These thick, chewy buttercrunch cookies are stuffed with homemade toffee chips and topped with flaky sea salt. If you love toffee or butterscotch, you are going to love these buttercrunch cookies.
If you've never had a buttercrunch cookie, this version is a lot like chocolate chip cookies only the chocolate has been replaced with homemade toffee chips. The toffee shards pool inside the dough as the cookies bake and contrast nicely with the chewy cookie texture!
Like many of my cookie recipes, this is a relatively small batch bake — it makes just eighteen cookies. The dough uses just one egg and less than two cups of flour — everything else is a pantry staple or easy to find at the grocery store!
I don't like having to get out my big mixer or use a hand mixer if I don't have to, so these buttercrunch cookies are a no-mixer, one bowl cookie situation. But you will need a pot and an extra sheet pan to make the homemade toffee chips and another pot (or wash the first pot) to make the brown butter.
Try serving these brown butter toffee cookies with a scoop of crumb cake ice cream as an extra special dessert. If you have extra brown butter left over (or make an extra large batch!), you may also like these brown butter cinnamon sugar flaky pancakes or this apple sage brown butter pasta.
- About This Recipe // Why I Love It
- Ingredient Notes
- How to Make Toffee Chips
- How to Make Buttercrunch Cookie Dough
- Shaping and Baking Thick Chewy Cookies
- How To Tell When They Are Done
- Freezing Buttercrunch Cookie Dough and Baking From Frozen
- Equipment Notes
- Scaling The Recipe Up
- A Note On Oven Temperature
- Buttercrunch Cookie FAQ
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
About This Recipe // Why I Love It
A funny thing happened on the way to developing this recipe for buttercrunch cookies...
When I started my recipe testing process, I had a clear vision of my end destination. I wanted to recreate the giant, ultra-thin, chewy, bakery style buttercrunch cookies I get at The Yum Yum Shop in Wolfeboro, NH. And I wanted to use a no-chill cookie dough base to get there.
It turns out those two things can sometimes be at odds with each other! And I failed — sort of — on both counts. So they're not the cookies I set out to make, but they're so good, I'm the opposite of mad about it.
No matter what I adjusted to get a wide, thin toffee cookie, I kept ending up with thick cookies that took up little space on the sheet pan.
Every change made to get those super thin cookies led me back to a batch of thick cookies instead (and if that's not a metaphor for diet culture...lol). My subconscious was clearly on to something!
So instead of trying to force the buttercrunch cookie dough I had in front of me to be something it wasn't mean to be, I embraced the thickness. And the cookies (and my mental health) are happier for it.
And while you can bake these cookies right away without chilling the dough first, your buttercrunch cookies will be SO MUCH BETTER if you let the dough chill for an hour before baking.
I tried to avoid it, but the chill time really makes such a difference in getting super chewy cookies filled with shards of lightly crunchy buttery, brown sugar homemade toffee pieces. So good!
Don't be nervous about making homemade toffee chips — they're super easy, just three ingredients. Those three ingredients are also used in the cookie dough, so there's no need to buy anything extra. I promise you can do this!
Here's what you'll need to make both the homemade toffee chips AND the chewy buttercrunch cookies. All of these ingredients should be easy to find in most grocery stores!
I've included tips and suggested ingredient swaps where applicable. See recipe card (at the end) for quantities.
- All-Purpose Flour - I use King Arthur Baking Company's unbleached all-purpose flour in all of my bakes. It has a slightly higher protein content than most other all-purpose flours which means chewier cookies!
- Unsalted American-Style Butter - Crucial for the toffee chips. You cannot use a European-style butter to make the toffee chips.
- Brown Butter - This gives the cookies a really lovely nutty, toasted flavor. When you brown butter, the water content in the butter boils away so you end up with less butter. I've written the recipe so it includes both measurements — if you start with 113 grams (eight tablespoons) of butter, you should end up with 90 grams of brown butter. But you may need to adjust slightly! See recipe notes for what to do if you end up with less than 90 grams of brown butter. Check out my guide "how to make and use brown butter" for more in depth instructions.
- Dark Brown Sugar - This is used to make the toffee chips and also in the cookie dough. You can use light brown sugar in both instances, but you'll get a more intense flavor from the dark brown sugar.
- Sugar - Plain white granulated sugar.
- Egg - To quickly bring an egg to room temperature, submerge it in hot water for 5-10 minutes prior to baking.
- Fine Sea Salt - I don't usually use fine sea salt in my baking, but since it dissolves nicely in the toffee chips I used it in the cookie dough too. This way you don't have to use three different types of salt in these cookies.
