These brown butter cookies are full of flavor, soft and chewy. Learn how to brown butter for cookies with my easy step-by-step tutorial. I love to add chocolate chips and toasted pecans because the flavors fit perfectly but you can adjust the add-ins to your liking to create your best brown butter cookies recipe. Since the butter loses moisture during the browning process, I show you how to replace the lost moisture that you can be sure that you always have the required amount of liquid in your cookie dough and end up with soft and chewy cookies every time.
You can use browned butter for all kinds of cookies. If you want to learn more about the basics of making cookies, check out my chocolate chip cookies recipe as well.
Ingredients notes and substitutions
- Unsalted butter - I recommend using only unsalted butter for browning butter. If you use salted butter, all of the salt will concentrate in the toasted milk solids, and the flavor will be unbalanced and not suitable for cookies. Margarine or vegan butter doesn't have milk solids that are necessary for creating a distinctive nutty taste. However, I tested a vegan brown butter recipe using margarine and browned it with pecans and got good results. It's not 100% like the real deal but a really good alternative that I can recommend.
- Dark brown sugar - is my favorite in regards to texture and flavor. You can substitute it with light brown sugar if preferred, but the taste will be lighter, and they will spread a tad more.
- All-purpose (plain) flour - if you are on a gluten-free diet, you can replace it with Bob's Red Mill gluten-free flour.
- Add-ins - I chose to make my brown butter cookies with chocolate chips and pecans. You can, however, add other add-ins as well. I added a total of 1 ½ cups of add-ins and recommend this amount for any (combination of) mix-in.
How to brown butter for cookies (step-by-step tutorial)
Brown butter, also called beurre noisette, is a very popular ingredient used in French cuisine. It's regular butter gently cooked until it browns and the milk solids caramelize. Once browned, it develops a nutty and caramelized flavor. The process takes about 5-7 minutes, and you know when it's done when it looks like golden brown sauce with brown specks in it.
Before you start browning the butter, remove it from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking it. If the butter is too cold, it will splatter when cooking. Use a thick-bottomed light-colored pan for browning the butter and place it over medium heat. A light-colored pan makes sure you see the color and visually follow the browning process all the time. Add the butter and melt it. Stir all the time.
Once the butter is completely melted, you will notice bright milk solids forming on the surface.
Then the majority of the milk solids sink to the bottom, and the butter starts bubbling.
After a few minutes, it will start foaming, and the milk solids turn brown.
When the milk solids are toasty brown, and a buttery and nutty aroma is developing, you know that it's done.
Immediately transfer the butter to a heat-proof cup to stop the cooking process. The butter can burn very quickly at this stage. Sadly, if it burns, all you can do is to toss it and start again. The cup should be wide enough to easily pour the butter from the pan into the cup. It's important to transfer not just the liquid butter but also the toasted milk solids to the cup because there is all the flavor in it.
Since there is a loss of moisture when cooking the butter, you need to substitute the lost moisture. For this brown butter cookie recipe, you need 1 cup (240ml) of liquid. Pour the liquid butter, including the milk solids, into a 1 cup measuring cup and fill up with milk until full. You will need between 1 - 2 tbsp (15-30ml) of milk, depending on the fat/water content of the butter used and how long you cooked it.
Transfer to a heat-proof container and chill until firm. You can prepare the butter for up to 2 days in advance. Before using it, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to soften.
Once the butter is firm, it has an intense yellow color with lots of brown specks.
Tips for success
- Let the butter stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking it.
- Use a light-colored heavy-bottomed pan that you have visual control over the butter color all the time.
- Cook only on medium heat that it doesn't get too fast too hot. Otherwise, it can burn.
- Immediately remove the butter from the pan once you notice a buttery and nutty aroma, and the milk solids are toasty brown.
Prepare the butter as described in the previous chapter. Then, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until soft and creamy.
Add the brown sugar and sugar and cream for 2-3 minutes.
Then add the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined and creamy.
Add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated.
Then stir in the toasted pecans and chocolate chips to incorporate, if used. The dough will be slightly sticky (depending on the absorption rate of the flour). Cover and chill for 2 hours or up to 2 days.
Allow the dough to come to room temperature for 15-30 minutes until it is a soft and spoonable dough. Then scoop balls of cookie dough,...
roll, and bake.
I wrote a thorough guide on how to make cookies where questions like why cookies turn out flat, don't spread, turn out hard, or how chilling affects the taste and texture are answered. I also share mistakes to avoid and tips for success. So whatever your question, check out my how to make cookies post and find the answer. If your question is still not answered, simply leave a comment below.
Make ahead and freezing instructions
You can freeze the unbaked cookie dough for up to 3 months and bake when needed. Prepare and chill the dough as described. Then scoop and roll into balls and transfer to freezer bags. Before baking, let them thaw at room temperature for 1-2 hours. Alternatively, thaw them in the fridge overnight and let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
More cookie recipes
Find here some of my favorite recipes which are loved by family, friends, and readers around the world:
Recipe and Video
Brown Butter Cookies
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1-2 tbsp milk
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
- ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate bars
- Place a heavy-bottomed, light-colored pan over medium heat and add the butter. Stir continuously and keep the butter moving the entire process. When the butter starts melting, bright milk solids will start forming on the surface. Once the butter is completely melted, the majority of the milk solids sink down to the bottom, and the butter starts bubbling. After a few minutes, the butter will start foaming, and the milk solids browning. It will take a total of 5-7 minutes of cooking time once the butter is melted. You know when it's done when you notice a buttery and nutty aroma, and the color of the butter is golden brown with toasty brown milk solids.
- Immediately remove the butter from the pan and transfer, including the toasted milk solids, to a heat-proof cup that is wide enough that you can easily pour in the butter without wasting some of it. Then pour the butter with the milk solids into a 1 cup (240ml) measuring cup and fill up with the milk until full. Transfer the liquid including the milk solids to a heat-proof container and chill in the fridge for 1 hour or up to 2 days. Before using the browned butter, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to soften.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until soft and creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Add the brown sugar and sugar and cream for 2 minutes. Then add the eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the flour mixture and mix on medium-low speed just until incorporated, about 30-60 seconds. Then stir in the toasted pecans and chocolate chips to incorporate, if used. The dough will be slightly sticky (depending on the absorption rate of the flour). Cover and chill for 2 hours or up to 2 days. After chilling, allow the dough to come to room temperature for 15-30 minutes until it is a soft and spoonable dough.
- Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C.
- Scoop 24 equal-sized balls of cookie dough (2 tbsp / 45g each) and roll into even balls. Place 6-8 cookies, spaced about 2 inches (5cm) apart, on each baking sheet and bake one sheet at a time for 10-11 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and the center looks puffy, pale, dry, and underbaked.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes or until firm enough to transfer them to a wire rack. They will continue baking on the baking sheet. Then let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
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Check out the blog post above and watch the step-by-step tutorial on how to brown the butter.