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 better 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!!

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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


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


  • 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) 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


  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.


  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.


  1. My mouth is watering as I read this post… There have been so many great recipes this week! I can’t wait for week two and to try all these asap

    1. Please let me know any cookie palooza recipes you try!

      1. These brown butter shortbread cookies just came out of the oven, and oh my stars I have a new favorite shortbread! They’ve got crunchy edges and a soft, chewy center, and the flavor is absolutely amazing!

      2. Thank you so much for taking the time to report back about the brown sugar shortbread!

  2. The brown sugar available where I live is all coarse, not like soft Domino sugar I grew up with. Would coarse brown sugar work in this recipe?

    1. The cookies may have a grainy texture to them, but that should be fine.

  3. “2017 massive cookie spread” 😀
    And yay for shortbread and slice and bake, I’m a fan! Oh my… my cookies-to-bake-list is expanding…

  4. Brown Sugar does rule. I use it in my chocolate chip scones and they are never dry. And YES to bacon and baked beans. I had just been thinking about a brown sugar sugar cookie, so its like you read my mind! I know its not the same, but ya know its still in the brown sugar family. I think these are going on the cookies to be made list along with your peppermint mocha cookies, because I have been all about the mint lately.

    1. Brown sugar in scones is absolutely divine.

  5. Wow!!! These are incredible. How unique is two different kinds of brown sugar in one cookie. Going to spend the weekend baking cookies but I seriously am having a really hard time deciding which ones?? By the way, your grams measurements aren’t showing up on the recipe! Have a great weekend and enjoy your sweet little girl!!

    1. Hey Wendy! Gram measurements are in! 🙂 Let me know which cookies you end up making and if you try this brown sugar shortbread. I have plans to bake this weekend too!

  6. Can I roll the logs in regular colorful sprinkles instead of sugar?  

    1. Definitely!

  7. Charlotte Merrill says:

    I am so excited to make these! I am studying abroad next semester in Scotland, famous for their shortbread, so obviously I need to get in the right mindset!;) 

  8. I am completely frozen in indecision about my holiday baking this weekend! Crazy! It’s like my brain can’t process all of the possibilities and make a choice. lol! Shortbread is a definite though!

    I do have a cookie spread question for you. I was making your thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies about a week ago…made two batches. One batch had crushed Heath bars added to it (the kind you buy in the baking aisle…pre-crushed)…those spread like CRAZY. Flat pools of cookies. The cookies that only had chocolate in them baked up fine. I am assuming that maybe the toffee liquefied from the heat in the oven… I am wondering how this is countered?

    1. Hey Christine! I have trouble when I make cookies with those Heath toffee bits from time to time. They liquify… or at least melt slightly which adds grease to the cookie dough itself. And then the cookies will spread. Adding an extra couple Tbsp of flour to the dough should help compensate. 🙂

  9. Any issues with this dough to use a cookie scoop approach (just making sure to chill) (vs. slice/bake)?

    1. Hi Karen! The dough is much too finicky for drop cookies. They will spread quite a bit. You’ll need the dough to chill in a log and slice.

  10. Tori// says:

    Oh my goodness!!!! These are so beautiful and delicious looking, Sally. Your creativity to always have something new to share just amazes me.

  11. Yum!! These look amazing!! Literally every tab in my browser is open to a different cookie recipe of yours!! So many fun treats to bake!!! 

  12. Patricia @Sweet and Strong says:

    I remember as a kid I used to sneak spoonfuls of brown sugar while baking with my mom, lol.  And these cookies look amazing, I’ve always wanted to try to make my own slice and bake cookies.

  13. C&H Sugar is what my grandma always bought, my mother always buys, and now what I always buy. Never a substitute. The last time we were in the store and saw that they had that brand my daughter and husband asked if we should stock up. Serious love for brown sugar right here!

  14. Oh yum this looks so good. I have to try this. The video is so cute. You may it look so simple. I use brown sugar in scones, cookies, cakes (thanks to you) :), fried apples, who knows what else. And both are so yummy. Dominoes is the best around here. If you cant tell I love your posts. Always look forward to seeing what you will come up with next.

  15. Sally, love this recipe!   Can you freeze the dough logs and then roll in sugar, slice and bake?

    1. That works, yes!

  16. Kris Christian says:

    Can you make these with gluten free flour?

    1. I’m sure you could! I’m not an expert at GF baking, sorry! Let me know if you try anything.

  17. Is brown sugar my weakness? Why, yes, yes it is! One word for this shortbread: inspired!!!!!!! You’ve done it again, Sally!

    1. My weakness too. I love brown sugar everything!

  18. Desiree Peterson says:

    YUM!!! Shortbread cookies are one of my all time favorite cookies and I agree, Domino brown sugars are the absolute best! Nothing beats their flavor and texture. Can’t wait to try these! Thank you!

