Brown Butter Sugar Cookies

Prep 20 mins
Cook 15 mins
Add'l 20 mins
Total 55 mins

Brown Butter Sugar Cookies are sure to impress with their rich, nutty flavor and their chewy, soft texture. This homemade sugar cookie recipe is incredibly easy to prepare, but totally guest-worthy at the same time!

Brown butter sugar cookies set near a glass of milk.

Chewy Brown Butter Sugar Cookies

When making sugar cookies, there is a wide selection of recipes to choose from. You can change up the size, the shape, the flavor, the decorations, etc. Today, though, we’re essentially making classic sugar cookies as you’ve come to know them, but with one small twist… the addition of brown butter.

Little did I know until a couple of years ago that cooking butter – a seemingly simple and insignificant action – could be life-changing. That’s right. You heard it here first, folks, brown butter is life-changing! It takes any recipe to the next level, and that level is called pure amazingness. The nutty-ness, the depth of flavor, the creamy quality that still lingers… it just can’t be described.

Of course I had to include all of those components in a dessert, and that dessert is these Brown Butter Sugar Cookies. They’re perfectly golden-brown around the edges, soft and chewy in the middle, and full of the aforementioned fantastic nutty/sweet flavor.

Keeping all of this deliciousness to myself seemed utterly wrong, so get in on the goodness, okay?

What is Brown Butter?

Brown butter is just a regular stick of butter that has been cooked in a pan/skillet until, you guessed it, brown. During the cooking process the fat and water in the butter separate, the water cooks out, and an addicting, rich flavor begins to shine through. The milk particles in the butter are what actually turn brown by the end, and when they are properly toasted (but not burned!) the trademark nutty flavor is achieved. Here’s more info/a tutorial on how to brown butter if you’re curious!

A sugar cookie split in half, set against a glass of milk.

Recipe Ingredients

Okay, now that we’re all dreaming about drool-worthy brown butter, let’s talk ingredients! Here’s what goes into these simple brown butter sugar cookies:

  • Butter: I generally use a stick of unsalted butter for this recipe.
  • Flour: I like to use unbleached flour, but regular all-purpose flour will work too.
  • Baking Soda and Baking Powder: Including both ensures that your cookies will have a nice lift to them instead of turning out flat.
  • Salt: To enhance and balance out the sweetness in the cookies.
  • Sugar: This recipe uses a mix of packed brown sugar (both light and dark) and granulated sugar. The brown sugar offers caramel notes that complement the brown butter really well, and granulated sugar keeps the traditional sugar cookie texture/flavor intact.
  • Egg: This is the binding agent for your cookie dough.
  • Vanilla Extract: For extra sweetness!

How to Make Brown Butter Sugar Cookies

Making these brown butter sugar cookies probably takes a little more time than your typical sugar cookie recipe does. However, that’s only because you’ve got to brown the butter and let it cool a little before you start the rest of the recipe.

The wait is absolutely, 100% worth it, though. Promise.

Here’s how to construct these life-changing, irresistible cookies:

Brown the Butter: Heat butter in a small saucepan, over medium heat, until melted. Continue cooking butter, whisking or swirling the pan as needed, until the melted butter takes on a light golden brown color. There will be small flakes of dark brown on the bottom of the saucepan. Remove butter from heat and transfer to a small bowl immediately. Let cool until the bottom of the bowl is no longer warm to the touch, about 20 minutes.

Preheat the Oven to 350 Degrees: Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

Mix Sugars Together, Then Dry Ingredients: In a shallow bowl, combine the 2 tablespoons light brown and granulated sugar. I used my fingers, but you could also use two forks. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Mix Brown Sugar and Brown Butter: Add 1 cup brown sugar to the bowl with cooled, browned butter and mix until combined. Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined and there are no lumps. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.

Form Cookie Balls: Roll about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough into a ball using your hands. Then toss the dough in the brown/granulated sugar mixture. Place on the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between each cookie.

Bake the Cookies: Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. The cookies are ready to come out when the edges have just turned a light golden brown. They will appear underdone in the center… but they will be fine after resting!

Let Cool: Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Let them cool completely and store them in an airtight container until ready to enjoy! I found they were the best after 12 hours of resting… when I can wait that long, that is.

7 brown butter sugar cookies on a piece of parchment paper.

