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Brown Butter Sugar Cookies

These brown butter sugar cookies bake up with chewy centers and crispy edges, and are packed with that delicious, nutty, brown butter flavor!

image of brown butter sugar cookies cooling on a baking sheet

How to Make Brown Butter Sugar Cookies

Let’s walk through each step of this recipe to make sure it turns out as amazing as possible!

I’ve also shared a video tutorial below.

Step 1: Brown the Butter

The first step is to brown the butter. This can be done in advance to speed up the cooling process, I usually do it the night before or a few hours before I want to make these cookies.

Place 1/2 cup of unsalted butter cut into Tbsp-sized pieces in a light-colored pan over medium heat. Stir the butter the entire time with a rubber spatula to keep it moving.

Once melted, the butter will begin to foam and sizzle around the edges. Keep stirring.

The butter will turn golden brown in about 5–6 minutes from when you start. Some foam will subside and the milk solids at the bottom of the pan will be toasty brown. It should have a strong, nutty aroma.

image of butter being browned in a white pan

Immediately remove the pan from heat and pour the butter into a heatproof bowl to stop the cooking process. If left in the hot pan, the butter will burn.

Place the bowl in the fridge for 45 minutes to accelerate the cooling process, or until it solidifies and reaches room temperature.

Step 2: Cream the Butter and Sugar Together

Once the brown butter has solidified and reached room temperature, place it in a large bowl with the granulated sugar and packed light brown sugar.

Cream together with an electric hand mixer for 2 minutes, until the mixture becomes lighter in color.

If you don’t have an electric mixer, whisk the mixture together vigorously for 3 minutes until it becomes lighter in color.

image of brown butter and sugar being creamed together with a hand mixer

Step 3: Mix in the Remaining Wet Ingredients

Add the egg and vanilla to the brown butter mixture. Mix on a medium speed until combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.

image of an egg being mixed into creamed butter and sugar with a hand mixer

Step 4: Mix in the Remaining Dry Ingredients

Next, mix in the flour, baking soda, and fine salt on a low speed until combined. The dough should be pretty sticky at this point.

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients on a low speed until just combined.

image of brown butter sugar cookie dough that's been mixed in a glass bowl with an electric mixer

Step 5: Scoop & Chill the Dough

Scoop cookie dough balls that are about 2 Tbsp of dough each onto a parchment-lined dish. You should end up with about 12 cookie dough balls.

image of brown butter sugar cookie dough being scooped with cookie scoop

Chill the cookie dough in the fridge for at least an hour, or overnight. The longer the cookies chill, the more time they have to develop their flavor.

While the cookie dough chills, preheat the oven to 350 F / 175 C. Line 2 large baking pans with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Step 6: Coat and Bake the Cookies

Remove the chilled cookie dough from the fridge and roll the dough in a small bowl of sanding sugar or granulated sugar until it’s completely coated.

image of brown butter sugar cookies being coated in sanding sugar before being baked

Place the cookie dough balls on the prepared baking pans about 3 inches apart from each other, with 6 on each pan.

Bake one pan at a time (place the second pan in the fridge while the first bakes) for 11-13 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to brown. Then bake the second pan.

image of brown butter sugar cookies that have been bitten into to show how chewy and soft their centers are

Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Substitutions and Swaps – Brown Butter Cookies

This cookie recipe uses quite a few ingredients and I know you might not have them all on hand. Or if you have food allergies or restrictions, I’ve got you covered.

Below are some swaps and substitutions that you can make.

  • Unsalted Butter – I prefer using unsalted butter and adding a set amount of salt to ensure that this recipe tastes just right no matter what brand of butter you use. However, if you only have salted butter on hand, you can use it and omit the salt in this recipe.
  • Granulated Sugar – I do not recommend reducing the amount of sugar or changing the type of sugar, as it will change the texture and spread of these cookies.
  • Light Brown Sugar – This recipe turns out best with light brown sugar, but you can use dark brown sugar if needed.
  • 1 Large Egg – If you have an egg allergy you can try using a flaxseed egg or a vegan egg replacer like this made by Bob’s Red Mill.
  • AP Flour – This recipe turns out best with AP flour, but you can use a gluten-free flour blend if needed.
image of ingredients laid out to make brown butter sugar cookies.

How to Make Gluten-Free Brown Butter Cookies

If you need to make gluten-free brown butter cookies, use gluten-free flour in place of the all-purpose flour.

I prefer King Arthur’s gluten-free flour blend. In addition to swapping the flour, there are two additional steps you need to take when making gluten-free cookies.

