Butterscotch Cookies

Dear God, please let there be a diet in which I have permission to eat dozens of guest author Garrett McCord‘s butterscotch cookies at a time without any consequences beyond a happy smile on my face. Thank you. Amen. Elise.

Butterscotch is a classic dessert flavor that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. The key flavors that make up butterscotch are brown sugar and melted butter, preferably brown as well. When combined these two ingredients create a rich, old school flavor that most people associate with butterscotch pudding or candy.

I learned to make these cookies during my internship at the Grange restaurant in Sacramento under the tutelage of pastry chef, Elaine Baker. Buttery, nutty, and rich with a slight caramel flavor these cookies are horribly addictive. Before baking these cookies are rolled in brown sugar and then get a little bit of salt sprinkled on top to punctuate the sweetness. This crispy, crunchy cookie is easy to make (you probably have all the ingredients on hand) and guaranteed to make your usual cookie rotation. Best served to friends and family with tall glasses of cold milk or mugs of hot coffee for dipping.

Butterscotch Cookies Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 4 dozen

Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized slices
  • 1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Sugar Dredging Mixture

  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Fleur de sel, Maldon, sea salt, or Kosher salt for sprinkling*

*Do not use fine grain table salt (aka: iodized salt) as the flavor will be way off and unpleasant.

Method

1 Preheat oven to 375°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Vigorously whisk together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder and set aside. Mix together the sugar dredging mixture in another bowl and set aside.

2 Place 10 tablespoons of butter into a thick-bottomed skillet over medium heat. The butter will foam a bit before subsiding. Once the butter takes on a tan color and begins to smell nutty take it off of the heat. Add the other two tablespoons of butter and mix it in until it melts. (See tutorial on how to brown butter.)

3 Pour the brown butter into a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the brown sugar and salt and mix. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and mix together, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl at least once. Add the flour mixture in three increments being sure to scrape down the sides and bottom once or twice. Mix just until the flour is incorporated. The dough will be very thick.

4 Take 1/2 to full tablespoon-sized pieces of dough (you can make them a bit bigger or smaller to your liking, just make sure the pieces of dough are all the same size) and gently roll them into ball shapes. Dredge them in the sugar dredging mixture until well-coated. Place on the baking sheet and sprinkle with a little bit of the sprinkling salt (be reserved with the salt as very little goes a long way).

5 Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges have browned a bit. Be careful not to over-bake. Allow to cool on the sheet for one minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Tastes best with a glass of milk for dipping.

Links:

Butterscotch Sauce Recipe by Shuna Lydon

59 Comments

  1. Kelly @ A Full Table

    Those look delicious! Anything butterscotch is bound to be good.

    Since table salt does not work with this recipe, what kind of salt do you recommend?

    Kosher salt is a cook’s best friend. Use it in place of table salt for everything. Trust me, you’ll never buy the other stuff again. ~Garrett

  2. Laura @ SweetSavoryPlanet

    Butterscotch is one of my family’s favorite flavors. These look delish. Have you tried freezing the cookie balls for future baking?

    These cookies freeze great. Follow the recipe as is, then add the salt on the frozen cookies before baking. They may not flatten out as much so you may want to give the dough balls a tiny squish before freezing as well. ~Garrett

  3. jonathan

    What was that? Did you suggest I sandwich a gob of vanilla ice cream between two cookies to take it even further over-the-top? OK; if you insist.

  4. Barbara | Vino Luci Style

    You had me at butterscotch too! I mean butter and brown sugar; that also translates to loving anything caramel way before it became the flavor de jour. So, when I saw these this morning and needed a dinner dessert for some taste testers (read my daughter and her young friends coming over for dinner tonight) I thought these would be perfect and was pulling ingredients within minutes.

    Now, done and hoping I can stop sampling and actually have some here tonight! I love the flavor and also this texture of cookie, much like the gingersnaps I make for the holidays, that crackly crust with a bit softer insides. YUM!

    So, a couple of things. I didn’t have any dark brown sugar on hand and substituted with light brown sugar and some molasses. Seems to have done the trick; I’m sure they have a richer flavor as a result but do not taste at all like molasses. I substituted a Tbsp of sugar per cup with a Tbsp of molasses.