Tips for Success

See? Easy! Brown butter sugar cookies are so simultaneously simple and delicious that they are fast becoming the solution to my daily “what should we have for dessert?” dilemma…

Anyway, before you head into the kitchen, I’ve got some last minute tips that could make the baking process even easier:

  • Let the Brown Butter Cool: 20 minutes may seem like a lot of time, but you want the butter to solidify so that it will blend completely with the sugar (don’t quite cream them together, but make sure they are completely combined).
  • If You End Up with Flat Cookies: After some readers had issues with flat cookies, I retested the recipe. I baked some immediately after rolling, but I also rolled some, put them in the fridge for 15 minutes, and then baked them. Both methods had awesome results, so if you are having issues, and you know your ingredients are fresh and your oven is the correct temperature, try popping them in the fridge before baking.
  • Make Ahead Option: If you want to bake the cookie dough at a later date, feel free to roll the cookie balls, save them in the fridge for a couple days, and proceed with the rest of the recipe later.
  • Add Sprinkles: Why not? They’re super festive and fun, and you can color coordinate for holidays, seasons, etc!

How to Store Homemade Cookies

I like to keep these brown butter sugar cookies in an airtight container on my countertop for a week or so. That way they’re easily accessible for midday snacks!

Can I Freeze These?

Sure thing. Freeze your brown butter brown sugar cookies in an airtight container for 2-3 months – thaw them in the fridge overnight before eating again!

Yield: about 16 cookies

Brown Butter Sugar Cookies

Brown butter sugar cookies set near a glass of milk.

Brown Butter Sugar Cookies are sure to impress with their rich, nutty flavor and their chewy, soft texture. This homemade sugar cookie recipe is incredibly easy to prepare, but totally guest-worthy at the same time!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup unbleached flour, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Heat butter in small saucepan, over medium heat, until melted. Continue cooking butter, whisking or swirling the pan as needed, until the melted butter takes on a light golden brown color. There will be small flakes of dark brown on the bottom of the saucepan. Remove butter from heat and transfer to a small bowl immediately. Let cool until the bottom of the bowl is no longer warm to the touch, about 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
  3. In a shallow bowl, combine the 2 tablespoons brown and granulated sugar. I used my fingers, but you could also use two forks. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Add 1 cup brown sugar to bowl with cooled, browned butter and mix until combined. Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined and there are no lumps. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  5. Roll about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough into a ball using your hands. Then toss the dough in the brown/granulated sugar mixture. Place on prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between each cookie.
  6. ::Edit:: After some readers had some issues with flat cookies, I retested the recipe. I baked them immediately after rolling and they came out great. I also rolled some, put them in the fridge for 15 minutes, and then baked them…and those came out great too. If you are having issues, and you know your ingredients are fresh & your oven is the correct temp, try popping them in the fridge before baking.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. The cookies are ready to come out when the edges have just turned a light golden brown. They will appear underdone in the center…but they will be fine after resting!
  8. Remove cookies from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container until ready to enjoy! I found they were the best after 12 hours of resting…if you can wait that long. 🙂

Notes

I found this recipe in the back of an old cookbook at the library many years ago. It was on an old index card and was being used as a bookmark. I like to imagine the kitchens that little index card passed through…leaving these amazing cookies in their wake.

TNCB

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 89Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 98mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 0gSugar: 14gProtein: 1g

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Comments

80 Responses
  1. Rosie Peacocke

    Did you use dark brown or light brown? I used dark and they’re much darker than yours, but also lovely.
    Wait 12 hours, are you mad? Mine barely made it 12 seconds out of the oven before they were in my tummy!

    1. Jessica

      I used light brown sugar, but as you found out either are good!

      And I know it’s nearly impossible – but I swear they were even better the next day!

  2. Aileen

    This recipe sounds delicious. Definately plan on making them. Do you think the dough would be good for cookie cutters? Or too soft?

  3. Christina

    I just tried these (with a couple of tweaks) and they turned out great! I decided on this recipe because I have been obsessing over Jeni’s Browned Butter Almond Brickle ice cream. Wouldn’t that be a fabulous cookie – I thought. Especially because the ice cream is about $10 a pint and I live 20 minutes from the closest Whole Foods. So my hunt began, and I found this cookie. Rather than grade papers, I decided to bake.

    First, I used European butter, browned it and went along my happy culinary way. But, the batter was super loose. I added 1/2 cup more flour. Still runny. Hmm…then it hit me. I looked at the other block of European butter in my fridge. Doh! One block is 16 tablespoons not 8! Genius. Well, I just added in more of everything else (and a dash more flour for fun) and let my stand mixer go. I added in about a cup of almonds because I was still thinking about the ice cream. It was still a little soft so I chilled the batter for about 15-20 minutes.

