How to Cut Brownies Cleanly

cut brownies cleanly

Brownies are the classic home bake, suitable for novices and experts alike.

The gooey, sumptuous, indulgent chocolate centre is irresistible and it’s a battle to resist the urge to dive in with a spoon when they’re warm from the oven. 

If you can wait until they are cooled, it is always a struggle to cut the brownies cleanly. Too often the edges catch and the gooeyness stuck to the knife pulls apart the slices.

The cake itself is so soft and dense that it has the tendency to compact under pressure and this can leave you with messy edges. 

We have rounded up a selection of the best ways to cut brownies cleanly, and given you all of our top tips to ensure restaurant-quality brownie slices, every time.

Before baking

Line your tray

To help your brownies come out easily, it is a good idea to line your tray with greaseproof paper before adding the brownie mix.

Cut a piece of greaseproof paper that is wider than the tray, so there is some overhang at the edges. This will help you pull the brownies out of the tray quickly once baked. 

You can use aluminium foil instead of greaseproof paper, but the brownies will stick to the greaseproof paper less.

After baking

Cool the bars completely

Warm brownies are much more prone to crumbling than cooled brownies. To get the perfect cut, leave your brownies in the tray to cool fully before slicing.

For a quicker result, you can pull the brownies out the tray and place on a cooling rack.

It is vital to let the brownies cool as this gives them time to continue cooking in the tray and to set firm. 

Freeze the whole tray 

An even more effective method is to freeze the brownies in the tray before slicing. 

Allow the tray to cool to room temperature and then turn out onto a sheet tray. Wrap tightly and place in the freezer for a few hours or overnight. 

Get a large knife and slowly but firmly press down on the surface of the brownies. This gives the cleanest cut possible, with minimal damage to the brownies.

Once cut, place the brownies on a plate and allow to return to room temperature before serving. You will not be able to tell that they have been frozen and thawed, but the sharpness of the edges will make it worth the extra effort.

Turn the tray upside down

Sturdy brownies and be inverted prior to slicing. If the surface is unlikely to be damaged, turn the brownies out onto a chopping board and remove the greaseproof paper. 

Slice into equal-sized pieces and flip back over before serving.

Measure with a ruler

It is a good idea to bake your brownies in a square tray, to make cutting into equal-sized pieces more easy. 

To ensure you cut in straight lines, we advise using a ruler to score lines into the surface of the brownie. Once the surface is scored, remove the ruler and cut through the brownies completely using a knife.

Cutting methods

Cut straight down

One of the common reasons brownies do not cut cleanly is due to the cutting method itself. When cutting brownies, it is important to press straight down and cut through the cake in one move. 

Do not drag or saw your knife back and forth through the brownie as this causes the gooey center to attach to the knife. When you saw the knife, this then destroys the internal structure of the brownie, resulting in a much messier cut.

Heat your knife up

When the brownies have cooled completely, one way people choose to cut them is with the hot knife method. 

To do this, boil some water and pour into a large glass. Put a chef’s knife into the water and submerge the blade. Leave the knife there to warm up for a few minutes and then remove from the glass and dry the blade. 

Cut the brownies with the warm blade, before returning the knife to the hot water. Rinse and dry off the blade, and repeat these steps until you have made all of the cuts to your brownie. 

This method is not the quickest, but ensures clean edges to each brownie slice. 

Coat your knife with oil spray

This is a simple hack to make cutting brownies easier. Before cutting through the brownie, spray the blade of your knife with cooking spray.

The fat content will allow the blade to slide cleanly through the cooked brownie without the gooey middle sticking to the knife. 

Wipe your knife clean after every cut 

One of the most important things to do if you want a clean-cut brownie is to wipe the knife blade clean after every cut. 

This ensures the blade of your knife is free from brownie residue and will make your edges sharper. If you have opted to use the hot knife method, the warm water and drying of the blade will make this a much simpler process.

If you are oiling your knife, this too will help clean off the blade in between cuts. 

Use a plastic knife

The ideal knife is hotly contested among brownie makers. Some bakers swear by large, straight-edge chef’s knives. Others staunchly believe a serrated bread knife is the  way forward. The most common knife choice for brownies is the good, old-fashioned plastic knife. 

These are designed to have a non-stick surface, meaning that brownie residue does not stick to the blade. This is a huge difference to using a metal knife which you have to actively make non-stick. 

Plastic knives can be used on warm or cooled brownies, but be aware that using one on a tray straight out of the oven could melt or warp the knife. 

