Brown Butter Sugar Cookies

These brown butter sugar cookies are soft, a bit chewy, toasty, nutty, and not too sweet! It’s a recipe you’ll want to make again and again… I pinky promise! 🙂

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Cute brown butter cookies decorated as bears on a white plate.

About these brown butter sugar cookies

My favorite sugar cookies are the ones that are soft, a ‘lil chewy, yet not-too-sweet. These cookies are just like that…. but better. All because of the brown butter.

The brown butter adds a nice hint of toasty + caramel flavors, elevating regular sugar cookies into these deliciously deeper, richer ones. I promise you that once you make these brown butter cookies, you’ll want to bake them over and over. They’re that good.

Like many of my recipes, this brown butter cookie recipe is simple and straightforward. You can make it in one bowl with a whisk and rubber spatula, so no need for fancy equipment. The only special step is really browning the butter, which is included in the recipe card. But if you’d like even more details on browning better, especially if you’re a beginner, feel free to check out my easy brown butter recipe.

And you don’t have to shape them into bears like I did—you can always make regular shaped brown butter sugar cookies! I just can’t help myself but cute-ify everything, LOL. But just in case you want to decorate some as bears, all of the info is also included in this post. 🙂

So, if you’d like to learn how to make these brown butter sugar cookies, keep reading!

Equipment

  • Stainless steel or light-colored pan: Light colors help you see the brown bits of butter forming when cooking, which can really help avoid burning it.
  • Silicone spatula: For stirring the brown butter in the pan and mixing in the dry ingredients.
  • Heatproof bowl/cup: I usually pour my hot browned butter into my large 4-cup Pyrex glass measuring cup, but feel free to use a bowl.
  • Medium mixing bowl: For all your dry ingredients.
  • Large mixing bowl or bowl of stand mixer: For mixing all of the cookie dough.
  • Hand whiskelectric whisk, or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment: I used a hand whisk because I didn’t feel like getting my other mixers out, LOL. Any work fine here, especially since the brown butter is melted.
  • Small cookie scoop: Holds about 1 ½ tbsp.
  • 2 cookie sheets
  • Parchment paper or 2 silicone mats
  • Wire rack

And if you want to decorate the baked brown butter cookies into bears (which is totally optional):

  • 2 Small microwave-safe mixing bowls
  • Small silicone spatula
  • 3 piping bags
  • Scissors
Brown butter in a pan

Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Table salt: I use Morton’s.
  • Unsalted butter: I like using Vital Farms.
  • Light or dark brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Egg
  • Vanilla extract
  • Espresso powder: Totally optional. I found that it elevates the brown butter flavor.

Again, these are optional for the bear cookie design:

  • White chocolate chips
  • Milk chocolate chips
  • Oil-based food coloring (pink or red)

How to make brown butter cookies

  1. Mise en place: aka “put in place”. This French saying simply means measure out all of the ingredients and prep your equipment beforehand. This helps you stay more organized and move more seamlessly in the kitchen while you make these brown butter cookies.
  2. Brown the butter: Allow the butter to melt, stirring frequently. The butter will become foamy, then will slightly subside. The color will turn from yellow to golden brown, with brown bits starting to form at the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring, often scraping the bottom of the pan so the brown specks don’t burn. It will smell nutty, toasty, and sweet. Once you reach the point where the butter is a deep golden brown color, immediately transfer to a heatproof bowl and let cool.
  3. Mix butter and sugar: In your large mixing bowl or bowl of stand mixer, cream the cooled brown butter and sugars together until smooth.
  4. Add egg, vanilla extract, and espresso powder (optional): Mix in the egg, vanilla extract, and optional espresso powder until combined.
  5. Stir in dry ingredients: Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until no dry spots remain.
  6. Shape brown butter sugar cookies: Gather a 1 ½ tbsp ball of dough and roll into sugar. Place on cookie sheet, spacing cookies apart by 3 inches. If making a bear design like I did, roll out ½ tsp balls of dough for each ear into sugar and place on top. Repeat with remaining dough.
  7. Bake: Bake brown butter cookies at 325°F/162°C until edges are set. Let cool on tray for about 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack.
  8. Decorate (optional): If decorating as bears, use melted chocolate to draw on the faces.
  9. Store: You can store the brown butter sugar cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
picking up a brown butter sugar cookie with my hand

For these cookies, I added ½ tsp espresso powder to enhance the flavor of the brown butter. However, it’s optional and you can skip it. You’ll still get deliciously soft, nutty, brown butter sugar cookies.

If you’re interested in making different variations, I recommend trying these options out:

  • Roll in sprinkles: Rolling the tops of the cookie dough balls in sprinkles instead of sugar prior to baking would add a fun texture! You can also fold the sprinkles into the cookie batter.
  • Top with flaky sea salt: Right after baking the brown butter cookies, immediately sprinkle the tops with flaky sea salt. It’ll elevate the cookies even more, making it sweet + slightly salty.
  • Add mix-ins: This variation won’t yield traditional sugar cookies, but it would still be very delicious. Try mixing in ½ cup of mix-ins of choice, like chocolate chips/chunks, crushed pretzels, chopped Oreos, or nuts.

