Brown Sugar Shortbread

Chewy, crisp, and tender brown sugar shortbread is made with a combination of light and dark brown sugar for the best flavor. These slice and bake style cookies are simple to make and you’ll love the extra sparkle of coarse sugar on the edges!

brown sugar shortbread cookies

I teamed up with Domino® Sugar to bring you today’s cookie recipe. Domino® Sugar is sold where I live, but if it’s not sold near you, look for their sister brand, C&H® Sugar. It’s been my choice for years and that’s not because they are a hop, skip, and jump away– but because it’s pure quality. You can taste the difference in your baking when you use an exceptional sugar. Today, we’re baking with Domino® Brown Sugars.

Brown Sugar is The Best

Brown sugar is my favorite ingredient in the kitchen and hopefully I’ve convinced you by now why (all of my brown sugar recipes here). It’s THE BEST. Brown sugar leaves its alluring moisture wherever it goes, not to mention the home-sweet-home aroma and flavor of sweet molasses. Reminds you of grandma’s baking, doesn’t it? Grandma knows best.

Soft and simple, brown sugar is a best friend to some of life’s greatest treasures: cinnamon, BACON, maple, pumpkin, caramel, oatmeal, peaches, and did I mention bacon? The list goes on. Respect, brown sugar, respect.

brown sugar shortbread cookies

Don’t let simplicity fool you. My favorite traditional shortbread recipe is in Sally’s Cookie Addiction. I took that recipe as my starting point and worked to create a super buttery brown sugar version. Crisp on the edges and tender in the center, this is a simple brown sugar shortbread. But don’t let its humble look fool you. Even though it’s quite modest without the addition of chocolate chips, caramel drizzles, nuts, fudge explosions, candy pieces, etc… it stands up to even the most decadent cookie.

bags of domino light brown sugar and domino dark brown sugar

Brown Sugar Shortbread Ingredients

You only need a few staples to make brown sugar shortbread. That’s the thing about shortbread– it’s awesomely simple using only a handful of basic ingredients, no eggs or leavening agents needed. With so little ingredients, you want to make sure you’re using the right ones– and the best quality ones. Let’s review:

  • Flour: Sturdy all-purpose flour is the base of this shortbread cookie recipe.
  • Salt: We use a little salt to balance out some of the sweetness.
  • Butter: Can’t have buttery shortbread without butter. Make sure it’s at proper room temperature before beginning.
  • Brown Sugar: Brown sugar is the most important ingredient in today’s cookie. We’ll be using both Domino® Light Brown and Dark Brown Sugars in this recipe. Why both? This combination offers a developed, complex flavor in your cookie. You can, of course, use only light or only dark, but I highly suggest the combination of the two.
  • Vanilla Extract: A cookie’s best friend! Try using homemade vanilla extract.

2 logs of brown sugar shortbread dough on a white plate rolled into coarse sugar

log of brown sugar shortbread dough cut into slices on a wood cutting board

Slice and Bake Style

We’ll make the cookies slice-and-bake style, my favorite. This isn’t a new concept– I’ve shared a few other variations on Sally’s Baking Addiction before (and 3 more recipes in Sally’s Cookie Addiction):

Chilling the dough is key to baking slice-and-bakes. You’ll divide the buttery dough in half, then roll each half into a log. Chill these logs for at least 4 hours. Seems like awhile, but I actually prefer to chill them overnight– this is a fantastic recipe to make ahead. After the logs are chilled, slice them up and bake.

If you skip the chilling, expect the cookies to massively spread on your baking sheets.

zoomed in image of a stack of brown sugar shortbread cookies

overhead image of brown sugar shortbread cookies on a white plate

For a little extra sparkle, roll the logs into coarse sugar. Totally optional, but you know how I feel about sparkles. PLUS it gives the edges more crunch. Love the added texture, especially paired with the softer centers.

brown sugar shortbread cookies on a white plate

stack of brown sugar shortbread cookies on a white plate

If brown sugar is your weakness, this shortbread is a no-brainer!!

Print
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zoomed in image of a stack of brown sugar shortbread cookies

Brown Sugar Shortbread

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 2 dozen
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Chewy, crisp, tender, and EASY brown sugar shortbread!


Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/4 cups (280g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks; 230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light brown sugar 
  • 1/3 cup (67g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • optional: 2/3 cup (135g) coarse sugar, for rolling

Instructions

  1. Whisk the flour and salt together in a medium bowl.
  2. In a large bowl using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, light brown sugar, and dark brown sugar together on medium-high speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
  3. On low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients. Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until the dough comes together.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and, with floured hands, divide into two. Shape each half into an 8-inch log, about 2.5 inches in diameter. Tightly wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 5 days. Chilling is mandatory for this cookie dough. I always chill mine overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Set aside.
  6. Remove logs from the refrigerator and roll into coarse sugar, if desired. It’s added only for a little crunch! Slice each log into 12 equally thick cookies and place cookies on baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes or until brown around the edges. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.
  7. Cookies will stay fresh covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Baked cookies freeze well for up to 3 months. Cookie dough logs freeze well too, up to 3 months. Allow the logs to thaw overnight in the refrigerator then continue with step 6.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer, Baking Sheet, Silpat Baking Mat, Cooling Rack, and Coarse Sparkling Sugar
  3. Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.

