Brownies debuted in the U.S. at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Since then, Americans have been enjoying these decadent, chocolaty treats as dessert, on their own, or paired with ice cream and chocolate syrup. There simply isn’t a wrong way to enjoy a brownie.
But how do you store a homemade batch so they stay fresh until they’re all gone — which may only be a day or two! Some people leave them out on display, while others are sticklers for putting any leftover food in the fridge for safety. Let’s see who’s right.
Determining whether or not a food should be refrigerated comes down to looking at its ingredients. The whole is the sum of its parts, after all. After being baked at 300 degrees or higher for 20 minutes or more, there is no danger of an ingredient making you sick from being raw or undercooked.
Every brownie recipe is a little different, but most contain the following elements:
- Cocoa powder – Cocoa is responsible for most of the chocolaty flavor of brownies.
- Sugar – The amount of sugar determines how sweet and crispy the brownies get.
- Butter or oil – Butter is better for flavor, but oil results in a softer texture.
- Add-ins – You can add anything to brownie batter, like chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, walnuts, caramel or candy.
None of these ingredients are worrisome. These two, however, must be cooked to eliminate the risk of making you sick:
- Eggs – Raw eggs are dangerous because of the Salmonella bacteria they potentially carry. A properly cooked egg is perfectly safe to consume.
- Flour – Unbaked flour can carry E. coli and Salmonella as well. The chances of getting sick from eating raw flour (in unbaked cookie dough, for example) are low, but there have been several sickness outbreaks due to contaminated flour over the years.
The same basic principles apply to boxed brownie mixes.
No matter how you like your brownies — chewy, cakey, or gooey — you’ll want to keep them fresh so the last one tastes as good as the first ones out of the pan. Fortunately, ideal storage is the same for all types of brownies.
Brownies can last for several days — up to one week — on the counter, unrefrigerated. All of the ingredients are fully cooked, so there’s no risk of food poisoning or bacteria from undercooked batter.
However, if your family doesn’t devour them within a couple of days, they can start to get stale sitting out on the counter, even if covered or in an airtight container. We recommend leaving them out for up to 24 hours. If they’re still around after that, put them in the fridge to keep them fresh.
How to Store Brownies
Your family may prefer warm brownies to refrigerated ones. We understand that! Here’s how we recommend keeping any leftover brownies:
On the counter
If you choose to leave them out at room temperature, just make sure they are in an airtight container that will prevent germs and other particles from getting on them. If they’re extra gooey, you may want to put some wax paper between layers to keep them from sticking together.
In the fridge
The same goes for brownies in the refrigerator. Seal them up in a container or a plastic bag. If they are more on the cakey side, no wax paper will be necessary.
And don’t worry if your family would rather have them warm. Putting brownies in the fridge just gives you an opportunity to microwave one for a few minutes before enjoying its warm, chocolaty goodness… perfect with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream!
After 5-7 days, your brownies are going to start drying out and need to be thrown out. That sounds like a perfect excuse to bake a fresh batch!
We also have related articles on our website that may be of interest to you like Do Suppositories Need To Be Refrigerated?, Do Brita Filters Have To Be Refrigerated? and Do Boiled Potatoes Need To Be Refrigerated?
Room-temperature Brownies are OK!
Notice that we have said very little about the brownie baking process here. The temperature and time you cook them on won’t affect whether or not your brownies need to be refrigerated, nor will the pan you cook them in.
As long as they are cooked according to the recipe you have chosen and are cooked until done, brownies do not need to be refrigerated.
If you choose to, that’s a matter of preference.