Brown Butter Sugar Cookies

Want to add more flavor to your sugar cookies? Make brown butter sugar cookies instead. They're easy and ready in under an hour! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Remember the sugar cookies I shared a couple times over the weekend? Great news. I finally perfected the recipe and couldn’t be more pleased with the sprinkle-loaded result! Here we have brown butter sugar cookies, a cookie whose flavor runs deep and is an easy upgrade from traditional sugar cookies.

This is recipe #8 in the annual cookie palooza!

Want to add more flavor to your sugar cookies? Make brown butter sugar cookies instead. They're easy and ready in under an hour! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Traditional sugar cookies, whether that’s roll-out or drop cookies, have their own distinct flavor. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but it’s somewhere in between sweet, butter, vanilla, and rainbows. Mostly rainbows. Sugar cookies have their own place on a holiday cookie tray, but it’s not something Kevin usually reaches for. And, to be honest, me neither. They’re delicious and trust me, if you put a plate in front of me I’d grab one faster than you can say royal icing. But it’s just not what I’d choose if I had other options. Other options with chunks, nuts, big flavor, molasses, oats, caramel, and such. So I wanted to create a sweet Christmas sugar cookie that can stand up to its big flavor besties.

And the way to achieve it is to brown the butter. Brown butter is always the answer.

Brown butter for brown butter sugar cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com

We’ve discussed brown butter a bunch of times before, so I’ll keep this short. All you’re really doing is melting butter on the stovetop and gently cooking until it develops a nutty and toasted flavor and aroma. It’s a basic technique that considerably changes the flavor of anything it touches. Shortbread crust, pound cakechocolate chip cookies. The bits at the bottom of the pan are OK and, in fact, you want them. They are actually milk solids that have cooked faster and will give even more flavor to your sugar cookies. Don’t leave the bits behind!

Then all you’ll really do is continue with the sugar cookie recipe. Even though we aren’t creaming butter and sugar together, I still recommend a mixer to really get the sugar incorporated into the brown butter. (Stand mixer giveaway happening!) To compliment the brown butter flavor, you’ll use brown sugar in this recipe. However, to keep some of the traditional sugar cookie taste– use some granulated sugar as well. An equal mix of both is just the flavor you’ll crave.

Cookie dough for brown butter sugar cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com

This is a thick cookie dough. After the dough is made, you can immediately begin rolling into 1 Tablespoon size balls and dunking into sprinkles– I like red and green nonpareils and/or gold sprinkles for these!

Cookie dough for brown butter sugar cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com

After you dunk each one, place the cookie dough balls into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This will help solidify the butter so your cookies don’t spread all over the baking sheet. Likely happens when using melted butter!

You *could* chill the dough and then roll into balls, but I found the dough a little too crumbly to roll after chilling. So I suggest rolling before chilling. This cookie dough isn’t all that wonderful for cookie cutter cookies– I had some crumbly issues. So I suggest sticking to drop cookie style. Easier that way, too!

Want to add more flavor to your sugar cookies? Make brown butter sugar cookies instead. They're easy and ready in under an hour! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Texture of brown butter sugar cookies:

  • Very soft in the centers
  • Crisp bottoms
  • Slightly chewy edges
  • Crunch from sprinkles!

Taste of brown butter sugar cookies:

  • Brown butter-tastic, obviously
  • Slight brown sugar flavor
  • Sweet vanilla
  • Brown butter brown butter brown butter

Want to add more flavor to your sugar cookies? Make brown butter sugar cookies instead. They're easy and ready in under an hour! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Brown Butter Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (16 Tbsp; 230g) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups + 2 Tablespoons (265g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated suagr
  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • optional: sprinkles and/or nonpareils for topping

Directions:

  1. Brown the butter: Have a large heat proof bowl handy. Slice the butter into pieces and place in a light-colored skillet. (Light colored helps you determine when the butter begins browning.) Melt the butter over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam. Keep whisking occasionally. After 5-8 minutes, the butter will begin browning-- you'll notice lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan and it will have a nutty aroma. See photo above for a visual. Once browned, remove from heat immediately, pour into bowl. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar to the brown butter. Using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat together on medium-high speed until relatively combined, about 1 minute. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.
  4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and begin beating together on low speed, slowly working up to high speed until everything is combined. The dough will be thick and a little greasy. That's ok! Just roll into balls as best you can in the next step.
  5. Roll the dough into balls, about 1 Tablespoon of dough each, and dip the tops into sprinkles. Place dough balls tightly together on a lined baking sheet (or a couple large plates). Loosely cover with plastic wrap and  place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.)
  7. Line chilled dough balls onto baking sheets about 3 inches apart. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Make ahead tip: Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. You can make the cookie dough, roll into balls as directed in step 5 and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow to come to room temperature then continue with step 6. Baked cookies freeze well for up to 3 months. Unbaked cookie dough balls freeze well for up to 3 months. Bake frozen cookie dough balls for an extra minute, no need to thaw. Click here for my tips and tricks on freezing cookie dough.

