Brown Butter (+Bourbon) Snickerdoodles
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Jesse Szewczyk, a food writer and cookbook author, has a new book out: Cookies: The New Classics. It’s a collection of 100 cookie recipes, each familiar at its core, but boldly reinvented. Think: Campari shortbread, spiced honey rum balls, preserved lemon crinkles, chocolate-tahini bars, and these brown butter (+ bourbon!) snickerdoodles.
I have never met a snickerdoodle I didn’t like, but these are especially endearing: the browned butter gives them a nuttiness, a trait absent in traditional snickerdoodles, and the splash of Bourbon enhances the caramelly brown sugar and vanilla notes — not unlike how the presence of coffee in chocolatey baked goods will heighten the chocolate flavor without imparting a hint of coffee.
What’s more, because you brown the butter, you don’t have to soften it, and because brown butter is a liquid fat, you don’t have to bust out your stand mixer to make the dough! Win win. After you brown the butter, this essentially is a one-bowl job.
I should note, the original recipe calls for using a stand mixer, so if you prefer to use a mixer, go for it. I made the recipe both ways — mixed by hand and mixed in my stand mixer — and I didn’t notice a difference in texture or flavor. I also made the recipe once without the bourbon, using a tablespoon of vanilla in its place, and the cookies were still delicious, as equally nutty and toasty thanks to that magical brown butter.
My kids gobble these up, and I have no doubt Santa will appreciate your brown-buttered, bourbon-spiked take on this Christmas classic, too.
Jesse Szewczyk’s Cookies: The New Classics — it’s a beauty!
How to Make Brown Butter Snickerdoodles, Step by Step
Gather your ingredients:
The first step is to brown the butter: Place two sticks of butter in a saucepan and begin melting it over medium heat.
Watch it closely! This takes just about 3 to 4 minutes total, and during that time, the butter will bubble up, and the bubbles will transform from big to small. When the hue of the butter darkens slightly, remove it from the heat and transfer it immediately to a heatproof bowl.
The brown butter needs to cool for 20 minutes. While it cools, whisk together the dry ingredients.
Then add the cooled butter, the whisked eggs, the vanilla, and the bourbon, if using.
Mix until you have a cohesive dough ball.
Divide the dough into 2 tablespoon or 50-gram portions.
Roll each portion into a ball, dip into a bowl of cinnamon and sugar; then transfer to a plate or tray.
Bake 8 balls at a time.
The balls will puff up as they bake…
… then collapse as they cool.
They are truly irresistible.Print
Brown Butter (+Bourbon) Snickerdoodles
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 18-20 cookies
These brown butter snickerdoodles are sugar-crusted, soft and chewy, and scented with toasty notes of brown sugar, bourbon, and vanilla. The bourbon absolutely can be omitted — I’ve made them without it — and the cookies are still divine.
As with all baking, for best results use a scale to measure the ingredients.
Adapted from Jesse Szewczyk’s Cookies: The New Classics
- Any whiskey or dark, spiced rum can be used in place of the bourbon.
- The dough can be made ahead and stored in the fridge several days before baking. If too firm to scoop, let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. (I like to portion the softened dough; then stash the dough balls in the fridge.)
- The cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
- 16 tablespoons (226 g) unsalted butter
- 2.5 cups (320 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons (10 g) cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon (6 g) baking soda
- 1 teaspoon (4 g) kosher salt
- 1.25 cups (250 g) granulated sugar, divided
- 0.5 cup (100 g) brown sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) bourbon, optional, see notes
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon (10 g) cinnamon
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Continue cooking, until the butter foams and then darkens in color slightly and is very fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the butter immediately to a heatproof bowl, and let it cool at room temperature for 20 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 350ºF. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. As the butter is cooling, combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, 1 cup (200 g) of the sugar, and the brown sugar in a large bowl.
- Add the cooled brown butter, the beaten eggs, the vanilla, and bourbon. Stir with a spatula until you have a cohesive dough.
- In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar and the cinnamon.
- Using a medium 1.75-inch (#40) scoop (which is about 2 tablespoons) portion the dough into balls. Note: I use a digital scale and portion the dough into 50 gram balls — not necessary, but I love knowing the balls all weigh the same and so in turn will bake the same.