- Baking Soda and Baking Powder - These are the chemical leaveners for your buttercrunch cookies. Baking powder helps them rise and gives them a chewy, slightly cakey texture while baking soda helps them spread out in the oven.
- Vanilla Bean Paste - I use Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste which is super concentrated. You can use vanilla extract, though you may want to use 2x as much.
- Flaky Salt - For finishing! I use Maldon Sea Salt Flakes which have huge gorgeous pyramid shaped crystals.
How to Make Toffee Chips
I'm using the Handle the Heat's toffee chips, with two small changes. First, I cut the recipe in half to make just a little more than the amount you need for these cookies. And second, I used brown sugar instead of light sugar for a more intense toffee flavor.
What is toffee? Toffee is basically just butterscotch that's been cooked longer and to a higher temperature.
To make homemade toffee chips:
- Melt the butter, then add the brown sugar and salt all at once.
- Whisk everything together so that the butter and sugar combine. You don't want to see any butter floating on the surface/around the edges of the pot (like you see in photo 2) below. The butter has a tendency to splash, so be careful.
- Switch to a spatula and stir constantly for about 5 minutes. Sugar burns easily so make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to keep it moving as it thickens.
- When the toffee hits 295-300F on an instant read thermometer, it's ready to pour!
You'll want to make sure you have a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat lined up before you start making the toffee. Once the toffee mixture hits the right temperature, you need to work quickly.
Pour the toffee onto the sheet pan. Then use a silicone spatula to spread it out in a thin layer.
It will start to cool and firm up almost immediately, so work fast. Don't worry if it's not perfect. It will be fine! You got this!
Let the toffee cool for about 20-25 minutes (make the cookie dough while it cools!), then break it up into small pieces. You can use your hands, a bench scraper, a knife, a meat tenderizing mallet, or place the toffee in a plastic bag and run a rolling pin over the top.
For these buttercrunch cookies you want toffee pieces about ¼ inch in size. But it's good to have lots of irregularly sized pieces of toffee chips — it creates more interesting and varied cookies!
This recipe calls for 100 grams of toffee chips, but the toffee recipe makes slightly more than that. It's impossible to resist snacking on these while you're making the cookie dough, so the extra is my gift to you.
Tip: Use hot water to loosen and dissolve hardened toffee from your pot or any other kitchen tools. It's a lot easier to clean up than you think — it's just sugar, it will dissolve!
How to Make Buttercrunch Cookie Dough
Start by making brown butter in a small sauce pot or skillet. First the butter will melt, then it will bubble as the water content boils away. Stir it to push the bubbles out of the way so you can see the milk fat particles on the bottom of the pan.
When the milk fat particles are lightly toasted, pour the brown butter into a large mixing bowl. Put the mixing bowl on a kitchen scale so you can check how much the brown butter weighs. Weigh out 90 grams of brown butter for this recipe.
Let the brown butter cool slightly, then add both sugars and mix well with a spatula. You're not creaming them together, you're just trying to get a cohesive mixture with no lumps. It should have a thick paste-like texture.
Add the egg and vanilla and switch to your favorite whisk. This is your only chance to incorporate some air into the cookies. A whisk is the way to do that.
Set a timer for 1 minute and whisk like your life depends on it. You want the mixture to be pale, lightened in color, and very smooth.
Then add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Switch back to a spatula and stir the cookie dough. It will seem very dry at first, but keep going.
When there's still a bit of dry floury bits in the bowl, add the toffee chips.
Adding the toffee chips before all the flour is mixed in helps prevent over mixing. Over mixing creates tough, dense cookies. We don't want that!
The remaining flour will finish mixing in as you mix in the toffee chips.
Use your hands to gather the cookie dough into a ball. Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge for one hour before scooping.
Why chill the cookie dough? Chilling gives the flour, baking powder, and baking soda time to fully hydrate, which means chewier cookies. It also gives the melted butter time to firm up, so the cookies hold their shape better in the oven.
Shaping and Baking Thick Chewy Cookies
The dough will be quite stiff and firm when you take it out of the fridge. That's because the butter has firmed up inside the dough.
Use a #40 (1½ tablespoon) cookie scoop to portion out the buttercrunch cookie dough. Pack the dough tightly into the scoop so there's no sneaky air pockets trapped inside! Then roll the dough into balls.
If you don't roll the dough into balls, the cookies will have thin, crispy edges instead of being thick and chewy.
