There’s truly nothing better than a fresh, warm, homemade chocolate chip cookie, is there? Rich, and chewy, and soft, and loaded with your favorite chocolate chips, each bite warms the soul and is filled with nostalgia. I know it can’t just be me…
It’s the best. And there’s nothing worse than when you go to make them and realize you don’t have brown sugar. A, typically, very needed ingredient when making chocolate chip cookies, isn’t it?
Well, step aside chocolate chip cookies with brown sugar, because there’s a new recipe in town that is just as good (dare I say even better in its own way?!) and requires no brown sugar – solely relying on the goodness of granulated sugar.
Yes, it can absolutely be done and done deliciously. The edges of these cookies are crisp and caramelized and the centers are soft and chewy. It’s a delightful combination that you won’t be able to get enough of!
Can I really make cookies without brown sugar?
Yes, you totally can! Let’s talk a little about what is brown sugar, and how this recipe differs from a traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe. If you are just all about the cookies – go ahead and keep scrolling.
Brown sugar is granulated sugar that has added molasses. Molasses is also essentially sugar, with a slight caramel flavor, and is dark in color, giving brown sugar its own distinct color. With the molasses, brown sugar is naturally moister.
Because of the slight differences in moisture, this can contribute to a difference in texture (as can measuring of the flour, but more on that in a minute). Cookies without brown sugar can have a tendency to dry out more quickly and be crisper all around.
This recipe results in cookies with a wonderfully crisp and caramelized edge and a soft, tender center that’s filled with chocolatey goodness. The final cookie won’t turn as golden brown as some traditional cookie recipes, because of the lack of color we miss out on from the lack of brown sugar.
The Ingredients You’ll Need
The best way to prepare a recipe is to gather all of the ingredients so you’re ready to bake away! Plus, it helps to know you have all ingredients before diving in (like the oops I don’t have brown sugar moment that we’ve all experienced).
Here’s what you’ll need for this easy recipe:
- Unsalted Butter: I prefer baking with unsalted butter so that I can add salt and know exactly how much is in the recipe. Many salted kinds of butter can vary with the amount of salt depending on the brand. This gives me more control. If you do have salted butter, you can absolutely use it, just reduce or omit the additional salt, depending on how salty you like your cookies.
- Granulated Sugar: you know it! The only kind of sugar we’re using in these cookies.
- Egg: you just need one, as this recipe makes a smaller batch of cookies. Most would recommend using a room temperature egg…but you know…if you can’t wait, you can’t wait, and I get it.
- Vanilla Extract: it’s worth stating that real vanilla extract is the way to go.
- Salt: again, if you’re using salted butter you may want to omit it, otherwise, fine salt is best.
- Baking Soda: I tested this recipe so many times (it’s a hard job) to figure out which version was best between baking soda, baking powder, and using both. If you follow along on Instagram, you might remember. After much testing, just baking soda gave the best result. Using baking powder only resulted in much too fluffy cookies. If you want to play around, the testing team enjoyed using both pretty well, too.
- All-Purpose Flour: I’m going to say this more than once in this post: please weigh the flour! If you don’t have a scale, you can purchase one relatively inexpensively and it’s going to make your baking so much more accurate! The texture of these cookies (especially) changes quite a lot if you add too much flour.
- Chocolate Chips: use what you love! I’ve made this recipe with dark chocolate chips (as pictured), semi-sweet, and milk chocolate chips. As you can tell, I take cookies seriously. All will work, depending on your preferences. I like the flatter chips best because more chocolate = happiness.
How to Make No Brown Sugar Cookies
This recipe is really so easy to make, and can all be mixed in one bowl! Again, when the cookie craving strikes, we are not wasting time with ingredients, dishes, room temperature ingredients… you name it. I’m all about getting cookies in my (or your) belly ASAP.
Whisk together the Wet Ingredients
First, melt the butter. I melt the butter in the mixing bowl I’ll be using – again – fewer dishes!
Use the microwave to melt the butter in short increments to prevent splattering and ensure it doesn’t get too hot. You don’t want the butter to be so hot it cooks the egg when it’s added (or you’ll just have to wait longer before mixing it in).