- Roll the dough balls in the cinnamon and sugar and transfer 8 to the prepared sheet pan. (NOTE: Some commenters have had trouble with the cookies spreading. If you are worried about spreading, consider chilling the portioned dough balls for 1 to 3 hours or even longer before baking. I often portion cookie dough balls, transfer them to an airtight container, and chill for 24 hours.) Bake for 8 to 11 minutes — dough balls will puff up and they will look not completely cooked, but you should remove them anyway — they’ll collapse and continue to cook as they cool. I do find that overcooking snickerdoodles renders them more light and cake-like and less chewy. Remove the pan from the oven. Let the cookies cool slightly on the baking sheets; then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Repeat with the other dough balls or transfer them to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to one week.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: snickerdoodles, brown butter, Christmas
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
54 Comments on “Brown Butter (+Bourbon) Snickerdoodles”
These look delicious! Do you think they would work as a mini cookie? Using maybe a 2tsp size ball?
I don’t see why not! Go for it 🎉
These sound delicious! How long do they keep?
They keep really well — I actually like them better on day two. These have not lasted more than 2 days in our house, but Jesse says they’ll last for up to 1 week in an airtight container.
I am so glad you posted these and that they were a success. I have been wanting to try them.
I also love the suggestions from your 10 favorite cookies. So many good ones to try that I don’t know where to start!
If they are as good as your vanilla bean sables (via DG) my family will be very happy. I tried that recipe from your site in 2016 and have been making them ever since!
Between your gift guide and your cookie suggestions, you are taking the stress out of my holiday! Thanks for sharing!
Awww Trish, you’re the best. Thank you so much. So nice to hear all of this. I love those vanilla bean sables, too. I make them every year, and I have such a hard time resisting them at all times of day — coffee, tea, dessert… so good. xoxo
This was an extremely easy cookie! And delicious. The taste of the bourbon really shines through. I added some cardamom to the cinnamon sugar since I love that flavor.
So nice to hear this! I love the Bourbon, too — it totally makes it for me! Cardamom sounds delicious! Thanks for writing 🙂
These were amazing , not the snickerdoodles we made 40 years ago for our kids. Cooked a bit longer for crispy outsides for my husband soft inside for me. With a chaser of uncle nearest these were heaven.
So great to hear this, Carolyn! Love the chaser of Uncle idea 🙂 🙂 🙂
They are delicious made and gave as Christmas presents
Keep up the great recipes. Grandma from Bastrop La.
So nice to hear this, Virginia! Thanks so much for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂
Love this version snickerdoodle – it’s rich and very tasty. Next time I will darken the butter more and see if a nuttier taste results. Definitely don’t skip the bourbon. So delicious!
So great to hear, Lulu! Totally agree about the Bourbon 🙂 🙂 🙂
These are delish! I can’t keep my hands out of them! Super easy too, which is so important this time of year.
Great to hear, Lisa 🙂 🙂 🙂 I find them irresistible as well. Thanks for writing!
Well these are certainly a 10+. Absolutely delicious and an easy quick 6:30 am project the house smelled divine when everyone woke up. Thanks Ali.
So nice to hear this, Susan 🙂 🙂 🙂 Love that you are baking cookies at 6:30 am 🤣🤣🤣🤣 I actually am also doing the same thing: baking gingerbread cookies as I type. Fingers crossed!
Love, love, love! I just made this recipe and I am so glad I made my balls half the size suggested because there is twice as more! So good!
So great to hear this, Sabina 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanks so much for writing and sharing.
Can you skip the cream of tartar?
I used arrowroot once when I didn’t have cream of tartar, and it worked fine. In the headnotes to this recipe in the book, Jesse says the cream of tartar “adds a distinctive tangy flavor and pleasant chew to the cookies.” I imagine there is something to this, but I also think they would still be delicious without it.
As I find often happens with you, the timing of this recipe was so serendipitous! I had been looking for one more cookie to add to my Christmas cookie tins (in addition to Alison Roman’s salted chocolate chunk shortbreads, Dorie’s World Peace Cookies, millionaire shortbread and breton brittle). Also, after almost 11 years together and 8 years married my husband announced this weekend that snickerdoodles are his favorite cookie. I swear, I’ve never even heard him say the word snickerdoodle before! Haha! Anywho – I went ahead and made a double batch because I trust you completely, and wow. I think snickerdoodles are my favorite cookie too! Soulmates! ☺️
Amanda this is hilarious 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 Love this so much. Better late than never to learn your husband’s favorite cookie!! I don’t know why I don’t make them more often. I have made them here and there over the years, always to rave reviews from my kids (and husband!), and yet they never stuck as a go-to until now. Maybe it’s the Bourbon! Your cookie box assortment is perfection, truly my idea of heaven. Merry Christmas to you and your Soulmate!! xoxo
Help! The first pans ended up very flat and didn’t crinkle at all. The last pan is fatter and DID crinkle. Why would this happen? The sizes were all similar.
