The Secret Technique to Making the Most Amazing Sugar Cookies

Take your go-to treat to the next level.

There’s nothing quite like biting into a soft, chewy sugar cookie. One of the best things about these easy-to-make treats (besides how they taste) is that they’re super simple to jazz up. Whether it’s a sprinkle of cinnamon or a grating of citrus zest, there are loads of twists on the classic sugar cookie, including these secret cookie ingredients from Grandma. But for the most irresistible treats ever, you’ll want to add brown butter.

How to make brown butter

Brown butter (or beurre noisette if you’re feeling fancy) is the secret to baking some seriously next-level cookies. If you ask any baker or chef, they’ll go on and on about brown butter’s near-magical ability to turn a good recipe into something great with its rich, nutty flavor. We love swapping regular butter for brown butter in our sweet treats (but it works wonders in savory dishes as well—hello, brown butter roasted cauliflower).

Making brown butter is easy. All you’ll need to do is pop your butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Stir gently but continuously as it melts. Once the butter shifts from yellow to a rich golden brown and takes on that classic toasty, nutty aroma, you’re good to go! Here are step-by-step instructions. From here, you’ll want to transfer your fresh batch of brown butter to a heatproof bowl and let it cool. For the purposes of our brown butter sugar cookies, you’ll want to put your brown butter in the fridge for about 20 minutes or until it’s firm enough to work with. Don’t skip this step. If you don’t chill your butter, you’ll wind up with hard-to-work dough and cookies that spread across your baking tray and wind up hard and crispy instead of chewy and soft. That’s one reason why you should never skip chilling cookie dough.

How to add brown butter to your sugar cookie recipe

Evaporation takes place when you brown butter, so you’ll need to replace the lost liquid if you want your cookies to stay chewy once they come out of the oven. It works out to about 15 percent more liquid than is stated in the recipe. We recommend adding a bigger splash of vanilla extract or an extra squeeze of lemon juice, depending on your recipe. Maybe even add one of these unique cookie ingredients.

  • For ¼ cup butter add 1.8 tsp of extra liquid.
  • For ½ cup butter add 3.6 tsp of extra liquid.
  • For 1 cup butter add 2.4 tbsp of extra liquid.

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Camille Berry
Camille Berry is a food and drinks writer who divides her time between her native San Francisco and the UK. Her work has appeared on Wine Folly, Vinepair, The Back Label, in Spirited Virginia Magazine, and many other websites and publications.

Part of the third generation in a family of restaurateurs, Camille was practically born with a passion for cooking and food. She embarked on a career in hospitality where she excelled as a sommelier and wine director at several of San Francisco's most well-loved restaurants. This hospitality experience has endowed her with a wealth of first-hand knowledge of various cuisines, how to pair all manner of drinks with food, and entertaining – plus some serious kitchen skills. She is both a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and a Certified Wine Specialist through the Society of Wine Educators.