Recipe Notes:

I don't recommend these cookies for roll-out/cookie cutter cookies. The dough is a little too crumbly for it. It's easier to just bake as drop cookies. Enjoy!

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Here are a couple items I used to make today’s recipe.

Kitchenaid Hand Mixer | Stainless Steel Skillet | Fun Mixing Bowls | Glass Mixing BowlsSilpat Baking Mat | Baking SheetRed and Green Nonpareils | Gold SprinklesChristmas Confetti Sprinkles

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pays me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Add DELICIOUS flavor to sugar cookies with brown butter! Takes just minutes and these will be the best sugar cookies you try for Christmas! Quick easy cookie recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

92 comments

  1. I usually bake cookies ahead and freeze the finished cookies till Christmas.  However, this year, I am curious to try rolling the dough into balls and freeze until ready to bake.  I am using an assortment of  non pareils as well as green/red sprinkles and colored sugars.  If I dip the cookie ball into the non pareils and freeze…will they bake okay w/same pretty colorful results?

  2. Yummy! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Eating these right out of the oven and OMG they are so amazing and flavorful. Wonderful recipe!!

  4. I printed this out – I think I’m going to have to invest in some Christmas-themed nonpareils ASAP. Thanks for the recipe!

  5. Did anyone have trouble with the nonpareils sticking to the rolled balls???

    • That happened to me a few times, but the warmth of your hands help soften the balls of dough so the sprinkles can stick. Also, you can press the balls of dough into the sprinkles. That helps!

      • I thought I would be efficient and roll the balls THEN dip them all.  They  weren’t “wet” enough.  I ran the top of the cookie across the butter pan then dipped and all was well with these amazing cookies. Next batch: roll and dip.  You were so right… Browned butter IS always best! Yum!!!

  6. Very yummy!! My cookies turned out taller than yours and took a few minutes extra to bake. I wonder if I didn’t need to refrigerate the dough for as long because my kitchen was cold.

  7. I just made these last night. They are so good!! I loved browning the butter, the aroma was just like you said:)! First batch of Christmas cookies of the season!

  8. Great flavor but mine seemed dry; some broke open while baking and they didn’t flatten out much.

  9. Just made these , these are tooooo delicious .. Thank u for soo much wonderful recipes

  10. Can i freeze cookie dough balls without the sprinkles yet? Can i dip the frozen balls to sprinkles?

  11. I made this and its yummy!

  12. The best part about being home from college for Christmas break is baking! I made a batch of these tonight and they were to die for! Everyone in my family loved them. Thanks for the delicious recipes!

  13. Thank you so much for including the weights as well as cups. Those of us in the UK don’t always understand a cup measurement, so this is fabulous x

  14. I recently discovered the beauty of browned butter and knew I had to make these for my Christmas cookie trays! They came out amazing and are much tastier than your typical sugar cookie. Thank you so much for this! My sister and I love to bake using your recipes. Every cookie on our trays come from your site :0)

    • Oh my gosh, so cool that your entire cookie tray is SBA recipes!! Once you try brown butter, you want to put it in everything, right?!

  15. Hi,  

    Love your recipe! I tried other cookie recipes they all come out great and delish.

    Have a question about this recipe, in my country there is no light brown sugar only dark brown and I want color to look light as your cookies soo can I reduce the brown sugar and add more granulated sugar instead? Or you don’t recommend to do so?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Honey! You can try, but I fear the cookies will spread to much or be a little too crisp without the brown sugar. Try using the dark brown. It’s only 3/4 cup and won’t drastically change the color.

  16. I made these cookies last night and for some reason, the dough would NOT work for me! It stayed kind of crumbly while mixing it, no matter how much I did. I was able to roll (most) into balls, but I really had to compact them in order for the balls to stay together without cracking apart. And they didn’t spread to create nice cookies like yours, they stayed almost in the lump they started in and were almost crunchy, despite me underbaking them from your time suggestion. Any ideas why this happened? Not enough butter? But it was measured correctly… the flavour was there just.. .not the rest.

