Buttery, crisp but flaky and not-too-sweet, these deliciously easy 3-ingredient Brown Sugar Cookies are the perfect Holiday Bake for fall and winter! Lots of flavor for very little work, they're the perfect under-30-minutes bake for when you're feeling lazy and don't have eggs.
Why Make This
- These 3-ingredient brown sugar cookies are delicious: they're crisp, sweet and buttery. Kind of like brown sugar shortbread!
- Yet so easy to make: Using only simple ingredients which you can get at any grocery store, all you have to do is dump everything in a mixer and mix!
- Flexible recipe: lovely as they are, you can also easily enhance them with a pinch of Ceylon cinnamon powder or some vanilla!
All you need for this easy brown sugar cookie recipe are:
- butter: Leave at room temperature to soften (but make sure it's not melted or your cookie will be greasy.) You can use salted or unsalted butter. For salted butter, remember that different brands of butter have different levels of saltiness. Hence I recommend using unsalted butter but adding a pinch of salt. Do not substitute with margarine- there are so few ingredients here that every one needs to be high-quality and full of flavor!
- brown sugar: You can use light brown sugar or dark brown sugar. The latter will be slightly less sweet- a more adult-version of this cookie (It'll have a deeper, more complex flavor thanks to the added molasses.) If you don't have any, no worries, you can make brown sugar from white sugar using only 1 more ingredient! (Click through for the instructions.)
- all-purpose flour: most baking recipes ask you to sift the flour first, but I've never done it with these cookies and it's never been an issue!
Note: these 3-ingredients brown sugar cookies are more crumbly and buttery than a regular sugar cookie as they don't contain eggs.
For more 5-and-under-ingredients recipes, click here.
Variations & Substitutes
- Sugar-rimmed shortbread: You can roll your log of dough in sugar before cutting. I recommend using infused sugars such as cinnamon sugar, osmanthus sugar etc for extra flavor.
- Rolled cookies: For fancier cookies, you can roll out the dough and use cookie cutters to cut shapes. (Lightly dust the roller with all-purpose flour before rolling on a Silpat or parchment paper.) These fancy cookies would make great homemade gifts for Christmas!
- Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies: You can use cinnamon-infused brown sugar for the recipe or add ¾ teaspoon of cinnamon powder to make the perfect cookie for fall!
- Chocolate Brown Sugar Cookies: Dip the cookies in melted (but not hot) chocolate then allow to set on Silpat or parchment paper. Sprinkle some ground nuts on the chocolate whilst you're at it!
- Vanilla Brown Sugar Cookies: add vanilla extract to the dough
- Pimped up Brown Sugar Shortbread: you can add other ingredients such as chocolate chips (I prefer chocolate fevres), spices and nuts. Note that adding nuts will make the dough a little more challenging to cut- make sure you have a sharp knife and the dough has firmed up!
Note: typically the sugar and butter is creamed together before adding the flour. However, if you're looking for a 3-ingredient cookie recipe, I figure you want something as easy as possible. I've tested the recipe creaming all the ingredients in 1-go and the cookie still tastes great, so that's the method I'm using below.
If you're a baking purist, go ahead and cream the butter and sugar till fluffy before mixing with the white flour. Mix till the flour is just incorporated (don't over-mix.)
- Preheat oven to 325F/ 162.8C/ 142.8C fan. Take butter out of fridge to soften. You want it soft but not greasy.
- Optional step: Once soft, cut the butter into smaller pieces. (This makes it easier to cream the ingredients together without overmixing but I usually skip it with no problems- just make sure there are no chunks of butter in the cookie dough at the end.)
- Add the butter, all purpose flour, brown sugar and salt to the mixing bowl. Use the dough mixer or the flexi-beater (for a Kenwood food mixer) and start creaming the dough.
Tip: You want to mix on a low speed- if not, the flour will fly everywhere!
4. Cream the ingredients together till well-mixed. Take care not to overwork the flour.
5. Use a dough spatula to scrape the dough from the mixing bowl and onto a piece of parchment paper or cling film. (I find parchment paper easier to work with.)