    I was ready to bake. Then, inspiration struck. Into the brown and granulated sugar mixture, I added about 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon (I just licked my fingers to settle on the right balance – then washed my hand, of course) of Fleur de sel sea salt. I popped three in for a test run and WOW. First, the topping was a bit much for the whole cookie so for the full batches, I just dipped the tops of the balls into the sugar/salt.

    They tasted just like this old Southern classic ice cream I fondly remember from my childhood – butter brickle ice cream. I think I’ve got a new obsession!

  4. That one

    Fantastic. I put the butter in the fridge after browning it and the consistency was perfect. They were soft an oh so indulgent.

  5. Jegini

    I think these are way too sweet. And they got hard really fast. 🙁 I love soft cookies. Anyone else have a recipe to share?

  6. sandi

    I just made these today. I didn’t roll in sugar though because I made whoopie pies with Nutella in the center. Oh.My.God. Heavenly! I didn’t have any problems with the cookies flattening either.

  7. b.waters

    I don’t know if this will help the flat cookie problem.
    But my first batch came out flat and were impossible to get off the sheet; sticky as hell, folded as I tried to scrape them, and stuck to the spatula.
    I saw the bit about parchment paper and ignored it, but also failed to butter the sheet or anything; the second batch (on the same sheet, so it was still hot) I buttered (and put the dough in the fridge a minute) and it turned out great.
    I’m thinking the flat cookies were either not quite done, or the sheet really needs to be buttered.

  8. Donna JP

    Re: using your fingers or 2 forks…. has no one heard of a pastry blender? You can find one at Walmart, or for a couple of $’s you can find one at an antique outlet or mall. This handy item can be used to make breads and biscuits without dirtying either your hands or other utensils and it’s much quicker than anything else. Everyone who bakes should have one.

    1. Jessica

      Thanks for the idea Donna! But there is no point in using a pastry blender to mix together granulated sugar and brown sugar. I could see using one for a pastry dough…but not just for sugar. 🙂

  9. Anne

    The idea of these cookies sounds so amazing! Unfortunately, I’ve made them twice now and they’ve never come out quite right. They are always super flat. I saw your update about refrigerating the dough and that’s what I did this time, but had the same result. bummer! brown butter and brown sugar are two of my favorite things!

    1. Jessica

      ERRGHHH!!!

      I swear I don’t understand what could be going wrong! Half of the people that make them have perfect cookies…the other half get flat ones. Three of the commenters above you had great cookies. And I was so excited because I thought the curse was broken. 🙁

      So sorry that yours turned out flat Anne! I really wish I had an answer! :-/

    1. Jessica

      So glad they turned out well for you Jenifer! A commenter below you said she had flat cookies…twice! UGH! I will never understand what makes them turn out for some and not for others!

  10. Ryen

    I tried these cookies on Saturday and couldn’t help but make them again. This is the only sugar cookie I will ever make again. Before this recipe, shame on me, I had no idea what brown butter was. The cookies came out perfectly!! (For anyone who wants to know, I put them in the fridge for about 10 minutes before baking them). Thank you so much, Jessica!

    1. Jessica

      I am so glade you tried them and they came out perfect for you! I love these little cookies soooo much and want everyone else to love them too! 😀

  11. christine trasko

    Made a new batch today, came out perfect! I think it was needing the extra flour. Still the best cookies ever! Thanks so much!

  12. Anne

    I found this on Pinterest and my first batch is cooling as we speak. Holy moly they’re good! I don’t think they’ll last until my son’s birthday party tomorrow!

  13. Sarah in Miami

    Oh my gosh!! Receiving a reply for a blogger I’ve read every day for a year is like chatting with a celebrity or something =)

    Thanks for double checking it! I was thinking that I need to either a) add a touch more flour, b) use something other than a plastic bowl because the plastic may have insulated the heat in the butter, or c) run the A/C really high because it’s sooo humid in MIA.

    That said, I made a double batch for our grad student holiday party and–I kid you not– one of my fellow students ate 5 of them at the party and asked me if he could take one of the bags home with him (~15 cookies!). They were an absolute hit. Not to mention that everyone loved your story about trying to buy brown butter…

    Thank you again and keep cooking (so I can steal your delicious recipes)

    1. Jessica

      Aww Thanks Sarah! you are too sweet!

      A few other people have emailed that they made them with no issues…but then I just got another email from a reader saying theirs came out flat too. Tasted amazing, but flat.

