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May 11, 2008 / Tony

Brown Sugar Cookies

I have to admit that I really enjoy what America’s Test Kitchen does with recipes.  The focus is on results and nothing else.  As a consequence, their recipes are almost uniformly practical, interesting, and delicious.  This Brown Sugar Cookie recipe is no exception.  The usage of browned butter is a simply ingenious addition to this recipe that gives a deep, almost caramel flavor to the final product.  Here’s the recipe:

Brown Sugar Cookies, based on this America’s Test Kitchen recipe (free login required).

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

14 T unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks or 7 oz)

1/4 cup sugar

2 cups packed light brown sugar (dark brown sugar can also be used)

2 cups plus 2 T unbleached all-purpose flour (10 1/2 ounces)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp table salt

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 T vanilla extract

Heat 10 tablespoons (5 oz) butter in small saucepan over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes.  Continue to cook, swirling pan frequently until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes.  Remove skillet from heat and transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl.  Stir remaining 4 tablespoons (2 oz) butter into hot butter to melt; set aside for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 large (18 by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a pie plate, mix granulated sugar and 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, rubbing between fingers, until well combined.  Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder together in a small bowl.

Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups brown sugar and salt to bowl with cooled butter; mix until no sugar lumps remain, about 30 seconds.  Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.  Then add  the egg, yolk, and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.  Give the dough a final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.

Divide dough into 24 portions, each about 2 tablespoons, rolling between hands into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  The easiest way to do this is to use a 2 tablespoon sized disher.  Working in batches, toss balls in reserved sugar mixture to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart, 12 dough balls per sheet.

Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are browned and still puffy and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), 12 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.  Do not overbake.

Cool cookies on baking sheet and then transfer the cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Here’s a picture:


The result is a caramelly, deeply flavored cookie with a crisp (and almost crackly) exterior and a just tender enough interior; a bold cookie with a strong vanilla flavor, a great “bite”, and a deep, rich butteriness.  They really are quite perfect cookies.  I can’t wait to make these again. 

Just a few notes:  1)  The original recipe calls for dark brown sugar but light brown sugar works just fine.  2)  Really be careful about overbaking in this recipe.  Because there’s quite a bit of sugar in these cookies, they will tend to get a bit hard if they are overcooked.  They will be quite tender to the touch when they should be removed from the oven.  3)  I’ve said it before on this blog but an accurate digital scale will help your baking-especially in terms of consistency.  It’s a small investment to make compared to the tremendous results you can achieve when measuring really accurately.  4)  I made these as my contribution to the Mother’s Day celebration at my parent’s place. 




Leave a Comment
  1. nancy k / Sep 9 2008 10:35 am

    these cookies are money!

    thanks for sharing with your freeloading work peeps!

  2. Jeni / Oct 2 2008 1:42 pm

    Hi, just wanted to let you know I’ve made these cookies twice now (found you through a food blog search for “sugar cookies”). They’re delicious! This time, I made them pretty small (with a 1/2 tsp scoop), which made just under 80 cookies, and added 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg to the dough. Wonderful stuff.

  3. jessijess / Nov 26 2008 12:42 pm

    i LOVE it. I was looking for this receipe everywhere after seeing it on America’s Test Kitchen. Thank you.

  4. taryn / Feb 4 2009 8:28 pm

    i just made these and WOW are they good! they didnt come out crackly on top but there still delicious!

  5. Aunt Jo / Feb 5 2009 4:23 pm

    Made these for after school treat. The kids loved them. Very quick and easy!

  6. dwarfhamster101 / May 12 2009 3:22 pm

    This is the best cookie recipie ever! I changed them a bit and melted the brown sugar and they still worked.The crinkly tops are so interesting.

  7. hannah / Oct 16 2009 11:05 am

    i like them!

  8. eileen / Mar 3 2010 10:36 pm

    I have made these cookies 3 times now to the letter measuring and measuring twice and the dough is gooey un-ballable so I have had to add another cup of flour so they were even ballable, they are not sweet, even more vanilla doesn’t help the flavor, and nothing like my Great Grandmother’s brown sugar cookies….I give UP!!!!

    • Tony / Mar 11 2010 4:02 pm

      I’m sorry this recipe isn’t working for you Eileen. I can’t for the life of me figure out what’s wrong. This recipe has never failed me.

    • Linda / Sep 25 2010 4:43 pm

      What kind of flour are you using – all purpose or cake flour? If you’re using cake that might be the problem. I was also reading that all purpose flour from Northern states has a higher protien than that from the Southern states. Could also be the difference…

    • Marie / Oct 5 2010 12:47 pm

      I had the same problem… my dough came out gooey – more like cake batter than cookie dough. I added a bit more flour to thicken it up, but didn’t want to add too much because I was afraid they would come out dry. Still unable to ball the dough, I just dropped it by the spoonful onto my cookie sheet and sprinkled them with the sugar mixture. They came out great!

      When they came out of the oven and I prepared to bake my second pan of cookies, I found that the dough had stiffened nicely after sitting for fifteen minutes.

      Next time, I will just let it sit for a while instead of adding extra flour and see if that does the trick.

  9. Linda / Sep 25 2010 4:37 pm

    I just made these after seeing America’s Test Kitchen. They are very good but can get a bit rich so next time I make them I’ll make them half the size.

  10. Jacqueline Bratko / Apr 17 2011 3:57 pm

    Today I found a cookie that I will be making from now on. If you measue properly and follow the directions the cookies turn out just like the picture. Awesome Cookies

  11. Bridget Hedger / Jan 23 2012 4:09 pm

    Wow these look delicious! I love your wedding photo! I just got married, and am a nanny too. I love to cook and blog with my husband. I’m your newest follower I love your blog and can’t wait to check out more and see more posts. I’d love it if you could follow me back!

  12. Suzan / Oct 3 2012 11:57 pm

    I couldn’t imagine that these could taste SO good! But they have such a wonderful caramel, toffee flavor and it is just addictive! My kids loved these and I was sneaking many of them! I did bake for 12 min. and that seemed a little too long. I will try 10 and 11 min. to see if they stay a little softer. I never bothered to look at them and waited for the 12 min. timer to go off. Not a good move. Check on them in case your oven gets them done faster! BTW, I have another batch in the oven right now! Thank you for sharing!


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