Next, whisk in the granulated sugar for about one minute.
Whisk until the mixture is light and pale in color. This helps add air to the mixture and ensures the butter and sugar are fully combined, so the cookies will lift while baking, instead of being flat and dense.
This process also helps cool off the melted butter, so again, we don’t cook that egg. If the mixture still seems hot, wait a minute or two before moving on.
Now, whisk in the egg and vanilla extract until they’re fully combined.
Stir in Dry Ingredients
Next goes the dry ingredients. I add them directly into the wet ingredients, trying to sprinkle them around when doing so as my cheater way of mixing the dry ingredients beforehand.
Once the dry ingredients are almost, or halfway incorporated, mix in the chocolate chips. This prevents overmixing.
Pro Tip: Reserve some chocolate chips to add to the top of the cookies for both beauty and because more chocolate = happiness.
Once the dough is mixed, use a cookie scoop (or about 2 tablespoons of dough) and place the cookies about 2-inches apart on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. I have been LOVING my quarter sheet pans, and for this recipe, 2 pans are just about perfect.
I also like using a half-sheet pan. It’s darker in color which does cook differently than the lighter color pans. More on that in the tips!
It’s time to Bake!
Bake the cookies until the edges are set and slightly golden brown.
Remember that the cookies don’t have brown sugar, which means they will not get as golden brown as a typical chocolate chip cookie. You’ll run the risk of overbaking the cookies if you’re looking for that color (unless you love super crispy cookies, in which case bake a minute or two longer for that texture!).
Let them cool on the pan for 1-2 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to continue cooling. At least until they’re sturdy enough to pick up and eat. Unless, of course, you want to just shovel the cookie into your mouth, be my guest just know it might be too hot to handle and this is your disclaimer to be careful. 😉
Tips for Making the Best Cookies
These cookies are SO easy to make and can be ready in like 20 minutes flat (give or take a few minutes depending on certain variables) and quite frankly, are pretty fool-proof.
However, in my multitude of tests, I realized that the texture of the cookies can greatly vary if you don’t pay attention to a few key things to note.
Weigh The Flour and Sugar
Really, please do it. Bathroom scales, be gone. Kitchen scales, well, should be in every kitchen.
If you have extra flour in the cookie dough (which is usually what happens when you use traditional measuring cups to measure flour), these cookies will be more cake-like. Taller, and fluffier, in a sense. If you’re ok with that, I won’t stop you.
For the best, most tested, guaranteed results, weigh the flour.
I mean, weigh the white sugar too, please, but the flour especially. Even better? If you weigh them, you won’t have to wash any pesky measuring cups. I AM HERE TO HELP YOU, FRIEND!
Know Your Baking Sheet
Did you know that baking times and results will vary, depending on your baking sheet? A lighter-colored cookie sheet will have more even browning because it absorbs less heat than a dark-colored pan, which means it usually requires a little more cook time. A darker-colored pan will absorb heat quicker, resulting in darker cookie bottoms and a faster cook time overall.
For this recipe, I prefer the result of a lighter-colored pan, especially since we’re only using granulated sugar, it helps prevent the cookie from drying out too quickly from too much heat. If you have a darker pan, just know you should definitely cook it a minute or two shorter (see recipe card notes).
Use the High-Quality Chocolate
To make the absolute best chocolate chip cookies, high-quality chocolate chips are essential. As is the butter, IMO. They bring the pazazz to the cookies, leaving them rich and indulgent. So go ahead, splurge a little if you can.
You can use any kind of chocolate chips for these cookies. I like semi-sweet chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate for a rich flavor. Give chocolate chunks a try, too!
Check Your Oven Temperature
As with any baking or oven-cooked recipe, you should be using an oven thermometer to make sure it is accurate. Real-life example: I recently learned that my year-old oven is now running hot (!!!). When I would think that I would still be in a reasonable timeframe for having an accurate oven temperature, I was shocked. Thank goodness for my oven thermometer!
Use Flakey Sea Salt
Want to really take the cookies over the top? Add a sprinkle of flakey sea salt once they come out of the oven!
