Baking Shortcut – Boxed Brownie Mixes

This is hardly earth-shattering, but in the spirit of the internet, which has guided me through many baking and cooking quandaries, allow me to answer this question:

Can you use coconut oil instead of regular vegetable oil in a boxed brownie mix?

Yes, you can. Melt it so it is liquid. You might also consider adding a teaspoon or two of vanilla. The coconut flavor isn’t overwhelming, and you might not even be able to identify it, but it creates a much richer, more complex taste than a boxed mix usually does.

I made brownies last night using a Ghirardelli mix, which I think are the best of the mixes commonly available in most stores. I used melted coconut oil and a splash of vanilla along with the water and egg called for by the instructions. People were raving about how good the brownies were. My husband called me today to say the people we had over were still talking about them.

Sigh. I guess my ego can take rave reviews for a boxed brownie. I’m now going to have to make my regular, from-scratch brownies subbing coconut oil for some of the butter to see if they get the same reviews.

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21 Responses to Baking Shortcut – Boxed Brownie Mixes

  1. Kim says:

    Just found your blog after googling this same question. Thanks for the info! I now have to comment on my lesson learned: when I used coconut oil in cold weather, melting it was a necessity of course, but I found the batter slightly pasty and dry after mixing (even very quickly). I still had to add some vegetable oil just to make it spreadable. Not sure yet how to avoid this. Perhaps heat the oil to a much hotter temperature? Not sure if that would fry the egg… Even if not, I still feel like after mixing it, the batter hardening might be a problem in colder temperatures.

    • Somehow your comment got into my spam folder – sorry for the lag time. Since I’m in Texas, I don’t have to worry as much about the oil going back to its solid state too quickly. True that you wouldn’t want it to cook the egg, but the time between mixing & baking shouldn’t be that long (from a prep perspective), and even if once mixed & poured in the pan, it hardens, it’ll melt again in the oven, right?

      • Kim says:

        Certainly – it will melt again in the oven, but my post-mixed batter wouldn’t even pour into the pan without the addition of vegetable oil, and believe me, I was working very quickly because if it hardens at 76 degrees, and I keep my thermostat at 68, and it’s 20 degrees outside… So I guess the lesson learned is: for colder climates, mix the egg in beforehand, get the coconut oil really hot, mix it in super quickly, then pour it quickly into the baking pan as well, otherwise it might not even be pourable. But worse-case scenario if it cooled before pouring I guess would be to have to scoop and plop the batter into the pan and have clumpy delicious brownies instead of smooth ones… Not so bad!

        By the way, I thought the coconut flavor was overwhelming when I tasted them fresh out of the oven, but I also got tons of compliments on them from everyone else that had some after they’d cooled. I tried them again and there was a huge difference in the flavor between hot and cold – I thought that was very interesting (maybe I should stop being such a pig and wait until they cool before stuffing my face). Also, the brownies seemed to hold together better than usual but at the same time retain their moisture too – success! Thanks again for the info!

  2. elisabeth says:

    Thank You so much for the Coconut oil brownie advice. I love it!!! And the Vanilla—-oh my goodness….. I wonder if these are even going to make it to the point of sharing.

  3. nancy gough says:

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing! I tried it today and they’re amazing! Who knew a little vanilla and coconut oil would make such a huge difference in a brownie mix!

  4. Susan says:

    Just, Googled the use if coconut oil in brownie mix (it was for the Ghirardelli mix I had on hand)… and you post popped up… Thank you… Off to bake!

  5. patricia says:

    Thank you soooooo much for this information……..baking boxed brownies right now….w/ C.O.!

  6. Karen says:

    The Ghirardelli Turtle Brownie mix makes the BEST cookies! (The recipe is on the back of the box.) I always have a box on hand (and Trader Joe’s coconut oil) so I’m trying this tonight!!

  7. Ca says:

    just thoguht id say, i always get the cheapest (betty crocker) mix (or it used to be cheapest and now i stick with it for the following reason), and people alwys adore them. ive never used another

  8. WindyCityKit says:

    I just read that melted coconut oil will harden again quickly if added to cool or cold foods. I think letting the egg warm up to room temperature might be helpful. I am trying this tomorrow – thanks!

    • I’m wondering if your handle means you are in/around Chicago. Make sure to note that some people in colder climates have had difficulties that I can only dream about as far as coconut oil solidifying because the kitchen won’t warm up. I have a hard time even getting truly cold water to come out of the tap–in winter! đŸ˜‰ The brownies rarely last long enough for the oil to harden sitting on the counter. I’ve never tried freezing them, but now feel like I need to experiment.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for this recipe!! I had a Ghiradelli mix and no vegetable oil. You saved my night! The aroma of brownies baking in the oven is wafting through my apartment as I type. đŸ™‚

  10. Brittany says:

    You saved my congratulatory brownies tonight! Thanks a bunch!

  11. Bethany says:

    I have a recipe that calls for 4 tablespoons of melted coconut oil but my friend is allergic to coconut, can I use regular vegetable oil in its place?

  12. Darla DeForest says:

    We used coconut oil on our boxed brownie mix & they didn’t seem to bake right. The middle of the pan was still like liquid, just like it didn’t even bake! Any ideas on why that happened?

    • I’m not sure the coconut oil would do that unless you added too much, perhaps. Did they set up eventually? I tend to get better results when I use a metal pan instead of a Pyrex one. Could be too much batter in too small a pan, or oven temperature not hot enough. Wish I knew more and could help.

      • Darla DeForest says:

        Well, we figured out we didn’t bake it long enough. My husband looked at the time on the box wrong.

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