People that use this method say that due to the composition of the knife, you can use sawing motions to cut through the brownie and you will still end up with perfect clean cuts. This is one of the easier methods on our list to ensure beautiful brownies every time. 

It is still important to wipe the blade of the knife clean in between cuts to ensure clean edges.

Use a cookie cutter 

If you are an avid baker and have cookie cutters lying about your house, you can easily repurpose them for cutting up a tray of brownies.

We advise using cookie cutters with simple designs (i.e. square/circle) as ones with intricate designs are likely to cause the brownies to get stuck.

Spray the cookie cutter with oil spray and wipe the excess off with a piece of kitchen paper.

Alternatively, you could put the cookie cutter in a bowl of hot water for about a minute to warm before drying it off. Position the cutter on the surface of the brownie and press firmly onto the top to push the cutter through. 

Cut the excess away from the edge with a small knife, and lift the brownie with a cutter off the side using a metal palette knife or bench scraper. Gently push the cut brownie out of the cookie cutter and place it on one side.

Wipe the cookie cutter off and spray with cooking spray before repeating the steps above. 

Use a wire cake cutter

You can either use a wire cake cutter (usually used for levelling large cakes) or a cheesemonger’s cutter. These are a thin wire length held between two wooden dowels or attached with a handle. 

Lift the brownies out of the pan and place on a level surface. Line up the wire on the surface of the brownies and gently saw the wire through. 

Cut the first time when the brownies come out of the oven, allow to cool and recut through the original lines. 

Use a pizza or dough cutter

Pizza cutters are remarkably easy to use and some people swear by them to cut brownies. You may find it easier to cut a straight line with the wheel, making for neat brownie slices.

You can also find dough cutters with more than one wheel, which will make the spacing of your cuts on the brownie even. Some of these dough cutters have adjustable spacing, so you can choose how big or small your slices are. 

Use unflavored dental floss

Dental floss is ideal for cleanly cutting soft materials like brownies and cakes. This is because there is nowhere on the surface of the floss for the brownie center to stick to, ensuring a clean cut every time. 

It is important to use unflavored and unwaxed dental floss to avoid transferring a minty taste to the brownie itself. 

Cut a strand of dental floss off that is larger than the width of the brownies and lay it in a straight line over the surface. Grab both ends of the floss and pull straight down through the brownie.  

This method cuts cleanly without changing the shape of the brownie.

Use a brownie tray divider

A brownie tray divider is a metal grid that you place in the tray before you add the brownie mix. It is baked with the brownies in the oven and you lift the divider out of the pan once the brownies have cooled.

This is the easiest way to end up with perfect brownies every time, with no cutting needed.

You do not have to bake the brownies with the divider in. You can either warm the metal in hot water similar to the hot knife method, or spray with cooking spray. You then firmly and with even pressure press the divider through the brownies.

The entire tray will be cut in one go and it guarantees that your brownies will be evenly sized.

Moving and storing the brownies

Once you have cut the brownies up, use a palette knife underneath each slice to lift it up while keeping it intact.

Transfer the brownies to an airtight container lined with greaseproof paper. If you need to put them in more than one layer, add a piece of greaseproof paper in between the brownies. 

Close the lid and the brownies will keep for up to a week in a cool place away from direct sunlight.

 

Top tips

  • Line your tray before you bake the brownies 
  • Wait for your brownies to cool, either to room temperature or by freezing them 
  • Choose your knife carefully 
  • Press straight down through the brownies
  • Measure slices with a ruler for even, straight brownies
  • Warm your knife
  • Spray the blade of the knife with oil
  • Experiment with different cutting implements

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you cut a brownie bite?

Brownie bites are perfect finger food and very popular at parties and buffets. They are no different from normal brownies, except that they are much smaller in size.

It is a good idea to not make your brownies in a pan that is too deep, as this can make even small slices hard to eat in one bite.

Make sure your brownies are completely cool, as smaller slices are more likely to break. A good size to cut brownie bites is 1.5x1.5”.

Can brownies be left out overnight?

Yes they can.

This is an especially good trick if your brownies are a little gooey in the center, as leaving them out and exposed to the air will allow the edges of each slice to firm up a little. This means that they are less likely to disintegrate.

Final thoughts

With these tips and tricks, you will never struggle to cut a beautiful brownie again! 

Different brownie recipes give different types of brownies and not every method will work for them all.

It is worth experimenting with the different methods to decide which works best for you.

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