Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies Recipe (2024)

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Chewy and warm, with a crackly brown sugar crust, these sugar cookies take less than 30 minutes, start to finish.


Yvonne Ruperti

Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies Recipe (1)

Yvonne Ruperti

Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and cookbook author. She is also an adjust professor of baking at the Culinary Institute of America in Singapore.

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Daniel Gritzer

Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies Recipe (2)

Senior Culinary Director

Daniel joined the Serious Eats culinary team in 2014 and writes recipes, equipment reviews, articles on cooking techniques. Prior to that he was a food editor at Food & Wine magazine, and the staff writer for Time Out New York's restaurant and bars section.

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Updated September 25, 2023



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Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies Recipe (3)

Why It Works

  • Melted butter makes for a denser, chewier cookie.
  • Rolling the dough in brown sugar doubles down on brown sugar flavor, while adding a crackly texture to the exterior.

I had wrist surgery a week and a half ago and have mostly been sitting on my couch at home since, attempting to get work done despite the challenge of a large, stiff cast and sore metacarpals. It's been slow going. Less slow is the rate of sugar I'm ingesting.

That's fine by me, especially if it's in the form of these chewy cookies, which were originally developed by Yvonne Ruperti for her excellent One Bowl Baking column.

Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies Recipe (4)

There are a couple keys to this cookie's gooey interior and soft and chewy texture. The first is the brown sugar itself. Unlike white sugar, brown sugar is slightly acidic, which means it readily reacts with the alkaline baking soda in the dough, creating plenty of carbon dioxide that softens the cookies as they bake. Brown sugar is also more hygroscopic than white sugar, meaning it hangs onto moisture more readily. (You can read more on how white and brown sugar differ in cookies here.)

The other key to these cookies is the butter. In recipes that call for creaming room temperature butter with sugar, the goal is to beat microscopic bubbles of air into the dough; when the baking soda activates, it's those little bubbles that puff up and expand into lofty cookies. In this recipe, though, the butter is melted first and then mixed with the brown sugar just enough to combine them, which means there's no aeration happening as there is with creaming. This balance of just the right amount of leavening from the brown sugar/baking soda reaction without the added leavening effects of creaming is key.

With less aeration, the brown sugar is left to excel at another of its jobs: Its acidity speeds the development of gluten in the dough and the speed at which the proteins in the dough set during baking, enhancing the dense, chewy texture of the cookies.

Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies Recipe (5)

To really play up the molasses-y flavor of the brown sugar, each dough ball is rolled in it first. This also enhances the crackly texture of the exterior of each cookie, along with an extra-intense blast of caramel flavor.

Recipe Details

Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies Recipe

Active10 mins

Total25 mins

Serves14to 16 servings


  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (7 ounces; 200g)

  • 1 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar, divided (12 1/4 ounces; 350g)

  • 3/4 teaspoon Diamond crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same by weight (3g)

  • 1 large egg (55g)

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (10ml)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (10 ounces; 285g)

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (4g)

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (2g)


  1. Getting Started: Adjust 2 oven racks to upper and lower-middle positions and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

  2. Stir butter, 1 1/2 cups (10.7 ounces; 300g) brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl until combined. Stir in egg and vanilla until combined. Add flour, baking powder, and baking soda to bowl and stir until combined.

  3. Scoop 1/4-cup sized balls of dough onto rimmed baking sheets (7 to 8 per pan). Add remaining 1/4-cup (1.5 ounces; 50g) brown sugar to now empty (unwashed) bowl. Roll each dough ball into sugar, return to pan, and press to about 1 inch thick.

    Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies Recipe (6)

  4. Bake until tops have puffed and cracked, and edges are golden, 9 to 11 minutes, rotating pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Let cool on pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool.

Special Equipment

Rimmed baking sheet, wire cooling rack, mixing bowl, digital scale

Read More

  • What's the Difference Between Light and Dark Brown Sugar?
  • Cookies
  • Christmas Desserts
  • Christmas Cookies
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
11g Fat
35g Carbs
2g Protein


Nutrition Facts
Servings: 14to 16
Amount per serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g14%
Saturated Fat 6g32%
Cholesterol 40mg13%
Sodium 146mg6%
Total Carbohydrate 35g13%
Dietary Fiber 0g2%
Total Sugars 21g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 0mg0%
Calcium 41mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
Potassium 57mg1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies Recipe (2024)


What is the secret to chewy cookies? ›

Cornstarch helps product soft and thick cookies. Using more brown sugar than white sugar results in a moister, softer cookie. An extra egg yolk increases chewiness. Rolling the cookie dough balls to be tall and lumpy instead of wide and smooth gives the cookies a bakery-style textured thickness.

