posted in Brownies

Basement Brownies

These Basement Brownies are a big time favorite on They’re so easy to make, and there is a great story behind them!

There is a short video that shows you how to make these brownies at the end of this post.  Then you can print out the complete recipe and make them yourself!

Basement Brownies recipe - from

I love a recipe with a good story behind it.  My family was recently visiting my brother and sister-in-law in beautiful Colorado.  As usual with my snoopy nature, I scoured my sister-in-law Sarah’s personal recipes with hopes of finding some new treasures to try.  These Basement Brownies caught my eye!

These Chocolate- Caramel brownies are called Basement Brownies because when Sarah was a little girl… she used to make them for her Dad, who used to sneak these brownies into the basement to hide them so he could have them all for himself.

The name, “Basement Brownies” has stuck!  Don’t you love that?!

You’ve gotta love a recipe with only 5 ingredients.  Super simple.  They start with a boxed mix… which is not usually my style of baking, but these brownies turn out so awesome that you can’t even tell it starts with a box.

And sometimes starting with a boxed mix is just what we need in our busy day-to-day lives!  It’s okay to take short-cuts once in a while.

The caramels are melted with a little bit of evaporated milk to create a caramel sauce.  Sarah says that in-a-pinch she has also used jarred caramel sauce in place of melting your own.

The cake mix is simply combined with evaporated milk and butter.  A portion of the batter is slightly baked, then topped with chocolate chips and caramel, then topped with more batter and baked again.

The result is not so impressive-looking, right?  Just you wait…!!

Basement Brownies recipe - from
The inside brownie part is slightly gooey, and there are two layers in there that can put anyone into a delightful sugar coma:  one layer of melted chocolate chips and one layer of ooey caramel too.

Oh YEAH.  Basement brownies.  After a few bites of these, I can completely understand how they got their name.

And here’s the culprit right here.  This handsome guy is Sarah’s Dad, the brownie lover who gave these guys their deserved name– brownies-so-good-you’ve-gotta-hide-them-in-the-basement!  We understand.  Completely.

Thanks, Sarah… for a great recipe!

Click below to watch a short video showing you how to make this recipe, then scroll to the bottom to print the complete recipe.

Yield: 16 to 20 brownies

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 28 minutes

Basement Brownies

so good, you'll want to hide them in the basement so you can have them all for yourself!


  • 50 to 60 caramels, unwrapped
  • One box German Chocolate Cake Mix (I used 15.25 ounce box)
  • 1 cup evaporated milk, divided
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, melted
  • One 12 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x9-inch pan.
  2. Melt caramels and 1/3 cup evaporated milk in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until caramels have completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the dry cake mix, remaining 2/3 cup evaporated milk and butter. Mix by hand until batter is smooth and combined.
  4. Pour a little over 1/2 of the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 8 minutes only and then remove from the oven. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly on top of the partially cooked brownie. Drizzle caramel on top of the chocolate chips. Drop spoonfuls of the remaining batter on top. You probably won't have enough to cover the caramel completely.
  5. Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 18 to 20 minutes until the brownies feel fairly set on top and the edges are lightly browned and crisp. Let the brownies cool completely before cutting. The longer they have time to cool, the more they will firm up.
SOURCE: (from my sister-in-law Sarah)

Here are a few more brownie recipes you might enjoy:


  1. postedAug 1, 2012 3:58 AM
    Lori H

    These are wonderful brownies. We have always called them Sin Brownies, for obvious reasons 🙂

  2. postedAug 1, 2012 4:52 AM

    I love these! I made this exact recipe in college in the late 70’s. We called them “Fat Bars” because that’s what you would be if you ate too many of them! They are very good warm too – messy but delicious.

  3. postedAug 1, 2012 5:35 AM

    Oh, I fall for caramel everytime! Look great, and easy too!

  4. postedAug 1, 2012 6:02 AM

    Love the name/story behind these almost as much as I like the looks of them!!

