Brown Sugar Butter Cookies

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Buttery cookies made with brown sugar. These chewy Brown Sugar Butter Cookies are an easy dessert to make! If you love sugar cookies, see all of our recipes here.

I’m a little bit of a cookie addict. Butter cookies and chocolate chip cookies duke it out for tops in my book. I know, I know, kinda boring. That’s why I love simple tricks that transform those classics into something new. 

plate of brown sugar cookies
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I have been making these for so long I could practically do it with my eyes closed 🙂 We took a traditional vanilla butter cookie and swapped the white sugar for brown sugar. Brown sugar keeps the cookies soft and tender. It also gives the cookie a richer flavor.

What is brown sugar?

Brown sugar is simply white sugar with molasses. Natural brown sugar means that there is molasses left naturally after the refining process. Commercially produced brown sugar has molasses added in. Dark brown sugar has a little more molasses than light brown sugar.

Can you use brown sugar in place of white? Yes, in some cases, but brown sugar has more moisture in it than white, so it can cause baked goods to be extra soft and tender, but also dense. For that reason it won’t work in recipes that are meant to be light and airy.

What does brown sugar taste like? Brown sugar has a deeper, richer flavor than white sugar. Think of caramel or toffee…that’s the flavor you’ll be adding to baked goods with brown sugar.

thick dense brown sugar butter cookies

Tips for Making This Brown Sugar Cookie Recipe:

Here are 6 key tips you can do to make sure this brown sugar butter cookies recipe is successful:

  • Use light brown sugar. Although we’ve tested this with dark brown sugar, we find it works best with light brown. The cookies are soft, tender and dense. Like shortbread!
  • Use a mixer. This makes sure the ingredients get combined really well.
  • Cream the butter and sugar really well. You don’t want any pockets of butter because they’ll melt during cooking and cause your cookies to spread unevenly. Cream the butter, then cream the butter and sugars again. And even again for good measure.
  • Scrape the sides of the bowl. Hard pieces of butter can stick to the sides of the bowl. Scraping the sides of the bowl several times during mixing prevents this from happening.
  • Roll into balls, press, then refrigerate. Refrigerating the dough prevents unwanted cookie spread. All it needs is at least 30 minutes. Remember to make fork tine marks in the cookie while the dough is soft. When it comes out of the fridge the dough will be hard.
  • Don’t overbake! We do not let the cookies get brown so that they stay soft. They will look set, but should be still really soft.
brown sugar cookies on a wire rack

What shape is best for butter cookies?

I usually debate about what shape to bake these into. I like to avoid rolling and cutting cookies as much as I can, but for these cookies, rolling worked better than dropping.

I tried the criss-cross of fork tines, but that looked so much like traditional peanut butter cookies I had to change it. You don’t want to confuse people! I went with a single press of the fork, but these could also be pressed down with the bottom of a cup, or even your fingers.

plate of brown sugar cookies

Helpful Resources:

A close up of a butter cookie broken in half
A close up of a butter cookie broken in half

Brown Sugar Butter Cookies {Soft & Chewy}

4.63 from 409 votes
Brown Sugar Butter Cookies: Buttery cookies made with brown sugar. These chewy cookies are so easy to make!
Servings 24 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar (5 ounces)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar for rolling (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
  • Cream together the butter and brown sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. You can also use a handheld electric mixer.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again. Add in the egg and vanilla extract, mix until well combined. 
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir just until combined. 
  • Scoop out dough using a cookie scoop, approximately 1 ½ tablespoons- and roll into balls. Roll the balls in the granulated sugar. (You can skip the rolling in sugar if you'd like.)
  • Place onto the prepared cookie sheet. Press down with the tines of a fork. Sprinkle with a little extra sugar if you didn't roll them in sugar.
  • Refrigerate dough balls for 30-60 minutes.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the centers are set. We do not let the cookies get golden brown so that they stay soft.
  • Allow the cookies to cool on the baking pan for 3-4 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  • Store in an airtight container.



The calories shown are based on the recipe making 24 cookies, with 1 serving being 1 cookie. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information.**


Calories: 156kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 54mg | Potassium: 35mg | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 250IU | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 0.6mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 156
Keyword bake sale recipes, butter cookies, christmas

About Lizzy T

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4 years ago

5 stars
Made these with weed butter. Turned out excellent!

5 years ago

5 stars
I just made these!! Im 15 and still made them. My siblings love them so much that they were gone within 2 minutes of me taking a dozen from the oven!! AMAZINGGGG

4 years ago

5 stars
this is a fantastic base recipe and ive baked it a few dozen times. i have to recommend however, that you finely chop a chocolate bar or two into your dough, and when you roll them, add some fine sea salt to the rolling sugar 😉 thank me later

1 year ago

I LOVE brown sugar ANYTHING! Can I use dark brown instead of light?

1 year ago

3 stars
This recipe is very bland and I think it works better with 2 eggs , more butter and a bit of milk. With the original amount of ingredients it not that good. Would not reccomed. 🙁

2 years ago

Haven’t done this yet but, I would still think it would be better if you put m&m s in it. But that’s just my 10 year old body speaking.

10 months ago

5 stars
10 out of 10 delicious I LOVE the consistency and I was scared they would be too sweet and they absolutely aren’t they’re so good !!! Whole family approves and they want more 😁

2 years ago

3 stars
This recipe was pretty easy but honestly it was very dry and bland. I tried different ways to make it not dry but it kept being that way no matter how hard I tried. Also the flavor tasted like sweet flour even when I tried to use less flour! I did like the taste at first but it got so boring and I didn’t eat the rest

3 years ago

5 stars
I love this recipe, I add the 1/2 c sugar to the mixture instead of for rolling, a 1/4c more flour and and use this recipe as a cutout cookie recipe. So much better than a regular sugar cookie recipe.

4 years ago

5 stars
Made multiple times!! I have added orange or almond emulsion as well; instant coffee about 1-3 TBS is amazing!!! They are fast and easy to make. Thinking to try lemon and poppyseed or possibly lavender as well. I hand roll ball sorta shape and just let them bake. I do not roll in sugar before baking. Simply wonderful cookie. Highly recommend!

5 years ago

5 stars
Omg, just finished baking these cookies. They just melt in your mouth. This recipe is a keeper. Thanks.

6 years ago

5 stars
Just made these….. oh my goodness, they are divine! I actually doubled the salt to balance the sweetness from being rolled in sugar, and they are eyes roll back in your head good!

6 years ago

What if I don’t have a mixer?

1 year ago

5 stars
These were delicious. Soft. Yum I saved these to my winners recipe folder.

4 years ago

Any idea if I can make these with just brown sugar?