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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Terris Frampton
2 years ago

I love sugar cookies! I am wondering if you could substitute browned butter for regular? I have used it for a few of my recipes lately and love the nutty rich flavor.

2 years ago

5 stars
By far the best cookies I have ever made!!

2 years ago

5 stars
So good and very easy to make!!

2 years ago

5 stars
These cookies are Insane, I used salted butter and only had to put them in for 6 to 7 mins, these are Devine you are a genius!! They’re soft fluffy yet so satisfying to bite into, I could eat 100 in under 4 mins, Thank you Thank you!! I wish I could give you a star for every bite until I finish all the cookies

2 years ago

5 stars
I made these and added cinnamon and maple extract instead of vanilla. They tasted like French toast and were so delicious.

2 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.

Chrissy Ranu
1 year ago

5 stars
Delicious!!! I rolled them in red and green sugar to make them festive and they turned out so beautiful!

1 year 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.

1 year ago

5 stars
My favorite cookie!! My husband is not a big fan of butter cookies and he absolutely LOVES these, a big hit in our house. Just made them for a second time, so happy I found your recipe!!

Dana Christie
1 year ago

5 stars
We love these cookies! this will be the third time. 🙂
wondering if it’s necessary to refrigerate or will they come out the same if baked right away?

1 year ago

5 stars
First time making butter cookies. These are delicious!!! <3

1 year 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

1 year ago

2 stars
Had to make this after reading all the rave reviews. I don’t understand all the 5 stars. The recipe is just alright. Soft and chewy…yes, but bland and not at all sweet.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tamar
Finley Holland
9 months ago

5 stars
Hi, these are amazing!!!

3 months 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. 🙁