  5. postedAug 1, 2012 6:09 AM

    I love this brownie recipe. Chocolate and caramel — yum! I want to thank you for inspiring me to adapt your chocolate chip-irish cream cupcakes. Here is my version:

    Thank you!

  6. postedAug 1, 2012 6:31 AM

    Ha!!! I think everyone has had a few “basement” favorites in their lives. These look so delicious!! 🙂

  7. postedAug 1, 2012 6:34 AM

    What a fun brownie recipe! I want to hide in the basement with the entire pan!

  8. postedAug 1, 2012 6:40 AM

    These are one of my standbys–I think the original name given to them was “better than sex” brownies. Heh. I usually just call them caramel brownies, or, ahem, caramel whities–I really like making them with yellow or white cake mix instead of the german chocolate). I also melt the caramel with evaporated milk in the microwave, but also caution to be VERY CAREFUL when pouring the caramel mixture over the brownie–my sister got it on her arm, which resulted in 2nd degree burns. I’ve never done that, but just pay attention. 🙂

    These are really amazing brownies.

  9. postedAug 1, 2012 7:15 AM

    These look sooo gooood. I’ll have to try them.

  10. postedAug 1, 2012 7:26 AM

    Someone brought these to my baby shower in 1987 and I begged for the recipe. I kept it all these years!

  11. postedAug 1, 2012 7:33 AM

    Chocolate and caramel are meant to be together.

  12. postedAug 1, 2012 7:43 AM

    I want to sneak to the basement and eat these too! Caramel and chocolate is always a winning combination and sometimes short cut quick recipes are the best!

  13. postedAug 1, 2012 8:06 AM

    Holy cow, these look decadent. Love me all that oozing caramel!

  14. postedAug 1, 2012 10:17 AM
    Catalina @ Cake with Love

    Oh wow I love all that caramel and melted chocolate! And the short ingredint list is a winner too!

  15. postedAug 1, 2012 10:45 AM

    Oh man….these brownies look amazing! I love that they are made with a boxed mix too! 🙂

  16. postedAug 1, 2012 10:55 AM
    Ashley B.

    These are my mom’s “secret” brownies–every one of my friends in high school would request them at every possible opportunity to celebrate, and they became known in amongst we ten catholic school girls as “pot brownies”–they are that amazing 🙂

  17. postedAug 1, 2012 11:16 AM

    Do you think you could use a 9×13?

    • postedAug 2, 2012 10:29 AM

      No, I think that would be too big for this recipe.

  18. postedAug 1, 2012 12:56 PM

    good lord that looks good!

  19. postedAug 1, 2012 1:13 PM

    These look SO amazing! I don’t have much of a basement, though, and “bathroom brownies” just don’t sound very good, do they?! Gotta try this!

  20. postedAug 1, 2012 2:16 PM

    These look so good! I love caramel and these look amazing! I think I need to try them soon!

  21. postedAug 1, 2012 3:17 PM

    LOL. Bringing them down the basement to eat them all.

    These brownies look so decadent and divine!

  22. postedAug 1, 2012 3:21 PM

    What a sweet recipe!

  23. postedAug 1, 2012 7:28 PM

    What a wonderful story behind these brownies! I absolutely love these! Although I think I’ll have to go to spin class 5x a week to work these off!

  24. postedAug 1, 2012 7:52 PM

    ohmygosh that is so funny how they got their name!! i can just picture it:) they look amazing!

  25. postedAug 1, 2012 8:47 PM

    *Basement Brownies*..that caught my eye too! So moisty looking-yum! I too am a recipe “snooper”! I’d love to try these!

  26. postedAug 2, 2012 4:22 AM

    Oh my gosh these brownies are insane!!! I love it!!

  27. postedAug 2, 2012 5:55 AM

    OMG!…..these look soooooooo good..making these TOnight!

  28. postedAug 2, 2012 7:11 AM

    Wow, those look as sinful as could be…which makes them perfect!!!

  29. postedAug 2, 2012 7:51 AM
    susan baldner

    Does it have to be German chocolate or can you use Devils Food? I have several of those in my pantry….

