Brown Butter Sugar Cookies

Beignets, Butter, and Bourbon

There is something about brown butter that makes baked goods even better. I love it in the simplest of recipes to add an extra punch of flavor. The nutty flavor of the brown butter makes these brown butter sugar cookies irresistible.

How do I brown butter?

It’s actually not that hard! I prefer a stainless steel skillet to brown butter. If you use a non-stick or cast iron (or any dark bottom pan), you’re going to have a hard time making sure your brown butter doesn’t burn. You really need the clarity of the stainless steel to watch the coloring of the butter.

First, don’t overcrowd your pan. If you’re working with a small saucepan, only do a stick of butter at a time. If you’re working with a 12” skillet, you can brown all three sticks at once.

Place the butter in your pan and turn on low-medium heat. Stirring constantly, let the butter begin to bubble and “cook.” It’ll get a little foamy as you are stirring, but if it gets to a point where you can’t see the butter beneath it because of all the foam, lower your heat.

Continue to stir and cook the butter until it begins to turn a beautiful amber color.

I don’t like to keep my butter in the pan because I don’t want to risk the residual heat cooking it further. I pour it into a heat-safe glass bowl to let it cool completely.

For this recipe, I let it sit on the counter all day, and it re-solidified without being as hard as refrigerated butter. If you do want to keep it around, you should cover it in an air-tight container and place back in the fridge to keep it fresher longer.

Also, the butter will reduce in volume based on how much water is in the butter you buy. A better quality butter will have a lower water content, so it will not reduce in size as much. I use pretty cheap butter. For this recipe, I brown three sticks of butter to use. It roughly comes out to be 1 1/4 cups.

Brown butter sugar cookie dough rolled out on a floured surface.  With cookie cutters and rolling pin.

Do I have to use brown butter in brown butter sugar cookies?

If you still want to call them brown butter sugar cookies, yes.

If you don’t mind just calling them sugar cookies….then, nope!

You can substitute the brown butter in this recipe with regular unsalted butter. For this, I would just use 1 cup of traditional butter in place of the amount used for this recipe. It’s a little firmer than brown butter, so you don’t need as much.

Alternatively, there are brands out there who sell brown butter. Granted, you either have to plan well in advance or just keep them on hand. The brand I’ve used and have had success with in baking is Black and Boyland, a NYC based brand. You can see how I used it in my Brown Butter Pull Apart Bread.

What type of flour should I use for sugar cookies?

I use all-purpose for these cookies. If you want a chewier cookie, I’d recommend using bread flour. If you want a more pillowy cookie, use cake flour. The flour will not influence the flavor of the cookie (except maybe like whole wheat flour), but it will affect the texture. Think about your ideal sugar cookie and adjust from there. I have used bread flour for cookies when in a pinch, and they turn out delightful. They just have a little bit more “bite” to them, but I don’t mind that at all with these kind of cookies.

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 12 minutes
  • Total time: 2 hours 27 minutes
  • Serves: 4 dozen 2 " cookies

Brown butter takes a fun twist on a traditional sugar cookie by providing a nutty flavor that balances the sweetness of the cookie.


  • 1 1/4 cup brown butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 5 cups AP flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 jar sparkling sugar, optional


  • 1)

    Cream together butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time. Add remaining ingredients until just combined. Place in an air-tight container and refrigerate for 2 hours.

  • 2)

    Preheat oven to 350F. On a floured surface, roll out dough until 1/4″ thick.  Using cookie cutter, cut out cookies.  Place on lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle with sparkling sugar and bake for 12-15 minutes.

  • 3)

    For best texture, store in air-tight container overnight.

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