Old-Fashioned Brownies with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

These old-fashioned brownies are the definition of fudgy: they’re dense, rich, and a chocolate lover’s dream. Baked with semi-sweet chocolate chips mixed in and topped with a chocolate cream cheese frosting, they’re sure to be a crowd favorite!

Plate of three brownies with chocolate frosting and sprinkles on top. One brownie has a bite taken out of it.

I found this recipe in my great-grandma’s recipe box with the words “very good” underlined. Twice. There was no way I was going to let that one slip by without making them myself. And thank goodness I did.

First, let me reiterate what I already said above: These brownies are *not* cakey. If you’re looking for a super dense, rich, fudge-like brownie, this is the recipe for you.

And even better, they are a cinch to make! You only need one bowl to mix the ingredients together. While the brownies were baking, I washed the bowl so it was ready to make the chocolate frosting in while they were cooling. Easy, stress-free cleanup!

Looking for more chocolate desserts? Check out this Turtle Cheesecake, Caramel and Chocolate Chip Cookies, Cookie and Cream Cookies, or this Sour Cream Chocolate Pound Cake!

Why You’ll Love These Brownies

  • You only need one mixing bowl. Only one bowl is needed to make these brownies. Super simple to make!
  • Super dense and rich. These aren’t your typical brownies. They are decadent, rich, and similar to fudge.
  • Top with chocolate cream cheese frosting to take these to the next level!
Old-fashioned brownies frosted sitting on parchment paper cut into 12 pieces.


Here are the ingredients to use to make these brownies. You’ll bake them in a 9×13 baking dish.

old-fashioned brownie ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, eggs, granulated sugar, melted butter, vanilla extract, and semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional).
  • all-purpose flour – my go to for making brownies
  • cocoa powder – what makes the brownies chocolatey!
  • melted butter – I use salted butter in all my baking, but you can also use unsalted. Just add a pinch of salt to the mixing bowl as well.
  • granulated sugar – This is what makes the brownies so sweet.
  • vanilla extract – packs so much flavor!
  • eggs – 4 eggs are needed for these brownies.
  • semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional) – completely optional but highly recommended 😉
Ingredients needed for chocolate cream cheese frosting: powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, heavy cream.
  • room temperature cream cheese – what gives it the rich creamy flavor
  • room temperature salted butter – I always use salted butter, but you can use unsalted. Again, just add a pinch of salt!
  • vanilla extract – I rarely make frosting without vanilla extract!
  • cocoa powder – gives it that chocolate flavor!
  • powdered sugar – all the sweetness is thanks to the powdered sugar
  • heavy cream – helps thin out the frosting and adds even more richness. You could also use milk.

See recipe card for quantities.

Holding one frosted brownie with two brownies sitting on a plate in the background.

Step-By-Step Instructions (With Video!)

The steps to make these old-fashioned brownies are super simple, but I’ll break it down step-by-step for you here!

Melted butter, granulated sugar, and eggs whisked in a mixing bowl.

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside. Whisk together the sugar and melted butter. Mix in the eggs one by one and then the vanilla extract.

Vanilla extract, cocoa powder, flour mixed in with the ingredients in the bowl.

Step 2: Gradually add in the cocoa powder and flour with a spatula or wooden spoon. Make sure to scrape the edges of the bowl so you fully incorporate all of the ingredients.

Brownie batter with semi-sweet chocolate chips added.

Step 3: (Optional): Fold in the semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Brownie batter in a 9x13 baking dish on top of parchment paper.

Step 4: The brownie batter is going to be *thick*. Pour it into the parchment paper covered baking dish. Bake for 23-28 minutes, depending on your oven. Allow the brownies to cool before frosting them.

Mixing cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract with a hand mixer.

Step 5: While the brownies are cooling, make the frosting. First, you’ll cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Then add the vanilla extract, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar about one cup at a time, making sure to use a spatula to scrap the sides of the mixing bowl.

Completed chocolate cream cheese frosting in a mixing bowl.

Step 6: To thin out the frosting and add some extra creaminess, add a tablespoon or two of heavy cream or milk. One fully mixed, it will look like this. Heavenly. Frost the brownies, cut them up, and enjoy!

Brownies on parchment paper already frosted but not yet cut.

