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

Print

Brown Butter Sugar Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 13 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 36 cookies
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Brown butter sugar cookies are easy to make, incredibly flavorful, and ready in under an hour!


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 sugar
  • 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

Instructions

  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.


Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: 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.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Stainless Steel Skillet | Fun Mixing Bowls | Glass Mixing BowlsSilpat Baking Mat | Baking SheetRed and Green Nonpareils | Gold SprinklesChristmas Confetti Sprinkles
  3. 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!

Keywords: brown butter sugar cookies, brown butter cookies

See all cookie palooza recipes.

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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

136 Comments

  1. Made these today and browned butter for the first time ever….there is no going back now Sally! Thank God it came out perfect on the first try!!! I experimented a little with my last sheet of cookies in that I flattened them with a spatula at the 6 minute baking mark so they looked a little more like yours instead of the little mounds I was getting. The flattened cookies went crispy and hard real quick as they cooled so I decided to leave the cookies intact and baked untouched for the 12 minutes. These smell heavenly as you make the dough, but definitely roll in sugar or sprinkles as u make each ball since as they sit out they lose the ability to have the sprinkles stick. Though it was difficult to wait, these taste much better after cooling…a very complex deep rich flavor. If your cookies tend to harden up over time, I use this tip.. I put a slice of soft bread in with the cookies in the tin I store them in. Eventually the bread will be hard as a rock but cookies should be softer. This is another winner Sally! Thanks again for the excellent directions for browning the butter!

  2. Hi Sally. I’m making these now and they taste amazing! However, quick question for you. When I take them out of the oven they look like yours in the pictures, but once they cool the edges flatten out and the middle stays puffy. Do you happen to know what I’m doing wrong? Thank you!!

    1. Hi Kristin! So they are spreading a little after they come out of the oven? Check your baking soda– is it fresh? I replace mine every 3-4 months. I find it loses its potency not much longer after that. Additionally, you can try to add 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder to the recipe with the dry ingredients. That could help the cookies retain their lift after cooling.

    1. Absolutely! I would add at least 1 cup of mini M&Ms to this dough. Maybe a little more for extra chocolate. Never a bad thing!

  3. Hi Sally. These look great. Can’t wait to try! Question – do you think this dough would work in a cookie press? Has anyone tried it?

  4. Wow. Browning the butter really adds a richness to the dough. My son loved eating it right out of the bowl! I tend to like sugar cookies with a hint of almond. I’m wondering if adding almond extract would make it too confusing?

  5. Hi Sally, I made these a few months back and they were delicious but the cookies hardened significantly the following day and by the third day they were hard as a rock! This has only happened with another brown butter recipe I’ve tried (not from here). Am I doing something wrong? The taste is amazing and I loved them but now I’m afraid it will only happen again .

    P.S. I love all of your recipes!

    1. Hmm. Do you think you over baked them? Maybe try baking on a lower rack and baking for 1-2 minutes less. This should help! I’m glad you enjoyed them freshly baked though! Thank you for reporting back.

  6. Oh my goodness… I just took these out of the oven and am struggling to keep from eating them all! As always, I’m grateful for another recipe from you that makes me look like I’m a great baker!

  7. You’ve made my Christmas! I have made a variation of this recipe from a Cooking Light magazine for YEARS. The pro final recipe I used were roll and cut. They were beautiful but the dough was soooo crumbly and was so frustrating to work with! Some years I avoided making them altogether, but they taste sooooo good! Enter your recipe with the brown sugar and a couple things I tried, and i was able to get roll cookies!!!

    I browned the butter and put it in my stand mixer to cool slightly. I added the sugars. Then I inadvertently left the sugar and butter out on the counter over night as I didn’t get to finishing this particular batch. When I started mixing the bowlcompletely cooled butter and sugar, it creamed just like regular butter would—AND made dough that I could roll and cut!!! I needed a few more batches and didn’t feel like waiting overnight so I followed the same and mixed the butter and sugars and then put it outside until it was firm. Then mixed it and I had creamed sugars again with non-crumbly dough that I could roll and cut! I had previously tried to just refrigerate the brown butter and that didn’t work. Something about mixing in the sugars first and then refrigerating and then mixing again. 

  8. Did anyone have issues with the cookies mostly keeping their shape, but getting deep cracks? Each cookie looks slightly crisp at the edge, and soft/slightly moist in the center, but in the recipe photos, I don’t see any deep cracks, and each of my cookies has about three cracks.

    Thanks!!! Love this site … make many birthday cakes for my two young girls from your recipes.

    Jeannie

  9. These cookies are simply awesome! Mine came out a bit more rounded, didn’t flatten out as much as the picture showed. Not a problem, but I’m wondering why that would be. I did double the recipe so I could make more. I was very careful with my ingredients, so I am 99% positive I didn’t make any ingredient mistakes. Love this cookie!

  10. I just made these, and like some other commenters, this was my first time browning butter, too. I used Land O’ Lakes European-style butter, which has a higher fat content. Wow, are these babies rich!

    Also, like other commenters, mine didn’t flatten out like in your photo. They have a “round belly”, which I will have, too, if I keep eating them. But still, they taste great. This recipe is a keeper. Thanks!

