Brown Butter Icebox Cookies

As often happens to me these days, I had the urge to bake, but not much to work with.  But if you have butter (and flour and sugar), you have everything you need!  I’ve expressed my love of brown butter before.  Brown butter has this nutty wonderful flavor and can transform a baked good or even a vegetable dish like these brussels sprouts.  Brown butter can turn something that is just so-so into something spectacular.

This shortbread-like cookie recipe comes from Gourmet.  Here is the link.  I didn’t change a thing about this recipe.  The resulting cookies were so deliciously buttery, crunchy, sweet and just the perfect touch salty.  I’m sad that they are almost gone.

The only tricky thing is browning the butter without burning it.  Just keep the heat moderate, stir consistently and take the pot off the heat when you start to get more and more browned bits.  Once the bits begin to brown the process speeds up, so watch it closely.  Just don’t let it burn or you’ll have to start over.  After you’ve browned the butter, let it cool in the fridge until it is solid, mine took about an hour and a half.  It doesn’t have to be hard like the stick of butter you took from the fridge, just not liquidy.  Does that make sense?

I liked the crunchy sugar on the edges of the cookies, but if you don’t have raw sugar on hand you can leave it out.  If you are going to use the sugar, cut about 1/3 of the log of raw dough, roll it in the sugar, pressing firmly.  Then slice into pieces for baking.  I found it was easier to roll parts of the log instead of the whole thing.  While a batch is baking, keep the rest of the dough refrigerated so it remains easy to slice.

Brown Butter Ice Box Cookies



  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar


  1. Cook butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it has a nutty fragrance and flecks on bottom of pan turn golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer butter to a bowl and chill until just firm, about an hour and a half.
  2. Beat together butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla, then mix in flour and salt at low speed until just combined. Transfer dough to a sheet of wax paper or parchment and form into a 12-inch log, 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Chill, wrapped in wax paper, until firm, at least 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Roll dough in raw sugar.  Slice dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, arranging 1 1/2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake until surface is dry and edges are slightly darker, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.