Homemade Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies

Growing up, I loved Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies and Cosmic Brownies so much.

Show me a box of either, and I could show you a pile of cellophane wrappers minutes later.

Homemade Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies - Recipe at averiecooks.com

Although it’s been years since I’ve had a storebought Cosmic Brownie, I had a craving for them and decided to try my hand at a homemade version.

This isn’t the first Little Debbie snack I’ve recreated. A few months ago I made Homemade Little Debbie Star Crunch and recently posted a collection of 25 Copycat Recipes. Apparently I like trying to re-invent the wheel.


Homemade Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies - Recipe at averiecooks.com

In terms of authenticity, I give them an 8 out of 10, with easy tweaks noted below to bring that score higher.

In terms of being a fabulous brownie overall, I give them a 10 out of 10. This brownie base is likely to become my new go-to. I loved everything about these brownies.

I created this brownie base by adapting my two favorite brownie bases, Fudgy Nutella Brownies and The Ultimate Fudgy Caramel Brownies. I’d like to make all 3 at once and do side-by-side comparisons, and I’ll get to that right after I budget in money for a new pants wardrobe.

Homemade Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies - Recipe at averiecooks.com

Both of my previous brownie bases use melted butter and a whisk, so they come together in minutes in own bowl, without needing a mixer. From there, I took my favorite things from each recipe – such as a 9×9 pan and using both brown and granulated sugars from Fudgy Nutella; and two eggs, cocoa powder, and espresso powder from The Ultimate.

The brownies are dark, dense, rich, the edges are just a bit chewy, with a moist and ultra-fudgy interior. There’s zero traces of cakiness and the fudge factor reigns supreme.

Homemade Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies - Recipe at averiecooks.com

I love the recipe and don’t want to change a thing but in order to make them more authentic, use natural unsweetened cocoa powder rather than Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder,  and increase the flour by about 1/4 cup. Cosmic Brownies aren’t as dark and are slightly more cakey, but I prefer darker and fudgier to lighter and cakier.

Baking them in a 9×9 pan was my preference, but if you want brownies closer to the real deal, use a 9×13 pan. I don’t like brownies that are on the thin side.

Homemade Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies - Recipe at averiecooks.com

The ganache layer is a bit thicker and when it comes to chocolate, thicker and more is better in my book, but use less if you wish.

I used more M&M minis than you’d find on Cosmic Brownies because skimpy isn’t an option. Note that when using M&Ms, they fade. The same thing happened when I made this Frozen Chocolate Pudding and Wafer Cake. The color starts leeching out as they sit on top of chocolate or post-refrigeration when coming back up to room temp. Not a huge deal, but something to mention.

Homemade Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies - Recipe at averiecooks.com

The benefit is that as they sit on the ganache, they soften a bit and become chewy rather than crunchy. The texture of chewy M&Ms is just fabulous and is like nothing I’ve ever had, which more than makes up for their slightly muted color.

As the ganache sets up, it remains soft and firms up just enough to not make a total mess when slicing the brownies. I hate it when the top layer of chocolate cracks, and this isn’t that kind of chocolate.

Homemade Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies - Recipe at averiecooks.com

Upon biting into a dense yet chewy brownie, soft ganache squishes and almost squirts between your teeth. And there’s chewy, ganache-softened M&M’s.

It’s the best texture party ever. Ever.

Homemade Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies - Recipe at averiecooks.com

I may be biased, but these are way better than Cosmic Brownies.

And quite possibly, they’re the best brownies I’ve ever had.

Homemade Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies - Recipe at averiecooks.com

Homemade Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies - If you've never had a Cosmic Brownie, change that asap! If you have, then you know how dangerously good it is to be able to make them at home!

