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


  • 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.


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.

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Showing 4 of 62 Comments

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

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