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Rosemary Brown Butter Shortbread Cookies

This Brown Butter Rosemary Shortbread Cookies Recipe is a new addition to my standard Christmas Cookies lineup. The Rosemary provides a lovely, piney fragrance to brown butter shortbread, resulting in a delicious cookie. There truly is something wonderful about brown butter shortbread, but the addition of the Rosemary in this recipe simply takes it over the top. 

Kate and I will start baking our Christmas cookies this week when she’s home for Thanksgiving.  Actually, we’ll be doing this baking on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Then we will be putting up our tree and decorating the rest of the house on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. 

I’d imagine the traditions and expectations around our Christmas Decorating are similar to those in your family.  Our favorite Christmas music will pipe through the house and a plate of Christmas cookies will keep us fortified during the frenzied fun. We will also have a charcuterie spread and other noshes as Friday’s meals will be of the ‘grazing’ variety; I will be way too busy to cook.

We easily make 8-10 different cookie recipes each holiday season. This assures that each member of the family has several favorites to choose from. It’s fun to look back and see how each cookie came to be on our Christmas cookie recipe list.  Just as we bring furniture and pictures to a marriage, favorite family cookie recipes come too.  Terry grew up with the Peanut Butter Blossom, which were new to me.  My Grandma made the double chocolate cookies and the pizzelle maker I use is the one she used 40+ years ago.  These Brown Butter Rosemary Shortbread cookies very quickly found their way into our hearts….or, better yet, tummies! I’ll be curious to see what cookie recipes my kids take with them when they set up a home of their own.

Some of our Favorite Christmas Cookies

These Spiced Molasses Cookies are a staple in our Christmas cookie baking. They are perfectly crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. If you like a more gingery, lighter, and crisper molasses cookie, then check out these Crisp Ginger Molasses Cookies. My Grandma’s Pennsylvania Dutch Chocolate Cookies have been baked each Christmas for probably 75 years! If that’s not a tradition, I don’t know what is!

Brown Butter Rosemary Shortbread Cookie Recipe: tray of just baked shortbread cookies fresh out of the oven
Brown Butter Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

A recent addition to the line-up has been a Rosemary Shortbread cookie that was offered at a Cookie Swap I attended several years back.  While I loved this recipe, I was anxious to take it up a notch by using browned butter.  Browning butter takes an already yummy kitchen staples to serious new heights.  Its nutty, caramel flavor is perfection in shortbread cookies and over pasta where it doesn’t have to compete for attention on your palate.  I used Irish butter because its higher fat content makes it just that much more flavorful. And while shortbread cookies are outstanding on their own, adding some brown butter and rosemary to this cookie recipe makes you question the adage ‘you can’t improve perfection.’  Thus was born Brown Butter Rosemary Shortbread Cookies.  

Rosemary cookies?

Rosemary in a shortbread cookie?  Really??? Don’t knock it until you try it!  In this recipe, the sweetness from the sugar is complemented by the caramel of the browned butter.  Salt and a hint of pine from the rosemary adds just enough pleasant surprise to your taste buds to make these very distinctive Brown Butter Rosemary Cookies work into your cookie repertoire. If you were looking for another addition to your Christmas Cookie recipe list, this is worthy of consideration.

Just a note, you can’t just brown the butter called for in a recipe that didn’t specifically call for browned butter (yeah…I found that out the hard way…twice!)  Browning the butter causes some evaporation (like 20%), so you need to accommodate by adding more butter.  There’s your fun fact for the day.

Brown Butter Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

Brown Butter Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

Nourish and Nestle
A shortbread cookie with a unique flavor compliments of rosemary and brown butter
4.49 from 25 votes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Baking Recipes + Tips
Cuisine American
Servings 5 dozen
Calories 736 kcal


  • 8 ounces unsalted butter I used Kerrygold Irish butter
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Coarse sanding sugar


  • In a pan with a light-colored bottom (so that you can see the color of the butter) brown butter over medium heat. As the butter starts to melt it will begin to foam. Swirl the pot frequently... The process will progress rather quickly, so stay by the stove. Burnt Butter = BAD
  • Once it's brown and you can smell the nutty aroma, transfer to a heatproof bowl or your mixing bowl to cool
  • Once cool, beat in your large mixing bowl until creamy/frothy.
  • Add sugar, milk, and vanilla and mix to combine
  • Combine flour, salt, baking powder and rosemary in a separate bowl and mix well
  • Add flour mixture and nuts to butter mixture and blend to combine. the will be crumbly but will hold together when pinched.
  • Dump your dough onto a clean working surface and, with your hands, form into 2 1" diameter logs.
  • Refrigerate for at least one hour
  • When ready to bake your cookies, preheat oven to 350'F
  • Slice cookies into 1/4" rounds and place 2 inches apart on a parchment/Silpat lined cookie sheet
  • Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake for 15 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through to ensure even cooking.


