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Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies (only 3 ingredients)

Crispy Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies are easy, buttery, mildly sweet and perfect with your coffee or tea. Made without eggs and only using 3 ingredients, these make a great addition to your Holiday cookie box.

We love cookies with very few ingredients like this recipe. More favorites include Thumbprint Cookies with Almond Flour, Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies, Lemon Cookies or Almond Cookies.

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shortbread cookies with brown sugar.

Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies

Holiday baking season continues with a 3 ingredient cookie recipe. It is so easy, mildly sweet, simple and perfect to be made ahead and stocked in the freezer. Other favorite 3-ingredient Christmas recipes are Almond Flour Cookies with coconut oil, Almond Butter Cookies and Chocolate Truffles.

If you are familiar around here, then you know that we are inclined to not overly sweet treats like banana cake, Cardamom Cookies, Cashew Cookies, Pecan Cookies or this popular orange cake. They are delicious as a snack or enjoyed with your coffee or chai.

Traditional shortbread cookies are usually made only with very basic ingredients like butter, sugar, flour along with optional addins like nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews or pistachios), spices or vanilla , without eggs or leavening.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE?

  1. Only 3 ingredients
  2. Crisp
  3. Ridiculously easy
  4. Mildly sweet
  5. Made without eggs
  6. Simple
  7. Nut free
  8. Make ahead

BROWN SUGAR VS WHITE SUGAR FOR SHORTBREAD?

Shortbread cookies are usually made with white granulated sugar or confectioners sugar (for a melt in your mouth texture). However, the addition of brown sugar adds a depth of flavor due to molasses and also moister when compared to white sugar. Brown sugar is also less sweet than white sugar, so the ratios will require modification.

HOW DOES BROWN SUGAR HELP COOKIES?

Brown sugar contains molasses which adds caramel notes to the cookie. It also contains moisture when compared to white sugar, which adds a wonderful crumbly and soft texture.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHORTBREAD AND SUGAR COOKIES?

Both have the same basic ingredients like butter, sugar, flour and flavorings. Sugar cookies usually also contain egg and some leavening when compared to shortbreads.

THE 3 INGREDIENTS

Brown Sugar – We used golden brown sugar, but dark brown will work.

Butter – Unsalted butter at room temperature

All purpose flour – Just all purpose flour is all we need, nothing fancy required here!

(salt is not counted as an ingredient)

CAN I MAKE IT WITHOUT ELECTRIC BEATER?

Absolutely! Cream butter and sugar with a wooden spoon for about 3 minutes or until fluffy. Mix in all purpose flour and continue mixing with the spoon. Using hands, shape dough into a smooth ball.

HOW LONG DO THEY LAST?

These will last in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. You can also freeze them for several months to make them last longer, or get ahead on holiday baking!

You can make this dough ahead of time and freeze it for up to a month. Just pull it out and defrost in the refrigerator before rolling, slicing, and baking.

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN COOKIES ARE DONE?

Remove them from the oven when they turn a beautiful golden brown.

PRO TIPS FOR SUCCESS

  • Make sure the butter is at room temperature (we like to leave butter overnight on the counter).
  • Use golden or dark brown sugar (check out more dessert recipes with brown sugar).
  • Chilling the dough is key for slice and bake cookies – We recommend chilling overnight or up to 2 days (makes it a great a make ahead option).
  • If you skip the chilling, the cookies might massively spread and loose its shape and texture.
  • If using salted butter, you can omit adding any additional salt to the recipe.

VARIATIONS

These cookies do not use any flavorings (which makes it a 3 ingredient recipe) , but still simple and delicious. However, here are few variation suggestions to try –

  1. Cinnamon <— Mix in ground cinnamon along with all purpose flour
  2. Walnuts <—- Stir in couple of tablespoons of finely minced walnuts to the dough
  3. Dipped in chocolate – Dip one half of each cooled cookie in melted chocolate and place in a parchment paper until set.
  4. Add Nuts – Sprinkle finely chopped toasted nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, pecans or walnuts to the chocolate part before to sets.
  5. Jam sandwiches – Cut a hole (about 1/2-inch diameter) in the middle of one half of cookie dough and bake as instructed. Spread your favorite jam on the bottom of a whole cookie and top with a holed cookie, exposing the jam in the middle (jam filled cookies will keep for about 2 days at room temperature).
  6. Vanilla extract – Mix in some vanilla along with the dough
  7. Sugar topping – Sprinkle some coarse Turbinado sugar on top of cookies before baking.
3 ingredients needed to make cookies.