    Second, was wondering Garrett about the measurement you cite per cookie? I tried a 1/2 Tbsp per cookie and it was VERY small so decided to go ahead and make them with my 1 Tbsp cookie scoop and ended up with the 4 dozen you cite, baked perfectly at 11 minutes. Is there any chance that measure in your recipe should be 1 Tbsp?

    I did use Maldon flaked salt and it’s perfect but I used is VERY sparingly; thankful of that; one more crystal and it might have been overdone! I found it helped to press the tops just a little bit to flatten them since it didn’t want to adhere to the cookie that had already been rolled in sugar. But it’s such a great plus; am anxious to see if my testers pick up on those crystals being salt.

    Great cookie…thanks for the recipe!

    Use 1/2 tablespoons. Also, using anything in these cookies but dark brown sugar will result in a different flavor and texture. I would not suggest using anything else but dark brown sugar for this. ~Garrett

  5. Holly

    Loved this recipe. The dough was amazing and the cookies even better. I found out that it is best to make the cookies right away. I waited a few hours after making the first batch and the dough became very crumbly. Still turned out the same, just more difficult to work with.

  6. Rhian

    I made these yesterday to rave reviews. The salt is very subtle, but really adds something to the taste. I’m sure I’ll be making these again and again – thank you for a wonderful recipe.

  7. Edith

    I made these last night after the kids went to bed. Stroke of genius, as that allowed my husband and me to eat as many as we wanted without the kid-guilt! I only had light brown sugar and they tasted great, but will try with dark brown next time. I also made them with a 1 Tbsp scoop and I got 30 cookies, plus whatever dough was eaten during between baking rounds!! Delicious!!

  8. Josefine

    Been following your wonderful blog for a while, but this is my first time commenting. was just surfing around, waiting for the boyfriend to come home, when I stumbled upon these lovely cookies. so now he will come home to an appartement smelling like the best cookies I have tasted in a looooong while. a large thank you from Denmark.

  9. sivan

    These sound amazing, but I am not a big fan of crunchy cookies. Do you have any suggestions for how to make these softer or chewy?

    Maybe undercook them a bit? Or dip them in milk. ;) ~Garrett

  10. Jenny

    I baked these yesterday and they smelled divine. The browned butter smelled and tasted great. I make almost 3 dozen cookies from the recipe so they were bigger than state so I baked them for about 13 minutes @ 375 and they were a bit overcooked I think. They tasted great out of the oven but 2nd day they are hard and dry but still taste great. I dipped one in some tea and it was still good. I recommend baking these for around 10 minutes and maybe lower temperature, both of which I’m going to try next.

  11. Erika

    Just made these today. One of my daughter’s friends called them “amazing”. And I didn’t have dark brown sugar, so I can imagine how much richer the flavor is with the correct sugar. Fantastic cookie and easy to make. Especially because you don’t have to wait to soften butter.

  12. Paul

    WOW! These are heavenly. The taste develops as you chew, you keep expecting it to peak but it just keeps going. The texture is wonderful, too, with a thin, crispy, crunchy shell and a marvelously chewy interior. DO NOT omit the salt, it makes the cookie.
    I used 100% Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat pastry flour, kosher salt, with Plugra brand butter, and it was a huge success.
    Recommended in the strongest possible terms. Best cookie I’ve ever made, probably.

  13. Valorie

    Of course I made these immediately, being a butterscotch fan, and they are so awesome I could eat half a dozen or so. But they are so full of fat and sugar, so naturally I love them. The browned butter just adds so much depth to the flavor, it’s all I can do to leave them alone. And no spices – who’d have thought… I imagine my husband & I will take turns sneaking one and then wonder what happened to them all. Can hardly wait to try them with coffee in the morning. Thanks.

  14. Mitchell Webster

    Elise, when I saw these cookies, it reminded me so much of Molasses Crinkles in my Mennonite Community Cookbook. I have used that recipe as a base recipe for many variations over the years. I am going to try your recipe as it is written, then I am going to try to adapt it with the Molasses Crinkle recipe of course leaving out the molasses, as I do for all of my variations. I love the recipe as it is quite nice to make today and bake tomorrow.