Why scoop the dough after chilling it instead of shaping the dough balls and then chilling them? The warmth from your hands when you shape the dough balls after chilling the dough gets them to just the right temperature for maximum chewiness when baking!
Towards the end of the chilling time, preheat your oven to 325F. This lower temperature prevents the cookies from taking on too much color while baking.
There's a lot of sugar in these buttercrunch cookies, especially with the homemade toffee chips; a higher temperature would encourage caramelization. We want chewy cookies, not crispy cookies!
Roll the dough balls in sugar to give them a sparkly, crackly exterior. Then arrange on a lined sheet pan in rows about 2-3 inches apart. I can usually fit about 10 per sheet pan.
Bake for 13-15 minutes. How long they need will depend on how warm they got while you were rolling them and how quickly you get them into the oven.
How To Tell When They Are Done
When these buttercrunch cookies are ready to come out of the oven they will look slightly underdone. They will be puffy and spread out a little but not too much. They shouldn't start turning brown around the edges. Maybe the slightest bit golden, but not brown.
When you take the cookies out of the oven and they're still soft and warm, sprinkle them immediately with flaky sea salt and use a round cookie cutter or overturned pint glass to scoot the cookies into a round shape.
This scooting technique helps the salt stick into all the nooks and crannies on top of the cookies. It also gives the cookies a thicker texture by tucking all the edges in. And if any toffee has leaked out of the cookies, you can scoot it right back in.
Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the sheet pan, then transfer them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
Freezing Buttercrunch Cookie Dough and Baking From Frozen
If you're planning to freeze these buttercrunch cookies so you can bake them off whenever you want, you can scoop and shape the dough without chilling it first.
Freeze the dough balls on a sheet pan, then transfer the frozen cookie dough balls to a large freezer safe bag. Wait to roll them in sugar right before you bake them.
To bake from frozen: Take them out of the freezer and let them warm up for 10-15 minutes at room temperature. Roll the cookies in sugar, then bake as per the recipe instructions. Add 2-5 minutes to the bake time to account for the colder starting temperature of the dough.
You don't need a lot of fancy equipment to make these toffee-filled cookies. Here are the specialty tools I recommend that will make your life a lot easier:
- Instant Read Thermometer - I use a Thermapen which is super accurate and delivers readings very quickly; crucial when you're working with sugar and need to move fast. Without an instant read thermometer it's hard to know when the toffee has reached the right temperature to form hard crack toffee.
- Silicone mat - Toffee is very sticky, but it doesn't stick to silicone! You can get these in a variety of sizes from places like Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, and Crate & Barrel. They make cleanup a breeze.
- Silicone spatula - A silicone spatula will be your best friend when working with the sticky hot toffee mixture. I like these long skinny silicone spatulas from the brand GIR, but you can find more of my favorite spatulas here.
- #40 Cookie Scoop - I use this purple handled #40 scoop to portion these cookies. It holds 1½ tablespoons of cookie dough. Using a cookie scoop ensures you get equally sized cookies that bake evenly. If you don't use a cookie scoop the cookies might bake faster or slower than the recipe says.
Scaling The Recipe Up
To scale the recipe up use the 2X and 3X buttons on the recipe card. They're above the ingredients list to the right.
When you use those buttons, the only ingredient amounts that will be multiplied are the ones to the left of the ingredients.
Any measurements mentioned in parentheses to the right of the ingredients and any measurements mentioned in the recipe itself won't change. So if you scale this up, make sure you remember to increase those other numbers too!
A Note On Oven Temperature
For this recipe, having the right oven temperature is super important. If your oven is too hot, the cookies won't spread, the edges will be crispy, and the centers will be crunchy and dry. Too low and the cookies will spread into puddles with thin edges.
Most ovens are not very accurate at telling you what temperature they're actually at. Often they will beep to say they're at the right temperature several minutes before they actually get there. My oven runs a full 25 degrees cooler than it says!
To check your oven's true temperature, you'll need an oven thermometer. I use this one which has a large dial. They're very cheap, they hang on your oven rack, and will give you an accurate reading of the temperature inside your oven.
Buttercrunch Cookie FAQ
I tested this with the Heath Bar chips you can buy at the grocery store and the cookies were super disappointing! The Heath Bar chips are so small they get totally lost inside the cookies and just aren't very good. The homemade toffee chips are very easy and use ingredients that go in the cookie dough anyway — they really are worth the extra step to make!