How to make?

Make dough – Cream butter, brown sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Mix in flour and form a smooth dough. Roll dough into a 10 to 11 inch log. Chill overnight.

Slice and bake – Slice cold dough into 1/4-inch thick slices, bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.

cookie dough ready to be baked.

baking sheet with freshly baked 3 ingredient cookies with no egg.

How to store?

Room temperature – Cookies can be stored for about a week in a tightly sealed container.

How to freeze?

Cookies can be frozen for one to two months, making it a great make ahead cookie recipe for the Holidays.

More Holiday Recipes

More 3 Ingredient Desserts without Egg:

  1. Almond Butter Cookies
  2. 3 Ingredient Chocolate Truffles
  3. No Churn Chocolate Ice cream
  4. Almond Flour Cake
  5. Almond Flour Cookies

hand holding a shortbread cookie made with brown sugar above a baking sheet.

Frequently asked questions

How many calories in each cookie?

This recipe makes small cookies perfect for 2 or 3 bites. There are only 20 calories in each cookie, making them perfect when you are craving for something sweet yet not heavy.

How many cookies does this recipe yield?

This recipe makes about 26 small sized cookies, perfect for Holiday cookie box or enjoyed with your cup of coffee or tea.

More Cookies recipes to try

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brown sugar shortbread cookies on a wire rack.

Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies (only 3 ingredients)

Yield: 26 Cookies
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 28 minutes

Crispy Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies are easy, crisp, mildly sweet and perfect with your coffee or tea. Made without eggs and only using 3 ingredients, these make a great addition to your Holiday cookie box.

Ingredients

Equipment

Instructions

Make dough

1. Add butter, brown sugar and salt into a medium bowl, beat with a hand held electric beater for 1 to 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.

2. Add flour and continue beating (on low speed), until the dough looks crumbly.

3. Using hands, shape dough into a smooth ball and roll into a 10 to 11 inch log (log will be slightly soft, so handle gently). Wrap log with parchment paper and chill for at least 6 hours (or up to 2 days).

Bake cookies

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Remove log from refrigerator, unwrap parchment and using a sharp knife cut into 1/4-inch thick slices.

3. Place slices on the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 1 inch apart.

4. Bake cookies for about 18 to 21 minutes (rotating pan halfway through baking), until golden brown in color. Place pan on a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

Make sure the butter is at room temperature (we like to leave butter overnight on the counter).

Use golden or dark brown sugar.

Chilling the dough is key for slice and bake cookies – We recommend chilling overnight or up to 2 days (makes it a great a make ahead option).

If you skip the chilling, the cookies might massively spread and loose its shape and texture.

If using salted butter, you can omit adding any additional salt to the recipe.

Can I make it without electric beater? Absolutely! Cream butter and sugar with a wooden spoon for about 3 minutes or until fluffy. Mix in all purpose flour and continue mixing with the spoon. Using hands, shape dough into a smooth ball.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 26 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 20Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 12mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 1g

I am not a certified dietician or nutritionist. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. This information is provided as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. This information is a product of online calculator such as Nutrifox.com.. Although Kitchen at Hoskins attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their fact sources and algorithms. Under no circumstances will Kitchen at Hoskins be responsible for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on the nutritional information. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

Did you make this recipe?

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Liz

Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

Have had this same recipe for forty plus years. It is the best and so easy. I have always rolled dough into balls and pressed down with a fork. I'm now going to try your log. This cookie recipe is so easy if you need to make cookies in a hurry. A friend from England gave me this cherished recipe. It is great and everyone loves the cookies.

Maria Doss

Thursday 24th of February 2022

Hi Liz, The pressed down version sounds easy too. I gotta agree, sometimes the simplest of recipes are the best, Maria

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