  15. Leslie

    I made these last night for friends who are helping us move this weekend. I ate some for dinner then, and I’m eating more for breakfast now. Oops. They’re so good!

    As a note, I used fine-grained iodized sea salt on some of them, and I don’t recommend it. I thought it would be better than table salt, and it’s not bad, but I dug out my non-iodized flake sea salt for the rest of them, and that’s much better. Not sure if it’s the lack of iodine or the shape of the crystals that does it…

  16. Selma Tannenbaum

    I made a half recipe this morning and had some difficulty with the dough. It was difficut to roll into balls… very sticky. I added a little more flour and was able to roll the balls into the crumb mix. I may have divided the ingredients wrong or something, but will try again at full recipe. But, yes, they still were good. Nice, warm butterscotch taste.

  17. Roz

    These are the best! I was nervous about browning the butter, but the instructions were great. A new favorite in our house. My Mom taught me to follow baking instructions perfectly and I respect your precise measurements.

  18. linda

    Now it’s MY turn! How refreshing to discover a new cookie recipe. It seems the recipes cycle and get passed around over the years; especially the good ones. Follow this recipe explicitly, like I did, and you will not be disappointed! How delicious! Very sweet! Thanks for yet another winner from Simply Recipes!

  19. Adrienne

    I just made these this morning and brought them to a book club meeting this afternoon. They were a HUGE hit, totally confirming that butterscotch is an underutilized dessert flavor. Thanks, Garrett :)

  20. lindsay

    These cookies will make our family’s annual Christmas cookie tray. They’re the yummiest new cookie we’ve tried all year. Thanks!

  21. molly

    oh. my. goodness.

    heaven help us all

  22. Rosie

    Made this yesterday, following the recipe to the letter, and they were fabulous. Thank you very much for a delicious cookie and an easy to follow recipe.

  23. Melissa

    Made these today and they are excellent. I notice in the picture that there are about ten cookies on the plate with one glass of milk. Ten butterscotch cookies just for me? That works!

  24. Christine

    These looked so delicious I had to make them RIGHT THEN! Oh, gosh, just the smell of the dough after adding in the butter was unbelievable… The cookies were fabulous, but I’m thinking maybe Ben & Jerry could have a new flavor – Butterscotch Cookie Dough Salted Butterscotch Ice Cream!?!

    These will definitely be a permanent addition to our favorite cookie roster…

  25. Andrea

    These are fabulous! I am in Mexico and used grated piloncillo since we don’t regularly find brown sugar here (dark or otherwise). . These cookies are a big hit – so very delicious. Thank you for the wonderful recipe. It is now tagged as a favorite – even by my chocolate-loving dh.

  26. Angela

    These were SO good…

  27. Gary

    Cookies are delicious but I’m not sure what I did wrong, the dough never came together it was very crumbly. I had to squeeze them into balls, no way could I roll them out. Darn, guess that means I’ll have to make more.

    I don’t think you did anything wrong. Just use a light hand. ;) ~Garrett

  28. Jennifer Jo

    I made these and then I melted with happiness.

  29. Njanehair

    I just made these *heavenly* cookies. I think I found my all-time favorite cookie recipe!

  30. Erin

    I made these today, and they are incredible! They won’t last long. :) The kosher salt sprinkled on top definitely adds flavor. Thanks, Garrett!

  31. Dee

    Just made this last Saturday and they were a hit. We ate them all that day..yummy..
    Just want to ask if i can substite margarine for the butter? And can I add cashew nuts too? And do you also have a nice caramel bars recipe?

    No, you cannot use margarine as the flavor of these cookies comes from browned butter. If you want to add nuts go ahead, but you will distract from the butterscotch flavor I feel. As for the caramel bar recipe, no, I do not. I may try to research them should I find time, though. Until then you will need to try another website. ~Garrett

  32. Erin

    I made these yesterday. Good Lord, Garrett these are some seriously epic cookies. Thank you!

