Soft and Chewy Toasted Sugar Cookies

published Jun 27, 2019
Toasted Sugar Cookies

Toasting the sugar before mixing it into the dough concentrates the sweetness and gives the cookies a surprising honey-lemon flavor.

Makes24 cookies

Prep1 hour

Cook1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes

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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Late last year, I learned a trick that changed my baking life forever. Instead of blind-baking pie crusts with a parchment paper liner and a pile of dry beans, I discovered that using sugar creates a more even weight and absolutely no waste (you can’t cook beans to eat after they’ve been blind baked). The long, slow heat of the oven transforms the sugar inside the pie shell into the most delicious bonus ingredient: toasted sugar.

Toasting sugar makes it a bit drier and more caramelized, concentrating its sweetness, and you don’t have to be blind baking a pie crust to make it. You can use it in place of granulated sugar in any baking recipe (or in your morning cup of tea), but it really shines in simple, buttery sugar cookies. These toasted sugar cookies are everything you want in a classic sugar cookie — crisp and chewy edges with a soft and buttery middle — but the toasted sugar gives them a surprising honey-lemon flavor (without adding either of those ingredients).

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

How to Toast Sugar

Toasting sugar isn’t a new technique for pro bakers. Stella Parks is credited for taking it out of dusty basement pastry kitchens and straight to home bakers, but I learned about the technique on an episode of the Salt and Spine podcast just before I began all my holiday baking last year. The idea is simple: Bake the sugar at a low temperature, which slowly caramelizes it without liquifying it, so that you can bake with it after it cools.

Although you can toast just the amount of sugar you need for this recipe, I highly suggest toasting a big batch so you can have toasted sugar on hand for all things baking-related. Just spread the sugar out onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350°F, stirring occasionally, until honey-hued, about an hour. Cool the sugar completely before mixing up the cookies.

These cookies have one more special ingredient (cornstarch), which helps keep them tender and soft even after they’ve cooled. An egg yolk, in addition to a whole egg, gives these cookies even more buttery flavor — and helps give them an even more golden hue.

Toasted Sugar Cookies

Toasting the sugar before mixing it into the dough concentrates the sweetness and gives the cookies a surprising honey-lemon flavor.

Prep time 1 hour

Cook time 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes

Makes 24 cookies

Nutritional Info


  • 2 cups

    granulated sugar

  • 2 1/4 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup


  • 1 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    fine salt

  • 2 sticks

    unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1

    large egg yolk

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Spread the sugar into an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet or 9x13-inch baking dish. Toast the sugar, stirring every 15 minutes, until honey- beige colored, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the pan from the oven to a wire rack. Let cool for at least 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes to speed the cooling. Meanwhile, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

  2. Whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup of the toasted sugar in a shallow bowl for rolling.

  3. Place the butter and remaining 1 1/2 cups toasted sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Beat on medium speed until lightened in color and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.

  4. Scoop the dough out into 2 tablespoon-portions and roll gently to form smooth balls. Roll each dough ball in the reserved sugar and place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets, 8 cookies per sheet.

  5. Bake the cookies until the edges are just beginning to brown, 8 to 12 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to a cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining dough, you can reuse the parchment on a cooled baking sheet.

Recipe Notes

Storage: The cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 4 days.