Homemade Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies

I’ve always loved Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies and this homemade version is even better than the real thing. The brownies are dark, dense, and rich. The edges are just a bit chewy, with a moist and ultra-fudgy interior. There’s zero traces of cakiness and the fudge factor reigns supreme. They’re fast and easy to make, and come together in minutes in one bowl, without a mixer. The ganache is the perfect rich and luxurious compliment to the intensely chocolaty brownies. They’re quite possibly they’re the best brownies I’ve ever had.


For the Brownies
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons coffee or water (coffee leftover from the morning brew is fine)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder or dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 teaspoon instant espresso granules (make sure it’s instant so it dissolves), optional but recommended
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

For the Ganache
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup half-and-half or cream (I used half-and-half)
1 cup M&M minis (they’re sold in small tubes and I used 1 1/2 tubes; regular size M&Ms may be substituted)


  1. For the Brownies – Preaheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large, microwave safe bowl, melt the butter, about 90 seconds on high power.
  3. Add the eggs, sugars, coffee, vanilla, and whisk to combine.
  4. Add the cocoa powder, instant espresso, and whisk until incorporated, free from lumps, and smooth. It could take a few minutes if your cocoa powder is lumpy.
  5. Add the flour and stir until it’s just incorporated; don’t overmix.
  6. Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula. Bake for 25 to 29 minutes, or until top has just set, isn’t jiggly in the center, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few fudgy moist crumbs, but no batter. I baked mine for 26 minutes. Allow brownies to cool completely in pan. While brownies cool, make the ganache.
  7. For the Ganache – Add chocolate chips to a medium, microwave-safe bowl and heat on high power for 1 minute to soften chips. They won’t be melted, this is okay. Don’t stir; set bowl aside.
  8. Heat cream in a glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl until it begins to bubble and show signs of just beginning to boiling, about 1 minute on high power.
  9. Pour cream over chocolate chips and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
  10. With a whisk, beat mixture until silky, smooth, and combined. If your mixture isn’t smoothing out, heat in 15-second bursts in the microwaves until it can be stirred smooth.
  11. Pour ganache over mostly cooled brownies (after about 30 minutes is fine; they don’t have to be completely cooled). Smooth ganache lightly with a spatula or offset knife.
  12. Evenly sprinkle with M&Ms. Cover pan with a sheet of foil to prevent fridge smells, and place pan in refrigerator until ganache sets up before slicing and serving, at least 2 hours. Do not slice into them until the ganache has set; feel free to make these in advance and store them in the fridge; they get better with time. Brownies will keep airtight for 1 week at room temperature, for 2 weeks in the refrigerator, and for up to 6 months in the freezer. I highly recommend storing them in the refrigerator because having a slight chill to brownies this rich and fudgy is almost imperative.

Recipe from Averie Cooks. All images and content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or simply link back to this post for the recipe. Thank you.

Only Eats

Related Recipes:

Homemade Little Debbie Star Crunch (no-bake)

25+ Copycat Recipes

Butterfinger Bars (No-Bake, with Vegan & GF options)

Ritz Cracker Stuffed Peanut Butter Cups (No-Bake, Vegan)

Fudgy Nutella Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting

The Ultimate Fudgy Caramel Brownies

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache – The best, fastest, and easiest chocolate cake

Soft and Chewy Brownie Cookies

Frozen Chocolate Pudding and Wafer Cake (No-Bake, 3 ingredients)

Cosmic Brownie Fan? Other favorite storebought treats you grew up eating?

I know there will be some people who say they’ve never tried a real Cosmic Brownie. Well, now you can just make these instead.

Thanks for the entries in the Peanut Butter Comfort Cookbook and KitchenAid Hand Blender Giveaway and in the Favorite Mini & Petite Treats and Cookbook Giveaway

191 comments on “Homemade Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies”

  1. These are so much fun! I might just have to make them for a BBQ I have to attend this week!

  2. Yep I’m one that never tried a cosmic brownie. I was a devoted to only nutty bars or HoHos. My dad would buy the star crunches or the oatmeal cream pies sometimes, and I wouldn’t eat them. Picky kid, eh?