  33. Sara

    Made these to celebrate a slew of birthdays at the office, and they’re a hit. They are delicious! How to you measure a half-tablespoon? I used a 1 tablespoon drop, and got about 40 cookies, which was a good size cookie for me. Thanks for the recipe.

    With a half-tablespoon measure. Using a tablespoon is just fine though. ~Garrett

  34. Isabel

    I am a total mess in the kitchen but I could actually do them!
    I tried it without covering it in sugar, with normal salted butter, and light brown sugar, and it was amazing! I feel so accomplish, I cannot thank you enough!!

    Greetings and thank you from me, my siblings and bf who enjoyed the final product from Chile!

  35. Karen

    These cookies are the devil! Made them today – you can’t eat just one…or three…or five…
    The browned butter makes the flavor, and definitely follow the instructions not to over-bake. Being soft and chewy inside is what makes them irresistible. Oh my.
    Thanks so much for this recipe.

  36. patti

    You DIDN’T have me at “butterscotch”–most of my butterscotch memories are from artificial ice cream toppings and faux chips. But I liked the idea of butterscotch {yummy butter and dark brown sugar} and I’ve been living vicariously through Garrett’s cooking adventures, so I thought I’d give it a go.
    My reaction: “WOW!” and “Thanks!!!”

  37. Emily

    So good! I do need to watch the “how to brown butter” tutorial. But, the cookies were still so yummy! I didn’t know about the whole adding salt on top idea – but it is so good!

    THANK YOU!!

  38. Sarah

    This cookie tastes great and was sooo easy to make! It tastes more like caramel than butterscotch but I’m not complaining! :) Glad to have a not-so-common cookie flavor to add to my rotation. Thanks!

  39. Stephanie

    Oh. My. Wow. That was my first reaction after tasting one of these hot out of the oven. Personally, I really don’t like butterscotch candies or butterscotch chips (ick) but these were absolutely fabulous. I left them in an open container overnight to cool (made ‘em late at night) and preferred them softer than how they ended up the next day. Still, I like a hard cookie for dunking, so it’s not like it’s a bad thing! These will become a regular in my house.

  40. Becca J

    Just made these tonight and I doubt that they’ll last through tomorrow. I baked mine for 10 minutes and the centers were still soft and chewy, just the way a cookie ought to be. Thanks, Garrett and Elise, for sharing such a unique but delicious cookie recipe with us!

  41. Lori L

    Curse the evil Garett McCord for coming up with this butterscotch cookie recipe! What is he, some kind of chubby chaser?

    These cookies are fantastic! We bake them barely 10 minutes and they remain crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. These are Christmas cookie worthy!

  42. Sarah

    Tasted more like caramel than butterscotch. Not sure if I did something wrong, but either way they turned out DELICIOUS! My man’s new favorite cookie. He devoured the batch in a couple days!

  43. Charlene

    Amen to Elise’s prayer! These are addictive. If I let myself I could OD on these cookies. They are just wonderful. I rolled about half of the dough into logs and froze for a slice-and-bake later on. Thanks for a great recipe, Garrett, and maybe more importantly for the enticement that finally got me to try browning butter. I wasn’t sure if the whole pan of butter should tan or not but didn’t want to waste 10 tablespoons so I took the pan off the heat once I saw definite “tanning” in the center of the pan. Evidently this was the thing to do as I can’t imagine these cookies being any better!

  44. Erik

    Ok so we have made these cookies like 10 times already. They are now my favorite cookie. We made a mistake with the last batch that made a nice change to them. My daughter put them in a plastic zip lock bag and set them on top of the fruit bowl that had banana’s in it. The cookies absorbed the banana flavor and now they tasted like Banana Foster.
    So leave them near Banana’s and you have a whole new cookie.

  45. Lindsay

    These were absolutely amazing! Dunking them in milk for about 5 seconds before eating is incredible. I baked mine for about 11 minutes and they were a little crisp after cooling. I like a softer cookie so I may take them out a little sooner next time. So goood!

  46. Melanie

    What wonderful flavor! Wanted something different after Thanksgiving and these were just the thing, thank you so much for sharing, Garrett. I followed you here from Vanilla Garlic and as usual was not disappointed.

