Brown Sugar Cookies

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Ridiculously soft and chewy Brown Sugar Cookies have a crisp sugar coating and a hint of cinnamon flavor.

Try some of our other favorite chewy cookie recipes next! These Chewy Chocolate Chip CookiesWhite Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies, or Frosted Honey Graham Cookies are each supremely rich, chewy, and flavorful cookies.

Image of the Brown Sugar Cookies stacked on top of each other.

Brown Sugar Cookies

I’m not sure where I went wrong, but both my little boys prefer cookies without chocolate chips. I know– the travesty of it all! 

And while I thought I’d just make do with chip-less cookies, Brown Sugar Cookies have quickly become a personal favorite. I guess I can see where they’re coming from now.

These cookies are soft, ultra chewy, and perfectly sweet, even without the added chocolate!

How to Make Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies

The more moisture in cookies, the chewier they will be. Ingredients, baking time, and baking temperature all come into play as we work to retain moisture in the dough. Dark brown sugar plays a huge role in making chewy cookies. The cornstarch also adds to the softness and chewiness of the cookie.

The size or mass of the cookies also contributes to their chewiness. Big cookie dough balls make softer and chewier cookies than smaller ones. If you have a food scale, you can ensure completely equal cookie ball sizes. This not only ensures even baking, but it also ensures you’re getting the right size of cookie dough balls.

And the number one way to get chewy cookies? Don’t bake them too long! Remove the cookies as soon as the edges turn a light brown, and the top center is pale. The center of the cookies will remain soft and as they firm up, becoming fudge-like and chewy.

Process shots-- images of the wet and dry ingredients being added to a bowl and mixed together.

Dark Brown vs. Light Brown Sugar

Both light and dark brown sugar contain molasses, but dark brown sugar has more. Because of the increased amount of molasses, dark brown sugar has a darker and deeper color with a stronger flavor. Dark brown sugar is slightly more acidic with more moisture. I find dark brown sugar has a more pronounced caramel flavor and a rich sweetness.

While the two can be interchanged in this recipe, these cookies are best with dark brown sugar. They become more intensely chewy and sweet with the dark brown sugar.

QUICK TIP

Dark brown sugar is typically sold right next to or nearby light brown sugar and powdered sugar in the grocery store. The two look similar, yet dark brown sugar is darker overall in color. In a pinch, you can even make your own dark brown sugar.

Demerara Sugar

To get the crisp sugar that encases these cookies, I roll the dough in Demerara Sugar before baking. This sugar has large grains with subtle caramel undertones and adds an amazing flavor and subtle crunchy exterior to Brown Sugar Cookies.

Alternative options: Roll the cookies in turbinado sugar or roll them in sparkling sugar. As a last-resort option, the cookies can be rolled in plain white sugar; they just won’t have much of a sugar crunch coating.

Process shots-- images of the dough being rolled into balls and rolled into sugar and then chilled and baked.

Why chill the cookie dough?

Chilling cookie dough can definitely be an inconvenience. I mean, when you want these brown sugar cookies, you want them now, right?! That said, chilling this dough is especially important. It’s like marinating meat; the wait is worth it! Here are a few reasons why we chill the dough:

  • The dough becomes more flavorful as it sits. The baking extracts intensify the flavor of the dough.
  • For texture reasons, the butter is melted. If the dough is baked immediately with melted butter in it, the cookies will spread and become thin, hard, and crispy while baking. This is because the fat (butter) hasn’t had a chance to re-solidify. The longer the fat stays solid, the less the cookies will spread.
  • The sugar in the dough gradually absorbs liquid so when you chill the dough, the sugar has a chance to absorb more liquid and further prevents spreading. 

QUICK TIP

Instead of rolling a perfect ball, I’ve found if you roll the dough so it’s taller and skinnier when the cookies bake, you’ll get that perfectly thick and chewy center as well as the crisp edges. Using this technique, the bottom of the cookie ball bakes first, which will push out and become the crisp edge. The top of that tall cookie dough ball then becomes the thick and chewy center. Perfect texture every time!

