brownies

It’s not like it happens every time, but maybe sixty percent of the time, when I’m making brownies, I experience something upsetting.

Let me start by saying, I follow the recipe to a tee. I whisk the batter according to the directions, I put the ooey gooey mix into the oven only after it’s been pre-heated to the exact temperature on the box, and I set the timer so I don’t let them get a second overcooked.

And at first it always seems like everything is going to be okay. While the dessert is baking, my apartment fills up with the most heavenly aroma of cocoa and butter and eggy chocolatey goodness and I can hardly wait to take my first bite…

I let them cool for 10-20 minutes, waiting patiently for that perfect first taste and then…

There’s something hard and stringy in my brownie.

It makes me want to cry.

I don’t know if it’s the egg yolk cooking through because I didn’t properly combine it with the powdered ingredients, or if it’s the PAM spray solidifying when exposed to heat, or if the sugar starts to harden and crystalize before the rest of the mix, but for WHATEVER reason, something is NOT right.

It’s not in every bite either. It’s like the brownie god is fucking with my head. Those weird chewy bits are probably only taking up 1/16th of the pan but it feels like they’re unavoidable. I start to second-guess every bite. Is it there, is it not? I spit out dark soggy brownie mess into my napkin and inspect it, hoping for answers. But nothing.

It totally turns me off brownies and now I have a whole pan just sitting on my counter taunting me.

I googled “weird stringy things in brownies” and nothing of use came up.

Google did try to direct me towards some seriously unfortunate medical issues when I typed “weird stringy things” into the search bar, but luckily I managed to avoid that disaster of a search history.

The good news? I’m thoroughly disgusted to the point of feeling a little sick and gaggy so I probably won’t eat anything for the rest of the day… best diet technique ever? Or maybe it’s just time to make cookies instead.


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80 thoughts on “When Something Inexplicable Ruins My Brownies”

  1. Kat, the same thing happened to me, and I googled ‘hard stringy bits in brownies’ and found your post. I read another blog and folks speculate it is the mix sticking to those yucky egg-sac yolk umbilical cords that are not mixed well enough with the powder. Maybe next time I will use the mixer instead of hand-mixing. I plucked two or three of the disgusting hard messy strings from my last batch. Hopefully the kids dont get one in their pieces.

    1. It’s just the WORST. I discovered it IS related to the eggs not being blended enough. The key is to combine the eggs, water, and oil and mix very well before adding the dry mix. Since I started doing this, I haven’t had a problem. Happy baking!

      1. Same here, though I try to remove the white stuff from the eggs but not overmix. Next time I think I will sift the dry ingredients, mix it in small batches, and run the eggs through a strainer to remove any funny stuff.

    2. Ughhhhh I just found something white and about an inch long in my brownies. It was in my mouth and I spit it on my plate and I swear it looked like a worm. Please somebody help!

      1. So gross!! But it’s almost certainly *not* a worm… just some egg/batter that wasn’t properly mixed. Could be the brand of brownie mix you used. Lots of people have had a similar issue! Sorry this happened to you. Ick!

  2. I’m so glad I’m not the only one! Your post was the only one on Google that addressed my same problem. It seriously turns me off of brownies in a heartbeat and then I end up tossing the rest. I’ll have to try mixing the wet ingredients up really well before adding the dry mix. I hope that works or I may never eat another brownie again. That’s a lie. I will simply eat them with extreme trust issues.

    1. Yes! That’s the trick. You need to mix all the wet ingredients together first and THEN add the dry. Good luck and be careful out there in brownie-eating world…

  3. It’s part of the egg, called the Chalaza : either of a pair of spiral bands in the white of a bird’s egg that extend from the yolk and attach to opposite ends of the lining membrane

  4. Thank you so much for this. I thought the chewy bits were worms! Still, totally messed with your head. Glad I finally have the answer!

  5. I do believe now it has something to do with mixing the wet ingredients well together first. I noticed the Ghiradelli box brownies produced brownies sans plastic-y bits. At first, I thought it was the quality of the box mix, now I believe it’s their directions to mix the wet ingredients well before incorporating the dry.

  6. SO helpful! We thought it looked like rubbery chicken skin in the mix or something as we sort of “unrolled” it out of the brownies to figure it out!