Be sure to over-mix your dough and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before baking for best results.

Over-mixing gluten-free dough helps the cookies rise better as they bake and gives them a more tender texture.

Letting the dough sit helps it thicken and prevents the cookies from having a gritty texture.

Brown Butter Sugar Cookies Troubleshooting & FAQs

While I’d love to think everyone’s cookies will turn out perfectly every time, I know that sometimes things don’t go to plan. Below are some tips and advice to help!

Why Are My Cookies Flat or Why Did They Overspread?

Cookies can overspread for a few different reasons. The most common is that the dough wasn’t chilled for long enough, they weren’t baked for long enough, or there was too much leavening agent in the dough.

Chilling the dough in this recipe is a must! It controls how much the cookies spread and bake up. If you don’t chill the dough, the cookies will overspread.

In my experience, the main cause of flat cookies is that they’re underbaked. The cookies need to have enough structure when they’re pulled out of the oven to keep their shape and not flatten completely as they cool. If your cookies flatten out like a pancake as they cool, they may have needed a minute or two longer in the oven.

Another reason that these cookies can overspread is that there’s too much leavening agent in the batter. Make sure you’re using the right amount of baking powder and baking soda, and that you’re leveling your measuring spoons flat.

Why Didn’t My Cookies Spread as They Baked?

This can happen if the batter is over-mixed after adding the flour, the leavening agents are expired, or if your oven runs cool.

Over-mixed batter can also create dense, chewy (in a bad way) baked goods. Make sure that you mix the batter until it’s just combined once you’ve added in the flour.

Expired baking soda is a sneaky one. Check the dates on your baking soda. It can start to lose its leavening power after it’s been open for 6 months.

You can check baking soda by adding it to an acidic liquid, like lemon juice or vinegar. It should bubble up once it comes in contact with the acid. If it doesn’t, it’s time to get a new box of baking soda.

Another factor could be that your oven isn’t properly calibrated. I highly recommend getting an oven thermometer to make sure it’s baking at the right temperature.

Can I Make These Brown Butter Sugar Cookies in Advance?

You can make this cookie dough in advance! The cookie dough balls can be stored in the fridge for up to a week in an airtight container or in the freezer for up to a month.

If you freeze the cookie dough, transfer it to the fridge the night before you want to bake the cookies, then roll them in sugar and bake them following the instructions in the recipe card below.

Leftover cookies can sit at room temperature for 5 days in an airtight container.

You can also freeze baked cookies for up to a month. I like to thaw them overnight in the fridge, then let them come to room temperature the next day.

image of brown butter sugar cookies cooling on a baking sheet

Tips for Making the Best Brown Butter Cookies

  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better. Set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Properly measure the flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure the dry ingredients.
  • Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until they’re *just* combined. Avoid over-mixing the dough once the flour has been added in.
  • Use a cookie scoop to make sure the cookies are uniformly sized.
  • Don’t over-bake your cookies! Even if they seem a bit soft coming out of the oven, they will continue to bake and set on the tray once they’re out of the oven.

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try this brown butter sugar cookie recipe, I’d love to hear what you think of it! Please leave a rating and comment below.

Don’t forget to tag me @chelsweets and use #chelsweets so that I can see your delicious creations on social media!

Other Posts You Might Like:

Yield: 12 Cookies

Brown Butter Sugar Cookies

image of brown butter sugar cookies cooling on a baking sheet

These brown butter sugar cookies bake up with chewy centers and crispy edges, and are packed with that delicious, nutty, brown butter flavor!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 27 minutes

Ingredients

Brown Butter Sugar Cookies

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1 Tbsp-size pieces (113g)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (100g)
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (50g)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature (56g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (125g)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (3g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt (3g)
  • White sanding sugar or additional granulated sugar for rolling