      Who knows…as long as they taste good right?! 😀

  14. christine trasko

    Thanks for the response, I will definately try it again because they are definately the best cookies I have ever made. Eventually I will figure it out! Love your wesite, I just found it last night and am already hooked!

  15. christine trasko

    OK, I made these cookies, quite possibly the best cookie I have ever eaten!!!!!! However, when I went to roll them, they were super sticky, and when they cooked they flattened out and looked like little pancakes. Any thoughts to what I may have done wrong??

    1. Jessica

      Hey Christine!

      So ok, I retested this recipe after you and another reader had issues. She said her dough was the consistency of damp sand…you said your dough was really sticky. Since they were such different descriptions…I wanted to recheck!

      I remade these, and agreed that maybe the dough was a little sticky…so I added an additional tablespoon of flour.

      Then I split the dough in two. And I baked the first batch as described in the recipe…and they came out great…just like in the photos. And before I baked the second batch, I placed them in the fridge for 15 minutes and then I baked them. They also came out great.

      I don’t think 1 tablespoon of flour would have made that much of a difference…I wish I could tell you what went wrong!

  16. Mary Ann

    Baked these today and they were fabulous! The only thing I had to do different was to chill the dough in the freezer about 10-15 min. before rolling into balls as the dough was not solid enough to handle. But it was definitely worth the wait!

  17. ErinsFoodFiles

    I cannot believe you asked in stores for Browned Butter! LOL!! These cookies look divine! I’m dying though to find out what you actually baked for your cookie swap! You keep posting delicious cookies & macarons.

  18. Maggie

    You and I have the exact same feelings about brown butter. It is my all-time favorite secret weapon ingredient when I am cooking or baking. Brown Butter makes everything taste better. Everything. I have a few brown butter recipes on my blog and they are my sweethearts. These cookies will be going on my “to bake” list ASAP.

  19. Gerry @Foodness Gracious

    Ha thats a funny story. I used to work for WF for 10 years and I heard some really weird customer requests which I had to politely explain that the item either didn’t exist or they must have written it down wrong 🙂 Nooooo the customer is always right, right? 😉
    Take care.

  20. Sarah in Miami

    Just made these and they taste amazing! But, mine look nothing like yours do in the pictures. 🙁

    I swear, I waited 20 minutes for the butter to cool (i even set a timer!) and my baking soda is brand new! I found the dough kinda challenging to work with because it had the consistency/cohesion of damp sand. My cookies came out kinda deflated in the center, with concentric ridges on the outsides. This has happened on more than one previous occasion…

    Any ideas on how to remedy this, fellow novice bakers?

    1. Jessica

      Hey Sarah!

      So ok, I retested this recipe after you and another reader had issues. She said her dough was really sticky…you said your dough was like damp sand. Since they were such different descriptions…I wanted to recheck!

      I remade these, and agreed that maybe the dough was a little sticky…so I added an additional tablespoon of flour.

      Then I split the dough in two. And I baked the first batch as described in the recipe…and they came out great…just like in the photos. And before I baked the second batch, I placed them in the fridge for 15 minutes and then I baked them. They also came out great.

      I don’t think 1 tablespoon of flour would have made that much of a difference…I wish I could tell you what went wrong!

  21. Sally @ Spontaneous Hausfrau

    Okay so I made these tonight and have already eaten 6 within an hour of them coming out of the oven. I should be embarrassed but I’m too in love with these cookies to care. I need to hide them from myself because they are beyond delicious!

  22. JulieD

    The cookies were so damn good! So glad I could taste them! I need more brown butter in my life. Your story is so funny…sounds like something I would have done too.

  23. Nikki

    HAHA! You had me questioning myself during the first half of your post. I haven’t used brown butter yet, but always knew it was something you made rather than bought. But, while reading about how you were looking for it in stores, I was like “omg, I thought it was something you made!” lol! Turns out, I was right, and your story is too funny!!

    The cookies look like something that would grace my kitchen well, so I’m ready to jump in and give this brown butter a try!

  24. Annalise

    Okay this story cracks me up!!! 🙂 So glad you figured out the “secret” to having brown butter. I can’t get enough of it personally. I put it into everything. And these cookies sound amazing! Gonna have to try them for sure.

  25. Christina of Form V Artisan

    I love that you found this in a library book. You are probably the coolest baker chick ever.