Frequently Asked Questions
Nope, not at all! Do know that if you do chill the dough, or let it sit for an extended period of time, the cookies will be fluffier.
Because they don’t have brown sugar, they do tend to dry out a little more quickly than traditional chocolate chip cookies. I recommend storing them in an airtight container (some say with a slice of bread to prevent any additional drying). Keep them at room temperature for as long as they last – a day around here!
Yes, you can freeze the dough in preformed balls to bake later, or freeze the baked cookies to thaw and enjoy later. In either case, I recommend flash-freezing them on a tray, spread out individually, and then transferring to a bag for long-term storage once frozen.
Make sure you’ve frozen the dough in preformed balls (or I love this cookie dough SouperCube!), then preheat the oven and bake the frozen dough for about a minute or two longer than you would freshly-made dough.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Get the Recipe Chocolate Chip Cookies without Brown Sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar, 150 g
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ cups (180 g) all-purpose flour, 180 g
- ¾ – 1 cup chocolate chips*, plus additional for topping
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two quarter sheet pans or a half sheet pan with parchment paper.
- In a large, microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt butter in 15-20 second intervals in the microwave. Whisk sugar with the butter for 1 minute, until pale. Then whisk in egg and vanilla extract.½ cup unsalted butter, ¾ cup granulated sugar, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Add in the remaining dry ingredients, stirring until almost fully combined. Then add the chocolate chips and stir to fully combine, being careful to not overmix.½ teaspoon fine salt, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, ¾ – 1 cup chocolate chips*
- Use a #40 cookie scoop or 2 Tablespoons to make cookie dough balls, and spread them 2 to 3 inches apart on the baking sheet. Top with a few additional chocolate chip cookies as desired.
- Bake for 14-17 minutes. I find that 16 minutes is best for a light-colored pan, and a darker pan needs only about 14 minutes. The edges should be set and starting to slightly turn golden brown, but keep in mind they will be overall lighter in color because there is no brown sugar. Don't overbake these!
- Let cool on the pan for 1-2 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely (or until just warm enough to handle and enjoy!). Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
- Weigh the flour and sugar for best results.
- You can use any kind of chocolate chips for these cookies. I like semi-sweet chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate for a rich flavor. Give chocolate chunks a try, too!
I made this recipe today (1/3) because I had no brown sugar in the house, but I wanted to make cookies. The picture of the cookies looked so good and I saw that they were described as chewy, so I decided to give it a shot. I LOVED them. They were so good, the right amount of chewy and flavorful. Speaking as someone who is a fan of chocolate chip cookies, a solid chocolate chip cookie all around. Thanks for sharing this recipe! 🔥💃🏾🍪
Yay! I’m so glad to hear you loved them. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment and for giving them a try, Magda!
I ran out brown sugar but REALLY wanted some chocolate chip cookies and these were perfect. Thanks for sharing!
I’m so glad to hear! Thanks so much, Becca!
Rock hard cookies
Hi Farida, I’m sorry to hear they came out too hard for you. If they are baked too long, they do get quite crispy. As noted, cookies without brown sugar can have a tendency to dry out more quickly and be crisper all around. If you try them again I would recommend baking them for less time.
can i sub the butter with margarine?
Yep, that shouldn’t be a problem! I’d love to hear how they turn out!
I’ll let you know. Thank you
I really wanted to like these cookies because I didn’t have brown sugar, but they were a disappointment. I followed the instructions and they were edible at best, but I am throwing them out and buying brown sugar for the next batch. For context, I’ve tried many recipes and have never made or tasted a chocolate chip cookie that I didn’t like, including those that come from a box.
Sorry to hear you were disappointed.
I’ll just rate this a 5 but I don’t have any brown sugar in my house. I’m just going to make cookie dough from this recipe
Oops I forgot to rate so I just replied to my own comment
Loved these so much! I did leave them in a tad bit longer than the recipe says because I like my cookies a little bit more done. But they were a hit at my house (:
Awesome, so glad to hear they were a hit! Thanks, Taylor!