Brown Butter Sugar Cookies are soft, chewy, and a major upgrade from regular sugar cookies. They’re drop-style so easy to make. Roll in sugar or sprinkles to make them festive for the holidays. Browned butter adds a rich, slightly nutty, and warm flavor. Never browned butter before? Check out the tips and tricks below!
Brown Butter FAQs
What is brown butter?
Brown butter is a staple in French cooking and for good reason. It’s made by melting butter and cooking until it is browned and the milk solids are toasted.
It has a rich, nutty flavor that is an amazing addition to both sweet and savory recipes.
What are the brown specks?
The brown specks are the toasted milk solids. They are very important and loaded with flavor, so make sure to scrape them from the pan.
If your specks become black, they are burnt and will make it taste bitter – I recommend starting a new batch.
Can I substitute brown butter for regular butter in any recipe?
You can substitute brown butter for melted butter in most recipes. But be aware that there is a loss of moisture in the browning process, so you’ll want to measure the brown butter after making it.
For example – you will likely need to brown 9 tablespoons of butter to get 8 tablespoons of browned butter.
If the recipe calls for cold butter or even room temperature, softened butter then substituting brown butter will not be an even 1:1 swap and recipe testing will be needed.
Brown Butter Tips!
- The #1 tip is to watch the butter closely! It can go from perfectly browned to burnt quickly.
- Use a light colored pan! This makes it easier to see the color.
- Chop your butter into chunks. This aids in even melting.
- If you think your butter is burnt (some of the specks will be black and it will have a slightly burnt smell), then start over. Seriously. It will give your cookies an off flavor.
- Have a bowl ready to transfer the butter from the skillet. This will stop the butter from continuing to cook in the hot skillet.
- When in doubt, stop browning a few seconds early than late. It’s better to have butter that is amber and shy of peak browning than to have it burn.
- Finally, Keep extra butter on hand! (just in case your batch burns.)
Tips for this Recipe
Why brown butter in these cookies?
Brown butter adds an extra depth and rich, nutty flavor to the cookies that you just don’t get from using regular butter.
It also results in a slightly chewier cookie.
Do I have to roll the cookies in sugar or sprinkles?
Nope! While I love the extra sweetness (and prettiness) that rolling in granulated sugar adds. And I also love making them festive using sprinkles.
But, you can absolutely skip the step and just bake the dough balls as is.
How long do these cookies last?
They will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.
Can I prep the dough in advance?
Absolutely. I recommend making the dough, rolling into balls, and chilling the dough balls in the fridge for up to 3 days before baking.
I don’t recommend chilling the dough before rolling – it may become crumbly and difficult to work with.
Can I freeze the cookies or dough?
Baked cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Unbaked cookie dough balls can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Bake the frozen dough balls, without thawing, for an extra minute or two.
Other Dessert Recipes Using Brown Butter:
- Brown Butter Pecan Blondies
- Mini Apple and Browned Butter Tarts – from The Creative Bite
- Brown Butter Almond Shortbread Cookies
- Pumpkin Bars with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting – from Olive and Artisan
Brown Butter Sugar Cookies are soft, chewy, and a major upgrade from regular sugar cookies. They’re drop-style so easy to make. Roll in sugar or sprinkles to make them festive for the holidays. Brown butter adds a rich, slightly nutty, and warm flavor.
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, omit if using salted butter
- 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- sprinkles or granulated sugar, optional for rolling
- Brown the Butter. First, set out a large heat proof bowl to have at the ready. Place butter chunks in a medium-large light colored skillet. Melt the butter over medium heat, whisking occasionally. After 5-8 minutes, the butter will start foam and then brown. You’ll start to see brown specks on the bottom and it will have a nutty aroma. When finished the butter will be an amber, golden brown and the specks will be brown. Be careful not to burn! The specks can go from brown to black very quickly which means the butter is burnt. Better to stop a few seconds too early than too late. If you accidentally burn it, throw away and start over. Otherwise it will taste bitter. Once browned, pour into the bowl immediately and let cool for 5-10 minutes
- Prepare Dry Ingredients. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
- Mix Wet Ingredients. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar to the slightly cooled brown butter. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until mostly combined – about 1 minute. Then beat in the egg and vanilla extract until combined.
- Add the Dry Ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and mix together on low speed, slowly working up to medium speed until combined. The dough will be thick and slightly greasy.
- Roll into Balls. Roll the dough into balls – about 1 tablespoon of dough each. Due to the dough’s texture, you may need to kind of press them into balls versus rolling. Do the best you can. Press the tops of the balls with sprinkles or sugar or roll and cover completely.
- Chill Dough Balls. Place the balls on a lined baking sheet or a few plates, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30-45 minutes to chill
- Preheat Oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
- Bake. Line the baking sheets with the chilled balls – a few inches apart (sprinkles/sugar up). Bake for 12-13 minutes until lightly browned around the edges and just set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Storage: Cookies stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Make Ahead: You can make the cookie dough, roll into balls as directed and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Freezer: Baked cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months. Unbaked cookie dough balls can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Bake frozen cookie dough balls for an extra minute, no need to thaw.
- Category: Dessert, Cookies
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Brown Butter Cookies, Brown Butter Sugar Cookies, Holiday Cookies, Brown Butter Tips, Sugar Cookies