These Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies are made using only 3 ingredients! They are buttery, mildly sweet, an easy slice-and-bake recipe, and perfect with your coffee or on your holiday cookie tray.
Moist, molasses-spiked brown sugar is undeniably a quintessential ingredient in baking. It adds a deep caramel flavor, moisture, and depth to the taste, as in all brown sugar dessert recipes.
Traditional shortbreads like candle cookies are usually made with white granulated sugar or confectioners sugar, for a melt-in-your-mouth texture like in chocolate shortbreads or snowball cookies. Sometimes there’s flavorings like vanilla and salt, but there’s no egg or leavening.
However, the addition of brown sugar makes them slightly denser and more complex because of the molasses compared to white sugar, which may lead to crisper cookies with a lighter texture.
Why you'll love them?
- Only 3 ingredients
- Crisp, crumbly yet light and tender.
- No rolling pin or cookie cutters.
- One mixing bowl.
- Another egg-free cookie recipe.
Scroll down to the recipe card below for full information on ingredients and amounts.
- Brown Sugar - Just 6 tablespoons of golden brown sugar adds so much molasses flavor. Like the eggless oatmeal cookies, light or dark brown sugar may easily be substituted here!
- Butter - It is the base of most eggless cookie recipes. It brings to dough together, adds flavor and that irresistible buttery flavor.
- All purpose flour - I tested varying amounts of flour and found 1 cup of all purpose flour produces sturdy, yet tender brown sugar shortbread.
This brown sugar shortbread cookie recipe does not use any flavorings such as vanilla extract, cinnamon or cardamom, which makes it a 3 ingredient recipe. However, here are few variation suggestions to try -
- Mix in ground cinnamon along with flour.
- Replace some of the flour with finely minced walnuts or toasted pecans.
- Like the chocolate coconut macaroons, dip one half of each cooled brown sugar shortbread in melted dark or milk chocolate and place in a parchment paper until set. Alternatively, drizzle the melted chocolate using a fork on the cooled cookies.
- Sandwich to baked cookies with melted chocolate, ganache or jam.
- Add vanilla or almond extract to the dough.
- Sprinkle some coarse sugar on top of the brown sugar shortbread before baking.
How to make?
You can find full printable recipe below, but here is a quick overview of the procedure along with step-by-step photos.
1. Add butter, brown sugar and salt into a medium bowl, beat with an electric beater for 1 to 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.
2 & 3. Add flour and continue beating, on low speed, until the dough looks crumbly.
4 & 5. Using hands, shape dough into a smooth ball.
6. Shape the brown sugar shortbread dough into a 10- to 11-inch log, wrap it with parchment paper, refrigerate it for a minimum of 6 hours, or chill it for up to 2 days.
Tip: Skipping the chilling process can result in significant spreading, causing the shortbread to lose its intended shape and texture.
7. Remove the log from the fridge and cut it into ¼-inch thick slices using a sharp knife.
8. Place slices on a parchment lined baking sheet, spacing about 1 inch apart. Bake at 350 degrees for about 18 to 21 minutes, until golden brown in color.
How to store?
- Storing baked cookies - Place cooled brown sugar shortbread cookies in an airtight container or zipper bag and store them at room temperature for up to a week.
- Storing cookie dough - Wrapped dough log can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
- Freeze baked cookies - Place shortbreads in freezer safe zipper bag and freeze for up to two months.
- Freeze dough - Wrap the log tightly in two layers of plastic wrap, place it in a freezer-safe zipper bag, and freeze for up to a month. Transfer the dough to the fridge the night before making cookies.
- Any brown sugar will work for this recipe. However, I prefer golden brown sugar for a balanced molasses flavor.
- Chilling the dough is key for any slice and bake cookie recipe.
- If using salted butter, you can omit adding the salt to the recipe.
Shortbreads typically contain a higher proportion of butter to flour and usually include butter, sugar and flour as primary ingredients. They are buttery with a mildly sweet flavor, and known for it's crumbly and melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Sugar cookies, on the other hand, have a more balanced ratio of butter, sugar, and flour, and often include other ingredients like eggs, baking powder, and vanilla extract. They're sweeter than shortbreads due to a higher sugar content and usually have a softer texture and are mostly chewy. They can also be more versatile in terms of flavor.
1. Place butter and brown sugar in a bowl.
2. Using a wooden spoon, cream for about 3 minutes or until fluffy.
3. Stir in all purpose flour and continue mixing with the spoon.
4. Shape, roll, chill, slice and bake as per instructions.
Brown sugar, with its molasses content, infuses a subtle caramel flavor, offering a distinctive depth to cookies. Its moisture content contributes to softer, denser, and chewier cookies compared to those made only with white sugar. Additionally, the molasses imparts a darker hue to the cookies, setting them apart from those made exclusively with white sugar.
More brown sugar recipes
Brown Sugar Shortbread
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature 1 stick
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons golden brown sugar, both packed
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- Add butter, brown sugar and salt into a medium bowl, beat with an electric beater for 1 to 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Add flour and continue beating, on low speed, until the dough looks crumbly. Using hands, shape dough into a smooth ball.
- Roll into a 10 to 11 inch log, wrap it with parchment paper, refrigerate it for a minimum of 6 hours, or chill it for up to 2 days.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove the log from the fridge and cut it into ¼-inch thick slices using a sharp knife.
- Place slices on a parchment lined baking sheet, spacing about 1 inch apart. Bake at 350 degrees for about 18 to 21 minutes, until golden brown in color, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
- Place pan on a wire rack to cool completely.
Nutritional information, based on third-party calculations, should be seen as estimates, not guarantees, as various factors like product types, brands, processing methods, and more can alter the nutritional content in recipes.
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