  3. These brownies look so fudgy and rich!

  4. I can’t believe how much these look like the ones from Little Debbie…now if you could recreate the Oatmeal creme pie…..you’d be my hero!!!!

  5. omg these look BETTER than the little Debbie ones!

  6. DROOLING. Can I have a stack of these babies for breakfast?? I freaking LOVE cosmic brownies and it has been WAY too long since I’ve had them. I’ve wanted to recreate them too and you’ve took the recipe work right out for me. I have to try them! The ganache on top of the fudgy brownie… and those M&Ms… yes, quite the texture party. Averie I’m loving these so much and your photos are wonderful! They capture how fudgy they are. I want to grab them through the screen! Fabulous job, pinned!

    • I saw some at the…gas station :) recently and had a huge craving and decided to make my own. Thanks for the pin and for saying you can see how fudgy they are. You know when you shoot dark things, they can end up just looking…dark. Glad these conveyed the full story!

  7. My God, lady. You should get some kind of award for the way you describe food. Every time I read your posts I sit here and salivate and think to myself, “I need that. I NEED to make that right now.”

  8. Averie, my daughter is sitting next to me while I sit and browse my fave bloggies, and as soon as she saw the photo of these beauties on my feed, she literally screamed, “I WANT THOSE, MOMMY!! I WAAAAAANT!”. Looks like I will be making another one of your amazing recipes. :)

  9. These look amazing!! I’ve never had the original, but I’m thinking I need to make the copy-cat because hello, look at your pictures!! Yum :) also, congrats on the book coming out today!! Wooo!

  10. My BF loves the original! He buys Em by the carton. But, have you noticed, the original “cosmic Brownies®” has those mini candy coated chips, that looks. like little candy coated “kisses”? I bet you substituted “m&m’s minis®” because you. Probably,
    couldn’t find those (chips) anywhere.

  11. gosh darn i loved these things too..how they came in packs like 2 little brownies you could break in half. the denseness looks so exact. and hello of course yours are better! for sure!!!!!

  12. I always loved those brownies too–they were definitely my favorite lunchbox treat. I think yours look a LOT better though.

  13. I’m totally making these! YUM!!!

  14. Amazing! Brings me right back to being a kid… something about those primary M&M colors!

  15. I love Little Debbie treats! These look scrumptious, the mini m & m’s are adorable.

  16. I loved Cosmic brownies as a kid. I don’t eat them now because they would become a daily occurrence, but now I’m so pumped to try your homemade version. Somehow making them myself would make it ok. (I’ll bring them to work to share.) Thanks for the recipe!

  17. Made these today ~ best brownies I’ve ever made, and I have made A LOT of brownies!

    • Best brownies you have EVER made …and you make a lot of brownies. Well, that’s just awesome to hear! I happen to agree with you. I have made tons and tons for my blog, cookbook recipe testing, and I am in love with this brownie base. Thanks for LMK you tried them and the results are the best ever!

  18. There must be something truly cosmic about Cosmic Brownies, because I was just searching for a Cosmic Brownies recipe the other day and now THIS arrives. Thank you, thank you!

    I was a sucker for Little Debbie Zebra Cakes and Carmel Cookie Bars.

  19. These look amazing!! Can’t wait to give them a try! Thanks for linking up at Time to Sparkle : )


  20. I didn’t grow up with these individually wrapped cakes – but we always had those gingery windmill cookies that came in the red paper box with clear plastic. I’d love to see a copy-cat recipe for those!

  21. Gorgeous!! Definitely making these to take to work!!

  22. These brownies are so fun! Your pics are just gorgeous Averie :) Thanks so much for sharing at Mom On Timeout!

  23. When I saw this, I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why anyone would want to duplicate a cosmic brownie. They are awful! After your description though, it makes me want to try the recipe which sounds like a new and improved cosmic brownie.

