We Tried the Pioneer Woman’s Famous Caramel Brownies

Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman, is well-liked for her charming personality, cowboy-approved recipes and meal planning tips, plus beyond-dreamy desserts that’ll get you invited back to any potluck (here are Ree’s favorite potluck dishes). We tried one of her 5-star desserts to see if it lives up to the hype.

Pioneer Woman Caramel BrowniesTaste of Home / Facebook/The Pioneer Woman - Ree Drummond

While browsing the Pioneer Woman’s recipes one day, I ran across her Knock You Naked Brownies. With a name like that, I had to know if they’d knock off more than my socks. These gooey, layered caramel brownies look absolutely divine and with 5 stars and 250+ reviews, they are clearly loved by many. As a self-proclaimed chocoholic, I couldn’t wait to try them for myself.

These are the 10 ingredients the Pioneer Woman can’t live without.

Ree Drummond’s Knock You Naked Brownies


  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1/3 plus 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • One box German chocolate cake mix
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 60 caramels
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Initial Thoughts

Looking at the ingredients, I could tell these were 2.0 brownies. I love how she turned a box of cake mix into a gooey, decadent brownie filled with creamy layers of caramel and chocolate. You can’t go wrong with a classic brownie, but dressed-up ones are irresistible.

Getting Started

First things first, I greased and floured an 8×8 pan. Her recipe called for 9×9, but I didn’t have one. This worked fine; you may just need to increase the baking time a little bit. I mixed the cake mix, 1/3 cup evaporated milk, melted butter and pecans. The batter was thick, so splitting it in half was easy! Using my fingers, I pressed half of the batter into the pan. Then, into the oven it went for 8-10 minutes at 350°F.

While that baked, I started on the caramel sauce. I recommend starting this as soon as you put the brownies in the oven because the caramels take awhile to melt. Using a double boiler, melt the caramels and ½ cup evaporated milk, stirring occasionally. Make sure you don’t accidentally use sweetened condensed milk—there’s a difference!

Use up any evaporated milk still left in the can in these recipes.

When the caramel has melted into liquid gold, pour it over the first layer of brownies. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Ree suggested 1/3 cup, but I added a few more chocolate chips to cover it entirely.

brownie square dough

Then comes the hard-ish part. Since you can’t spread the remaining dough on the caramel layer, you’ll need to make a free-form dough square on a sheet of wax paper and transfer it to the pan of brownies. I recommend forming the square right before you top the brownies, otherwise it may stick to the wax paper. This happened to me, but it wasn’t a huge problem. I simply moved it over piece by piece. That second layer of brownie looked like chocolate icebergs floating on a sea of caramel. Wowza!

pioneer woman knock-you-naked brownies

The Big Reveal

After 25 minutes, the brownies came out of the oven looking spectacular and smelling amazing. They were a little jiggly, but a toothpick came out clean, so I knew they were done. I was not looking forward to waiting for them to come to room temperature and then chill for a few hours in the fridge until they were set. But wait I did…and I’m glad because these puppies were well worth the wait!

ree drummond's knock-you-naked brownies; pioneer woman

Cold brownie + gooey caramel = perfection. This is NOT for people who don’t have a sweet tooth. These are very sweet brownies, so be warned. I don’t know why Ree cut them into six extra-large pieces—I cut mine into 16, and friends said even those were a little too big. A little square is all you need to experience dessert bliss.

The Unexpected Twist

Not surprisingly, I LOVED Ree’s over-the-top brownies. But wait! I’ve had these before. Us Midwesterners call these Illini Bars, so named because people bring them tailgating at U of I football games. On her cooking show, Ree mentions that she received some “killer brownies” from a friend of hers, and this was a re-creation of the recipe. I bet she received a big ol’ batch of Illini Bars!

Get 201 more amazing treats in Taste of Home Cookies, Bars & More, available here for less than $13!

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Emily Racette Parulski
Emily Racette Parulski is a Senior Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in email newsletters. When she’s not writing about food, she’s baking something sweet to feed her chocolate obsession.