Shortbread Brown Butter Cookies

Shortbread Brown Butter Cookies are the perfect holiday treat! These classic shortbread cookies, made with browned butter and topped with a luscious chocolate ganache, make a not-too-sweet crisp cookie that’s wonderful for sharing. Makes 28 cookies.

A stack of brown butter shortbread cookies on a white plate with a glass of milk

Y’all! It’s the final day of the Sweetest Season Cookie Exchange, AND it’s FREAKY FRIDAY, too!

Well, actually, this post is all about Freaky Friday because this quarter’s is our Virtual Holiday Cookie Exchange, including things like cookies, bars, candies and other holiday-centric treats we all know and love. But it definitely fits in with the Sweetest Season, too, even though that’s taking backseat to this recipe exchange.

Today, I was assigned Nicole from the blog, Or Whatever You Do!

I had so many ideas of recipes I could make from Nicole’s blog like these Snowball Cookies, this Instant Pot Eggnog Cheesecake or maybe even her Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

But I ended up coming back to her Browned Butter Shortbread Cookies because, umm, hi, hello, that sounds heavenly. (And y’all should know about me and my love of all things browned butter.)

Now, I didn’t make these cookies into sandwiches like Nicole did because I was a little impatient… but I’d like to think these do hers justice. However, if you want yours to be a sandwich with CARAMEL, please pop over to her site and see how she does it because they sound insanely yummy!

More shortbread cookie recipes that we love: Orange Raspberry Shortbread CookiesVanilla Bean Shortbread CookiesGinger Rosemary Shortbread CookiesToasted Pecan Shortbread CookiesLemon Honey ShortbreadPeanut Butter Shortbread Cookies with Raspberry-Orange Glaze

Looking for Christmas cookie inspiration? I’ve got all that you need over on the Sweetest Season’s recipe index!

A Shortbread Brown Butter Cookie with a bite taken out of it on a white plate

First, Let Me Tell You About Nicole From Or Whatever You Do

Nicole makes me smile!

We’ve known each other for several years now, dating back to when I first joined Mediavine. Nicole, who works at the company, was one of the ladies who shepherded me through the onboarding process, and we’ve been in touch ever since.

We first met in person at the first Mediavine Conference in Charleston, and we saw each other this past month at the same conference in Austin.

Also, we have daughters who have the same name (and the same somewhat nonsensical nickname.) I believe they’re around the same age, too. 

Banner with cookies and text about the Freaky Friday Cookie Exchange

So… What Is Freaky Friday?

It’s an old-fashioned blog hop.

A blog hop, for those of y’all who haven’t been around the blogosphere for as long as I have, which is to say for-freaking-ever, is a collaboration between bloggers where everyone has a post to share and you link to one another in your posts as they go live.

Michaela from An Affair from the Heart, the lovely lady who founded this quarterly collab, secretly assigns everyone another blogger, who we will choose and make a recipe from.

We make their recipe, photograph it as if it were our own, write a post about it with our own personal anecdote and then all share our posts on the selected Friday.

We hope that this collaboration helps you discover some amazing new recipes, as well as find new bloggers to follow!

You can check out these Boozy Bacon Pretzel Peanut Butter Bars, the recipe I made for the Winter 2019 Freaky Friday, and Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese, which I made for the Spring 2019 Freaky Friday. This summer, I made a Cherry Bourbon Slush for the Summer 2019 Freaky Friday collaboration. This fall, I made Halloween Peanut Butter Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Take a look at all of our 2019 Freaky Friday Holiday Cookie Exchange Recipes:

Ingredients for the shortbread cookies from above, in bowls

What you’ll need to make Shortbread Cookies with Brown Butter

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Collage showing how to brown butter in a pan

How to make Browned Butter Shortbread Cookies

Brown the butter

Heat the butter over medium-low heat in a small saucepan. Be sure to use a pan with a lighter color so you can keep track of what’s happening in it. If the bottom of the pan is darker, it will be harder to see the milk solids browning in the bottom of it.

During this process, the water in the sticks of butter will burn off and the milk solids will brown, giving the butter a nutty, fragrant aroma and taste.

