Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies

Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies

Last Updated on September 19, 2021 by Chenée Lewis

These 3 ingredient brown sugar shortbread cookies are a dream! Ridiculously easy brown sugar shortbread that are so delicious! You can have a batch of dark brown sugar shortbread in just a few minutes! And for more shortbread cookies, try my Chocolate Orange Shortbread Cookies or my Slice and Bake Christmas Cookies with Cranberries and White Chocolate!

stack of brown sugar shortbread cookies with a cup of coffee in the background
Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies Recipe

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Ridiculously Easy Brown Sugar Shortbread

Today’s recipe is a simple 3 ingredient brown sugar shortbread cookies recipe that is SO GOOD! You’d never guess how easy it is to make. If you’re a fan of classic shortbread cookies, you’ll definitely want to give these dark brown sugar shortbread cookies a try! They come together so quickly, and chances are you already have all the ingredients on hand!

brown sugar shortbread cookies on a wire rack and then some on a plate, with a cup of coffee

Which sugar is best for shortbread?

We’re using brown sugar in these cookies, not only because I personally love the flavor it adds to everything, but also because it’s such a simple and delicious twist on the classic shortbread recipe. Traditional Scottish shortbread is made from butter, white sugar, and flour. That combination results in a deliciously buttery, crumbly cookie that is as simple as it is tasty. The brown sugar and vanilla blend together to create a deeply complex flavor that is almost caramel-like. Absolutely irresistible!

Making shortbread with brown sugar vs white sugar makes a big difference. Because brown sugar contains molasses, it adds a depth of flavor that is mission from regular white granulated sugar. Also, the molasses in brown sugar adds moisture, which makes these cookies a bit softer and more chewy than traditional shortbread cookies. Finally, brown sugar tastes a bit less sweet than white sugar. So we’re adjusting our ratios accordingly to find the right balance of buttery sweetness.

brown sugar shortbread cookies ingredients
Dark Brown Sugar Shortbread Ingredients

Ingredients

  • dark brown sugar – I prefer dark brown sugar in these shortbread cookies. It amps up the molasses flavor and gives them a deeper color that I love! If you only have light brown sugar that works, too.
  • salted butter – I bake almost exclusively with salted butter, and these brown sugar shortbread cookies are no exception! And salted butter has the added bonus of bringing out the flavors in these cookies without the need to add salt. I do recommend using a high-quality butter if you can, since the butter is such a large proportion of this recipe. If you don’t have salted butter, feel free to use unsalted. Just add 1/4 tsp of salt in with your flour.
  • all-purpose flour – I recommend picking up a kitchen scale and measuring out 128 grams of flour by weight to make sure that the amount you’re using is accurate. Otherwise, try the spoon-and-level method to ensure that you’re using the correct amount of flour.
  • pure vanilla extract – many shortbread cookies omit vanilla, so it’s optional here, but I felt that it would be the perfect complement to the richness of the brown sugar in these shortbread cookies. Just make sure you’re using a good-quality pure vanilla extract, since it’s a major flavor in this brown sugar shortbread cookies recipe. Or better yet, check out my post on how to make vanilla extract at home with just 2 ingredients!
stack of brown sugar shortbread cookies tied with string, with a cup of coffee in the background
Ridiculously Easy Brown Sugar Shortbread

Equipment

This is a pretty simple recipe, so you won’t need too many elaborate tools. However, you will need a few important tools make sure these cookies taste amazing! First, you’ll want to get a 2 or 2.5-inch round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter. Also, I’d recommend using a stand mixer to mix up the dough. Or you can use a hand mixer if you don’t have a stand mixer. Here are all the tools you’ll need:

What is the secret to making shortbread?

My number one tip is to make sure your butter stays cold throughout the preparation process, and to chill your dough in the freezer while your oven preheats. The colder your brown sugar shortbread cookie dough is when it goes into the oven, but better they’ll keep their shape and their buttery, crumbly texture.

stack of brown sugar shortbread cookies with a cup of coffee in the background
3 Ingredient Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies

Tips and F.A.Q.

What is the difference between shortbread and sugar cookies?

Sugar cookies like these Peppermint White Chocolate Cookies are usually made with eggs, and different ratios of ingredients than shortbread cookies. The resulting cookie is not as crumbly or buttery as these brown sugar shortbread cookies.