  30. postedAug 2, 2012 7:55 AM

    Lori, this is a great story! My dad is a certified “chocoholic” and we used to hide batches of chocolate chip cookies in the basement so he couldn’t find them and eat them all – kind of a reverse scenario. This recipe looks FAB! I just might make some for my own dad! 🙂

  31. postedAug 2, 2012 8:39 AM

    I’d hide them all for myself too! I love these Lori, can’t beleive a decadent brownie like this is SO easy..?! Crazy.

  32. postedAug 2, 2012 9:10 AM

    These look beautiful–I love that a recipe so simple can produce such lovely ooey gooey results!

  33. postedAug 2, 2012 10:24 AM

    YUM! Just my kind of brownie!

  34. postedAug 2, 2012 11:19 AM

    My husband LOVES brownies he will be so excited i found this recipe! Looks delicious!

  35. postedAug 2, 2012 12:02 PM

    We have had these in my family for years – dating back to my Grandma. LOVE them!! This story is hilarious 🙂

  36. postedAug 2, 2012 5:25 PM

    I have a recipe that calls this Snickers cake and adds nuts with the choc chips. I got tired of melting the caramels and now use a jar of ice cream topping instead.

  37. postedAug 2, 2012 5:54 PM

    Just found your site and I love your easy to follow recipes!! Please post more recipes for boneless chicken breasts. Thank you.

  38. postedAug 2, 2012 7:52 PM

    I love that this old recipe is popping up all over the web. My family grew up with this same recipe, and it’s all my brother and I have ever requested for our birthdays instead of cake, and it wasn’t the 4th of July without them. Now my husband claims these brownies as his number one favorite dessert, so my mom is constantly sending him a package as a surprise, and she makes them for us any time we visit. Love the recipe

  39. postedAug 2, 2012 11:59 PM

    ok, I want to know why Sarah has never made these when I was visiting??? They look really good, in that really bad way!

  40. postedAug 3, 2012 8:56 AM

    I can see why he would sneak to the basement to eat those! I’d have to sneak somewhere too…I think I would need a moment alone with all that awesomeness!

  41. postedAug 3, 2012 11:16 AM

    It looks so softy and delicious! I will try this recipe surly! Perfect for my Pinterest collection . Bye

  42. postedAug 3, 2012 12:00 PM

    The gooey texture of these brownies is what dreams are made of. They look incredible Lori!

  43. postedAug 3, 2012 3:55 PM

    LOVE the name and story, and they definitely look worth sneaking to the basement with! Great post!

  44. postedAug 3, 2012 7:44 PM

    I am going to have to try these, amazing!

  45. postedAug 4, 2012 7:44 AM
    Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy

    I need these in my life. Maybe for treat day!

  46. postedAug 4, 2012 4:01 PM

    These look FABULOUS!!! Can’t wait to try 🙂

  47. postedAug 6, 2012 8:53 AM

    Wow!! I need these in my life…they look amazing!! Sarah’s a genius! Thanks so much for sharing her recipe!

  48. postedAug 7, 2012 1:59 PM

    I made these yesterday. They were SOooo sweet! If I make them again, I will cut the chocolate chips in half and add walnuts.

  49. postedAug 7, 2012 2:22 PM

    I have a recipe for Turtle Cake, which my daughter always requests for her birthday cake without the pecans it calls for, that sounds like this but I would never have thought to make brownies with it – but I definitely will now! I can’t wait to make these as a surprise.
    Thank you so much!!

  50. postedAug 7, 2012 6:53 PM

    Love that hidden layer of caramel!

  51. postedAug 9, 2012 11:02 AM

    These look so amazing and sound easy to make! Thank you for sharing.

  52. postedAug 9, 2012 6:21 PM

    I need these to live. For real.

  53. postedAug 10, 2012 5:15 AM
    RecipeGirl's Mom

    Don’t know how I missed this post! Wonderful story about my favorite daughter-in-law. Great picture of them too,.