Hint: The brownies will be ready if you stick a toothpick in the center and no wet batter sticks to it. A little bit of moist brownie crumbs on your toothpick is what you’re looking for. They will still cook more once out of the oven.

YouTube video

Substitutions and Variations

You can spruce these brownies up to your liking by making a few changes, but please remember any changes may result in a brownie that tastes different from the one noted here.

  • chocolate chips/caramel bits – You can leave out the chocolate chips completely if you wish. They are totally optional, but just an added dose of chocolatey goodness and gives the brownies a more complex texture. You could also use dark chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, or caramel bits to switch up the flavor!
  • olive oil – I love switching out butter for olive oil in my blondies, and the same could be done for brownies. Just make sure you use extra-virgin olive oil. You could also use vegetable oil.
  • frosting optional – I love frosting my brownies, but you certainly don’t have to! Leave the frosting off if you’re not interested in frosted brownies. They’re still delicious without it.
  • add nuts – chopped walnuts would work best, but macadamia nuts, almonds, or pecans would work too!



Store these brownies in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5-6 days. These brownies should be refrigerated if they are frosted since the frosting has cream cheese in it.

If freezing, make sure you put them in an airtight container. They will be good for up to 3 months. Before eating, let them sit at room temperature until fully thawed.

Top tip

Make sure you allow the brownies to cool completely before cutting into them or frosting them. Preferably 30 minutes. The wait is worth it. I promise.

Plate of three frosted brownies.


What makes these brownies dense and rich?

These brownies are dense and rich due to the higher ratio of fat and eggs, which results in a fudgy texture. Combined with cocoa powder and chocolate chips, it makes them even more chocolatey.

How can I make sure the brownies turn out dense and not dry?

The key is to not overbake them. Testing them with a toothpick will ensure they come out right. The toothpick should not be clean, nor should it have wet batter still on it. You’re looking for moist brownie crumbs to still be on the toothpick when you test them.

Can I make these brownies ahead of time?

Yes! Make them the day ahead and keep them in the fridge.

How can I make sure the frosting is smooth?

Make sure that the cream cheese and butter are room temperature before you make the frosting.

Can I adjust the sweetness of the frosting?

Please do! After adding two cups of powdered sugar, taste the frosting to see if it’s sweet enough for you. Add 1/2 a cup at a time until you reach your desired sweetness level.

How do I prevent the brownies from sticking to the pan?

Definitely add the parchment paper. That will help keep a barrier from the brownie batter and the pan. If you don’t have parchment paper, adding some cooking spray or oil on the pan will help too.

Looking for other recipes? Try these:

Plate of three brownies with chocolate frosting and sprinkles on top. One of the brownies has a bite taken out of it.

Old-Fashioned Brownies with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

These old-fashioned brownies are dense, rich, and a chocolate lover's dream! Sprinkles optional but highly recommended. 😉
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
5 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 485kcal
Author: Jamie


  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips optional

For the chocolate cream cheese frosting

  • 1 stick salted butter room temperature
  • 1 8 ounce block cream cheese room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream or milk


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugar until creamed. About two minutes. Gradually add in the eggs one at a time as you whisk. Then add the vanilla extract.
  • Add the flour to the bowl, taking breaks to mix it in the batter with a spatula. Add the cocoa powder. Mix the batter with the spatula, making sure to scrape the side of the bowl to incorporate all the ingredients. Fold in the chocolate chips, if adding them.
  • Bake the brownies for 23-28 minutes. To check if they're done, stick a toothpick in the center of the brownies. If they still have wet batter on them, they aren't quite done. If the toothpick has moist crumbs on them, they're ready to come out of the oven. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before frosting.
  • To make the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese with a hand mixer for about two minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract. Add the cocoa powder. Gradually add the powdered sugar, while mixing. Stop to scrape the sides of the bowl as you add the ingredients. Finally, mix in the heavy cream or milk.
  • Once the brownies are cooled, frost them. Serve immediately after frosting, or put them in the fridge, making sure to take them out an hour before serving.


Store the brownies in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. 
If freezing, put the brownies in an airtight container. They’ll be good in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow them to sit on the counter to thaw before eating. 


Serving: 1brownie | Calories: 485kcal | Carbohydrates: 91g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 89mg | Potassium: 251mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 71g | Vitamin A: 330IU | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 3mg

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