Note: It should take no more than 2-3 minutes to get all the ingredients mixed well.
6. Roll into a log shape, wrap well then chill for minimum 15 minutes (you'll get rectangular cookies after cutting. Chill for longer or freeze if you want rounder ones.)
7. After chilling, cut the log-shaped dough into thin rounds about ½- ¾ inch thick.
8. Place the cookies on a baking sheet with about 1 inch between them.
9. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or till the edges are golden brown.
Tip: Keep the log fairly narrow (about 2 inches) and, if chilling till solid, let it warm up a bit before cutting- if not, the dough will break when cutting.
How to Store
The dough can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days before baking.
I've kept the baked cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week. And this is in Singapore, a tropical, hot country! In cooler climes, they could potentially last longer.
You can also make a big batch of the dough and freeze for up to 3 months future baking.
I recommend rolling into logs before freezing.
Tip #1: This (chilled) brown sugar dough does not spread much. Hence, I do not recommend using an ice-cream scoop to scoop out the dough as the balls will not spread in the oven, and you'll end up with a circular cookie, which won't taste as good. (The texture of the dough doesn't shine when the cookie is so thick.)
Tip #2: How long you refrigerate or freeze your log of dough will impact the shape. I chilled mine for about 15 minutes so the dough was still very soft. Hence, it would compress into a rectangular shape every time I cut it. If you prefer a circular cookie, wait till the dough is more solid before cutting.
Yes, you can. However, the final cookie will taste and look different, particular the texture. (White sugar is less moist than brown, impacting the final bake.) You'll also lose the butterscotch caramel notes from the molasses in the brown sugar.
Yes, you can use a wooden spoon or your hands to mix the ingredients together.
Other Holiday Recipes
Enjoyed this easy 3-ingredients Brown Sugar Cookie Recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟rating in the recipe card below & if you REALLY liked this Holiday Butter Cookies, a comment would make my week! Thank you and have a great day!
Easy 3-ingredient Brown Sugar Cookies
- Food Mixer, optional You can also mix by hand!
- Dough spatula to scrape the sides of the mixing bowl
- Parchment paper or cling film to wrap the log of dough before cutting. Substitute: rolling pin and cookie cutter, if you're cutting the dough into fancy shapes. This dough doesn't spread much so I don't recommend using an ice-cream scoop and scooping the dough (your cookie will be too thick and round- not as tasty!)
- 1 Cup unsalted butter (225g) Feel free to use salted butter if you only have that! If you want to, you can cut the butter into 1-2 inch cubes for easier creaming but I usually skip that!
- 2½ Cups All-purpose flour
- ½ Cup Brown Sugar Use light brown sugar for a more generally pleasing flavor and dark brown sugar for a more adult, less sweet cookie with more caramel notes.
- ¼-½ teaspoon Salt, optional
- Preheat oven to 325F/ 162.8C or 142.8C fan.
- Take butter out of fridge to soften. You want the butter soft but not greasy. (If you live somewhere very cold, you may need to take it out more than 5 minutes beforehand, which is the amount of time I stipulated for food prep/ softening the butter above.)
- Add the butter, all purpose flour, brown sugar and salt (if using) to the mixing bowl. Use the dough mixer or the flexi-beater (for a Kenwood food mixer) and start creaming the dough on low (if you use a high speed, your flour will fly!)
- Cream the ingredients together till well-mixed and you no longer see white specks of flour. (Take care not to overwork the flour. This should take only a few minutes.)
- Use a dough spatula to scrape the dough from the mixing bowl and onto a piece of parchment paper or cling film. (I find parchment paper easier to work with.)
- Roll into a log shape, wrap well then chill for minimum 15 minutes (For perfectly round cookies, you need to chill for longer so the dough holds up when cutting.)
- Cut the log-shaped dough into thin rounds about ½- ¾ inch thick.
- Place the cookies on a baking sheet with about 1 inch between them. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or till the edges are golden brown.
If you've enjoyed these 3-ingredient Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies, let me know in the comments!