    1. It’s SOOO gross, isn’t it? Luckily, a little extra stirring of the egg, water, and oil before you add the mix in seems to fix the issue. Good luck with future brownie making!

  7. I have been making brownies for 20 years and NEVER experienced this until last night! I was so creeped out! It seemed like egg white not mixed well enough, but I was using a different mix than normal and was afraid it was a bad mix. Thank you for the post letting me know I’m not crazy and all the comments telling me how to avoid it on the future!

    1. Isn’t it just the CRAZIEST thing? It had never happened to me either and I felt like there was no information about it online when I first started investigating. Glad to be of help. And good luck with future brownie making. Hopefully you can avoid those weird rubbery tendrils in the future. Not appetizing!

    2. I’ve made them for years also never had it happen before I made a brownie cake pulled it out washed the chocolate off and it’s clear and rubbery. So gross made me feel a little better knowing it happened to others but I’m throwing the rest away yuck

      1. Oh wow, I can’t imagine looking at the gross rubbery part on its own. Yuck!! I do love that so many other people have had this weird baking experience though. Makes me feel like I’m part of the ruined brownie gang 😉

  8. I’ve been cooking for over 30 years and have never had it happen until tonight. I’m interested to know if we all used the same brownie mix or different mixes. I used Duncan Hines, milk chocolate, family size, extra thick and fudgy.

    1. I’ve had issues using the same Duncan Hines mix as well as the Ghiradelli double chocolate brownie mix (when I didn’t follow directions properly). I’ve since learned that really whipping up the eggs with the water and oil BEFORE adding the mix really makes a difference!

    2. I use that brand. I pick the gross white things out of the eggs after I break them into a bowl. I also thought it might be unmixed egg whites so I whip the eggs to a froth before I add them. Works for me

  9. I really wish this info. was in other places online. I’m glad I found it though. Finding these weird stringy pieces in my brownies has actually happened to me every so often for years and I finally just thought to google it. I feel likes it’s odd that this isn’t brought up clearly on brownie mix boxes or brownie recipes everywhere. I am very thankful to know now what to do to avoid this forever in the future because I love brownies

    1. I’ve always thought that! I wish the brownie box mixes explained the consequences of messing up the recipe instructions. Glad this helped though! And good luck on your future brownie baking endeavors 🙂

  10. I googled – ghiradelli brownies rubber pieces, and I also thank you for this post.

    30+ years of baking and it first happened this year when using Ghiradelli sweet cocoa for brownies from scratch. I sifted all my ingredients, stored in the cupboard, wondering where it was coming from. This weekend I made a Ghiradelli box brownie mix and it happened again.

    In scratch brownies I use melted butter, and no oil. And oddly it doesn’t seem to happen when I make scratch brownies with hershey cocoa.

    I have always made brownies the same way, so it is hard to wrap my head around it suddenly being the way the egg is mixed in! But I will be mindful in the future, because it is an embarrassment when my guests find these pieces.

    And it only happens when I make brownies, not any other baked goods.

    Can you believe 4 years after your original post, that you are still going strong on this subject!?
    All us head-scratching bakers thank you!

    1. Hey Jane — So glad I could help you out here and good to know it only seems to be an issue with Ghirardelli’s cocoa. They do seem to have an especially unique consistency to the powder so it’s possible it binds to the egg differently during the mixing process. Thanks for the comment and hopefully you’ll avoid baking mishaps in the future now that you’re “in the know”! Happy brownie making!

  11. Like so many others have written here, this is not anything I saw addressed online–except for in this post!! I made brownies from scratch: melted the chocolate, added it to the eggs, sugar, etc. and folded in the flour at the end. So it’s not just box mixes! And, in fact, I have never experienced this issue with a box mix. This is my first time baking brownies from scratch and also my first time encountering these strings! I pulled them out and ran them under water and thought maybe one of my clear hair ties had gotten into the batter? Or even a string of my hair and it had gone gooey in the oven or something? But, so glad to see this explained here and relieved to know that others have suffered through it!

  12. I just made a box of Pillsbury fudge brownies last night. I’ve always loved brownies and as I ate my first piece and was chewing it, I felt something weird in my mouth. A thin stringy firm thing, ugh I spit it in my hand and examined it. I thought it was a worm, yuck yuck yuck!! Ruined brownies for me, I felt nauseous all night thinking about it. My kids also had a brownie last night. I felt like I needed to toss the whole brownie tray out, but how do I explain this to my kids! They would be more grossed out than me if that’s even possible. I’m glad I came on here and read your comments, I do feel better and will keep this quiet and to myself as to not gross out my family.

