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}

4.62 from 215 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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3 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!

Sadie Marie
3 years ago

5 stars
These are really great!!! I have made them multiple times and they are superb! If you add in some chocolate chunks they are amazing!!!!

3 years ago

5 stars
These are delicious and super fluffy. They are a little dry though. I doubled the recipe and did 4 1/4 cups of flower instead on 4 1/2 and they were perfect

3 years ago

Do you think you can substitute Splenda brown sugar blend for regular brown sugar?

Kazza Drew
3 years ago

5 stars
Wonderful recipe had to translate to Australian ingredients eg all purpose flour etc and oven temperatures my family love it thankyou

3 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

3 years ago

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

2 years ago

II will try today and make another separate batch and use 1/2 cup of chopped toasted walnuts i`ll let you know how it comes out

2 years ago

I am thinking of adding cinnamon and raisins.

2 years ago

I don’t know what I did wrong, but my mixture is like sand. I managed to roll 12 cookies but they cracked when I pressed them with a fork. The rest of the mixture is just to crumbly to roll! Any thoughts about where I went wrong?

Betty Livengood
2 years ago

Is it possible to double this recipe? I wanted to freeze some. These look delicious. Thank you for your Recipe.

2 years ago

You meant 1/2 cup “sugar”, didn’t you?

2 years ago

5 stars
Delicious! So easy to make. They tasted a little floury.. any advice?

2 years ago

5 stars
I made these and they tasted AMAZING they were so soft. The only thing I have to say is you might want to change the prep time because I had to leave my cookies in the fridge for a longer time 🙂

lily lane
2 years ago

5 stars
Thesse where great but instead if all the brown sugar I did half a cup brown sugar and a counter of a cup maple syrup and it was delicious!!!