  19. All your pictures are amazing Sally!!!! I have been looking for a shortbread recipe lately so will definitely try yours :))

    1. Thank you so much, Marie! Let me know when you give this brown sugar shortbread a try.

  20. Hi Sally,

    I am in Australia so obviously neither of those brand brown sugars are available, we have CSR, I’m guessing that will be acceptable

    I can’t wait to make these, they look amazing!

  21. Kayle (The Cooking Actress) says:

    oooh so simple but so perfect! Brown sugar makes everything better and this shortbread is clearly no different!

  22. YUM! These look like the perfect holiday cookie!


  23. These look delicious. Did you press the cookie with the bottom of a glass after baking to get that extra “rim” around the edges?

    1. I didn’t! The center of the cookies slightly sink (especially if they are slightly underbaked, which is how I like them!).

  24. Hey Sally! I am about to make your homemade pie crust for pumpkin pie and was wondering if I could use all butter, as shortening is not available where I live. Let me know! 🙂

    1. Hi Kaitlyn! I don’t suggest subbing in butter for the shortening. Way too much butter! The recipe would need to be reworked. Rather, I suggest using my all-butter pie crust recipe instead. Though that will leave you with 2 extra pie crusts that you can freeze for later 🙂 (It makes 3 crusts.)

      1. Thank you so much. My pumpkin pies are cooling right now and I’m getting ready to decorate. Can’t wait!!

    2. Merrily suggested adding cinnamon to half the batter, which sounds delicious. How much cinnamon should I add to half the batter?

      1. Doesn’t that sound great? I would add 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon to half of the cookie dough.

  25. I now live in France,(and love it) and I am so glad your recipes have metric measurements as well as cups.  I always have a problem with butter, as we don’t have tablespoons marked on the French butter pats!  so it is most helpful to see it in sticks and grams.
    Your shortbreads look wonderful, and as I make Christmas gifts to hand out, they will make a great gift.  
    Your recipes are wonderful and so easy to follow.  Thanks. I am glad I found your blog.  

    1. Thank you so much for this thoughtful comment. And I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love receiving homemade cookies as a gift!

  26. Hi Sally,

    These are amazing! I made the batter and divided it in half; one I left as is, but I added cinnamon to the other. Both are incredible! Brown sugar took the shortbread to the next level (I used all dark brown sugar). Thanks for another winning recipe!

    1. I need to add cinnamon to my next batch. Can’t believe I didn’t do that before!! Thanks so much Merrily.

  27. Hi Sally! I just made these, and they are AMAZING! They are so light and flaky, and even have sort of a nutty aroma comparable to the brown butter chocolate chip cookies! My only error is they came out so greasy, as if I used too much butter perhaps? I used room temp butter as suggested, so I am wondering what you suggest to take the greasy-ness out? Regardless, they are amazing, and my parents said they will not last all day!

    1. Well I’m happy you still enjoyed them! Do you think they were under-baked at all? Thank you for reporting back! 🙂

  28. Cookie Palooza! My favorite time of the year I Currently have these chilling in the fridge! So excited to make them. Am I able to roll out the dough and use cookie cutters? Or will they crazy spread? Thinking I’m going to slice/bake one log and try to roll out the other and decorate with my daughter. Thank you!

    1. Hey Jasmin! The dough won’t hold up very well to shapes, so I strongly suggest the slice and bake method. But let me know anything you try!

      1. Jasmin Marshall says:

        I have made 2 batches so far and they both were a massive spread. I don’t know why. First batch I let come to room temp for about 30 minutes before sliding and baking. Second batch I sliced right out of the fridge and I had the same result. Ill have to try again.

  29. Sall, I made your Brown Sugar Shortbread cookies today. I chilled the dough overnight, then I took it out of the fridge, but it was hard. So I thought, let me let it come to room temp. So that the coarse sugar will stick. Well  1 1/2 hrs later I baked the cookies, but they don’t look anything like yours. The taste was sooooooo good, but the texture was off.
    This is my first time making slice and bake cookies, and I really like it.
    Next time I need to pay better attention to the directions.
    Made your Double Cocolate crinkle cookies, Black and White cookies, and Lemon burst cookies. And they were all a home run! Thanks Sally for all these recipes you share with us

    1. Hey Sally! Tell me more– what was the texture like? What did they look like? Did they not spread at all? Or spread too much? Slice and bake cookies are a little crumbly, soft in the centers, with a slightly crisp edge. Is that how yours tasted? I’m so glad you enjoyed their flavor.

  30. Hi Sally,
    My dough is chilling and I’ll slice and back tomorrow. Your pictures show a ridge around the outside of the cookie. Do you do anything special to make that happen, or they just come out like that?! I’m bringing them to a cookie exchange tomorrow night!

    1. Nothing special at all– the center will slightly sink down as they cool. Especially if you bake them for a minute less. 🙂

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