Last Updated on March 18, 2022
Most brownie recipes fail not during the baking part, but when they are sliced. Today, we will look at how to cut brownies effectively.
This article summarizes the best way to cut brownies to give them sharp and smooth edges. You can use simple tricks such as heating the knife, or more elaborate methods like freezing the entire baked batch. And, we have even included some helpful ways you can properly cool your brownies before slicing them.
Why It’s Hard To Cut Brownies
Not many people realize that cutting brownies is actually the hardest step in the recipe. After spending a lot of time and effort making these delicious treats, sometimes the cutting part ruins their shape completely! They often crumble, tear apart, mush up into an unrecognizable shape; but why do they do this? Why can’t brownies slice as easy as chocolate cake?
While brownies and chocolate cake are very similar and made from virtually the same ingredients, it’s the ratio of these ingredients that gives them entirely different textures. Where cake is usually fluffy and firm, brownies are often soft and dense.
Now, brownies do have different textures, but they still fall in the same category. They all have very soft textures and some even have gooey textures.
Now, when you apply pressure to the brownie using a knife, these soft textures kind of mush together. This is why you cannot get a clean slice – or at least why it is so difficult.
How Do You Cut Brownies Without Them Falling Apart?
There are a couple of ways you can cut your brownies without them mushing or crumbling. You can try all of them and see what works best for your specific recipe. Where one method works great for cakey brownies, it may not work as well for chewy brownies.
And, you can also use multiple techniques are the same time! For example, combine using a hot knife with a greased-up knife. Combining some of these techniques will increase your chances of having beautifully slices brownies.
Grease your knife
Trust us, by literally only applying this one trick, you will already see a major difference in your cut brownies. By greasing your knife with oil, butter, or non-stick cooking spray, it will help prevent the batter from sticking.
The fat will help prevent the sticky, fudgy texture from gripping the blade of the knife and creating one big mush.
It is crucially important to grease both sides of your knife, otherwise, it won’t work.
If you do use oil, use something like an oil blend, sunflower oil, or canola oil. These are all very neutrally-tasting oils that won’t affect the flavor of your brownies. Non-stick cooking spray will work the best in our opinion. Not to mention it is much easier to apply to the blade of your knife.
Don’t saw the brownies
You want your brownies to have clean edges. By using a sawing motion to cut them, you are pulling the stickiness back and forth and mushing the brownie completely. Even if you have dry brownies, the sawing motion will create a ton of crumbs and rough edges.
Instead, slice the brownies with a sharp knife using one sweeping motion.
Cool your brownies well
You cannot skip this step. Besides cooling your brownies at room temperature, you can even allow them to firm up inside of the fridge for an hour or so.
This will help firm up the gooey and sticky pieces. Ultimately, your brownies will be much easier to cut cleanly. We will discuss properly cooling your brownies in the section below.
Use a hot knife
This trick works especially well when you have chilled your brownies inside of the fridge. Again, at the very least, your brownies should be completely cooled at room temperature. The heat will help cut through the sticky sugar and create clean slices.
To use this method, fill a jar or tall cup with hot water. Then, leave your sharp knife inside for a couple of minutes so that the blade can become hot. Then, simply cut the brownies.
Wipe the blade between each cut and after it has been in the water. You don’t want your brownies to become soggy.
Many people are often tempted to heat the blade over an open flame (on a gas hob for example) or even in an oven. Under no circumstances should you ever heat your blade with intense heat. This weakens the blade and will give it a shorter life.
It is also key to clean the blade between each slice. Simply wipe it down with a wet (preferable warm) cloth. This will help keep the blade warm so you don’t have to reheat it for each slice.
Freeze your baked brownies
This method works extremely well for clean-cut brownies. And, you don’t have to grease your knife or heat it at all! You can simply freeze and cut!
Once your brownies have completely cooled at room temperature, wrap the tray in plastic wrap and allow the brownies to freeze for 2 to 3 hours. This will firm up any wet parts and make it much easier to apply pressure without the brownies misshaping.
Once frozen, remove the brownies from the tray, turn them onto a chopping board, and slice. Once slices, allow the brownies to thaw at room temperature and serve.
And, if you are worried about how well brownies freeze, they hold up excellently! Neither their flavor nor texture will be affected.
How Long Should Brownies Cool Before Cutting?
Once your brownies have been baked, you should allow them to cool inside of their pan for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. You can also leave them for up to four hours before slicing them.
It is just important to let them cool completely before removing them from the pan, slicing them, or storing them.
Tools For Cutting Brownies
The knife is arguably the best tool to use to cut brownies. However, there are different types of knives you can use. We like using a large chef’s knife. They give a clean cut and won’t tear or mush your brownies.
Don’t use a serrated knife as they will tear your brownies apart and make a ton of crumbs.
Now, you also get special brownie cutting tools. There are even specialized pans that come with a brownie slicer. This tool helps you perfectly portion your brownies, making the task effortless.
How To Cut Brownies – Final Thoughts
Did you find this article helpful? What other tips do you have for cutting brownies to give them smooth edges? Let us know in the comments below and share this article with your baking buddies.
Lindy Van Schalkwyk is a culinary specialist with a background in Advanced Cooking, Advanced Pâtisserie, Media Communications and Nutrition. She has gained invaluable experience in the culinary industry having worked in some of the top restaurants in Africa in 2016 and 2017. Her expertise in nutrition has enabled her to develop recipes for special dietary needs. In 2018, Lindy began working in the Food Media industry, focusing on recipe development, recipe writing, food writing and food styling.