    1. The first time this happened to me it made me so nauseous too! I didn’t make brownies again for over a YEAR! Now that I know what causes it though, I’m able to properly mix up the wet ingredients and the batter to avoid the gross stringy stuff and I’m back on the brownie train for good! Bon appetit!

  13. I used to love baking brownies until this weird crap starting showing up. I just buy brownies in the bakery now.

  14. I get them all the time in Ghirardelli brownies. Little bits of plastic. I’m going to buy a box and sift out the chips and see what else I get. Doesn’t seem like an egg product. It has a rectangular cross section, and is flexible like a soft nylon plastic.

  15. Seriously, me too!!! It happens all the time with my Ghirardelli brownie mix. I think it’s the egg stuff…

      1. Omg…… I’m nauseated as I’m reading this, this happened 5 minutes ago to me. Duncan Hines brownies. It was grey and rectangular in shape, firm, rubbery, can break in two. I was for sure a worm but I was thinking surely I would have seen this while mixing it. I was going to have someone look at it under a microscope. So relieved to know it is egg. I sure hope it is.

  16. We’ve noticed it’s happened since we started buying bulk eggs from Costco regularly — prior we always bought by the dozen at Trader Joe’s and didn’t notice it. Wondering if it also has to do with the quality of the eggs…? We use the Ghirardelli brownie mix.

    1. It does have to do with the quality of the eggs, but in this case, the fresher the egg, the more likely it is to have the ‘cords’ when baked in certain items. The cords suspend the egg yolk between the 2 ends of the egg. They tend to break down over time within the egg, so ‘older’ eggs are less likely to produce noticeable remnants in your baked brownies.

      1. Oh, wow! If this is true, that definitely makes sense. So interesting… That also correlates with my brownie-making habits. When I buy the expensive Ghirardelli mix, I’m more likely to go out and buy fresh eggs so the supporting ingredients are higher quality. Whereas, when I’m making Duncan Hines or a regular box mix, I just grab whatever eggs are currently in the fridge. That might explain why the Ghirardelli brownies have had the chewy eggy bits for me more frequently. Thanks for the explanation!

  17. Thank you so much for this post. It is something that has driven me nuts for years and now I have some methods to try that will hopefully eliminate it.

    1. Stirring the eggs with the water and oil before adding the dry ingredients seems to eliminate that gross rubbery brownie situation. Happy to hear this helped, April!

  18. This happened to us for the first time today. I cut into the brownies and saw what looked like a piece of rubbery skin and it was stringy throughout the whole thing. Thank you so much for posting! I was kind of afraid of what it was and couldn’t find anything else online. They still taste great but it’s a gamble whether you get a stringy bit or not.

  19. Oh my gosh! I’m so glad I found this post. I just discovered this in my brownies. It’s 2AM and all I wanted was a treat. Now I feel like I’m going to grow a chicken in my belly…lol. I’m done with brownies for the moment!

  20. I was so worried I’d eaten the entire pan my self before I realized this skin looking object in my brownies I washed off and it appears skinlike and wondering if it could be a dunkin Hines employee’s skin ? People are doing so many weird things for excitement these days ! Not buying brownie mix ever again

    1. It’s so gross at first, but if you just start mixing the wet ingredients together first and then add in dry ingredients after, that should prevent the clumpy rubbery bits from forming in your brownies. Good luck!

  21. Wow. I am also glad I found this post. I’ve had several times of making brownies and feeling like there’s hair or something in it. I’ve made almost every kind of box mix there is and never remember which ones seem to be better. Brownies have been my favorite dessert since I was a kid but I rarely make them anymore because of this issue. I made Pillsbury brownies tonight and the first one I ate had a large, rubbery chunk in it. I spit it out and then looked at the rest of the piece. It was tough to even rip it apart with my hands much less chew it. What’s funny is that, as I was mixing the batter, I thought “maybe I should mix the wet ingredients first like some mixes tell me to”. I reread the directions and it didn’t say to do that, so I didn’t. I definitely will from now on. Hopefully that will prevent me from not wanting to make my favorite dessert anymore. It is pretty nasty to eat brownies that taste like they have hair and rubber bands in them! Thanks for posting and thanks for the replies everybody. I can sleep better tonight

    1. Isn’t that just the WORST? But yes, I think you figured out the solution. Mixing the wet ingredients first seems to break up the stringy bits of egg enough that your brownies will emerge from the oven in perfect condition. Happy baking!