    • Well there’s a reason they’ve been around 25+ years – tens of millions of them have been sold and people keep buying them! But the homemade version just blows away the storebought :)

  24. Made these tonight! You weren’t kidding about the “fudgyness” very rich but super good!!! Wishing I had some vanilla ice cream now…

  25. Hi! I want to make these but I got a little confused when reading your blog post. You created your favorite brownie by combining those 2 Nutella and ultimate recipes. Is that what is posted above in the recipe for the cosmic? You mentioned to make your brownie more like Little Debbie you added more flour…so is the recipe above that recipe, with more flour? What is the recipe for the hybrid brownie that you describe? Sorry, I probably confused you too! But I want to make your hybrid, before making the Little Debbie one above. Thanks! :)

    • Yes, you have definitely confused yourself and over-thought things. Just make the recipe in this post that I wrote about. Yes, it’s a hybrid of all the best things I’ve ever done with brownies (that’s more info than people need to know, but I like to explain myself – and apparently that is what confused you). Make it exactly as I wrote it and it shows up in the little recipe box. Don’t change a thing, flour, Nutella, nothing. Just make it like I wrote it. They’re perfect!

  26. These are delicious! I love dense fudge-like brownies. They are simple to make and I think everyone has all these ingredients on hand at all times. My new go to brownie recipe!

  27. I made these for my fiance this weekend, who normally just groans every time I insist on trying a new brownie recipe (he’s not too thrilled with change in general, lol). No groaning this weekend–his mouth was full and he was smiling! This recipe is truly amazing. The brownies are supremely fudgy and have incredible depth in the chocolate flavor. Thanks so much for sharing it!

    • Thanks, Suzanne, for LMK you tried them AND that you AND your finance are both so pleased! Love field reports & comments like this! Thanks for making them and coming back to tell me about it!

  28. Hi Averie,

    This was the first thing I made off of your blog and they were delicious! I’ll definitely be trying more of your recipes! Thank you!

  29. how do you cut these SO perfectly?

  30. These brownies are amazing. Husband said they were the best he’d ever had and I think I agree! Delicious! Had people over for dinner and they were a big hit there as well :) thanks! Loving this blog more and more with each successful recipe. Thanks!

    • Wow – you made these, too! So glad you tried them, and the hubs, and your guests – and that they were a big hit! Thanks for trying this recipe and they are the best brownies I’ve ever had, too. LMK if you try other recipes, too…and thanks!

  31. Oh boy! You’ve got my number! Cosmic brownies are my favorite thing EVER. Every time I would donate blood my “reward” to myself was a cosmic brownie that was provided by the Red Cross. (They had baskets of treats…all of your wildest little Debbie desires). Life dream = achieved.

  32. These look so good, can’t wait to try out this recipe!

  33. I’ve never heard of a cosmic brownies. Yummy sounding treats don’t exist like that here in the UK but I’m glad you’ve made these little beauties. Those brownies look soo fudgy, I’m drooling at the screen.

  34. Wow, what a coincidence! I made this exact same recipe two years ago, right down to the part about lining the pan with foil and spraying it! Just goes to show you how the same ideas keep getting recycled. :) We love Cosmic Brownies here, but only the homemade ones. They’re so much better than store bought!

    In case you’re wondering, I have Google alerts set up for some recipes–this is one of them. That’s how I came upon your post. ;) Nice photos.

    • Hi Elle
      I just went to your site to try to find your brownie recipe and I did. Looks like our recipes are indeed similar but yours are baked in a 9×13 pan, mine are baked in a 9×9 and yours use almost double the amount of flour that mine do. And yours use baking powder, whereas I never put leaveners in my brownies. And your recipe for ganache is different than mine, too.