Why does brown sugar make cookies chewier? ›

Brown sugar is also hygroscopic (more so than granulated sugar) and will therefore also attract and absorb the liquid in the dough. The difference is in the molasses that makes brown sugar brown: It adds moisture and slight acidity, resulting in a moist and chewy texture.

What makes cookies chewy instead of crispy? ›

The ingredients you use and how you shape your cookies both play an important role in whether your cookies turn out crispy or chewy. The type of flour and sugar you use, if your cookie dough contains eggs, and whether you use melted or softened butter all factor into the crispy-chewy equation, too.

Does baking soda or powder make cookies chewy? ›

Baking soda is generally about three times stronger than baking powder, so adjust your recipe accordingly. Baking soda and baking powder can produce cookies with different textures. Baking soda is typically used for chewy cookies, while baking powder is generally used for light and airy cookies.

What are 3 factors that contribute to a chewy cookie? ›

How to Make Cookies Chewy
  • 1 Adding or Substituting Ingredients in Your Recipe.
  • 2 Using Baking Techniques to Increase Chewiness.
  • 3 Storing Cookies for Chewier Texture.

Does dark brown sugar make cookies chewier? ›

Brown sugar makes my sugar cookies spread thin and keeps my oatmeal cookies from spreading at all; it makes both of them extra chewy. It also adds flavor to my crispy gingersnaps.

What happens if you add too much brown sugar to cookies? ›

Brown sugar adds a beautiful color as well as a more complex flavor. They'll also make cookies chewier, softer, and thicker than white sugar. Adding too much can result in dark brown cookies. Adding too little results in paler cookies.

What happens if you forget to add brown sugar to cookies? ›

What happens when you bake without brown sugar? To be succinct, the resulting baked good could be slightly drier or more crisp. Without the excess moisture from the molasses in the brown sugar, the final cookie won't be as chewy and the final bread might be drier.

How do you make cookies stay soft and chewy? ›

Baking at 375 degrees F as opposed to a lower temperature will help cookies stay soft: they'll bake faster which means they aren't in the hot, drying air of the oven too long. Pull the cookie sheet out of the oven when the cookies are just set: underbaking is better than overbaking.

How do you make cookies soft and chewy vs hard and crisp? ›

Different types of sugars affect the texture because they absorb different amounts of water. Remember moisture is the key! White sugar creates crispier cookies and brown sugar creates chewier cookies.

Why use both baking soda and baking powder in cookies? ›

Recipes that use both baking soda and baking powder

There are two other reasons for using both: If a recipe is relying on an acidic ingredient for flavor (like buttermilk or lemon juice), too much baking soda would neutralize that flavor. Using both baking soda and baking powder maximizes the flavor and the rise.

What makes cookies chewy butter or shortening? ›

If you're looking for chewy, moist cookies, shortening could be the fat to use — just keep in mind that you may want to add some additional flavors to give the cookies some more taste! Alternatively, use a mix of butter and shortening to get the best of both worlds.

Why does melted butter make cookies chewy? ›

Why You Should Melt (or Brown) Your Butter. For chewier cookies and bars, we melt our butter instead of following the usual procedure of creaming softened butter with sugar. This simple switch frees up the water content of the butter so that it can freely interact with the flour in the dough or batter.

What is the best flour for chewy cookies? ›

You don't absolutely HAVE to use bread flour, but it adds a ton of chewy texture to these cookies that's worth the extra trip to the store. If you can't get bread flour, then use all AP flour in its place.

What does adding cornstarch to cookies do? ›

As Levy Beranbaum writes in The Baking Bible, replacing a little bit of the flour in the dough with cornstarch results in “a more delicate cookie that is also easier to pipe or push through a cookie press.” Adding cornstarch helps tenderize tough gluten, contributing to a softer cookie dough with a finer crumb after ...


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