  26. Sally @ Spontaneous Hausfrau

    Um, totally pinning these RIGHT now and totally wish I could take a big bite of these RIGHT NOW. I love how these look like they are thin but still soft/chewy at the center. And the crispy looking edges. . . . Oy, this hurts.

  27. Kerstin

    Definitely life changing! i still remember the very first time I browned butter (to go with sweet potato gnocchi and sage!), mm. i know I’d love these, sugar cookies are my favorite and this just elevates them to a whole new level!

  28. Kelli H (Made in Sonoma)

    That’s a pretty hilarious story. I can’t believe no one at the stores told you! How could no one know?

    These cookies look so damn good!

  29. Joanne

    I had brown butter ice cream in san francisco. I still dream about it. It’s the stuff that magic is made of.

    These cookies too…I’m tempted to believe they’re purely a figment of my imagination. But i have the distinct feeling that they’ll end up on my hips, disproving that theory. 😛

  30. Krissy @ Krissy's Creations

    I love the combination of brown butter and brown sugar. I *know* I am going to love these! I can’t wait to make them :). And beautiful pictures as usual!

  31. nicole {sweet peony}

    haha i love this post! and i totally agree on brown butter – super amazeballs! i’m totally trying these cookies soon… they sound incredible! ps* looove your photos! the crumbs make me want to eat them even more!

  32. Erica

    These look amazing! I can’t wait to give them a try.

    Brown butter has become one of my favorite things, I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who thought it was something to be bought at first. It was thanks to the madeleine recipe on 101 Cookbooks that I was introduced to the amazingness.

  33. Barbara | Creative Culinary

    I thoroughly enjoyed your adventure and only wish I could have been there to help save you that time and money but you are so right…it is glorious. I don’t think I can EVER make chocolate chip cookies without brown butter; the difference is just, is just, well, is just amazing!

    It would certainly be the star here; I must try these soon!

  34. The Mom Chef ~ Taking on Magazines One Recipe at a Time

    Oh you poor thing. I can just imagine how frustrating your elusive search was! My mom had the same experience with a friend that was trying to re-create her hummus. The poor woman called her, very frustrated, because she was looking for chickpeas. She was standing in the meat department and no one could help her. 🙂

    Anyhow, your sugar cookies look divine. I do love brown butter and think it’s a no-brainer that it be made into sugar cookies. Thanks for a good smile, story and recipe.

  35. Cassie

    I would agree…brown butter is life changing – especially in cookies. These sound so dreamy! Beautiful too.

  36. Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray

    These are beauuuuteous. Both photos and cookies! And ah, food blogs…what would we do without their edifying ways? 😉

  37. The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh

    Once I dig out of my mountain of dough and powdered sugar (WHY did I think jumping into a 12 Days of Treats series like the end of November sounds like a good thing to commit to??) I shall make this mythical delicacy. I know I’m probably the last person in the worl who hasn’t made brown butter and I feel left outta the club but something tells me this may be a bad road for my hips to turn down!

  38. DessertForTwo

    I am in love with these pictures! All the crumbs make me want to dive right in and eat 10!

    Hmmm before my pre-awesome chef days (lol), I used to not understand how much a recipe yielded. I made a pot of minestrone soup that served an Army with no regard for the fact that I lived alone. Now I know better 😉

  39. amanda @ fake ginger

    Our stove browns just about all butter that I try to melt which makes the house smell awesome but isn’t always what I’m going for. I’m excited to try these though!

  40. Lauren at Keep It Sweet

    You know, I am embarrassed to say that I haven’t baked with brown butter yet! I absolutely need to jump on that bandwagon, but I’m afraid I’ll never look back!

    These look so much better than the standard sugar cookie!

  41. Julie @ Table for Two

    I love butter and I love it browned. I also really like your bright blue striped straw! So cute 🙂

  42. Katrina

    Mmmm I am seriously in love. Brown butter itself is drinkable but with cookies and brown sugar? HEY THERE chewy deliciousness.

  43. Kathryn

    You are so adorable – I love the idea of the confused grocery store employees trying to find you brown butter! I’m so glad you’e discovered it now though because you sure know how to put it to good use!

  44. Jessica Lynn

    Those look amazing. I’ve heard of brown butter, but I don’t think I ever actually knew what it was…do you really just cook it a little longer until it’s literally brown? That’s ridiculously easy!

    lovely photos 🙂

  45. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga

    I love that vertical picture.

    And I love brown sugar. And brown butter.

    And cookies. FABulous.

    Still getting over the fruity pebble macarons from a week ago..I want those too!

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Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.
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