The Crunchy Addition You Should Be Adding To Boxed Brownies

Boxed brownies might just be one of the most versatile baked goods in the culinary world. There are countless ways to spruce the flavor of even the simplest premade mix available at your local grocery store, such as adding your favorite ingredients or red wine to the batter. In fact, some of the most underrated items to add to boxed brownies are salty snacks such as pretzels, salty nuts, or even crushed potato chips — yes, you heard that right. They might not be found in most traditional recipes, but they add an element of savory crunch that cannot be beaten.

After you've made your boxed brownie batter, simply crush the snack of your choice and add it to the mix. This will add some textural contrast to your final dish and allow you to better taste the chocolate. Using small amounts of salt not only masks the bitterness of many ingredients but lets your taste buds detect sweetness more effectively.

To give your salty snack brownies more visual flair, use half of the crushed pretzels, nuts, or potato chips as a base or a topping instead. This will give you the same textural and flavor boosts as if you've mixed them into the batter directly, and allow people to see how unique your recipe is.

Watch how much sodium your salty snacks could be adding to your brownies

While a pinch of salt may be a great addition to brownies, using too much of it can still be detrimental. In large amounts, sodium begins to mute the sweet overtones of food and brings out the umami instead. While a generous sprinkle of this ingredient might be ideal for a savory steak, this can mask the flavors of the sugar and chocolate found in your boxed brownie dough. Most pretzel snacks, salted nuts, and potato chips are high in sodium, so you should not add large amounts to your batter. 

As a general rule of thumb, two cups of salty snacks should be more than enough to give a batch of boxed brownies a textural boost. Any more could potentially ruin the flavors of your dessert, especially if you're mixing in salt or using it as a garnish as well. The same applies to any secret ingredient that gets added to brownies, such as bacon bits or Oreos. Much like any other baked good, the exact proportions of ingredients used for your boxed brownies will make a huge difference in how its flavor and texture come out in the end.

Other add-ins that could boost your brownies

If you're looking for another add-on that can perfectly complement the flavors of your salty snack-laden boxed brownies, look no further than caramel. Much like chocolate, this ingredient's bold flavor profile pairs excellently with salty snacks, making them another tasty add-in for this dessert. Caramel is already a popular match with pretzels and can be easily found at most grocery stores. Just drizzle the sauce onto your brownies or on top of your batter, and prepare to become wowed by the complex blend of sweet and savory flavors.

Alternatively, you can introduce some kick into your brownies by using chili peppers or hot potato chips. Before most of Latin America became colonized by Spain, bitter chocolates with a combination of sweet and spicy ingredients. Honey and chilies were common pairings during the time, and they remain excellent add-ons for brownies. If you don't have any fresh peppers available at home, feel free to use paprika, cayenne powder, or your favorite spicy hot potato chip.

Lastly, don't be afraid to substitute the core ingredients in your boxed brownie batter. For example, white chocolate chips can easily replace regular ones to create some visual contrast, and you can use milk or espresso as more flavorful alternatives to water. Cake Boss' Buddy Valastro likes to add frozen fruit to his boxed brownie mix, so consider that next time you make this dessert.