  54. postedAug 11, 2012 6:58 AM

    These look so yummy. I usually do my brownies with some kind of mint but I know my house is going to love them with caramel in them.

  55. postedAug 18, 2012 4:41 PM

    I have caramel bits in my pantry at this moment…wow those look incredible!

  56. postedSep 9, 2012 11:56 AM

    I make a recipe very similar called Snickers Bars, the only difference is that I add salted peanuts as a layer, I think the salted peanuts help to cut the sweetness a little. Very ooey gooey and delicious!!!!

  57. postedSep 19, 2012 4:55 PM

    This recipe sounds so good but
    I don’t have a German Chocolate cake mix. Do you think I could use a regular brownie mix.

    • postedSep 19, 2012 5:01 PM

      Hard to say, since I have only tried it with a cake mix! I wouldn’t think it would turn out the same.

  58. postedSep 30, 2012 3:20 PM

    Mmm… Making these IMMEDIATELY!

  59. postedNov 8, 2012 8:31 AM

    Made these AMAZING brownies last night – thought people might be interested to know that the Devil’s Food mix worked really well and tasted yummy! I also used a tin of Carnation Condensed milk boiled up into caramel instead of melting the sweets…came out perfectly. Thank you Lori!

  60. postedDec 21, 2012 8:00 PM
    Kim B

    I made these yesterday. The only bad thing about them is they only make a small pan! My son LOVES them, and my poor daughter can’t have them because she just got braces on. But I know she would love them! I will be making these again!

  61. postedJan 22, 2013 5:56 AM
    Jaclyn G

    Hi, i used a 8×8 pan and they didnt come out like brownies, more like a molten cake. I also had to use the caramel topping used for ice cream, because 5 stores didnt carry caramels! I needed to eat them with a spoon. They were still delicious, but i am wondering could it actually be that the pan was too small or was it the caramel? Any thoughts? Just an FYI, i may make htem again like this and mix with ice cream.

    • postedJan 22, 2013 7:28 PM

      I’d say that the smaller pan created a thicker brownie, and the brownie didn’t have a chance to cook all the way through… resulting in a very gooey brownie!

  62. postedFeb 9, 2013 6:29 AM

    I have made these brownie twice in a week.. They are awesome.. Thanks for the extra 5lbs i gained.. LOL..

  63. postedFeb 9, 2013 9:50 AM

    Has anybody made this with milk chocolate brownie mix or fudge mix stuff? If you haven’t, we’ll do you think it would work?

    • postedFeb 9, 2013 12:48 PM

      Haven’t tried- but probably would be fine.

  64. postedFeb 9, 2013 3:48 PM

    I have made these a few times and have cut the caramels in half and added some nuts to the chocolate mix.. totally delish.. too die for really.. really yummy with ice cream

  65. postedNov 11, 2013 10:14 AM


  66. postedMay 23, 2014 6:10 PM
    Angela F

    Has anyone tried this with peanut butter??

  67. postedSep 6, 2014 9:44 AM

    These are baking now. Can’t wait to try them. Definitely do NOT melt caramel in microwave. I spilled it on my foot and had 2nd degree burns.

  68. postedNov 5, 2014 9:54 AM
    Andrea Vaughan

    Making these right now..using Caramel Ice cream topping tho….Can’t wait to try them later tonight after they set up 🙂

  69. postedNov 28, 2014 9:15 AM

    My son and I tried to double the recipe for Thanksgiving. We used a 11×8 pan and apparently had to thick of a base. It rose like a cake and after some discussion we decided to experiment with it. After baking for about 30 mins we pulled out our “brownie” made some holes and stuffed them with the chocolate chips and sprinkled more on top. My son attacked it with a skewer and we poured the caramel sauce over top. It was a hit at dinner.

  70. postedFeb 5, 2015 6:33 PM

    Can they be made with the dulce de leche made by boiling a can of condensed sweetened milk for a few hours? I don’t have any caramels and am stuck in my house waiting for the furnace repairman tomorrow.