Watch as the butter foams and the color deepens. It will go from foamy and light to a darker gold to a toasty brown in the span of 15-30 minutes, depending on how hot your stovetop runs.

Swirl the butter around the pan occasionally (or stir it with your favorite wooden spoon or rubber spatula) as it cooks. We do this so that the milk solids—the parts of the butter that darken first—don’t burn in the bottom of the pan.

When the butter is brown and smells nutty, remove the saucepan from the heat.

Transfer the browned butter—including the browned bits in the bottom of the pan—to a food-safe storage container. You can use a fine mesh strainer to strain the milk solids out of the butter, but I’ve found if you pour slowly, it’ll remain at the bottom of the pan, and you can pretty easily keep it out of your butter.

If you’re interested in learning more about browning butter, I found this article from The Kitchn helpful!

Collage of how to make the dough for Shortbread Brown Butter Cookies

Make and Bake the Cookies

Preheat the oven, and prepare a large sheet pan. I like using parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Once your pan is prepared and your oven is preheating, set ‘em aside.

Get out your stand mixer, and use the paddle attachment. In the base of the mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. This will take 2-3 minutes, and it’s necessary to let it mix for this long because it adds air into the cookies. When this process is done, the butter-sugar mixture will be very light yellow.

Add the vanilla and flour. Mix ‘em until combined, and don’t fret if the dough is crumbly. Mine was. It should come together in your hands, so give it a little squeeze to see if it does.

Shape the dough into a flat round. This might take you a little bit of time because you might need to “knead” the dough a bit to have it come together. I had to do this, too, and it took me about 5-10 minutes to get the dough into a solid round before I could roll it out.

Sprinkle the countertop with powdered sugar before placing your dough round on top of it. This will help keep the dough from sticking to the countertop. Feel free to add more if necessary, and also sprinkle some on top of the cookie dough, too.

Roll out the dough using your rolling pin (or a wine bottle if you don’t have a rolling pin). #themoreyouknow I like my cookie dough at about ½” thickness, but you do you. Just know that a thicker cookie will take longer to bake and might not have the beautiful snap that these shortbread cookies have.

Cut out the cookies with a biscuit cutter or a round cookie cutter. You could also use a different shape of cookie cutter, so have fun with this if that’s your thing!

Transfer the cookies to the baking sheet, and bake ‘em in the preheated oven until just set and when the edges are just beginning to turn golden brown. This took 20-25 minutes in my oven, but it might take more or less time in yours, just depending on the thickness of your cookies and how evenly your oven bakes.

Remove the baked cookies from the oven, and let them cool on a wire rack.

Make the Ganache and Decorate the Cookies

In a microwave safe-bowl, combine the chocolate and half-and-half. Heat in 30 second increments until melty and delicious.

Once the cookies have cooled, dip or drizzle with the chocolate mixture.

Serve with your favorite warm beverage or a cold glass of milk, and enjoy!

Shortbread cookies, slathered with a ganache, sit on a baking sheet

Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips and Tricks

Shortbread cookies are some of my favorite CHRISTMAS COOKIES because oh my word, they are so decadent and not too sweet and just perfect.

Here are some tips and tricks to making these beauts for a crowd:

Double the recipe if you’re hosting several people OR wanting to share these goodies with friends and family this holiday season. (I recommend putting them in pretty take out boxes for guests to be able to see what they’re getting!)

Make them a day ahead of time. These cookies aren’t to be rushed since you have to brown the butter first and let it cool before putting together the shortbread dough. Cut yourself some slack and make ‘em the night before… but save the decorating for the day you share them.

Store them in a cookie tin. When the cookies have cooled and the ganache has set, stack them on top of each other in a cookie tin. Keep them at room temperature for 3-4 days… though I bet they won’t last that long.

Add some color! These shortbread cookies are awesome with the ganache, but if you wanted to add some holiday flair, sprinkle the chocolate with colorful sprinkles!

A tray full of Shortbread Brown Butter Cookies with ganache covering half of the cookies

Frequently Asked Questions

What is brown butter?

Browned butter is regular butter that’s been heated slowly. The milk solids cook and toast, giving the brown butter its color and flavor.

