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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See all cookie palooza recipes.

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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

94 comments

  1. whenever i see cookies with nonpareils i think of the free ones they use to hand out when i was a kid at one of the mom and pop grocery stores! though i don’t think those ones had brown butter (;

  2. Hi Sally! These look really good but what if I were to dress them up a bit with an icing or frosting? What would you recommend for these? Thank you!

  3. What cute little cookies! I love the gold sugar (I go through that stuff by the pound this time of year 😉 ), and of course the sprinkles! I had the random thought of a coconut icing with these, kind of oddly…but I think it could work with the brown-butter/caramelish flavor!

  4. I too would usually reach for something else besides a sugar cookie.  But I DO love how festive you can make them!

  5. These cookies sound so tasty! I have still yet to try anything with brown butter! Plus how can you say no to a sprinkled cookie? You can’t!

  6. Wow! These brown butter sugar cookies look so festive and delicious. So perfect for this holiday season.

  7. Ooooo yum!! I’m a sucker for soft sugar cookies like these, and brown butter really does make everything better! 🙂

  8. These look perfect! I love how you threw in the hints of gold on top. I’ll definitely be making this recipe for the holidays!

  9. Hey Sally!
    So my girlfriend and I are making cookies for the hospital where our husbands work and we are going to be using all of your recipes! (I’ve been trying them out on the docs/nurses all year and they have loved EVERYTHING.) We are needing to make 600-700 cookies and I wanted to see if you have any tips/tricks for us when it comes to doubling dough batches and such!
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks!
    -Meredith Ann Gammon

    • Hi Meredith! My tips would simply be to not triple any cookie doughs– doubling is great, not I find cookies suffer in texture when you’re working with more dough than that. It’s easiest to double drop cookie recipes like chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies, etc. This brown butter sugar cookie recipe makes a bunch and so does this pecan snowball recipe

  10. Sally–could I use Wilton’s pearlized gold/silver sugar to dip these in? I bake an assortment of cookies for teacher gifts each year, and I’d like to add these, but I have the sugar and not the sprinkles. Would that be okay?

  11. Sugar cookies with brown butter – definitely sounds like a cookie I want to try! Funny that you say you wouldn’t reach for sugar cookies over others – frosted chocolate, vanilla and gingerbread cookies are amongst my favourites this time of year. I love chocolate of course, but frosted and decorated cookies which match what season it is are the best! They’re my favourite to make too, especially when you can have some help you and have a baking party. Can’t wait to try these 🙂 do you think frosting them would work or are they not quite flat enough like typical sugar cookies?

  12. It’s so appropriate that you sent this recipe today! This morning I saw and picked out all my ‘go-to’ cookie recipes. And then I came across the original Sugar Cookie. And, like you, it’s not one that I typically ‘go to’ on a plate and 100% agree that something with chunks, nuts, caramel….for sure! BUT the Sugar Cookie is one of the most ‘festive’ looking ones on the plate, so it is a must. I am definitely going to re-invent the Sugar Cookie wheel with this recipe this year and I’ll tell you why I know this will be delicious….brown butter doesn’t get enough recognition! I try to brown butter every chance I get and it’s mostly on veggies! Ever try it poured over cabbage? Cauliflower? Good heavens….Thank you for this very timely recipe and putting the Sugar Cookie back on my ‘go to’ list, Sally!

    • Ya know, I don’t use brown butter much when I cook– especially not with veggies. And I don’t know why! I definitely going to try if with cauliflower or brussels sprouts now that you mention it!

  13. Ahh, brown butter makes everything that much better! As you can tell by the name of my blog, I’m a fan! Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  14. They look so festive and delicious!

    – Charmaine
    http://charmainenyw.com

  15. I understand not reaching for the sugar cookie first, most recipes are boring. Except I love the recipe from my childhood. It’s an old Land O’Lakes recipe that has sour cream, nutmeg and lemon extract. Makes a huge batch of cut-out cookies.

  16. I am going to try every recipe in the annual cookie palooza, every single one of them. Things got out of control following your recent posts for 8 perfect cookie recipes!

  17. I really love sugar cookies but hate when I reach for one and it is all stale/hard. I like them chewy with a soft center. I have never tried brown butter in my cookies only because I never had a pan where I could see it…NOW I do, however!

    I know it misses the spirit of the recipe but I sort of want to add some lemon zest to these…and crunchy sugar for the tops.

  18. Ah, how I love brown buter!!! These cookies not only sound like divinity but they’re also really cute! Love them!

  19. I love that these sugar cookies are brown butter!!! When they’re this simple…the brown butter must just be so prominent and deeeelicious!

  20. Brown butter cookies are so good! Plus, they are so festive!

  21. These look wonderful! I’m excited to discover a cookie recipe that my kiddos with food allergies can enjoy this season!!!! Thank you!

  22. Just finished making these…….so delicious!

  23. You had me at brown butter… these are my kind of sugar cookie! 🙂

  24. Question: If I roll these into balls and freeze them, do I dip them in the sprinkles before freezing or after I’ve removed them from the freezer? Do I bake them at room temperature or refrigerator temperature? Thanks. This recipe sounds delicious.

    • Hi Kimberly! You can roll into balls with sprinkles, then freeze. See my make ahead tip for other freezing instructions 🙂

  25. Brown butter anything is amazing!  Sugar cookies can be so bland and is always such a great way to amp up the nutty warm flavors!  Also, cute sprinkles;)   

  26. Do you think this recipie would be good for a youth group? I need something that I can make quick and easy, is something teenagers like, feeds a good amount of people, and it cannot contain any kinds of tree nuts or peanuts. Thank you!

  27. Help Sally!!! My dough is not thick and is very soft. Did i do something wrong? They’re really flat in  the fridge right now!

    • Really? Chilling the dough in the fridge for a little longer will help. Try chilling up to 2 hours.

      • I had the same result, which made me think maybe I accidentally used too little flour (although I did use a scale to measure). I ended up mixing in 50g more flour just in case and they turned out great. But my dough was really soft and greasy before I added the extra flour!

      • I had the same worry – my hands were drenched in butter while rolling the cookies. So I added 25g of flour to half the batch and left the other half as Sally directed. Just took both batches out of the oven. The batch I left alone (ie: recipe as written) are fabulous, intense brown butter taste and the cookies are perfectly soft. The flavour in the batch I added flour to is nowhere near as intense and the cookies are more dense. Lesson learned, just listen to Sally for crying out loud! And don’t panic if the dough is very greasy, the results are amazing. 

      • I too was worried about how soft the dough was, glad I read Kelley’s comment before adding more flour. They are in the oven now. 🙂

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