Yes! My goal initially was to create a no-chill cookie dough recipe, but I just couldn't help myself and had to test chilling the dough for one hour. The cookies are good if you bake them off right away, but they are SO MUCH BETTER if you can spare the hour of chill time that it would've been irresponsible of me to not include that as part of the recipe. But if you're in a rush, yes, you can bake these right away.
Plain melted butter is fine. You'll need 90 grams of melted butter, so just make sure you adjust the measurements below!
A kitchen scale is more accurate than cup measurements and will give you the right ratio of flour and butter so that the cookie dough behaves the way we want it to. Even things like "a stick" of butter can mean different things depending on where you live. I tested and developed this recipe using weight measurements. If I were to convert it to volume measurements, I would be using Google — just like you would. And I wouldn't be able to promise you'd get the same delicious results!
Chewy Buttercrunch Cookies with Homemade Toffee Chips
Homemade Toffee Chips
- 56 grams unsalted American-style butter (4 tablespoons / half a stick)
- 100 grams dark brown sugar (½ cup, tightly packed)
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 113 grams unsalted American-style butter (you will need 90 grams of brown butter)
- 75 grams dark brown sugar
- 75 grams sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (use twice as much if using vanilla extract)
- 200 grams all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 100 grams homemade toffee chips (recipe follows)
- 1 tablespoon flaky sea salt (for finishing)
Homemade Toffee Chips
- Line a sheet pan with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
- Melt butter over low-medium heat in a small sauce pot. Add brown sugar and salt and whisk vigorously for one minute until well incorporated (no visible melted butter on the sides/surface of the sugar). Switch to a silicone spatula and continue stirring for about 5-7 minutes, until the mixture bubbles, thickens, and reaches 295-300°F on an instant read thermometer.
- Pour the toffee mixture onto prepared sheet pan and use a silicone spatula to spread it into a thin layer. Work quickly, it will begin to harden immediately. Let it cool completely (about 15-20 minutes) then break into chips about ⅙-¼" in size.
- Brown butter. Melt butter over low-medium heat. The butter will bubble and sizzle as the water content boils away. Continue stirring to push the bubbles out of the way so you can see the milk fat particles toasting on the bottom of the pan. This can take a few minutes. When the milk fat particles are light to medium brown in color, remove from heat and measure 90 grams of brown butter into a large mixing bowl. Set aside to cool slightly, about 5-10 minutes. See recipe notes for what to do if you have less than 90 grams of brown butter.
- Add sugar, egg, and vanilla. Add both sugars to browned butter and mix well with a spatula until sugar is hydrated and has a paste-like texture. Add room temperature egg and vanilla bean paste. Whisk well for 60 seconds until thick, smooth, and lightened in color.
- Add dry ingredients. Add the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda all at once and mix with a spatula until flour is almost entirely combined. It will seem dry and crumbly at first, but keep mixing and it will come together.
- Add toffee bits. When there are a few streaks of flour still in the dough, add the toffee chips and continue mixing. Shape the dough into a ball with your hands, place it back in the bowl, cover and chill for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a sheet pan with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
- Shape. Scoop the chilled cookie dough with a #40 (1½ tablespoon) cookie scoop and roll into balls with your hands. The dough will be very firm from the fridge, but will warm up from the heat of your hands. Roll each dough ball in plain white sugar.
- Bake. Arrange the dough balls on the prepared sheet pan about 2-3 inches apart. Bake in 325°F oven for 13-15 minutes. The cookies will puff up in the oven and won't take on much color, if any. If you can't bake all the dough balls at once, pop the remaining ones back in the fridge while you bake the first batch.
- Finish. Sprinkle hot cookies with flaky salt and use a round cookie cutter to scoot them into a round shape immediately after removing from the oven. Let them cool on the sheet pan for 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- If you end up with less than 90 grams of brown butter, add a bit of plain butter to the brown butter until it reaches the correct weight. Stir to melt the butter into the brown butter.
- You can bake the cookies immediately after mixing the dough (reduce the bake time by 2-3 minutes) but you'll get a much chewier texture and better flavor if you chill the dough for an hour first.
- Toffee chips can be made up to a month in advance; pat dry with a paper towel to remove any excess grease, then store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. You may need to give the container a good shake or whack the chips with a rolling pin to break them up again before use.
- If you end up with less than 90 grams of brown butter, add a bit of regular butter to the brown butter until it reaches the correct weight. Stir to melt the butter into the brown butter.
- In addition to my own baking knowledge as a trained pastry chef, I used Baker Bettie's "The Science of the Chocolate Chip Cookie" guide to help develop this cookie dough recipe.
- Toffee chips recipe adapted from Handle the Heat.