      As I said in my post, I came up with them as a hybrid of 2 of my fave brownie recipes, “I created this brownie base by adapting my two favorite brownie bases, Fudgy Nutella Brownies and The Ultimate Fudgy Caramel Brownies.” (and I inserted the links in the post, see above)

      I always, always line my pans with foil. 100% of the recipes I make in a pan, I line with foil. See here, all 50+ of these recipes, I start off by lining with foil. It’s such a timesaver. Glad you do it too! https://www.averiecooks.com/category/dessert/bars

      Looks like we both like our homemade Cosmic brownies but I wanted to point out the differences in our recipes. Someone just yesterday reprinted my recipe for these on her site so yes, I agree, recipes to get recycled and reprinted and adapted, although I started my recipe off by adapting two of my own previous brownie recipes.

  35. This is my new favorite site, I kid you not, I have a serious addiction to sweets, and your recipes are not helping me in my goal to cut back.

  36. 2 things: one, would salted butter work? We don’t have any and I want to make them now!!
    and two, would normal instant coffee work instead of the espresso? (we don’t have any of that, either)

    • Salted butter I’m sure will be okay (just don’t add any of the optional salt) and normal instant coffee will be fine. It’s an optional thing anyway but does bring out the chocolate flavor and enhance it and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the results. Please LMK how they go for you!

  37. Something went wrong when I made these brownies – the batter looked okay but when they were supposed to be done in the oven, they were sizzling and bubbling like I haven’t seen brownies before. I refrigerated them maybe 8 hours, and they were really hard to cut. I know you said refrigerate them; do you think I should leave them out for a while before presenting them? What could I have done wrong? Thanks.

    • I have no idea what happened during the baking process. Sizzling and bubbling like you’ve never seen does not sound normal for brownies. Do you feel like your oven temp is calibrated properly? Anything that sizzles/bubbles, then turns rock hard – usually means the internal temp got really hot (hotter than it should have) which to me sounds like your oven is running hot. And this is not a dumb question, but are you absolutely sure you measured everything 100% perfectly? Sometimes people will grab the wrong measuring cup, only to realize it LATER. The ganache should set up fine if you just leave them at room temp; the reason I like to store in the fridge is b/c they are supposed to be very, very fudgy so having a chill is nice. But if you already have hockey pucks, I probably wouldnt refrigerate (and probably wouldnt even ‘waste’ the ganache on them; I’d start over after you are sure your oven, etc are all 100%). I think it’s a fluke!

      • Thanks for taking the time to respond. Hmm..maybe my oven is too hot. But I have no idea how to change that unless I just adjust the temperature for each recipe. I guess I can’t be sure I measured everything correctly, but I think I did. I’ve already put the ganache on the brownies, but I’ll take them out of the fridge and see what they’re like tomorrow. I’m willing to try making these again! Thank you again! :-)

      • buy an oven thermometer…they’re like 5.99 and there’s your answer. I truly think your oven is way too hot; just by what you wrote. And then if it’s running hot, you can decrease the temp to bring it to ‘normal’. And also maybe re-measure the ingredients and yes take it out of the fridge – yours defi don’t need to be in there. They’re already firm, and then some :) LMK if you try again!

  38. Since I have more time than I thought I would: the brownies are more like the crunchy stuff in Dairy Queen cakes. My concern with leaving the brownies out of the fridge is that the ganache, which turned out just right, will melt. Thanks again.

  39. Things I baked were turning out hard, but I thought it might’ve been my imagination since I like things soft. But you know what? I may have measured the eggs wrong (that is, not enough). I used an egg substitute. Could that have caused what happened?

    • YES THAT IS THE PROBLEM!!!! You have to use REAL EGGS. Not substitutes; they are generally not suitable for baking, despite what any packaging may say. Use.real.eggs. Too little egg will make things hard/overly dried out AND on top of it, those fake egg products create a super weird/hard texture. Switch to real eggs and I guarantee that’s the issue.

      • Okay! :-) Real eggs are a bit of a pain for me because I can’t use them fast enough before they go bad. Also, I hate whisking or beating them. FWIW, I think I only used 1/3 of what I was supposed to. :-(

  40. I’ve had these pinned forever and am preparing to make them for tailgating. Upon intense staring at the heavenly thick, chewy texture, I began to wonder… how on earth did you slice those so pretty?!? They look straight out of a Little Debbie box because the brownie and ganache could have been cut by machine they’re so crisp, straight and smooth. How did you do it?! Did you clean it up for photo shoot ;) ?

