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

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}

4.61 from 218 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

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7 years ago

5 stars
i just made these… omg. so good. i didnt have vanilla so i can only imagine how good they will be next time!

5 years ago

Will it work if I use margarine instead of unsalted butter? I don’t have any butter but it’s so slick outside right now that I can’t go get any!

5 years ago

What if I don’t have a mixer?

5 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!

5 years ago

5 stars
Just made these, and I my goodness. My hubby, who is butter cookie crazy loved them. Thanks for the recipe.

5 years ago

5 stars
My cookies came out well…just a tad bit too crumbly…maybe I did not freeze the dough long enough…overall good recipe..

4 years ago

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

4 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

Tonya Cheyne
4 years ago

Has anyone tried to freeze these after they were baked and cooled? It’s just my husband and I and 24 of those babies would mean some serious trouble!

4 years ago

In your nutrition label, is 1 serving, 1 cookie? Need to keep track of things. I’m making them regardless!!

4 years ago

5 stars
I made these today. As a beginner, it’s not perfect but it tastes good. I even put raisins as my mom suggested to add raisins.

4 years ago

5 stars
I made these. It was delicious. I put raisins as my mom suggested to add it.

Dani Timmermans
4 years ago

Made these but put orange zest and juice in there as I had no vanilla extract! Yummmm best cookies! I really wanna dip them in whit chocolate tho! Yummm

4 years ago

Can I use shortening in place of the butter?

3 years ago

5 stars
I love these! Making them for a second time. Was wondering if changing the shape would change cooking time? Was thinking to use a cookie cutter to make them festive. I wouldn’t want to mess the texture up though. They are so good!

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