Serving: 1gCalories: 736kcalCarbohydrates: 93gProtein: 8gFat: 38gSaturated Fat: 24gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 475mgPotassium: 139mgFiber: 2gSugar: 41gVitamin A: 1155IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 48mgIron: 3mg
Keyword brown butter, cookies, rosemary, shortbread
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So, Let The Cookie Games Begin!!!!  This is the time of the year when I’m prepared to not eat lunch so that I can eat more cookies and treats and when, despite my efforts, I know I’ll add a few pounds…and I’m really okay with it.  Here’s my seasonal spin on a quote I’ve seen bouncing around Pinterest.  I don’t know who first coined it, but  it makes perfect sense to me:

Some days I eat salads and go to the gym.  Some days I eat too many Christmas cookies and refuse to put my pants on.  It’s called ‘balance’.

Bookmark this page or pin this image to refer back to this Brown Butter Rosemary Shortbread Cookies recipe in the future.

Brown Butter Rosemary Shortbread Cookies Recipe: Pinterest Pin

Thanks again for spending a few minutes of your busy day with me today.

I love shortbread so much. If you are like me and would like another variation of a shortbread-type cookie, check out my pecan sandies. I hope that they, along with these brown butter rosemary shortbread cookies, can satisfy your shortbread craving.

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  1. This cookie sounds so yummy I can’t wait to try it!
    A question tho … did I miss reading the flour amount in the ingredients?

    1. Nancy, thanks so much for pointing out that I missed the flour!!! Yikes. You will need 2 3/4 cups of flour. I’m in the car traveling home right now and will fix recipe as soon as I walk in the door, but didn’t want to hold you up if you had planned to do some baking today!
      Thanks again for letting me know!!

        1. Nancy, you made my day with your kind words! Thank you so very much..Wow! When i started this blog it was to connect and share with a group who shared similar hobbies and goals. And it thrills me to know I may have added a wee bit of sunshine in your inbox!

          Have a great week!


  2. Looks and sounds yummy! In Step 6 you mention adding the flour, but I don’t see it mentioned in the ingredients list – please share how much we need 🙂 thanks!

    1. Hi Carolyn, I’m all in a wad about leaving the flour out of the recipe! I’m in the car so have to wait to get home to fix the recipe, but don’t want to leave you hanging! It’s 2 3/4 cups of flour for the recipe. Thanks for visiting and for letting me know. Happy baking!!!

  3. I may have to give these a try! The flavors sound so good together, I love anything with browned butter too. The only cookie I recognized on your list was the peanut blossoms, it must be a Buckeye thing! 😉

    1. Must be a Buckeye thing! My husband was born and raised in Columbus and remember eating those every year for Christmas. Those and the real ‘Buckeyes’ with peanut butter and chocolate. Thanks for visiting today!
      Have a great day, Lynn

  4. I love making Christmas cookies. We enjoy baking sugar cookies to cut out with a variety of Christmas symbols. The added frosting makes them extra tasty.

    1. Hi Rachel, we do love baking Christmas cookies in this house as well. Its going to start tomorrow, need to have plenty for when we decorate Friday and Saturday. Happy Thanksgiving. Lynn

  5. Lynn your photography is amazing first of all. Then, how delicious must these be? I could eat them right NOW! I use Rosemary for decoration, just the other day I made a wreath. I would have never thought to make cookies with it! I love the smell and it must be amazing in those cookies. I bake a lot for Christmas as well and cookies are just my favourite, also because my girls love to help. So I will make these and let you know how they turned out for me!

    1. Hey Katrin, thanks for the compliment on the photography. That’s something I really want to improve in. Actually, I am signed up at our local college to take a Photography course starting in January.
      Oh, you must try these cookies…the rosemary really makes them special. I do love that herb in most things…one of my favorites for sure.