Tips for making brown butter cookies

  • Use a kitchen scale: I LOVE using a kitchen scale because it always yields consistent, accurate results when measuring ingredients. However, if you’re measuring your dry ingredients with cups, make sure you follow this tip: gently spoon in the flour into the cup until it’s full, then scrape the excess off using the back of a knife or offset spatula.
  • Decorating: If you’re making the bear design, you can use melted chocolates! For the ears and snout, you’ll want to use white chocolate. For eyes and nose, you can use milk or dark chocolate. For the blush, you can dye the white chocolate with pink or red oil-based food coloring. If you don’t have oil-based food coloring, the chocolate will seize and clump up. To combat this, stir in a few drops of neutral oil (canola, vegetable) until the chocolate smooths back out. OR, you can use my easy icing recipe.
bear cookies made with brown butter on a white plate

FAQs

Why brown butter?

Brown butter adds a nice nutty + toasty flavor profile to dishes. And I wanted to elevate regular sugar cookies.

So, I thought I’d swap the regular butter with some caramelized butter!

Can you tell me more about brown butter?

Sure! I have a more in-depth post and recipe tutorial on brown butter here.

Can I freeze the dough?

Yes, you can. I recommend lining a plate or baking tray, and placing the cookie dough balls on it. Freeze for about 1 hour, then once they’re fully solid, transfer them to a large freezer bag or airtight container. They should keep for up to 3 months.

If you want to shape dough balls to make bears, I recommend freezing the ears separately. You don’t need to connect them now, since they may break apart when being stored.

Bake as usual, but add about 2-3 more minutes to the baking time.

Do you have a regular sugar cookie recipe?

Yes, here it is!

How to store freshly baked cookies

First, allow the brown butter sugar cookies to fully cool. Then, store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

I really hope you enjoy this recipe. If you make these brown butter sugar cookies, I’d love to see them. You can tag me at #bitesbybianca / @bitesbybianca on Instagram. Enjoy! 

📖 Recipe

cute brown butter sugar cookies on a white plate, decorated as bears

Brown Butter Sugar Cookies

Bites by Bianca
These brown butter sugar cookies are soft, a bit chewy, toasty, nutty, and not too sweet! It's a recipe you'll want to make again and again… I pinky promise! 🙂
To enhance the brown butter flavor, feel free to add in ½ tsp espresso powder! You can also omit it if you prefer.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 9 minutes
Total Time 29 minutes
Course Dessert
Servings 15 cookies
Calories 186 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 stainless steel or light-colored pan
  • 1 silicone spatula
  • 1 heatproof bowl
  • 1 medium mixing bowl
  • 1 large mixing bowl or bowl of stand mixer
  • 1 hand whisk, electric whisk, or stand mixer with paddle attachment
  • 1 small cookie scoop
  • 2 Cookie sheets
  • 2 silicone mats or parchment paper
  • 1 Wire rack
  • 2 microwave-safe bowls, optional for bear design
  • 1 small silicone spatula, optional for bear design
  • 3 Piping bags optional for bear design
  • 1 pair of scissors, optional for bear design

Ingredients
 
 

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp table salt

Wet ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter cut into tablespoons
  • ½ cup light or dark brown sugar packed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp espresso powder (optional)

For rolling:

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

Optional decorations for bear:

  • 3 tbsp white chocolate
  • ½ tbsp milk or dark chocolate
  • oil-based pink food coloring, see steps

Instructions
 

  • Brown the butter. You can also check out my more in-depth post about brown butter here.
    In a light-colored pan over medium heat, add ½ cup unsalted butter. Continuously stir with a silicone spatula.
    After the butter melts, it will begin to foam. Then, the foaming will subside and brown specks will start to form at the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring. The color change will be fairly quick, so keep an eye on the butter. Remove the pan from heat once you smell a nutty aroma and the butter becomes golden brown.
    Transfer to a heat-safe bowl and let slightly cool for about 5 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 325°F/162°C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper/silicone mat.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients: 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour, ½ tsp baking powder, ½ tsp baking soda, and ½ tsp salt.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the cooled, melted brown butter with ½ cup brown sugar and ½ cup granulated sugar until combined.
  • Add in 1 egg, 1 tbsp vanilla extract, and optional ½ tsp of espresso powder to the mixture. The espresso powder enhances the brown butter flavor, but feel free to omit it.
    Whisk until smooth.
  • Dump in all of the dry ingredients. Fold together using silicone spatula until no dry spots remains.
  • Use cookie scoop to gather dough (about 1 ½ tablespoons each) and roll into granulated sugar. Place cookie dough balls on lined baking sheet about 3 inches apart.
  • To make bears (optional): For the ears, take about 1 tsp of dough, split it in 2, and roll them in sugar. Place them on top left and right sides of a cookie dough ball on the baking sheet.
    Repeat for other bears, spacing the cookies about 3 inches apart.
  • Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges are set. Remove from oven and allow to cool on sheet for at least 5 minutes. Transfer to wire rack.

For the bear faces (optional):

  • Note: You can a piping bag, toothpick, or cookie scribe to add on the details. I used piping bags.
  • Add white chocolate to small microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until fully melted.
  • Leave about a tablespoon of melted white chocolate and transfer the rest to a piping bag. Use this for the snouts and ears.
  • To the remaining white chocolate, add a drop of oil-based pink food coloring. Transfer to piping bag and use this for the blush.
    If you don't have oil-based food coloring, then the chocolate will seize/become lumpy. To counter this, stir in a tsp of neutral oil (canola, vegetable) at a time, until it becomes smooth again.
  • Melt dark or milk chocolate in another bowl, transfer to piping bag, and use this to draw on the eyes and nose.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

Nutrition

Serving: 1 cookieCalories: 186kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 2gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 138mgPotassium: 40mgFiber: 0.3gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 206IUVitamin C: 0.01mgCalcium: 26mgIron: 1mg
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