132 Comments

  1. These came out perfect! And I took them a step further and used them to make alfajores (dulce de leche sandwich cookies). Also, I froze them for about 40 mins and they were good to go. Great recipe!

    1. That sounds SO delicious!!

  2. I’ve now just made this dough two times in a row. The only way to get an 8 inch log that’s 2.5 inches in diameter is to use all the dough. What am I missing?

    1. Kara, I had a similar experience, although when I actually measured, the diameter was close to 2″ (larger than I thought by eyeballing it). Next time I think I might aim more for the 2.5″ diameter rather than the 8″ length and see how that goes.

  3. Marilyn Radtke says:

    I would like to make this cookie. But you call for a paddle attachment. I have a Oster mixer and it does not have such an attachment. Will my regular beaters get the same results?

    1. Yes, it should be just fine, Marilyn!

  4. Very good recipe. Will make again.

  5. I love shortbread cookies but these have got to be the best! Made half a batch and topped them with dulce de leche and a generous sprinkling of salt. Question though, do you think this could be made with brown butter? Im thinking of browning butter, letting it solidify, and then bring to room temp before baking.

    1. I’m thrilled you enjoyed them so much! And yes – please try them with brown butter and then let me know how they turn out! I bet they would be amazing!

  6. Hi! I love this recipe and have made it successfully a couple of times, but I’ve also wound up with spreading and flat cookies just as many times.

    I’m chilling overnight, I’m spooning and leveling my flour… I can’t figure it out! Help?

    1. Hi Anne, assuming you are using the same ingredients each time the culprit could be the butter. Did you see the link in the post above about room temperature butter – sometimes we all (I do it too!) leave it sitting out too long and it gets too warm. Also be sure that when you bake them you are placing them on cool cookie sheets – and not hot pans that have just come out of the oven. For more troubleshooting tips I think this post will help: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/tips-for-cookie-spreading/

  7. This recipe is amazing! I substitute a mixture of gluten free flours, and it’s fantastic. Sometimes a light dusting of flaked salt on top of each. Wow!!

  8. Can this recipe be made into bars? I want to use it for the base of billionaire bars.

    1. Hi Robin, I haven’t tested it but I don’t see why not. I’m unsure of the bake time needed.

      1. Robyn Plue Horn says:

        Worked great! 17-20 minutes.

  9. I know they’re supposed to be slice and bake, but I’m wondering if I can roll out the chilled dough and use cookie cutters to make shaped versions?

    1. Hi Zay, no I don’t recommend it. This cookie dough can’t be rolled out. If you’re able to use cookie cutters, the cookies would overspread as well.

      1. Thanks Sally! I love how your recipes are so well-tested! I’ve been making your chocolate chip cookies and lemon bars and they’ve been devoured by my picky family. I was hoping to make some shortbread type cookies that I could use cookie cutters on and been going through your website for ideas. Maybe your recipe for orange cookies will work? Minus the chocolate ganache?

  10. Do you think this would work out if I added cut up strawberries to the dough before the fridge ( strawberry shortbread cookie?)

    1. Hi Bob, I’m just seeing your comment now– my apologies. I don’t recommend adding a wet ingredient like strawberries to this dough. You may enjoy these strawberry biscuit cookies though.

  11. While the recipe looks great, and I loved the brown sugar cookie recipe, and am looking to use the rest of a bag of brown sugar (it’s dry here, and I hate owning a brown rock in my cabinet), I wanted to bring up something that’s bugging me a little in the post.

    The only difference between light and dark brown sugar is the amount of molasses added. Saying that using two different sugars results in a more complex flavor isn’t accurate. There’s no difference other than molasses level. Now, if you’d used different KINDS of sugars, like coconut or date sugar, that might actually be more complex.

    I feel like what you’re trying to say is that the combination gives them a more balanced flavor. From a read of the recipe, it seems like the dark brown sugar gives just a little more depth, but not so much that it starts getting into molasses cookie territory. Sorry for the nitpick, it just made my chef brain tweak a bit. I love your recipes, and have made several over the years. They never fail and flavor’s always on point. (Which I love, because I cannot tell you how many blog-recipe travesties I’ve had. I can tell you test these, unlike a lot of people, who seem to crank out spurious posts for clicks.) You’ve been at this long enough that you might consider some basic cooking classes, just to open up your vocabulary and immerse in with professionals to absorb the lingo. You clearly have “it”- a naturally good palette at the very least- and being able to talk the talk would only enable you to make even better content. And it’s already great, so just imagine, eh? 🙂

  12. Adriana Allegri says:

    This is a wonderful recipe. I like less sweetness, so I used 1 cup of dark brown sugar only, then added a little more flour to get the right stiffness. No issues.

    Also…I flavored the last two batches. First one has grated lemon rind. Second has grated orange rind and a little cinnamon.

    Also, amazing to drizzle melted chocolate over once cool. Extra special.

    Fantastic cookie!

  13. This is officially my new favorite cookie. Crispy, chewy, delicious carmel-y brown sugar flavor… not only the best cookie I made this year but the easiest! Sally, you never lead me wrong!

  14. Hi Sally – I just made these cookies and they are excellent! I love brown sugar, but am not a huge cookie fan. However, I just ate more of these than I care to admit! Thank you for posting consistently good recipes.

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