Up-close overhead image of the Brown Sugar Cookies

Brown Sugar Cookie Variation Ideas

  • Add 1 cup crushed toffee bits to the dough. While my boys weren’t initially on board, toffee bits are different from chocolate chips, and they loved this addition! I use these Milk Chocolate Heath Toffee Bits and they are divine in Brown Sugar Cookies!
  • Increase, omit, or decrease the amount of cinnamon. If you love cinnamon and dark brown sugar, you may want even more cinnamon in the dough. Alternatively, these cookies are great without any cinnamon or with less.
  • Spice up the cookies. If you’re a big spice lover, add in a medley of spices. You can also try adding in a spice blend like this Pumpkin Pie Spice or Apple Pie Spice.
  • Frost them. If you love frosted cookies, skip rolling these cookies in sugar and frost them instead. A cream cheese frosting would complement the dark brown sugar nicely.

Up-close overhead image of the Brown Sugar Cookies

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Brown Sugar Cookies

5 from 4 votes
Ridiculously soft and chewy Brown Sugar Cookies have a crisp sugar coating and a hint of cinnamon flavor.
Print Recipe

Brown Sugar Cookies

5 from 4 votes
Ridiculously soft and chewy Brown Sugar Cookies have a crisp sugar coating and a hint of cinnamon flavor.
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword Brown Sugar Cookies
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 42 minutes
Servings 26 cookies
Calories 228kcal
Cost $4.15

Ingredients

  • 16 tablespoons (1 cup; 227g) unsalted butter
  • 1 and 1/3 cups (245g) dark brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons molasses, optional (See Note 1)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 and 3/4 cups (335g) all-purpose white flour (See Note 2)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: baking soda, baking powder, ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (108g) Demerara sugar (See Note 3)
  • Optional addition: 1 cup Milk Chocolate Heath Toffee Bits

Instructions

  • WET INGREDIENTS: Melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Place the bowl in the fridge for 3-5 minutes or until at room temperature. Pour the melted (but room temperature) butter into a large bowl. (If the butter is hot, it will melt the brown sugar and cause greasy cookies.) Add in the dark brown sugar and stir, with a wooden spoon, until smooth and well incorporated, about 3 minutes. Add in 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk (reserve the white for a separate recipe or discard), molasses, and vanilla extract. Stir until just combined and smooth.
  • DRY INGREDIENTS: On top of the wet ingredients, add in the cornstarch, fine sea salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon (increase or decrease cinnamon to personal preference). Stir to combine. Add in the flour (See Note 2) and mix until just combined (it may seem dry at first; it will come together, though!). Do not over-mix the dough. If you'd like to add in the toffee bits, stir them in gently here. Cover the dough tightly and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • CHILL: Remove the dough from the fridge and roll tall balls of dough. If you have a kitchen scale, the balls of dough should each be 40 grams (each ball should be a full 2 tablespoons of dough). Pour the demerara sugar in a small bowl. Roll the balls of dough generously into the sugar. Place shaped and sugared dough balls on a large plate and then cover dough balls and refrigerate the balls of dough for an additional 45 minutes to an hour.
  • BAKE: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place dough balls on a parchment or silicone-lined sheet pan, spread far apart (I only bake 6 cookies at a time; they spread a lot), and bake for 9-14 minutes. Watch carefully, being sure to not over-bake. (We love these best at 12 minutes.) Slightly under-baked brown sugar cookies are the BEST! Remove and let stand on the baking sheet for 3-5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack with a spatula.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: The molasses adds a more intense brown sugar flavor. These cookies are still delicious and work great without the molasses.
Note 2: If you press a measuring cup into a bag of flour, you will pack in way too much flour; use a spoon to scoop it into a measuring cup and then level the top with the back of a table knife.
Note 3: Alternatively, roll the cookies in turbinado sugar or in sparkling sugar. As a last-resort option, the cookies can be rolled in plain white sugar; they just won't have much of a sugar crunch coating.
Nutritional information does not include the optional toffee chips.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 228kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 75mg | Potassium: 55mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 247IU | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg

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