Brown Sugar Cookies are just like your favorite traditional sugar cookie…but made with brown sugar in place of granulated sugar. They are light, fluffy, and slightly chewy, with the perfect sugar cookie tang. You’ll love how easy they are to make, too!
Whether you are fresh out of granulated sugar or just want to mix things up, these brown sugar, sugar cookies are a must-bake. They’re similar to a classic soft sugar cookie…but, dare I say, maybe even better?
Gasp! I know. I can’t choose favorites, but these cookies are absolutely irresistible. Their texture is top-notch – it’s super soft, light, and fluffy, yet slightly chewier than a traditional sugar cookie because of the brown sugar. The hint of molasses from the brown sugar adds some depth, too.
You’ll love how quickly they come together in a mixer, and that in no time you’ll have warm cookies to enjoy.
Drop Cookies – So Easy!
Technically these brown sugar cookies are drop cookies because they don’t require any rolling or cutting out of the dough. You simply need to drop the dough and bake.
For this recipe, you will need to gently press the dough down with a sugar-dipped glass, but that’s it. They are not a traditional cut-out sugar cookie, but rather a simple anytime kind of cookie that’s quick and easy to make.
What does brown sugar do for a cookie?
Brown sugar is granulated sugar with molasses. Molasses is also essentially sugar, with a rich, slightly caramel-like flavor. It is dark in color, giving brown sugar its own distinct golden color. With the addition of molasses, brown sugar is naturally more moist than granulated sugar.
Because the cookies have more moisture from the brown sugar, they will be slightly chewier. Brown sugar is also more acidic the molasses, it reacts with the baking soda making the cookies fluffier. The powdered sugar that’s in these cookies helps keep them soft, though, so don’t worry, they’re still quite soft cookies.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Butter: use unsalted to control the amount of salt in the recipe, and be sure it’s properly softened to room temperature (around 68F) to cream up properly.
- Brown Sugar: I use light brown sugar because that’s what I always have on hand, but you can absolutely use dark brown sugar too – it has just a little more molasses in it but they are interchangable.
- Powdered Sugar: using powdered sugar in these cookies helps them remain soft; if we had more granulated sugar, they’d crisp up more quickly, so powdered sugar it is for super soft cookies!
- Vegetable Oil: used to help keep the moisture in the cookies.
- Vanilla Extract
- All-Purpose Flour
- Baking Soda
- Cream of Tartar: a traditional ingredient in sugar cookies, it has a little tang and helps the cookie texture as it interacts with the baking soda.
How to Make Brown Sugar Cookies
This brown sugar cookies recipe is so easy to make, don’t be surprised if you end up making a batch week after week (that might be something I know something about…).
- Cream together butter and sugar. This helps create a light and fluffy base for the cookies, so be sure to continue creaming until they’re fully combined and lighter in color. If you’re not sure, keep going, you’ll see the change as it comes together and becomes a pale color.
- Add vegetable oil and eggs until combined.
- Add the dry ingredients. I do recommend sifting the dry ingredients together before adding them to the wet ingredients to make sure they are fully incorporated.
- Chill the dough. Yesssss, ok I do recommend chilling this dough to help the flavor develop and to help it set up in order to not spread too much during the baking process. Here’s my silver lining: you’ll be able to clean up the kitchen and once the cookies are done baking, all you’ll have to do is enjoy them!
- Scoop the dough onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, then press with a sugar-dipped glass. Gently press a flat-bottomed glass that has been dipped in sugar on top of each dollop of dough. Don’t press too hard, you’ll be able to feel once the dough is pressed to the right amount – don’t force it further.
- And bake! The key to soft cookies is slightly underbaking them. Bake these cookies until the edges are set and only ever so slightly turning golden. They honestly might not even look that golden, but take them out. If you cook them too long, the edges will be crispy (which tastes fine, it’s just a different texture than what we’re after here).
- Let them cool on a wire rack… but be sure to sneak one while they’re warm.
Tips for the Best Sugar Cookies
Use Room Temperature Ingredients
It’s especially important the butter is at room temperature for this recipe. Room temperature means enough that a fingerprint holds. Not too soft that it is close to melting, and not cold enough that it doesn’t like to budge.
Room temperature butter will cream best with the sugars to create this beautifully soft melt-in-your-mouth texture. If the butter is too cold, it will end up in small clumps and melt in odd ways as the cookies bake.
Weigh the Ingredients
…especially the flour! Too much flour and the cookies will be dry. Not enough, they will end up too thin. The best way to properly measure flour for baking is to weigh it out (this also saves on dishes – always a win).
If you don’t have a kitchen scale, sift and lightly spoon the flour into a measuring cup, being careful to not pack it down. You want it light, fluffy, and not packed in.
Do Not Overbake the Cookies
It’s worth repeating: bake the cookies until just barely starting to turn golden brown around the edges. This will keep the texture of the cookies soft while being slightly chewy.
How to Freeze the Cookies
You can freeze either the baked cookies or the cookie dough for future baking.
To freeze baked cookies, simply let them cool completely, then store them in an airtight container in the freezer. You will likely want to wrap the cookies individually for the best results.
To freeze the cookie dough, I like to use SouperCubes – they make freezing individual dough balls super easy. Otherwise, dollop the dough on a baking sheet and press down, freezing the pucks. Once they’re chilled through, transfer them to a storage bag. To bake, place the frozen dough directly in the oven and bake for an additional minute or two.
Frosted Brown Sugar Cookies
You might be wondering ‘can I frost brown sugar cookies?’… and yep, you sure can! These are excellent with the brown sugar cream cheese frosting as featured in the pumpkin sugar cookie recipe. But it doesn’t stop there, these cookies are versatile enough that you could use any of the multiple buttercream frosting recipes.
Yes! You can make the dough up to two days in advance. You don’t need to make any additional changes, proceed with baking as directed when you’re ready.
Store the baked cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. If they are frosted with cream cheese frosting, they will be stable for a day or so, but any longer store them in the fridge.
These cookies will last for about 4-5 days, as long as they weren’t overbaked. If they really last that long anyway, they do tend to disappear quickly!
A little cinnamon is delicious in this recipe. If you are feeling some fall or holiday vibes, try pumpkin pie spice, too. A little nutmeg or ginger would be great too!
Soft Brown Sugar Cookies
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- granulated sugar or brown sugar, for pressing
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer, cream together room temperature butter, brown sugar, and powdered sugar until combined, light, and fluffy. Add vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla extract, continuing to mix until combined.
- Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt, then mix into the creamed mixture until incorporated. Cover the cookie dough and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, up to 24 hours.
- 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350°F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Dollop a scoop (#40 scoop) or 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Dampen a flat-bottomed glass with water, then dip in a small bowl of granulated sugar. Gently press each cookie dough ball with the bottom of the glass until approximately 2 inches wide, or ab out 1/2 inch thick. Dip the glass back in the sugar between each cookie to recoat.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are just beginning to barely turn golden brown around the edges.
- Type of Baking Sheet: A light (aluminum) sheet pan will require more cooking time than a darker-colored sheet pan. If using a darker-colored baking sheet, you will likely want to only bake the cookies for 8 minutes – no longer.
- Storage: store cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.