Sara Lee All-butter Brownies


Some time ago I posted about vintage candies and treats that have gone to their reward. In that article, I mentioned my love for Sara Lee All-Butter Brownies, which came in a little tin about the size of a piece of printer paper, and which were sold frozen. As I said elsewhere, they came in a tin; you took the cardboard lid off, and there was a little paper cutting guide, which I routinely ignored, cutting myself massive slabs straight from the freezer. I would kill to have these in the stores again.

The image above, from the late 50’s or early 60’s from the looks of it, features a billboard in the background advertising these little bits of heaven. I can’t stop thinking about them. Just recently I stumbled across this recipe, which my wife made for me the other day:


1 stick butter
1 cup water
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup oil
2 lg eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda


Combine first four ingredients in saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over combined flour, sugar, and salt.
Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
Pour into 13 x 9 inch pan.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes (or 350 for 30 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


1 stick butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 lb box powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Combine first three ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Pour over warm brownies and chill well.

The flavor was almost exactly as I remembered them, but the consistency was different – these brownies are more like cake, and the frosting was pretty runny. But they were wonderful just the same.

Today I encountered this recipe for Pinot Noir brownies, and the picture at the website looks pretty much the way Sara Lee’s did:



    • 2 eggs
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1tsp vanilla
    • 1/2 cup butter, melted
    • 2 Tbsp Handcraft Pinot Noir
    • 3/4 cup Ghirardelli sweet ground cocoa
    • 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
For the Pinot Noir Icing:
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp HandCraft Pinot Noir


To Make the Brownies:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine eggs with sugar and vanilla; add butter and wine. Stir cocoa with flour, baking powder and salt. Combine with egg mixture; add nuts. Spread into greased 8 x 8-inch pan.
  3. Bake 25 to 30 minutes.
To Make the Chocolate Glaze:
  1. Melt butter over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and add chocolate, sugar and wine. Continue heating over low heat stirring often, until mixture is smooth – don’t let it boil.
  2. Spoon hot icing over fresh brownies and let stand for a minimum of an hour; 12 hours is best.


I tested my brownies at 25 minutes and that was it for me. I like mine ‘just’ done and not dry so while the toothpick did not have any dough clinging to it, it was just slightly damp with chocolate…and perfectly moist. This is a very rich and dense dough…over-baking would not be good!

Sara Lee Frozen Brownie Cover

A Canadian box cover recently spotted by my wife. Yup, that’s them.

Edit: this website claims to offer Sara Lee frozen brownies in bulk, but per a comment below, they are sadly not the real thing but rather an oil-based knockoff.

At this point I need to compare both recipes and see if the best of both possible worlds can be combined. I feel as though we’re getting close. But if Sara Lee would get their act together and reintroduce these, I wouldn’t have to go through all this back-bending.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

29 responses to “Sara Lee All-butter Brownies

  1. I think Sara has left an indelible memory but wondering if today she would compare to those Pinot Noir brownies…I thought them awfully good!

    I used to love her cheesecake but realize my homemade version I make today puts Sara to shame, I tell ya!

    Hope your efforts are rewarded, in the meantime thanks for highlighting a recipe I love.

  2. I have been craving for the Sara Lee Brownies for some time. I agree that these brownies bring so many good memories that I can even taste the brownies with a cold glass of milk. Oh!!! I wish I could do it again.

  3. Pingback: Another Lost Product: Stella d’Oro egg biscuits | Playing in the World Game

  4. oh sarah lee please bring back the frozen brownies. i missed them too. they were sooooooooooo good, moist and mild flavor that just melt in your mouth

  5. That website does NOT sell the sara lee brownies we all remember. There is no butter in them ! -just “interestified” oils (they actually mean esterified). And chocolate/cocoa is near the end of the ingredients. Lastly, even discounted they are twenty-two dollars each- while the trays are twice as big, with those cheap ingredients they are WAY overpriced!

  6. Sarah Lee is missing a great opportunity. Boomers would flock to the store for them not only because they are delicious but more importantly they are an icon of a time when life was perfect.

  7. I too loved the iced frozen Sara Lee Brownies.
    My brother and I shared a tin of them every week.
    I grew up north of Chicago, so we were lucky to have all of the products then made in the area.
    I do wish I could have these again too.

  8. I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOU! Those butter brownies were THE BEST!! I wrote the Sara Lee corporation about a year ago, and BEGGED them to please bring them back. They merely responded that there were other options available. WHERE?!?!?

  9. It always amazes me how easy it is for large corporations to ignore profitable opportunities. I think there is simply no way to get through to the people that MATTER: not the millenials they hire to manage their social media accounts, but the actual executives who decide on products.
    Yes, Sara Lee, many, many, MANY of us LOVED those all-butter brownies as kids and young adults; would pay top dollar for them now that we have actual disposable income; and cannot find ANY similar frozen substitutes made with real chocolate and real butter! Please, dig out that corporate recipe and start giving the nostalgia crowd this real food dessert alternative to Twinkies!
    Ps the industrial-sized box SL markets for institutional markets does not use actual butter. It is in no way an “alternative”.

  10. Those Sara Lee Brownies were an important part of our childhood. Grandma & Grandpa Kavanagh always had them at their house and they were one of the things you could always count on. Many tins of those and many gallons of ice cold milk were devoured over the years while visiting them and watching the Mets and Yankees games on TV. Best memories!!

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