It can be tempting to lick the bowl when making brownies. But is it safe to eat brownie batter?
Oh, I’ve been there. Out of nowhere, the brownie craving hits. So you whip out your ingredients and start creating your batter. But who has time to wait for them to bake to taste some of that chocolatey goodness? You’re thinking, “eating one little spoonful of batter can’t hurt, right?”
Well, eating raw brownie batter, even a little, can be harmful to your health and leave you at risk of getting food poisoning.
In this article, I’ll cover what ingredients to watch out for. And I’ll share tips on how to make edible brownie batter to satisfy that chocolate craving.
The risks of eating raw brownie batter
Raw traditional brownie batter, and many other raw baking batters for that matter, contain two key ingredients that can pose health risks: flour and eggs.
Raw flour can contain E. coli and Salmonella bacteria, both of which can lead to food poisoning. High heat exposure during the baking process kills these germs, but that’s often not the case with raw batter (unless you heat-treat your flour first).
In fact, just this year (2023), the Centers for Disease Control warned of a Salmonella outbreak linked to raw all-purpose flour in 13 states.
Harmful Salmonella bacteria can also be present in raw eggs.
Illness from Salmonella can start to appear within a few hours to a few days. Here’s what to look out for if you think you may have been exposed:
- Persistent diarrhea
- Stomach cramps
When to see a doctor
According to the CDC, you should call the doctor if:
- Your diarrhea lasts longer than 3 days
- You have a fever that exceeds 102° F
- Bloody stool
- Ongoing vomiting
E. coli symptoms
Sings of E. coli infection can take longer to show up than with Salmonella. You may start to feel ill 3-4 days after being infected, with symptoms such as:
- Severe stomach cramps
- Diarrhea (which can be bloody)
When to see a doctor
The CDC advises that you contact your doctor if:
- Diarrhea persists longer than 3 days
- You have a fever higher than 102° F
- You’re experiencing prolonged vomiting
- You pass very little urine
Best practices when using raw flour and eggs
Since these two ingredients are common to many baking recipes, it can be difficult to avoid using them. But there are some precautions you can take to help make sure you minimize any health risks. They include:
Keep foods separate. Don’t keep raw eggs and flour alongside other foods that may be near your baking station or baking area of the kitchen. It’s best to separate them to make sure there’s no cross-contamination.
Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands well with soap and warm water after you handle raw eggs or flour. Do the same with any dishes or utensils they may have come in contact with. And wipe down any cooking surfaces.
Don’t lick the bowl or spoon. If you used raw eggs and/or flour in your batter, don’t eat any beforehand. Even a small amount can be harmful.
Watch the kids. Make sure your kids don’t lick the bowl or play with raw eggs or flour, either. If they’re helping you make the brownies, make sure they also wash their hands well, before and after.
Ways to make edible brownie batter
While raw brownie batter can pose health risks, there are ways to make it so it is safe to eat. The easiest way to do it is by eliminating raw eggs and flour in your recipe. But what do you replace them with?
What to use instead of raw flour
First, you’ll want to swap regular, raw flour with heat-treated flour. You can either buy this kind of flour that’s been specially prepared to kill harmful bacteria. Or you can heat treat flour yourself.
To do this, place regular flour in a microwave safe bowl and microwave it at 30-second intervals until the interior reaches 165° F. You can also place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 300° F for 2-3 minutes, or until the flour reaches the same 165°. Then let it cool completely before using.
What to use instead of eggs
Eggs help wet and dry ingredients in brownie batter come together to bind and create a soft texture. But you can swap them for one of several great egg substitutes. Alternatives include:
- Applesauce – it’s a great binding agent and will make the brownie batter moist.
- Greek yogurt – adds both moisture and structure.
- Mashed bananas – they will give the batter a nice, thick consistency, but they will also add banana flavor.
👉🏼 Related: How to Keep Cookies Soft
Packaged brownie batters that are labeled as edible and sold at grocery stores use specifically heat-treated flour and either pasteurized eggs or no eggs at all to address Salmonella or E. coli issues. Still, it’s a good idea to read the product label to make sure it’s intended to be consumed without baking.
Yes, just make sure the flour used in the boxed mix has been heat treated and you don’t add any raw eggs. Simply stir in about 6 tbsp of melted butter and 4-6 tbsp of milk until you reach your desired consistency.
Keep edible brownie batter in an airtight container in the fridge. It should stay good for up to 5 days. When you’re ready to eat it, simply let it rest at room temperature for 10-15 minutes so it can soften a bit.