  11. I made these last June for my son’s birthday and they were such a HUGE hit, I’m back to get the recipe again. Super yummy. The boys (7 11-year-olds) devoured a batch after lunch, had a few later in the afternoon after much running, and were THRILLED when they each got a bag of 3 or 4 to take home. My son hadn’t wanted a cake, only cookies, and was very pleased. Thank you.

  12. sally I need to ask you about the oven is it fan assisted or without and i need to know if to use the heat above and lower heat source or both
    please I need this urgent

  13. These sound delicious! I’m looking to use one batter in multiple ways for visual variety- If I wanted to frost a few of these instead of sprinkle-dunking, is there a particular flavor or recipe you recommend? Any reason why I couldn’t add jimmies to some of the batter directly as well? Thanks!

  14. I’m going to make these today but will also be adding white chocolate chips, dried cherries and macadamia nuts. Do you think this will work with my add-ins?

      1. Thank you, Sally! I made them today and they were wonderful!
        I used the same recipe and also made a gluten free version, using Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour. I froze them before baking so haven’t tasted them yet but I feel optimistic because they seemed to pull together easily.

  15. so, the brown butter should remain melted (but cooled)? i typically put it in the fridge or freezer to harden up again, but not in this recipe? thanks!

  16. Sally these cookies are simply amazing as are all of your recipes. You were right they don’t need anything but sprinkles. I have made a lot of your recipes and haven’t had a fail yet. It is nice knowing that I can go to any of your recipes and have an amazing turnout every single time. Thank you so much!

  17. Hi Sally! I’ve never been a sugar cookie person but I saw your recipe and knew my cookie life was about to change…these are AMAZING!! I made them Wednesday night and there’s 2 left out of 36! Thank you so much for another incredible recipe! A

  18. Hi Sally,
    I have had my first ever fail from your website 🙁 I’m sure it’s my error as there’s so many glowing reviews but am hoping you can help me work out where I went wrong, I have a feeling I know, but would love your opinion… I tried to brown my butter in my thermomix so that I could save on washing by then doing the mixing in there too, I noticed when my dough came together it was really runny, nothing like your picture, so I chilled the dough before rolling, then chilled again, but the biscuits were still very oily and flat. When you brown the butter in a skillet, does the butter reduce? The thermomix has a lid (doesn’t work without it) so guessing that would stop the butter reducing and make too much liquid?

    1. Hi Megan, you are exactly right! The amount of butter in this recipe takes into account the lost moisture from browning the butter. Try it on the stove next time – I promise it’s worth the one extra dish to wash 😉

  19. I just made these this evening with my daughter. I printed the recipe and followed it to the gram. I measured everything as per the weights you provided. I am a stickler for being exact. I am not sure what happened. the dough was basically submerged in a pool of butter after mixing. I had to ring the butter out of it as I was making the balls because they wouldn’t form unless I did. after forming all the balls there was still about a 1/2 cup of liquid butter in the bowl. After baking, the cookies are super crispy, although delicious, and they are so buttery greasy that you need wet naps near by when eating them. Like I said, I followed the recipe. What went wrong?

    1. Hi Philip! I’m so sorry for the trouble with the cookies. It could be a variety of things such as brands of ingredients, altitude, type of baking pan, etc. Adding flour will help soak up the butter so if you try them again, try adding an addition 1/4 cup of flour to the cookie dough. Thanks for trying my recipe!

  20. I made these cookies for the first time for Christmas and my husband loved them. He couldn’t stop raving about how delicious they were. The brown butter makes such a difference. I’ve made them again since Christmas and have a feeling will be making them often.
    I also made your chocolate kiss cookies and they were yummy also.

  21. Made these cookies. I used “dark” brown sugar instead and for topping, I dipped cookies in “granulated” sugar. Such a delicious recipe! Thank you Sally!

  22. Hey, Sally! I made these with my little sister last week and they were AMAZING! They tasted like eating a chunk of sugary butter!! They got a bit stale because we made so many (though they still taste incredible, just a bit crunchy), so I was wondering if you have any recipes or ideas for the stale cookies? Thanks so much! Have a great day!

  23. Today was a day that the baking gods decided that I really shouldn’t have tried to bake anything lol. First – I guess the heat was too high on the stove and I damn near burned the butter (too much foam to see what color it was becoming), then I had unexpected company show up just as I was about to roll into balls. I just dumped sprinkles in the mix and wrapped it in plastic as a block to chill. Then, after doing 3 loads of laundry I remembered the cookie dough ….rock hard by that time. Since I was short on time I just cut the block into 36 squares and put them on the cookie sheet that way. It was VERY crumbly but the heat of my hands helped to smoosh it together. I have to say that though they look kind of funky they taste amazing! I’m glad I persevered because they are some of the best sugar cookies I have ever had!

    1. Ooops…just realized that I had forgotten to rate the recipe lol – taken care of now !

  24. I’ve tried a lot of your cookie recipes but I think this is the best one so far! These are unbelievably delicious! Soft and yummy and that browned butter just takes them to the next level! These are like crack!

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