    I did notice mine didn’t flatten out like yours seem to have, any idea why that might be? No matter what they looked like they were amazing!

    Not sure on the flattening issue. Oven temperature issue is my best guess. ~Garrett

  47. Katie

    Very good! I used 1 tbsp measuring scoop and got just over 4 dozen cookies. They look the same size in the picture. I can’t imagine using a 1/2 tbsp scoop.

  48. Vivian

    Humble looking but tasty little suckers.

    My dough from my first batch was dry and crumbly and the sugar wouldn’t stick when I dredged them. They also didn’t flatten out very much. So for my second batch, I used a whole egg instead of just the yolk (so 2 eggs total) and the dough was much easier to work with, the sugar stuck, and the cookies flattened out nicely, just a touch more than Garrett’s photo. And I got just shy of 4 doz using a level tablespoon. And definitely don’t bake longer than 10 minutes or they harden into rocks once they cool. Tasty rocks but they can break your teeth.

  49. Kaori

    These are absolutely incredible. I’m usually not a cookie dough person but this made me want to eat the dough before baking, it smelled so good. This was the first time I browned my butter and it went well, great instructions :) I tend to over bake my cookies so I took mine just short of 10 minutes from the oven. Perfect. I had a bit of trouble getting the sprinkling salt to stick, so I pressed it lightly down. So, so, tasty and delicious, thank you for sharing the recipe Garrett!

  50. Eileen

    Another winning recipe from Garrett! Like some others, I made my cookies a little bit bigger, getting 36 out of the recipe & I cooked them on the short side (10 minutes), so they’d stay chewy. Incredibly rich flavor, wonderful texture & a rustically beautiful cookie. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  51. Grace Tan

    Hi Garrett! The scent from the brown butter was heavenly! However, when I rolled my dough into round dollops and baked them, they didnt become as flat as yours in the picture. They were still quite round and thick; why? Did I not add enough butter?

    They may have not been flattened enough after rolling. That’s my only real guess here on this one. Did it affect the taste? Plus, mine aren’t actually all that flat, those in the picture aren’t really all that big. ~Garrett

  52. Diane B

    I made these last night as a treat to bring to work. My co-workers devoured them and declared them delicious.

    Mine also didn’t flatten very much, but they were great all the same, even if they weren’t crunchy.

  53. Kara Pardue

    All I have is a hand mixer…will that be okay? I really want to make these cookies.

    A hand mixer will likely not be strong enough to mix the cookie dough. If you don’t have a stand mixer, I suggest mixing by hand, using a wooden spoon. (Metal spoons may bend.) ~Elise

  54. Erin

    I made these over the weekend and they were gone in RECORD time. They were amazing! Thank you!

  55. Sheila

    I just made these last night & they were brilliant! These are the perfect cookies for dipping in tea or milk, but especially tea!! Thanks so much for sharing, I will be making these again. I loved the little dusting of sea salt by the way, it offset the sweetness of the sugar dredging mix perfectly!

  56. Jen

    First of all, I want to say this is a fantastic recipe and I’ve made it twice before with great results. However, I made a batch last night and the dough was very dry and crumbly (the cookies turned out a bit dry as well after baking for ~10 minutes.) I used the correct amount of all the ingredients, but the last two times I used a hand mixer while this time I used a wooden spoon. Could that have something to do with it?

    I would imagine so. The butter wasn’t well incoporated so it broke apart the gluten bonds. ~Garrett

  57. Tracy

    I made this recently for a cookie contest at work. It was a blind cookie testing so people wouldn’t just vote for their friends. When all was said and done and people found out that the butterscotch cookies were mine, numerous people said they thought they were the best but didn’t vote for them because they were sure they came from a bakery and then demanded to know where I bought them. When I recited the recipe from memory, jaws dropped. Everyone said the cookies looked too perfect and tasted too good to be homemade.

    Seriously, one of my favorite cookies I have ever made. A new staple in my rotation. So delicious.

  58. Maricar Sabu

    Hi, may I know 12tablespoons of butter in ounces please?

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