  41. You can also find mini M&Ms in bags like regular M&Ms. I’ve bought them from Target and Harris Teeter. :) These brownies are adorable!

  42. made these brownies. first time i made homemade brownies that came out fudgy-ly perfect! love the time you took to get the recipe right and the photos (it tempted me into trying :) ) heading to the store after work so i can buy buttermilk for your cinnamon rolls. if you took the hassle out of yeast, you are about to become my favorite baker! thank you again!

    • So glad that you loved these & they came out perfect for you!

      The recipe and the photos – glad you appreciate the effort :)

      And yes, buttermilk for cinn rolls, do it! Now, they do have yeast but it’s instant yeast & there’s no downtime! So…it’s as simple as a yeast roll will ever get. LMK what you think!

  43. I have tried the “store bought”ones too!! If they were TRULLY “Cosmic” brownies then they are missing an important ingredient. I mean this as a joke of course…. Alice B had the original recipe!!!

  44. it is possible to make these without the coffee? will it have a big impact on the taste of the brownies?

  45. Hi I would love to make this recipe but I wanted to know if id have to make any alterations if I was to bake it in a 9×13?

  46. These look amazing! I shared with my facebook friends :) https://www.facebook.com/JaseysCrazyDaisy?ref=hl

  47. I cannot wait to make these! They look so delicious! Sundays are the only days I can have sweets because of my workout and diet :( But I’m sure these brownies are worth the wait! What brand of coffee did you use by the way?

  48. I am so happy that I found this recipe on Pinterest, been wanting to try them ever since! My daughters and I will make them over the weekend, so excited! They look so perfect, brownies are not the easiest thing to cut into! I found a trick though, I use a plastic knife :)
    Thank you for sharing:)

  49. Made these the other day and they are delicious! I made them in a glass 9×13 pan, so they’re a little thinner, but still really good. I was unable to find instant espresso at my grocery store. Instant coffee, yes, but espresso, no. Is there a brand you recommend that I can keep an eye out for? They turned out super fudgy. So much so that getting them out of the pan in one piece can be difficult, so I’m going to try adding the additional flour next time. I’m not complaining though. I love fudgy.

    I did have one question though. What is the purpose of covering the pan in tin foil? I sprayed it, but it still sticks to the bottom of the brownies, and tears when I pull them out, so I have to be careful not to let bits of foil remain on the brownies. Is it just for clean-up purposes? Can I skip this step if using a glass pan?


    • Some brands of foil are prone to tearing; I used Reynolds Heavy Duty, it never tears. But if you want to skip the step and you find it more difficult, that’s fine. I never have an issue so cleanup is a breeze with foil for me. G

      lad you loved the brownies and all ovens and climates vary so either slightly more flour or baking longer may help, too. I use King Arthur all-purpose, it’s the best IMO and has more gluten than other brands so things set up better.

      https://www.averiecooks.com/2013/09/chocolate-peanut-butter-mocha-powerballs.html There’s a picture of the espresso in the background. It’s in the coffee aisle of most groc stores in my area in a small glass jar. Spanish label and brand and sorry that I’m not in front of it so can’t tell you exactly but the jar is unmistakeable with the bold 3-color striping.

  50. Thanks for the awesome recipe! I have my go-to brownie recipe, but love trying new ideas. The extra moisture from the brown sugar is great. I may have to change my go-to to this one!

    My sister’s birthday was this past week and she used to love cosmic brownies when she was little. So I made up these in a 9×13 for the more authentic look. It was just the right amount of ganache for the top. Then I wrapped up two little square brownies in plastic wrap, ready for the freezer. She can take out a package for her lunch. Also, I tried not to eat all of them, but it was difficult!

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