Brown Butter Sourdough Shortbread

A traditional shortbread cookie is melt-in-your mouth delicious. Add in some brown butter and sourdough discard and it makes them even better. The nutty brown butter flavor tastes delicious in these crispy shortbread cookies and I love how this recipe uses up some of my sourdough discard. If you are looking for an easy and delicious shortbread cookie recipe, you can’t go wrong with this brown butter sourdough shortbread.

Important Ingredients in Brown Butter Sourdough Shortbread

Sourdough Discard: In order to avoid a stronger sourdough flavor, use sourdough discard that is fresh or no more than a day or two old. I always use 100% hydration sourdough discard. If your discard is very runny, you may need a little extra flour in this recipe.

Unsalted Butter: I bake a lot of cookies and always use unsalted butter. You can control the flavor much better when you use unsalted butter. This butter goes through a browning process producing a subtle and delicious nutty flavor throughout the shortbread cookie.

Powdered Sugar: Powdered sugar gives a delicate texture to these sourdough thumbprint cookies that results in a delicate texture to these cookies.

Vanilla Extract: This cookie base doesn’t have very many ingredients, so good quality vanilla extra is important to bring flavor.

All Purpose Flour: These cookies are perfect with all purpose flour. Use flour with an 11.5% protein content, not bread flour.

How to Brown Butter

Learning to brown butter can add so much delicious flavor to baked goods. To brown butter, place a stick of butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Using a light colored pan helps you see when the butter has browned, but it’s not strictly necessary. Let the butter melt and then simmer on the stove. The butter will foam and sizzle. Stir every few minutes, stirring more as the butter starts to clarify and the milk solids move to the bottom. When you stir and see the brown bits on the bottom and the butter looks more clear, it’s ready. The butter will smell toasty, buttery, nutty and rich. Move the browned butter off the heat and pour it into a mixing bowl to cool. Scrape all the little bits of browned butter into the mixing bowl to use–that’s where the flavor comes from!

Mixing up the Shortbread Cookie Dough

After the brown butter has cooled, use a hand mixer to whip up the room temperature butter. It should lighten a little in color as you mix. Add the powdered sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Then add in the sourdough discard, vanilla extract and salt. Add in the flour and mix until just combined.

Wrap and Refrigerate Brown Butter Sourdough Shortbread

Dump the dough out of the bowl onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Shape the dough into a rectangular log and roll so the plastic wrap is covering the entire log. Refrigerate the dough for an hour or longer, until the dough is chilled completely and firm.

Slice and Bake Sourdough Shortbread Cookies

Once the dough is chilled, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice 1/2 inch slices of cookie dough and place the sliced cookies on the baking sheet. Use a skewer or fork to prick the shortbread cookies and create a design. Then bake the cookies for about 10 minutes until crispy on the outside. Let cookies cool completely and enjoy!

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I store leftover cookies?

This is a crispy cookie. It will stay good for a couple of days stored in an airtight container. If you want them to last longer, store cooled cookies in an airtight container in the freezer. Pull them out of the freezer a few hours before you want to enjoy them so they can thaw at room temperature. Enjoy!

Can I freeze the brown butter sourdough shortbread dough?

Yes. This is a great cookie dough to freeze. Mix up the cookie dough. Wrap into a log and freeze the log of cookie dough. The night before you want to bake the cookies, take the log out of the freezer and stick in the refrigerator. When ready to bake, slice up the dough and bake according to recipe directions.

How long will this dough last in the refrigerator before baking?

This dough can sit in the refrigerator for a couple of days before baking. If you want to make it further ahead than that, store the dough in the freezer.

Do I have to brown the butter? Can I make this recipe without browning the butter?

You don’t have to brown the butter. The brown butter gives the cookies a subtle nutty flavor that is delicious. But if you prefer a shortbread cookie without the brown butter, you can use regular unsalted butter instead.

Brown Butter Sourdough Shortbread

Amy
A delicious twist on traditional shortbread, this brown butter sourdough shortbread is filled with nutty brown butter, uses up your sourdough discard and results in melt-in-your-mouth delicious cookies. Crisp, sweet and flavorful, this is the perfect little shortbread cookie.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Refrigerated Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course cookies, Dessert
Servings 16 cookies

Ingredients
  

  • 140 grams unsalted butter about 10 Tablespoons
  • 60 grams powdered sugar about 1/2 cup
  • 60 grams sourdough discard see recipe notes
  • 4 grams vanilla extract about 1 teaspoon
  • 2 grams salt about 1/2 teaspoon
  • 180 grams all purpose flour about 1 1/4 cup flour

Instructions
 

  • Brown Butter: Place 140 grams of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Let the butter melt and cook. Check back frequently. After a few minutes, the butter will brown, leaving little brown bits in the pan. Pull the brown butter off the heat (don't let the brown bits turn black–you don't want burned butter). Let cool to room temperature.
  • To the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), beat the cooled brown butter and the powdered sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the sourdough discard, vanilla extract and salt. Beat until fully combined.
  • Add the flour to the butter mixture and mix until the wet and dry ingredients are incorporated.
  • Dump the dough out of the bowl onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Shape the dough into a rectangular log and roll so the plastic wrap is covering the entire log. Refrigerate the dough for an hour or longer, until the dough is chilled completely and firm.
  • When you're ready to bake the shortbread, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Use a sharp knife to slice 1/2 inch pieces of shortbread from the log and place on the parchment lined baking sheet. Poke small holes using a fork or skewer to decorate the shortbread if desired.
  • Bake for 10 minutes and let cool completely. Enjoy!

Notes

Sourdough Discard: In order to avoid a stronger sourdough flavor, use sourdough discard that is fresh or no more than a day or two old. I always use 100% hydration sourdough discard. If your discard is very runny, you may need a little extra flour in this recipe.
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2 Comments

  1. This was my first time making brown butter and wow what an impact it makes on the finished product 😱
    The flavour was amazing, however we prefer the more traditional Scottish shortbread texture/mouth-feel.
    I will likely adapt my (non-sourdough discard) recipe to include a brown butter though as it’s amazing!