    • postedFeb 8, 2015 6:59 AM

      haven’t tried it with that product, but maybe!

  71. postedFeb 23, 2015 9:14 PM
    Oma from Texas

    I’ve made this for 20 years now and it’s always a hit and a family favorite. 
    We had an ice day today and so I made it this afternoon. Oh so yummy!

  72. postedFeb 25, 2015 12:59 PM
    Renee Shmuel

    Can they be made with brownie mix instead as I live over seas & do not have this type of cake mix or can they be made with a homemade cake mix ??

    • postedFeb 25, 2015 3:16 PM

      I’m not sure… I haven’t tried it other ways. Maybe a brownie mix, but I can’t say for sure since I haven’t tried it myself.

  73. postedFeb 28, 2015 10:30 PM
    Oya Jalil

    Hi May I know the weight of a stick of butter that you use? Over in my country the butter is sold in blocks ranging from 227g – 250g.

    • postedMar 2, 2015 2:38 PM

      1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) = 4 ounces

  74. postedJun 12, 2015 5:40 AM

    The recipe I received YEARS ago calls these brownies MONSTER BROWNIES. My #1 request at holidays. Delicious, but not easy to make. The batter is VERY sticky!

    • postedJun 16, 2015 10:02 AM

      Interesting. Not sure if it’s the same recipe since these were super simple to make!

  75. postedOct 30, 2015 1:02 PM
    Susanne Swisher

    I make a similar recipe using the caramel chips, or the kraft caramel sheets used for caramel apples that can be purchased in the produce section at Krogers, or Wal-Mart. I get the caramel sheets cold in the refrigerator first, make the brownie as directed in your recipe, put about half of it in a 9×13 pan, break or cut the caramel sheets and fit them over the brownie mix, sprinkle with nuts, and top with the rest of the brownie mix. Bake as directed above! We like them chilled.

  76. postedFeb 6, 2016 12:08 PM
    Anna Nahajewski

    Could you add fleur de self to make salted caramel?

  77. postedSep 4, 2016 1:27 PM

    Do you think I could substitute white chocolate chips for the chocolate chips?  Not a fan of so much chocolate.

    • postedSep 11, 2016 7:28 AM

      I haven’t tried white chocolate chips in this recipe, but I find that they don’t melt the same so I’m not sure I’d recommend them.

  78. postedSep 8, 2016 10:08 AM

    I’m sorry for asking this..i’m just wondering if you can tell what is ‘evaporated milk’..
    In my country I never heard of it ,and I want to bake this recipe looks delicious and I bet is tasty too 🙂
    Thank you!

    • postedSep 11, 2016 7:23 AM

      If you don’t have any, make your own: To produce 1 cup of evaporated milk, simmer 2 1/4 cups of regular milk down until it becomes 1 cup. In many recipes, evaporated milk may also be replaced with a combination of whole milk and half-and-half.

  79. postedSep 12, 2016 9:07 PM

    I love these! We’ve been making these for years. We call them “Knock-ya-naked” brownies. 🙂

  80. postedSep 17, 2016 1:58 PM

    I received this recipe back in the early 70’s. My children loved them then and still love them.

  81. postedSep 19, 2016 1:39 PM
    Kathy Robertson

    I’m going to try them with white chocolate, and maybe some coconut and pecans

  82. postedSep 19, 2016 8:01 PM

    I followed this recipe exactly and my batter came out much thinner, like a regular cake batter consistency, not at all like what is shown in the video. They aren’t done yet so I don’t know how they will come out. Any idea why that may have happened?

    • postedSep 20, 2016 9:02 AM

      I’m not sure… did you use regular milk instead of evaporated?

  83. postedSep 27, 2016 7:41 PM

    These brownies are sooo good! I did not have a 9×9 pan I only had a 9×13 pan. I was worried that they wouldn’t turn out because the pan was too big.,but they did they were wonderful. Don’t eat to many they are really rich.