The flavor is nutty, toasty and utterly delicious.

Can I make this recipe with margarine?

The magic of brown butter is that the milk solids have toasted, and they give the butter a nutty, fragrant aroma and taste. Since margarine (or other non-dairy butter substitutes) do not have milk solids, they cannot brown and won’t have the same flavor.

Why do you consider this a holiday recipe?

Shortbread is a holiday classic for me, even though it doesn’t necessarily look festive (unless, of course, you’ve decorated yours accordingly.)

You could make these cookies year-round, too, but I find these charming and delicious for sharing during the holiday season.

A bitten into Shortbread Brown Butter Cookies sits on a white plate, with Pinterest text

What are some other browned butter recipes I might enjoy?

A stack of brown butter shortbread cookies on a white plate with a glass of milk
Yield: 28 cookies

Shortbread Brown Butter Cookies

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Cooling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes

Shortbread Brown Butter Cookies are the perfect holiday treat! These classic shortbread cookies, made with browned butter and topped with a luscious chocolate ganache, make a not-too-sweet crisp cookie that’s wonderful for sharing.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup dark chocolate, for dipping
  • 1 tablespoon half-and-half

Instructions

Brown the butter

  1. In a small saucepan with a light-colored bottom, heat the butter
    over medium-low heat. (Use a pan with a lighter color so you can keep track of what’s happening in it.)
  2. The butter will begin to foam as it melts, and the color will begin to deepen as it cooks. Swirl it occasionally, or use a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula to stir the butter.
  3. When the butter is a brown color and it smells nutty, remove the
    saucepan from the heat. This will take anywhere from 15-40 minutes, depending on how high your stove is on.
  4. Transfer the browned butter—NOT including the majority of the browned bits in the bottom of the pan—to a food-safe storage container. You can use a fine mesh strainer to strain the milk solids out of the butter, but I’ve found if you pour slowly, it’ll remain at the bottom of the pan, and you can pretty easily keep it out of your butter.
  5. Refrigerate. It needs to solidify before we bring it to room
    temperature to make the cookies.


Make and Bake the Cookies

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat, then set aside.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. This will take 2-3 minutes, as you want the ingredients to really be whipped together and become a light yellow. Alternatively, you can do this step with a hand mixer in a large bowl.
  3. Measure in the vanilla and flour. Mix until combined. The mixture will look very crumbly, but it should come together when you shape it into a disc in your hand.
  4. If the dough is still very loose, feel free to knead it a little bit to help it come together. (I had to do this for a bit, as the dough was very dry for me and took some working before it could be rolled out.)
  5. When the dough has been shaped into a round, flat disc, sprinkle powdered sugar onto your countertop or another flat, clean surface.
  6. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin until it’s about ½” thick. (If the cookie dough is thicker than this, it’ll take more time to bake and you will have less cookies.)
  7. Use a cookie or a biscuit cutter to cut the cookies out, then transfer them to the prepared baking sheet.
  8. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until they are just set and the edges are just starting to turn golden brown.
  9. Remove the cookies from the oven, and let cool on a wire rack.

Make the Ganache

  1. In a microwave safe-bowl, combine the chocolate and half-and-half.
  2. Heat in 30 second increments until melty and delicious.
  3. Once the cookies have cooled, dip or drizzle with the chocolate mixture.
  4. Serve with your favorite warm beverage or a cold glass of milk, and enjoy!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

28 cookies

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 125Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 1g

Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

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7 Comments

  1. Erin, these shortbread cookies are amazing!! I LOVE chocolate ganache *almost* as much as I love browned butter. These are RIGHT up my alley! Thanks for all of the wonderful tips and tricks you shared to make them bake just right. I had a blast baking from your blog this round, and I am so grateful you are in our group! Merry Christmas to you and your sweet family!

  2. Browned butter AND chocolate ganache??!! That sounds completely over the top amazing! I can’t wait to make a batch of these! Although I not sure I can trust myself not to eat the entire batch myself!!

  3. These look so tasty! I have made shortbread so many times but I have never made it with brown butter. I am getting up, after I finish writing this comment, and making some right now!

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