Hi! Did you chill the dough balls for the second batch? Or use a different baking pan?
No. No difference, although I suppose the dough got warmer over time. Could that cause it?
That definitely could have played a role. It’s possible, too, that the type of butter (i.e. butter fat percentage) could make a difference, too. Do you remember what brand you used?
Same thing happened to me. They were flat and about the size of a CD. Still delicious. I did not chill the dough and I used Costco unsalted butter. I’m making a second batch now and I’ve made smaller dough balls and are chilling them. Will report back. So yummy despite the spread. I agree; liked them better on day 2. Thanks,Alli. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve told about your site. I’m making your three seed crackers for Christmas gifts too! Hope you’re loving your new kitchen.
Update: refrigerating the dough balls did the trick for me. Second batch was perfect. Thanks again, Alli. The neighbors are loving them!
So nice to hear all of this, Karen, and apologies for the delay here! I’m so happy to hear the chilling worked. I’ve finally added a note to the recipe, so hopefully that will help the spreading issues others are having as well.
Thank you for your kind words! Means so much. Happy happy New Year to you!
Super delicious! Mine did spread quite a bit. I wonder if chilling the dough a bit would have helped.
I think chilling seems to be the solution! Will make a note. Thanks for writing!
Alex, these really WERE amazing. The quintessential snickerdoodle. Flavors were on point and texture was *KISS* perfect. Thanks for sharing!
Wonderful to hear this, Jennie 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanks so much for writing. Happy Happy New Year 🎉
My family loves snickerdoodles. I can’t wait to try your recipe for brown butter bourbon snickerdoodles. Do you have a good recipe for The Bourbon ball candy? A dear friend of ours used to make these for Christmas but she didn’t give out her recipe. She has passed away and my family misses her and her Christmas candy.
This is a very old post, but I do have a recipe on it for bourbon balls: https://alexandracooks.com/2007/05/03/two-kentucky-derby-day-desserts/
Not sure if it’s the same thing, but it might offer some guidance.
These cookies have raised my expectations for all baked goods. Mid recipe I realized I ran out of bourbon so I substituted maple rum and thought they came out great. My only note is that I was remined how butter can go from not browned to very browned in an instant (often the instant I’m looking away). I let the dough chill for 2 hours on my very chilly porch in Vermont and they held their shape beautifully when baked. Thanks again Ali for sharing another amazing recipe.
So great to hear this, Caroline 🙂 🙂 🙂 And yes, you are so right re brown butter. And it’s the worst when it goes beyond brown… maddening! Thanks for writing!
Oh my, Ali! These cookies are so good! I meant to make these at Christmas but here we are almost into February. ☺️
These cookies are delicious and easy to make. The richness of the browned butter combined with the bourbon is pure perfection!
I baked one off right away while I chilled the rest of the dough just to see the difference. It puffed up, kept it’s shape and had a soft but chewy texture.
I have never had a fondness for snickerdoodles but this recipe changed everything!
Thanks for sharing! xoxo
So nice to hear this, Trish 🙂 🙂 🙂 I am still making Xmas cookies as well… so much to do, so little time around the holidays. This is a much more leisurely time of year. Thanks so much for writing. So glad you liked these. And so glad your baked-immediately cookie held its shape. Yay 🎉
They turned out great! Nice and soft, perfect cinnamon taste. I used Fireball Whiskey in place of bourbon.
Great to hear, Kathy! Thanks so much for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂
Just mixed up my second batch. The cookies are delicious – but almost didn’t get baked because the dough itself is divine! Chilling the dough really helps them hold their shape.
So nice to hear this, Ellen 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanks for writing!
I’ve made this recipe multiple times — it’s great but would love if the measurements for the sugar were divided in the ingredient list. I’ve missed this twice and accidentally put in the extra cup of sugar.
Wow! So delicious! Did not need to chill at all! My son and I were on a Christmas Goodies baking spree. I read this recipe to him and he was ‘oh yes’! Glad we did!!
That’s so fun! So nice to read this, Nancy 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanks so much for writing and sharing your notes.
These look amazing! I plan to make them today. Do you use light or dark brown sugar?
I typically use light, but dark is fine!
If anyone is worried about their cookies spreading, it’s because they aren’t taking a sip of their bourbon before adding it in!
So good. Happy holidays!
Wow! I made these this morning using gf flour. Fan-flippin’-tastic!
I’ve never much cared for snickerdoodles – they’re just fine. These have converted me to a SD fan!
Great to hear, Amy! Thanks so much for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