Instructions

Brown Butter Sugar Cookies

  1. The first step is to brown the butter. This can be done in advance to speed up the cooling process, I usually do it a few hours before I want to make these cookies. Place 1/2 cup of unsalted butter cut into Tbsp-sized pieces in a light-colored pan over medium heat. Stir the butter the entire time with a rubber spatula to keep it moving. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam and sizzle around the edges. Keep stirring. The butter will turn golden brown in about 5–6 minutes from when you start. Some foam will subside and the milk solids at the bottom of the pan will be toasty brown. It should have a strong, nutty aroma.
  2. Immediately remove the pan from heat and pour the butter into a heatproof bowl to stop the cooking process. If left in the hot pan, the butter will burn. Place the bowl in the fridge for 45 minutes to accelerate the cooling process, or until it solidifies and reaches room temperature.
  3. Once the brown butter has solidified and reached room temperature, place it in a large bowl with 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, and 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar. Cream together with an electric hand mixer for 2 minutes, until the mixture becomes lighter in color. If you don't have an electric mixer, whisk the mixture together vigorously for 3 minutes until it becomes lighter in color.
  4. Add 1 large egg and 1 tsp vanilla to the brown butter mixture. Mix on a medium speed until combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
  5. Next, mix 1 cup of flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp fine salt on a low speed until combined. The dough should be pretty sticky at this point.
  6. Scoop cookie dough balls that are about 2 Tbsp of dough each onto a parchment-lined dish. You should end up with about 12 cookie dough balls. Chill the cookie dough in the fridge for at least an hour, or overnight. The longer the cookies chill, the more time they have to develop their flavor.
  7. While the cookie dough chills, preheat the oven to 350 F / 175 C. Line 2 large baking pans with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  8. Remove the chilled cookie dough from the fridge and roll the dough in a small bowl of sanding sugar or granulated sugar until it's completely coated. Place the cookie dough on the prepared baking pans about 3 inches apart from each other, with 6 on each pan. Bake one pan at a time (place the second pan in the fridge while the first bakes) for 11-13 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to brown. Then bake the second pan.
  9. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Notes

If you have any questions about substitutions in this recipe, please check out the "Substitutions and Swaps" section in the post above.

How Many Cookies Does this Recipe Make?

This recipe makes about 12 cookies (2 Tbsp of dough per cookie).

However, you can also make bigger brown butter cookies! Scoop 8 cookie dough balls (about 3 Tbsp each) and chill them for an hour, then bake for 9-12 minutes at 350 F / 175 C.

Tips for Making the Best Brown Butter Sugar Cookies

  • Properly measure the flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Ingredients at room temperature mix together better. Set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until they're *just* combined. Avoid over-mixing the dough once the flour has been added in.
  • Use a cookie scoop to make sure the cookies are uniformly sized.
  • Don't over-bake your cookies! Even if they seem a bit soft coming out of the oven, they will continue to bake and set on the tray once they're out of the oven.

Making These Brown Butter Sugar Cookies in Advance and Storing Them

You can make this cookie dough in advance! The cookie dough balls can be stored in the fridge for up to a week in an airtight container or in the freezer for up to a month.

If you freeze the cookie dough, transfer it to the fridge the night before you want to bake the cookies, then roll them in sugar and bake them following the instructions in the recipe card above.

These cookies can sit at room temperature for 5 days in an airtight container, or be frozen for up to a month.

Nutrition Information

Yield

12

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 162Total Fat 8gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 36mgSodium 158mgCarbohydrates 21gFiber 0gSugar 13gProtein 2g

Hiday

Thursday 16th of May 2024

What didn't my cookies flatten out? They stayed in a ball.

Chelsweets

Sunday 19th of May 2024

Hi Hiday,

That can be caused by a few different things! If your butter wasn't fully at room temp (if your kitchen was cold or you made it in advance and stored it in the fridge), that would have a big impact on how much the cookies spread. Are you measuring your flour by fluffing and leveling it or using a scale? Sometimes if you're packing the flour into the measuring cup that can also cause the cookies to spread less. One other thing could be that your baking soda is old (it looses its strength after 6 months)! The baking soda causes the cookies to rise up and then spread out as they bake, so if it isn't at full potency, the cookies wouldn't spread much.

Do you think it could be one of those? Hopefully we'll be able to figure it out together!

Shannon

Monday 13th of May 2024

Oh wow, these were amazing! I did everything the same with the exception of using King Arthur gluten free flour because my daughter can't have gluten. They were eaten so fast. I'm making a double batch tonight!

Chelsweets

Sunday 19th of May 2024

Oh I love that!! I just made a batch of these yesterday, so we're baking twins! Thank you so much for sharing, they really are so delicious!!!

Zac

Sunday 28th of April 2024

These were incredibly good. In one week I have made them twice.

Chelsweets

Sunday 28th of April 2024

I absolutely love that, they are so good!! Thank you for sharing Zac :)

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Stacey

Thursday 8th of February 2024

These were so so so good! Great recipe!

Chelsweets

Tuesday 13th of February 2024

So happy to hear that Stacey :) Thank you for sharing!!!

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