    2. The last part about the taste being yuck to eat brownies with hair was my dream. Trying to make sense of the dream. Who made them was an ex family friend .

  22. Good luck with your brownies. I landed here because of a dream of someone I used to know made brownies but got her hair in it and pet hair. Trying to understand the dream. But maybe your pet was to close to your brownies.

    1. Oh wow, that’s crazy! Dreams are so weird. Hope your next brownie dream is a delicious one instead of a gross one 🙂

  23. I’ve been experiencing this weird rubbery stuff in Pilsbury brownie mix. We have eaten this mix for years and it never happened till this year. Thanks for the info. Wish I looked it up sooner.

  24. I finally decided to Google this issue I’ve been having forever and landed here, too. I make my brownies from scratch with butter and bar chocolate, and I had long suspected the chalaza part of the egg was the problem. I use eggs right off the local farms, so I assumed it had to do with the freshness? I didn’t have the problem whenever I removed them, so I guess I’ll make sure to get them all from now on. Thanks for being the only place on the internet that mentions it. I thought I was nuts!

    1. You’re definitely not nuts, Kathleen! Thanks for leaving a comment. I can’t believe more forums or message boards on the internet don’t mention this. It seems like such a common problem when you’re making brownies (whether from scratch or from the box). Glad this was helpful for you!

  25. Happened to me for the first time yesterday. Same experience as everyone else. Weird, hard and chewy part in the brownie. I’m using Ghirardelli mix by the way. I will definitely mix the wet ingredients first next time. Thank god someone else came across this. I was about to go nuts.

    1. It happened to me for the first time with Ghirardelli brownie mix too! Glad this was helpful for you Lakey 🙂 It’s the worst feeling ever when there’s something gross in your brownies!

      1. Hahaha yeah. It’s kind of the, “I just made this mix and had the amazing smell in the house for 45 minutes whilst waiting anxiously to eat you and you come up with this” type feeling. Amazing how this thread is still going though.

      2. Made some more brownies yesterday and they are so much better. Definitely need to do the wet ingredients first. Thanks.

      3. So glad it worked out this time around! Definitely need to mix wet before dry in order to avoid those gross stringy bits in your brownies.

  26. You learn something new every day. I sure wish I had found this website before I tossed the mix out. I saw a long white stringy thing keep popping up while I was beating the mix. I showed my husband and we both thought it was a long white worm. The directions on the Duncan Hines mix did not say to mix the wet items separately. Now I will always mix the wet ingredients separately. I looked up chalaza and discovered it is harmless. I was so happy to find this website. Thanks for the info.

    1. Glad to help! Sorry you had to throw out a batch of delicious batter in the process, but now you know the secret to perfect brownies 🙂

  27. Thank you all for posting these issues. My room mate made a chocolate cake mix yesterday and this horrible thing happened. I was grossed out, ate around it assuming it was the eggs. So glad you all confirmed my suspicion.

    1. Thanks for the comment! It is always so gross when you’re expecting a delicious fudgey brownie and instead you end up with weird rubbery, chewy things. Blegh. Hope this helps prevent it from happening in the future for you and your roommate!

      1. Just like everyone else, I Googled what the rubber-like chewy pieces were in my brownies and came across this thread… still going all of these years later! I’ve always wondered what those pieces were because I’ve gotten them in other brownies besides my own. Thank you all for clearing this mystery up for me. You can be sure that from now on I will either remove the chalaza or mix the wet ingredients together first. I must really be a pig because you all threw your brownies out and I still ate mine! LOL!

  28. I’ve been experiencing the exact same thing. I make brownies from scratch, and they come out so good, but every now and then, I find a weird looking white thing in my batch. I think it may be the white gooey part that, you see in some eggs when you crack them. I’m honestly not sure what it is, but it’s extremely annoying, and can ruin some perfect brownies.

    1. Yes! It’s the unpredictability of it that’s especially frustrating! Sometimes the brownies turn out great, sometimes there’s those weird chewy, gross bits. Yech!

