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Cream Cheese Brownies

With tons of rich chocolate surrounding a decadent layer of chocolate cream cheese, these Cream Cheese Brownies make the ideal dessert when you really want to indulge. The light and tangy taste of the cream cheese complements the depth of the chocolate, bringing the flavor of these brownies into perfect balance.

Looking for more brownie recipes? Try these lighter Milk Chocolate Brownies, or these tangier cream cheese-swirled Marbled Brownies.

A side view of a brownie with a layer of chocolate cream cheese in the middle.

Homemade Brownies With Cream Cheese

These cream cheese brownies are an indulgent treat that’s so easy to make. The bold flavors and rich textures come together into one irresistible dessert. The depth of the chocolate is balanced by the lightness of the cream cheese mixed into the filling.

I love bringing these goodies to potlucks, picnics, and bake sales. They offer an alternative to the traditional brownies that will no doubt already be on the table. That cream cheese layer will really help your baking stand out.

What You’ll Need

First, we’ll go over what you need for the brownie base, then move on to the cream cheese swirl. You can find exact amounts for everything in the printable recipe card below.

For the Brownies

  • All-purpose flour: Measured by weight or spoon lightly into a measuring cup.
  • Cocoa powder: Use unsweetened natural cocoa powder.
  • Salt
  • Baking powder
  • Unsalted butter: Softened not quite to room temperature. Learn more: How to Soften Butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar: Pack it firmly into the measuring cup or measure by weight.
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Semisweet chocolate: Finely chopped, or use chocolate chips.
  • Chocolate sprinkles

For the Filling

  • Semisweet shocolate: Chopped and divided into two equal portions.
  • Heavy cream
  • Cream cheese: Let this come to room temperature. Full-fat cream cheese works best.
  • Egg
  • Vanilla extract
  • All-purpose flour
Brownies topped with sprinkles photographed from above.

How to Make Cream Cheese Brownies

For such a decadent dessert, you might be surprised by how simple these brownies are to make. Follow these steps to set you on your way toward fudgy perfection.

Make the Filling

  1. Make a ganache. Place half of the chopped chocolate and all of the cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat them at half power in 30-second increments until the chocolate melts into the cream when you stir it. Set the bowl aside so the mixture can cool.
  2. Whip the cream cheese. Beat the cream cheese, egg, and vanilla with an electric or stand mixer on medium speed until the mixture becomes fluffy and mixes thoroughly. Add the chocolate and cream mixture, and mix it all together well.
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Mix in the flour and the remaining half of the chocolate. Place the filling in the refrigerator while you make the brownies.

Make the Brownies

  1. Prepare for baking. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13x2-inch baking pan and set it aside.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl, then set it aside.
  3. Beat the wet ingredients. Beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar with an electric or stand mixer on medium speed until they become light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix them into the mixture well after each addition. Add the vanilla.
  4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Reduce the mixer’s speed to low. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until it all combines.
  5. Assemble. Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Spread the chilled filling evenly over the batter. Transfer the remaining batter on top of the filling, and spread it out evenly.
  6. Bake. Bake your brownies for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Add more chocolate. After the brownies have finished baking, remove them from the oven and sprinkle the remaining chocolate over the top of the brownies. Let them sit for about 5 minutes. Then, spread the chocolate evenly over the top.
  8. Garnish and serve. Garnish the finished brownies with chocolate sprinkles. Allow the topping to set before cutting the brownies into 24 even bars.
Three chocolate cream cheese brownies set out on a plate.

Tips for Success

These easy brownies have never given me any trouble. Here are some tips so things go just as smoothly for you.

  • Spoon and level. The difference between a moist and fudgy brownie and a dry and dense brownie partially comes down to flour. You don’t want to pack the flour into the measuring cup. Instead, spoon it into the cup and then level off the top before adding it to your batter. Better yet, measure it by weight.
  • Don’t over-bake. Avoid over-baking your brownies, which can make them more chewy than fudgy. It also means any leftover brownies will turn into hockey pucks. It’s okay if a few moist brownie crumbs cling to the toothpick when you check for doneness, as long as no liquid batter coats the wood.
  • Use a lining as handles. Try spreading parchment paper or aluminum foil over the bottom of the pan before pouring in the batter, with excess length hanging over either side. This will give you some nice handles to help you remove the brownies from the pan and make them easier to cut.

