybe we should have dessert so I went straight to your IG and found this recipe. Simple ingredients list so I had everything needed on hand. I added walnuts to the batter and Sanders dark chocolate salted caramels to one half. Sprinkled maldon sea salt over the top before baking. Baked the full 20 minutes for perfect brownies.

  19. 5 stars
    Made these to go into the Babka Brownie, and only ended up using part of the batter in the dough. I baked the rest in a 1 qt Dutch oven for about 11 minutes and they were shiny perfection! I loved the extra chocolate chunks in the batter for texture, and it was amazing with vanilla ice cream!

  20. 5 stars
    I just made these with plant based becel (dairy allergy) and they were still amazing! These are the most perfect brownies.

  21. 5 stars
    All around delightful recipe! I under-baked them by 5 mins and they came out nice and gooey. Thanks, Sam!!! Your recipes never cease to impress.

  22. 5 stars
    I made these immediately after seeing the post and they were absolutely perfect! I went even further with the small batch concept and halved the recipe, using a small Pyrex loaf pan (about 3.5 x 6.5 inches). Thanks, Sam, for such a wonderful recipe.

  23. 5 stars
    The effort to taste payoff on these is very high. They are fudgy and rich, just how a brownie should be. Definitely adding into my baking rotation!

  24. Will this recipe batter fit into a 6×2 inch round cake tin? Btw this looks really good! I want to try these fudgy brownies!!

  25. 5 stars
    These were GREAT — everything they promised — I went from reading this recipe to having them in the oven in ten minutes. High quality cocoa is key — I used a great dutch cocoa from King Arthur. These even managed to convert my previously brownie-indifferent husband!

  26. 5 stars
    Just made these – great recipe!

    Just one comment, I followed the 1/4 cup of butter per the recipe, but I think the weight measurement (28g) provided in brackets may be off.

  27. 5 stars
    I just finished making these and am enjoying them now…these are delicious! I’m so happy! Thank you, for sharing!

  28. I’ve actually tried nigella’s emergency brownies recipe and it’s actually quite fudgy, but keen to try yours as I like the streamlined microwave method and the fact that this is flourless! Do you think this recipe can be doubled in an 8×8 pan as well (I noticed the one you adapted this from does have flour in the recipe).