      When will you start baking?

      Enjoy your week! Lynn

  6. Lynn, you are blowing my mind! I am totally excited to try these cookies. I love rosemary but would never have thought to put it in a cookie. I know these are going to be amazing in advance. Thanks for sharing your recipe. Have tons of fun with your family this weekend, CoCo

    1. Hi CoCo, this are truly delicious and you really must try them. I was skeptical as first as well, but now have a full-on Rosemary Cookie crush. Hope your weekend is great as well. My sweet daughter is home from college for a couple of days, so it’s all good.

      Happy Thanksgiving, Lynn

  7. Your directions call for adding sugar twice, yet only lists it once in the ingredients. Are we missing a sugar measurement? When do I add it? Does it matter?

    1. Janice, my apologies! I swear I read that recipe over before I hit ‘publish’! Argh! In any event, you only add the sugar to the brown butter mixture. It is not added again to the flour mixture.
      I have corrected the recipe.
      Thanks for bringing this to my attention


    1. Hi Julie, this cookies are really quite yummy, if I must say so. j
      We spent a wonderful ‘early Christmas’ weekend in Asheville several years ago and stayed at Richmond Hill Inn which I believe has since burned down (?). In any event, LOVE that town and all it has to offer…especially the ‘dog friendly’ aspect of it.
      Have a great day and thanks for throwing a great party.


  8. I hardly ever eat Christmas cookies since I don’t like chocolate and a lot of options use it. These look great! And my rosemary in they backyard is still alive 🙂

    1. Hi Andrea…you must try these then. Really quite good, with just a hint of savory. Perfection. And I want to be you! What great trips you’ve taken. We’re a travelling family as well, but we can’t hold a candle to you.
      Thanks for stopping by today, Lynn

  9. Lynn, these cookies sound so good!!!! I’m definitely saving this recipe! It’s so awesome that you have a tradition of baking a variety of cookies during the Christmas season. Thanks for sharing this recipe!! 🙂

    1. Hi Keri, these cookies are honestly very good…and a little different from the ‘traditional’ cookies typically made at Christmas. I hope you give them a try and enjoy them as much as we do. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a fantastic day, Lynn

  10. Lynn, I’m packing my bags right now, I can’t wait a minute longer. I want some of these along with my gingerbread latte. I need a little pampering, it wouldn’t take much, but rosemary and brown butter, oh my! Pinning these too, they sound so delish!

    1. You will just love these cookies Beth Ann! Such a nice twist on the traditional cookies that are made each Christmas. Thanks for stopping by to visit today.


  11. I made a batch of these cookies yesterday. They are delicious, but they came out very hard. I’m wondering if they are supposed to be hard to bite into or if perhaps the 15 minute baking time is too long. I’m making another batch today and will try a 10 min. baking time to see if that makes a difference. I also substituted chopped dried cranberries for the nuts. The cranberries and the rosemary give the cookies a Christmas look.

    1. Hey Kathy…hmmm…While they are not a soft cookie, I have not had them come out ‘very hard’…they should be more of a crisp shortbread. Please do let me know if the 10 minutes results in a crisp, but not hard, cookie for you. I guess everyone’s oven temps can vary, but I’d like to add this information in the recipe.

      Thanks in advance. Lynn

  12. Simply delicious! I love the simpleness of these cookies with the deep nutty flavor of the browned butter!

  13. Good afternoon,
    I made these to include in Christmas gifts. I’m new to browning the butter but was successful. I think I’m missing something because I cannot get the dough to stay together to get it in the fridge. What am I missing? My son and some of his coworkers have requested more so I’m in the process of making them again today. I just can’t get that roundness I’m lucky if it doesn’t all crumble while trying to get it in the fridge. Teach me please…lol I need help. I just read about the 20% more butter when you are browning it. Did I need to do that in this recipe? Is the stick to liquid different for the 8 oz? I weight the butter in stick form to get the 8 oz which was 2 sticks. Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!!

    1. Hi Tammie,

      My initial thought is that you should brown it less. Different butters have different water levels and it’s possible yours has less moisture, to begin with. The more you brown it, the more of the water/moisture that evaporates. Since it seems dry, I’d try that. Alternatively, add another tablespoon or two of butter when you brown it.

      Keep me posted!

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