    • Hi Michelle! There’s an easy fix if you want to try them again. Simply reduce the flour by 2 Tablespoons. This will help! I find the dough is extra crumbly when the air is very dry.

  17. Wow this was my first successful attempt at browning butter for a recipe! So glad for all the pix and tips on how to do that super important step. I absolutely could not believe the flavor difference and the immediate aroma saying Eat Me! I should know this by now but I didn’t start off with a double batch 😉 I was also surprised at how quickly this recipe came together and I had fresh cookies popping out of my oven! So very happy with this recipe! Finders Eaters Keepers 🙂

  18. Really fun to make. Delicious, too!!!

  19. I just made my first of two batches. They are delicious, but the centers of mine are not chewy…maybe I baked them too long…

  20. Love this recipe! I rolled them in Turbinado sugar. Turned out great!

  21. Sally, I think this cookie recepie has bypassed even the best of the chocolate chip cookie! Holy these are amazing. Great job!

  22. This is my first time using browned butter and these cookies are amazing. I made these minus the sprinkles and didn’t have time to chill them, so I made them a little bigger using an ice cream scoop. The cooking time for these larger cookies was perfect too. Great job Sally! Thanks for sharing. 

  23. Hi Sally, I just made these and they taste amazing! 

    I didn’t have sufficient butter so I did part butter with part margarine and since, I had a vanilla bean that I recently bought, I scraped out the seeds and added it to the mix and the little specks really made the cookies look so much more pretty. 

    Next up, I will be making your cream cheese sugar cookies. (My life is full of cookies now that I don’t even have enough space in my fridge. Is that a thing?) 

    Thanks for an amazing recipe and happy holidays! 

  24. My mother can’t handle me using more than 100g of butter while baking so she was not happy while I was baking these… but then she ate 3 and decided that I had to make a full batch next time. 😀

  25. Thank you Sally for sharing this recipe …. these looks tooooo delicious, picture are amazing .. And yes these cookies are on my to do list 😛

  26. Hi, Sally! I have a question. There is something that always seems to happen to me whenever I bake cookies. I can never get them as thick as the ones shown in the recipes pictures. They always spread too much and come out very thin. I don’t know what I could be doing wrong, since I always measure my ingredients with a kitchen scale, always chill the dough, sometimes even longer than what the recipe asks for and own a thermometer. But they always come out very thin 🙁 

    I just made this recipe and baked them for 10-11 minutes and they came out somewhat puffy, but then they lost their puffiness and became very flat. 🙁 help!! 

    • Hi! Sally I would love to hear the answer to this! The first time I made these I accidentally used unbleached flour (which turns out makes cookies super thin!!!) but I just made them with regular bleached flour and they still aren’t as fabulously fluffy looking as yours on the recipe 

    • Hi Lou! Questions for you. Do you live at high altitude at all? Or is it humid where you live? Both would have a lot to do with it. Do you use a silicone baking mat? And make sure your cookie sheets are cool or room temperature, not hot, when placing the cookie dough balls on top. And finally, when readers still have trouble with excess spreading, I always suggest adding an extra 2-3 Tablespoons of flour to the cookie dough. This helps. 

      • Thanks for the quick reply! No, I don’t live in high altitude, but it is quite humid; about 44% humidity. And yes, I use silicone baking mats and always make sure my sheets are cool. Seems like humidity might be the problem, what adjustments would I need to do? 

      • I suggest adding an extra 2-3 Tablespoons of flour to the cookie dough.

  27. Just made these (without sprinkles, which are sadly lacking in my kitchen). They’re fantastic!

  28. This is going down as a “favorite” Christmas cookie in our house.  Totally unbelievable taste – I never knew about browning butter and the difference it can make.  You are the best!  Thank you for the time you take to share with us your great recipes!

  29. Hi Sally! 
     I made these two days ago and they are amazing! My whole family loved them. Only problem: they did not flatten out and they turned out like little mounds. How can I fix this?

    • I’m glad you and your family love them!

      So crazy that I’ve had some readers with cookies that spread too much and yours didn’t spread much at all. I haven’t ran into either problem. But to help, did you change anything about the recipe? Next time you can skip the chilling step.

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