Brown Butter Thyme Shortbread Cookies

We're officially a third of the way into our 12 days and I can't think of a better way to celebrate than with these Brown Butter Thyme Shortbread Cookies. Yes, you heard right--brown butter AND thyme! And I wish I could take credit for the idea but I'll have give that to my good friend Jenn (not to be confused with yesterday's Jen). I recently asked her what her favorite cookie would be if she had a favorite cookie (Jenn isn't a cookie lover, insert *gasps* here) and she came back with something along the lines of "well, maybe a shortbread? No, maybe a brown butter shortbread even though I haven't had one yet, I'm sure it'd be good." And that was that. I was off to make some brown butter shortbreads. And since we have some amazing lemon thyme growing in our herb garden, I had to include some of that as well. 

Guess what guys? Best shortbread of my life. And while I now know (through my research) that we're not making the first ever brown butter shortbread cookies, I have to confess that for a minute, I truly did believe Jenn was a genius for coming up with the best idea ever. I mean, nutty brown butter cookies? I love me a good madeleine or a financier, so of course the wonderfully rich and tender cousin would be incredible. And the addition of lemon thyme, adds that extra something special. Typically used in savory dishes, thyme might not be everyone's first choice for these cookies (I think the lemon thyme is subtle and compliments them perfectly), so feel free to sub rosemary, lavender, sage, or any herb you find interesting. 


I should share that Jenn might be my favorite baker, ever. I think one of the hardest parts about leaving WS (which is where we met), was saying goodbye to my role as one of the official taste testers for my favorite baker (no, that's not her job at WS).  And that's a tough role to walk away from. Jenn graduated from the pastry program at Tante Marie's cooking school, which closed earlier this year after having been around for 35 years, but to attribute her baking skills to just that would be unfair. Her heroes include the likes of Gale Gand, Jacque Torres, Pierre Herme, Dominique Ansel, Will Werner, and David Lebovitz, so I'd say that's more of what makes her such a fantastic baker and her passion for good (sweet) food. She's also crazy humble and somehow thinks I'm decent at this whole baking thing too! So thanks to Jenn, for not only inspiring me all the time but also for inspiring today's Brown Butter Thyme Shortbread!

Brown Butter Thyme Shortbread Cookies

Adapted from Bouchon Bakery

Makes 2 dozen cookies


  • 17 Tbsp. unsalted european butter (splurge on the good stuff)
  • Scant 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
  • Scant 2 c.all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, finely minced
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated or sanding sugar, for dusting


  • Baking sheets

  • Silpat mat or parchment paper
  • Stand mixer
  • Bowl (for brown butter)
  • Medium saucepan
  • Silicone spatula
  • Bowl scraper
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rolling pin
  • Straight edge pie wheel and sharp chef's knife
  • Ruler
  • Wire cooling rack


  1. Melt butter in saucepan over medium-high heat. Be sure to stir constantly and cook until butter is a deep golden brown, about 8 minutes. Immediately pour butter into medium bowl and transfer to refrigerator to chill until solidified.

  2. Remove butter from the fridge and let it sit until it's room temperature.

  3. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth.
  4. Add sugar, thyme, and salt, and mix on medium-low until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add vanilla and mix on low until incorporated, around 30 seconds.
  6. Add flour in two parts, mixing on low, about 15 to 30 seconds after each part, or until incorporated.
  7. Turn out from bowl using bowl scraper to incorporated any flour that may have been missed and shape into a 5-inch square on your work surface (I lined mine with plastic wrap). Wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  8. Preheat oven to 325°F. Adjust oven racks to upper and lower third. Line two baking sheets with silpat mats or parchment paper.
  9. Remove dough from fridge and place between two sheets of plastic wrap. Roll out to a 9-inch square. If dough has become soft, refrigerate until firm (15 minutes should work).
  10. Cut into 1 1/2" by 2 1/4" rectangles by scoring dough horizontally 3 times to mark 2 1/4" sections and then vertically 5 times to mark 1 1/2" sections. Use pie wheel or chef's knife and ruler to cut sections. Dust the tops with granulated sugar. Transfer to lined baking sheets, leaving 3/4-inch space between each cookie.
  11. Bake 16-19 minutes until the shortbread is light and golden brown. Rotate sheets, top to bottom and front to back, halfway through.
  12. Cool on baking sheets for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
  13. Serve and enjoy or package and gift!