This Surprising Ingredient Will Make Your Homemade Brownies So Much More Delicious

Nope, we're not talking about pumpkin or black beans!

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We have some BIG chocolate fans here at EatingWell. So over the years, we've played around with the basic brownie recipe, dressing it up with everything from zucchini and black beans to pumpkin and dates.

But never have we ever tried this brilliant trick dreamed up by Chinese Australian cookbook author Hetty McKinnon.

To elevate the flavors in her gluten-free brownie recipe, McKinnon mixes in 3 to 4 teaspoons of soy sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee Premium Dark Soy Sauce; $7.30 for 16 ounces on Amazon) or tamari sauce (like San J International Reduced-Sodium Organic Tamari Sauce; $6.29 for 20 ounces on Amazon)—the latter option works well if you need a 100% gluten-free goodie.

The sauce in this recipe, which is from her new cookbook To Asia, With Love: Everyday Asian Recipes and Stories From the Heart ($35, Penguin Random House), is "the same idea as using salt," McKinnon says during her TODAY show segment that aired on May 18. "The soy sauce amplifies the chocolaty flavors, bringing a rich caramel glow. The taste very much resembles salted caramel."⁠

This is a follow-up to a recipe for Vegemite Chocolate Brownies McKinnon shared on her website that "raised some eyebrows," McKinnon tells Leite's Culinaria. "The use of this yeasty, uber-umami sandwich spread in a brownie is surprising, but it brings a complex depth of flavor that is quite unique."

The same concept holds true with the soy sauce or tamari in this new recipe, which can also be elevated with 2 teaspoons of flaky sea salt (like Maldon, $8.43 for 8.5 ounces on Amazon) if you prefer.

woman making brownies
Getty Images / MmeEmil

According to James Beard Award-winning food writer and Food Gal blogger Carolyn Jung who tested out these beauties herself, "The soy sauce is subtle tasting. It's not like you bite into a square and automatically think 'Chinese takeout food.' Instead, the chocolate just tastes somehow more chocolate-y, with a deeper caramelized note and just a hint of salt…Never in a million years would I have thought of adding soy sauce to brownies. But I'm sure glad McKinnon did, because these just might be my new go-to brownies."

Click here for the Flourless Soy Sauce Brownie recipe from the Brooklyn-based author and podcaster, and keep up with McKinnon's latest kitchen adventures at

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