Brown Butter Sugar Cookies
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!
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.
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 cake, chocolate 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.
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!
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!
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
Brown Butter Sugar Cookies
- 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
- 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.
- Meanwhile, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.)
- 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.
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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