Nanny’s Gluten-Free Brownies

This gluten-free brownie recipe is one of those recipes that defines my childhood. As a point of clarification, the recipe was not always a gluten-free brownie but a regular brownie instead – no need to turn up your nose to a “gluten-free” dessert if you were. The point really is more so how delicious these gluten-free brownies (or not gluten-free) are and how many great memories I have that involve them.

I remember standing at my Nanny’s (my great grandmother – Sloane’s great-great grandmother!) counter only getting to the right height thanks to a white step stool. It would start with me impatiently waiting for the margarine to warm up to room temperature and always asking if we could possibly put it in the microwave or oven to speed up the process and get to making the brownies.

Signed Samantha's Nanny's brownies in a square pan. Samantha made the brownies gluten-free.

Nanny’s compromise was always filling the sink with warm water, putting the margarine in the bowl and letting it heat up that way – you know so it didn’t melt but actually still had the proper texture – smart lady! Then we’d get to cracking of the egg and adding the rest of the ingredients. Once everything was mixed in, Nanny would put the brownies in the oven located against the wall to the left of the sink while I licked the spoon and the bowl (my favourite part).

Now that I think about it, I wonder how she handled the mess little kid me likely made when baking with her and the sugar high that no doubt ensued following the consumption of the brownies. She obviously knew the mess and hyper-ness would be worth these memories. I truly hope that soon, I can get Sloane over to meet her for the first time and maybe even make these brownies with her. For now, Sloane and I made them together and she loved every moment – but particularly the moment when they came out of the oven. Now it’s your turn to make these gluten-free brownies and create your own memories.


A toddler cutting up a piece of gluten-free brownie to eat.

Nanny’s Brownies made Gluten-Free

Makes one 9″x9″ tray of brownies


+ 1/2 cup margarine (room temp)

+ 1 cup brown sugar (lighly packed)

+ 1 egg (room temp)

+ 2 tsp vanilla

+ 1 tbsp cocoa

+ 1 cup gluten-free flour (or regular, because that’s actually how Nanny would make it)

+ 1/4 tsp flaky salt


1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

2. Grease a 8×8 inch baking pan with margarine (I use the margarine wrapper), butter, or oil of your choice. 

3. In a large bowl, cream margarine until smooth.

4. Add your brown sugar and stir. Then add your egg, vanilla, and cocoa and mix well.

5. Add your flour and mix until fully combined.

6. Add your batter to your baking pan and spread it out evenly using a spatula. It will be decently thick, but very spreadable.

7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

8. If you don’t intend to ice your brownies, sprinkle sea salt over the brownies as soon as they come out of the oven.

9. If you are going to ice them, add your favourite icing (I will one day find the recipe for Nanny’s icing!) once the brownies have cooled. 

10. ENJOY.