Cream Cheese Brownies Recipe

Cream Cheese Brownies

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 16
Yield: 1 pan
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
340 Calories
22g Fat
35g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 340
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 28%
Saturated Fat 13g 64%
Cholesterol 80mg 27%
Sodium 127mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 35g 13%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 25g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 28mg 2%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 96mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Few things beat a plate of luscious brownies—whether they are cakey, fudgy, end pieces, or studded with chocolate chips, we come running. But there's a special place in our hearts reserved for cream cheese brownies. It's the ultimate mash-up of decadent chocolate and tangy cheesecake topping swirled throughout to deliver the optimal bite. Even more, this show-stopping dessert dresses to impress, but requires little extra effort or time.

There's a handful of secrets to these (almost) one-bowl brownies. First, we bloom cocoa powder in the melted dark chocolate to enhance the texture and richness. Don't skip on the quality of your ingredients here as higher quality chocolate will deliver more intense flavor. Additionally, gooey brownies require you to beat the sugar and eggs together well so that air is incorporated into the batter; otherwise the result is flat and dense. But our biggest tip is to let your brownies cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from the pan and completely before cutting—as tempting as it is to just dive right in—because the fudgier the brownie, the easier it is for them to crumble when still warm.

We use a 9-x 9-inch pan for this recipe, but you can easily adapt for an 8-x 8-inch or 9-x 13-inch pan (see tips at the end). You can enjoy these cream cheese brownies warm with a scoop of ice cream or chilled for an even fudgier bite.

"These cream cheese brownies are decadent, fudgy, and the perfect bite for when you’re craving something chocolate. For a more pronounced contrast between the brownie and cream cheese, be very deliberate with your dollops and swirls. No matter how you swirl them, these brownies are delicious." —Kayla Hoang

Cream Cheese Brownies Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Brownies

For the Cream Cheese Topping

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Cream Cheese Brownies ingredients

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9-x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

    (Alternatively, you can simply grease the pan, but parchment paper allows for easier release and clean-up.)

    parchment paper in a baking dish

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  3. Combine the butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Melt over a double boiler on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat.

    (Alternatively, you can microwave in a smaller heatproof bowl in 15-second increments, stirring between each increment, until fully melted; transfer to a large bowl.)

    Combine the butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  4. Stir in the cocoa powder and sugar until smooth. Let the mixture cool slightly, about 2 minutes.

    Stir in the cocoa powder and sugar into the mixture in the bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  5. Whisk in the eggs, vanilla, and salt until combined and smooth.

    Whisk in the eggs, vanilla, and salt into the batter in the bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  6. Slowly fold in the flour in 3 increments until you can no longer see streaks of dry flour. Be careful to not overmix.

    batter in a bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  7. Reserve 1/3 cup of the brownie batter and set aside. Pour the remaining brownie batter into the prepared pan.

    brownie batter in a baking pan

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Make the Cheesecake Filling

  1. Beat the cream cheese and sugar together using an electric mixer until it is light and fluffy. (You can hand whisk if you like, but make sure to whisk enough so that air is incorporated into the mixture.)

    Beat the cream cheese and sugar together using an electric mixer in a bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  2. Stir in the egg and vanilla until fully incorporated.

    egg and vanilla added to the cheesecake mixture in the bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  3. Dollop the cheesecake filling all over the brownie batter in the pan. Then, dollop the reserved brownie batter all over the top.

    brownie with brownie batter and cream cheese in a baking sheet

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  4. Use a toothpick or the tip of a knife to swirl the batters together, creating a marbled design. Make sure to dip deep enough that it swirls throughout.

    cream cheese and brownie batter swirled together in a baking sheet

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  5. Bake the brownies until the center is mostly set and a toothpick inserted 2 inches from the side of the pan comes out with only a few fudgy crumbs, about 35 minutes. The center should be set and not wiggly when you give the pan a shake.

    baked Cream Cheese Brownies in a baking sheet

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  6. Let the brownies cool in the pan, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before slicing. Enjoy warm for a melty chocolate bite or cold for a fudgier slice.

    Cream Cheese Brownies sliced into pieces

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Recipe Tips

  • If using an 8-x 8-inch pan, bake the brownies for about 5 minutes longer. Cover the brownies loosely with foil at the 30-35 minute mark if the cheesecake swirl begins to darken too much.
  • If using a 9-x 13-inch pan, bake the brownies for about 25 minutes.

Fudgy Peppermint Patties

A long time family secret: My mom always laid a package of Andes Mints across the top of the brownies as soon as they come out of the oven, creating an even more irresistible treat.

  • As the brownies cool, the minty chocolates will melt down, then you can smooth it out with an offset spatula before serving or further chilling.
  • Enjoy at room temperature for an instant ganache or chill for a fudgy mint brownie.

How to Store

  • You can wrap your brownies individually for an instant single serving or place parchment between layers of the brownies to prevent sticking.
  • Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
  • Store in the freezer in an airtight container or tightly wrapped in plastic for up to 3 months. Let thaw at room temperature or microwave for about 1 minute.
  • Items like cheesecake with a large amount of cream cheese, should be refrigerated, but because these brownies use so little, the flour and sugar absorb any excess moisture—this means you can hold the brownies at room temperature in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.

How can you tell when brownies are done?

It's a hard task to tell when fudgy brownies are done as the toothpick test isn't very telling. If you insert your toothpick or cake tester into the center of the brownies to test, the toothpick will not come out completely clean like it should with cake. Here are some key tips:

  • If the toothpick comes out wet with no crumbs, then the brownies need more time.
  • If the toothpick comes out with no trace of wet batter and a few moist crumbs then you are good to go.
  • The brownies will continue to cook ("carry-over cooking") as they cool, so there's a fine line between done and overdone.
  • Try sticking the toothpick about 2 inches from the edge of the pan to give a more accurate reading as the toothpick should come out mostly clean.
  • For more cake-like brownies, they will be done when they begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out completely clean.

How do you cut brownies cleanly?

The secret is all about letting the brownies cool completely. The best solution is to chill the brownies for a couple hours, then use a sharp, warm knife to slice, wiping the knife clean between cuts.

What makes brownies fudgy versus cakey?

The great debate of brownies: are you team fudgy, cakey, or even chewy brownie?

  • Fudgy brownies are rich and like the name hints at, close to the mouthfeel of fudge. These are for the most serious of chocolate lovers. This recipe will have a higher fat-to-flour ratio, meaning there is more butter (or oil) and chocolate than flour.
  • Cakey brownies are light and airy, similar to your favorite slice of chocolate cake. The recipe will have more flour and most often rely on a leavener like baking powder. Additionally, the butter is typically whipped with the sugar to create fluffy air pockets versus melted with the chocolate.
  • Yes, chewy brownies deserve their own category as they really envelope aspects of both fudgy and cakey. This recipe uses more flour than fudgy brownies, but just enough to provide more structure and a chewy bite, while maintaining some of the gooeyness.

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