How does brown sugar help cookies?

Brown sugar is made with molasses, which adds moisture to the final result and gives you a softer, chewier cookie. It also affects the texture and consistency of the dough, meaning it can make cookies spread a bit more in the oven. That’s why for these brown sugar shortbread cookies, we’re adding a bit more flour to accommodate the brown sugar.

What is the difference between brown sugar and dark brown sugar?

Dark brown sugar contains more molasses, so it’ll give your cookies even more of that rich flavor and makes them a bit softer than light brown sugar would.a hand holding a stack of brown sugar shortbread cookies

Is shortbread better with white or brown sugar?

Traditionally, shortbread is made with caster sugar, known as superfine sugar in the U.S. Many recipes just use regular granulated white sugar. But for a softer, richer sweetness like what you get with these brown sugar shortbread cookies, you can’t beat dark brown sugar!

Can I freeze these brown sugar shortbread cookies?

Absolutely! They freeze very well — just let them cool completely, then place them in an airtight container to freeze for up to two months. Let them thaw, still in the container, at room temperature before serving.

What if I don’t have a cookie cutter?

No worries! You can roll your dough out and shape it into a rectangle (make sure it’s about 1/4-inch thick). Then you’ll use a sharp knife to cut the dough into rectangular pieces. Then just poke holes in the dough and you’re ready to bake!

How many cookies does this recipe yield?

I wanted this brown sugar shortbread recipe to be a somewhat small batch recipe, so that it can be made as an easy afternoon treat or for one or two people. So unlike most cookie recipes, this one yields about 12 cookies. If you would like to make more, just double, triple, or quadruple the recipe!

It’s so easy — in the recipe card below, you can select 2x or 3x double or triple the recipe, or hover over the “12” in the servings yield section and move the slider to adjust the ingredients to the exact amount of cookies you’d like to bake!

stack of brown sugar shortbread cookies with a cup of coffee in the background
Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies

More Cookie Recipes You’ll Love

stack of brown sugar shortbread cookies with a cup of coffee in the background

Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies

Print Pin Recipe Rate Recipe
These 3 ingredient brown sugar shortbread cookies are a dream! Ridiculously easy brown sugar shortbread that are so delicious! Make some dark brown sugar shortbread today!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine :American, British
Servings: 12 cookies
Calories: 105kcal
Recipe Source: Chenée Lewis

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a large bowl using a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy and well combined.
    ⅓ cup dark brown sugar, 6 tbsp salted butter
  • Add vanilla (if using) and beat until combined.
    1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Gradually mix in flour until just combined.
    1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Turn mixture out onto a floured surface and knead a few times with your hands to bring the dough into a ball.
  • Roll the dough out to ¼-inch thick and cut out cookies with a 2-inch round cookie cutter. Prick cookie rounds with a fork or toothpick.
  • Place cookie rounds on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking liner. Preheat oven to 375°F and place baking sheet in freezer for about 10 minutes to chill while oven preheats.
  • Bake in preheated oven 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are lightly brown on the bottom.
  • Let cookies cool on pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Video

Notes

Cookie cutter alternative method: If you don’t have a cookie cutter, you can roll your dough out and shape it into a rectangle (make sure it’s about 1/4-inch thick) and use a sharp knife to cut the dough into rectangular pieces. Then just poke holes in the dough and you’re ready to bake!
Freezing instructions: These cookies freeze very well — just let them cool completely, then place them in an airtight container to freeze for up to two months. Let them thaw, still in the container, at room temperature before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 cookie | Calories: 105 kcal | Carbohydrates: 12 g | Protein: 1 g | Fat: 6 g | Saturated Fat: 4 g | Cholesterol: 15 mg | Sodium: 42 mg | Potassium: 19 mg | Sugar: 4 g | Calcium: 7 mg | Iron: 1 mg
Nutrition Disclaimer
Tags: brown sugar shortbread, brown sugar shortbread cookies, soft shortbread cookies, vanilla shortbread cookies
Did you try this recipe? Rate it below!I can’t wait to see (and share) your results! Follow me on Instagram at @chenee_today and tag #cheneetoday!

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