Want even more tips for perfect brownies? Check out my tutorial on making the best brownies from scratch.

What Can I Add to My Brownies? 

  • Chocolate chips: Throwing in some chocolate morsels adds an irresistible meltiness to these thick, fudgy brownies. I prefer to add dark chocolate, but you can also use milk or even white chocolate chips.
  • Shredded coconut: Add some shaved coconut to give these brownies a tropical twist. Make sure you toast the coconut on a baking sheet before mixing it into the batter, since the oven helps unlock their flavor.
  • Chopped nuts: This is another add-in that’s best toasted, since the heat really boosts their flavor. Chopped and toasted walnuts, peanuts, almonds, and pecans all give these brownies a nutty crunch that adds to both their flavor and texture profiles.
  • Peanut butter chips: Another option to add some meltiness, peanut butter chips also give you the nutty flavor of peanuts without the change in texture. If you like smooth brownies, these are a great option.
  • Raspberries: Try tossing some fresh raspberries on top of your brownies straight out of the oven. These tart berries complement both the chocolate and the cheesecake, making them the perfect add-in.

How to Store Extras

If you have leftover brownies, they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Because of the cream cheese layer, they don’t do well at room temperature. Make sure to wrap them tightly in plastic or seal them firmly in an airtight container to keep them moist.

Can I Freeze These?

These brownies are easy to freeze! Just close them firmly in an airtight container, separating layers with parchment paper, or zip them up in a double-lock freezer bag. You can also opt to wrap each brownie with plastic wrap before placing them in the container. They should last in the freezer up to 2 months. Thaw them out fully on the counter before you plan to serve them.

More Decadent Dessert Ideas

Cream Cheese Brownies

Yield 24
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

With tons of rich chocolate surrounding a decadent layer of chocolate cream cheese, these Cream Cheese Brownies make the perfect dessert for when you really want to indulge. The light and tangy taste of the cream cheese complements the depth of the chocolate, bringing the flavor of these brownies into perfect balance.

A side view of a brownie with a layer of chocolate cream cheese in the middle.

Ingredients

For the Brownies

  • 1 & 1/2 cups (180g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (64g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (254g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Topping

  • 12 ounces (2 cups/340g) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (or chocolate chips)
  • chocolate sprinkles

For the Filling

  • 6 ounces (1 cup/170g) chopped semisweet chocolate, divided into two equal portions
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces (226g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

Instructions

Make the Filling

  1. Place 3 ounces (1/2 cup/85g) of the chocolate and all of the cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat at half power in 30-second increments until the chocolate melts when stirred. Set aside to cool.
  2. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, egg, and vanilla until fluffy and thoroughly mixed. Add the chocolate-cream mixture, mixing well.
  3. Mix in the flour and the remaining 3 ounces (1/2 cup/85g) of chocolate. Place the filling in the refrigerator while you make the brownies.

Make the Brownies

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9"x 13"x 2" baking pan.
  2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined.
  5. Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Spread the chilled filling evenly over the batter. Transfer the remaining batter on top of the filling, and spread evenly.
  6. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. After the brownies are finished baking and removed from the oven, sprinkle the chocolate over the top of the brownies. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Then, spread the chocolate evenly over the brownies.
  8. Garnish with chocolate sprinkles.
  9. Allow the topping to set before cutting into bars.

Notes

Recipe slightly adapted from Fine Cooking.

  • To Store: Store in the fridge for up to 3 days wrapped tightly in plastic or sealed firmly in an airtight container.
  • To Freeze: Close firmly in an airtight container separated by parchment paper, or keep in a double-lock freezer bag up to 2 months. Thaw fully on the counter before serving.

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    8 Comments on “Cream Cheese Brownies”

  1. Would adding a little shortening to the frosting help? I think it would make the chocolate a little more pliable.

  2. Chelsea, it would probably help. I’m trying to use less shortening these days with all the trans fat news. I’m hoping our local store will have the no-trans-fat kind one of these days.

  3. Peanut butter works well too. Ours had the w/o transfat kind, but then stopped carrying it. Now I wish I had stocked up!

  4. Make a ganache – add a little cream (low fat if wanted), much softer than chocolate to cut.

  5. Sorry but without pecans, it is just cake.

  6. Could a keto flour be used?

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