  84. postedSep 30, 2016 10:01 AM

    We’ve done these since the 80’s.  My mom FROZE them, butwe prefer them from the fridge!  Makes them sinfully gooey and ah-maz-ing!!!!  We do it in a 13×9 though.  Never thought about making them thicker!!  Even better!  

  85. postedOct 4, 2016 2:29 AM

    Other appropriate names for these delightful, deliciousness of Carmel & Brownie

    The Amazzing Disappearing Brownie
    Or for security reasons
    Fort Knox Brownies
    Area 51 Brownies
    Nuclear silo brownie
    Or for me personally – Hi dear nephew, I made you your favorite brownie; and by the way, my car breaks need replacing (insert any mechanical work on you auto – 1 pan is all that is required to entice my exceptionally skilled and overall awesome nephew-man)

  86. postedJan 10, 2017 6:02 PM
    Virginia romero

    Love this. I make this all the time. My family loves them. But I call them “TURTLE CAKE”. I put nuts in the middle on top of the Carmel & nuts on top. 

  87. postedFeb 2, 2017 7:52 PM
    Colleen Houk

    Making these for Super Bowl Sunday. Was going to try doubling to bake in a 9×13 pan…I don’t have a 9×9…
    May have some batter left over so frosting for hubby!

  88. postedMar 16, 2017 7:44 AM
    Linda Robinson

    Finally got this recipe to print today. If a person uses the caramel topping do you still thin with the evaporated milk. For those that used a 9 x 13 pan, did you have to adjust the baking time? Can a person use margarine instead of ‘real’ butter? Need to go to store to get a cake mix. Thanks for your help.

  89. postedMar 16, 2017 7:51 AM
    Linda Robinson

    Forgot to ask, if I use the caramel topping, how much do I use? Ours come in like a pint jar size, would I use the whole jar? And add the same amount of milk too?

    • postedMar 17, 2017 9:09 AM

      I’ve never tried this with caramel topping, so I’m not sure.

  90. postedApr 15, 2017 10:18 AM

    I am wondering if I double the recipe, could I then use a 9 x 13 pan?

  91. postedJul 6, 2017 12:32 AM

    We call them Carousel Brownies… is a work thing.

    We use a 9×13 though. I like triple chocolate fudge cake mix, and we always top them with dark chocolate frosting.

    Best eaten with a fork!

  92. postedJul 20, 2017 9:37 AM

    It would be helpful to know how much the caramels equal in terms of cups. I am using up some caramel topping, and will make a “guess-timate” that these is equal to at least 2.5 cups. Instead of using evaporated milk, I will take your “safe substitution” of a combination of half and half and “clarified” milk. There are always endless possibilities for “safe substitutions,” so without going out to purchase a German Chocolate Cake mix, I will make a half batch of my own German Chocolate Mix from scratch. I think the results will be the same. Thanks for any clarification on the amount of melted caramels!

  93. postedAug 10, 2017 8:51 PM

    Does anybody know if any adjustment needs to be made for high altitude?

    • postedAug 18, 2017 1:32 PM

      I don’t think so. I’ve made these in Denver many times without any problems.

  94. postedJan 10, 2018 8:18 PM
    Elaine Wilson

    Been making these for at least 30 years. Called “Turtle Brownies” in my cookbook. I make them in a 9×13 Pyrex dish. Also add a generous amount of chopped pecans. Fantastic warm from the oven with vanilla ice cream on top. Like a hot Sundae!

  95. postedJan 10, 2018 8:21 PM
    Elaine Wilson

    Oh, the original recipe called for an 18.5 oz size cake mix and a 1 lb bag of caramels. I have adjusted my ingredients for a smaller cake mix. A bag of caramels is now 11 oz.

  96. postedFeb 25, 2018 1:05 PM
    Katherine Smith

    Can you use unsalted butter? I have a lot of unsalted butter but no salted butter.

    • postedFeb 26, 2018 7:51 AM

      Sure- just add a bit of salt to the recipe.

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