  29. So glad to finally know what causes this. I’m not easily grossed out, but it’s still unpleasant. Like many people posting here, I seem to only have this issue with the Ghirardelli mixes, and I’ll be darned if I’m letting them go to waste! But in hindsight, I don’t think I’ve ever actually mixed the liquids first like the box says to.

  30. the same time thing just happened to me and it is freaking me out, i thought it was just my head messing with me but it almost looked like chicken grissle. it’s so unsettling and scary.

    1. Came across this because my scratch alternative ingredient experimental brownies turned out a bit rubbery, but not rubbery bits!
      I read that some of you are melting butter and pouring it in a mixture with eggs, that will cause egg solids, because your cooking the eggs before you even put your pan in the oven. If it’s an oil mix, you are not beating your eggs enough, or your using hot oil. Let everything thats been heated cool before mixing. I have never had an issue with cooking boxed brownies of any brand using this novice baking technique.

  31. I thought it was about mixing the ingredients incorrectly so it was the egg not being mixed; however, many years I’ve made brownies mixing them right in the baking pan (completely wrong) and I never had that plastic-y goo until recently. Could it be something in the mix? Could it be something different about the eggs? I’m not sure but it is gross! I wish someone could take the piece of rubbery goo and get it analyzed for a real answer! I made banana muffins several times and it didn’t happen but both times in my brownies it did! Same eggs, same mixing technique (?) curious!

    1. It really is so strange! And seems to be ‘brownie specific’. I’ve never had it happen with any other baked goods. An official lab analysis of that rubbery stuff would be so helpful!! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  32. Thank goodness for this post! My husband and I were horrified and have been driving ourselves crazy trying to figure this one out. For reference I made my brownies from scratch and used Costco’s organic eggs. Will DEFINITELY be mixing my eggs better if not disposing of the nasty little white bits on each egg! So glad this mystery is solved. I was so worried there was a worm in my ingredients and just missed it. Thanks for the post!

  33. I am so glad I found this post! Made brownies from scratch last night…using organic ingredients and fresh eggs from free foraging chickens. My husband found a white stringy thing in his piece, and I thought the egg must have had a rare roundworm inside. I threw out the entire batch of brownies, much to the dismay of my teenage son. I usually never eat the raw batter, but it had been so long since I’ve made brownies I succumbed and took a few tastes off of the mixer paddle. I was so grossed out..and even kept the stringy thing so that I could have it analyzed! I googled and couldn’t find any good info until I found this thread. So relieved to read everyone’s comments. Thank you.

  34. OMG, I am so glad I finally got an answer for this. Now I can rekindle my love for brownies. Lol
    Thanks so much for sharing

  35. Well this happened to me today. Unlike most of these comments though it was just a normal chocolate sponge cake. A recipe I’ve made so many times before. Noticed whilst slicing the top off tiny little lumps which I could pull out. Like tiny pieces of rubber! Totally ruined my cake. Does everyone think it’s the same thing as what’s happening with the brownies??

    1. Oh no! I haven’t heard if it happening as often with cake, but if the instructions suggested blending the eggs and wet ingredients first before adding in the dry and you went out of order, it’s possible the egg clumped up. Sorry that happened to your sponge cake!

  36. I feel like I’ve joined some type of brownie secret society, thank y’all for this keeping this thread alive because I’d be panicking right now. I thought it was maybe bone or noodle, and then my husband guessed part of the egg. I guess I am relieved to see from a live that’s what it is but will def be mixing wet ingredients going forward.

  37. Like SO many others, I’m in the same boat. For a while now, I’ve gotten that weird “plasticy, stringy” and disgusting “wormy” things. And it’s with Ghiradelli mix too. My husband and I have been baffled. You saved the day with this post and I can’t believe this is all I found when googling. Can you pitch this to the Today Show or NYT?! The world needs to know!

    1. Haha I LOVE that idea! Local dating blogger goes viral with screwed up brownie recipe! It’s very surprising that this is the only thread talking about that gross stringy stuff that shows up in brownies because it seems to be such a common problem. Hope your issue is resolved by mixing the wet ingredients well before adding the dry mix. Seems to do the trick! Good luck!

      1. Honestly though, you’re a lifesaver. I had this problem ages ago and all of a sudden, brownies were the biggest turn-off ever.
        But now the world is good again and the space time continuum has been restored to normal

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