Brown butter makes cookies taste amazing! And just wait til you get your hands on these Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels! Chop them up, mix them in, die and go to heaven. Originally published December 2, 2013.

caramel butterscotch cookies cooling on a rack.
Table of Contents
  1. Why you’ll be a fan of these Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies
  2. Butterscotch Caramel Cookies Ingredients
  3. Brown Butter Butterscotch Cookies Tips and Tricks
  4. How to make Caramel Butterscotch Cookies
  5. Brown Butter Butterscotch Cookies Substitutions and Variations 
  6. Storing Butterscotch Cookies
  7. Butterscotch Cookie Recipe FAQs
  8. More Scrumptious Cookie Recipes
  9. Caramel Butterscotch Cookies Recipe

Sometimes when I mess up my mascara and end up with a giant black smudge on my face, I glare at myself in the mirror. Then I get even madder when I realize that the very act of glaring has made 3 more smudges.

While we’re talking about makeup and stuff, I just want you all to know that I was so insecure about my thumb-shots while photographing this post that I stopped to groom my left thumb. I trimmed. I filed. I even considered painting, but decided not to because I didn’t want to get pink nail polish on my perfect cookies. Somehow my thumb still looks like Shrek’s.

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caramel butterscotch cookie on a square of parchment paper next to striped straws.

Although just to redeem my non-fashionable self a little bit, the outfit I wore today scored me 3 separate make-out sessions with my husband before noon. Now that’s what I call a winner.

TMI? Sorrynotsorry.

a single butterscotch cookie with chocolate caramels on a baking sheet.

Why you’ll be a fan of these Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies

So, here’s the thing. I run a food blog, and sometimes I feel lame going way over the top gushing about every single recipe. Sure, the food I post is pretty amazing, and always worthy of making again, but it gets boring to read food descriptions over and over, and I’m not gonna lie, it’s boring to write them.

But I’m throwing all that out the window for this post.

a stack of caramel butterscotch cookies next to a glass of milk.


They are my baby. I’ve been working on them for weeks, and my freezer is still full of reject dough. (Too flat. Too crispy. Not enough caramel. And on and on.) But finally, FINALLY, I got them just right.

Trader Joe's chocolate covered sea salt butterscotch caramels.

They sell these Chocolate-Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels at Traders Joe’s.*** I am obsessed with them. I will go to the store for the sole purpose of buying 3 bags, just to eat. And I’m not even a huge candy/chocolate person (I would take a brownie over a box of chocolates any day). But these caramels. My undoing. They are deeper than normal caramels, just on the line between caramel and butterscotch. They are covered in bitter chocolate and infused with sea salt to perfectly balance out the sweetness. I have been known to eat most of a 7-ounce package in one sitting.

mixing chopped chocolate-covered sea salt butterscotch caramels into brown butter cookie dough.

I chopped them and put them in a tender brown butter cookie. If butter is God’s gift to man, (this is completely arguable), then browned butter is like the secret awesome ninja twist that makes it way cooler. Aaaaand that’s where this analogy ends.

(Seriously though. If you’ve never taken 4 minutes to brown butter before, there is a gaping hole in your life. That means you’ve never made Brown Butter Brownies. Or Brown Butter Blondies. Or Balsamic-Brown Butter Asparagus. You are missing out my friend.)

butterscotch caramel cookies on parchment paper, one with a bite taken out of it.

Butterscotch Caramel Cookies Ingredients

Here’s a quick shopping list to help you gather your ingredients. See the recipe card below for the full ingredients and instructions!

  • Unsalted butter
  • Butter-flavor Crisco
  • Dark brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla
  • Sour cream
  • Flour
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Your mix-in of choice! (suggestions: Ghirardelli dark chocolate sea salt caramel squares, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, or whatever your heart desires)

Brown Butter Butterscotch Cookies Tips and Tricks

It is essential to chill the dough completely, or your cookies will bake flat. They will still taste great, but the texture will be off. Chilling also gives the flavors time to meld. Sometimes perfection can’t be delivered in 20 minutes. Chilling means you get a soft, gooey, tender cookie that shudders at the mention of “crispy.”

I am anti plead-with-my-readers-to-make-my-recipes, but that rule is also being thrown out today. I love these cookies like I love my own children (how’s that for an obsession) and if you make them without telling me, I will never know, but if I DID know that you didn’t tell me, I would cry.

Make these cookies, then die happy.

P.S. I asked my readers on Facebook yesterday what cookie they would choose if they could only have one kind for the rest of their lives. Chocolate chip won, of course. And several weeks ago, that would have been my choice too…but now it’s these Brown Butter Sea Salt Butterscotch Beauties. HANDS DOWN. I mean these hands are so down.

a single caramel butterscotch cookie in front of a plate full of cookies and a glass of milk.

How to make Caramel Butterscotch Cookies

mixing dry ingredients into wet ingredients in a large bowl.

I’ll tell you my secret…Often when a recipe says to combine the flour, salt, and leavening in a separate bowl, I just pour the flour into the wet ingredients without stirring, then use a small spoon to stir the salt and baking soda into the flour before mixing it all together. Works every time.

snipping chocolate covered brown butter sea salt caramels in half with scissors.

Cut the caramels in half. It’s easiest to hold onto both sides and gently crush the chocolate with the scissors.

butterscotch caramel cookie dough in a cookie scoop.

If you get a chunk of caramel on what is going to be the bottom or edge of your cookie, patch it up with some dough…

butterscotch caramel cookie dough in a cookie scoop with plain dough patched over a chocolate caramel.

Like this. Otherwise you will get crunchy caramel oozing out the side of your cookies.

caramel melting out of a butterscotch caramel cookie onto a silcone baking mat.

Like this. Of course, if that’s your thing, then don’t bother patching. (Be aware that this is a mild case of oozing.)

butterscotch caramel cookies cooling on a silicone mat on a cookie sheet.

Here’s what they look like straight out of the oven with no caramels pushed into the top.

butterscotch caramel cookies cooling on a rack.

And there you have it. My favorite cookie.

Brown Butter Butterscotch Cookies Substitutions and Variations 

Tragically, Trader Joe’s no longer sells my beloved caramels! But the good news is that you can make these cookies with any store bought chocolate-covered-caramel. One of the easiest to find will probably be these Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel squares that Ghirardelli sells. Chop them up and use as directed in the recipe! Orrr, substitute any of the following:

  • Dark, semi-sweet, or milk chocolate chips (or a combination!)
  • Butterscotch chips
  • Kraft Caramel Bits (the unwrapped kind, not the wrapped cubes)
  • Chopped dark chocolate (from a high quality bar)
  • Any combination of the above!

Storing Butterscotch Cookies

These butterscotch cookies will stay fresh in a tupperware on the counter for around 3-5 days. After that (if you miraculously didn’t eat them all), they’ll start to get stale. You can always freeze baked cookies–or uncooked balls of dough for baking when a late-night craving strikes. In the freezer, they’ll last for around six months. 

Can I use butterscotch chips instead of chocolate chips?

Yes! You can substitute butterscotch chips for chocolate chips; just use the same amount. 

Are butterscotch chips healthy?

Haha. Is that why you’re here, reading this COOKIE recipe? Guys. Butterscotch is made of sugar and butter. Unless you’re on some alternative diet in which those are principal food groups, I don’t think anyone would consider butterscotch healthy (though it is delicious). Also, what is this brown sugar and butter diet, and how can I join you??

What makes cookies stay soft and chewy?

Using mostly brown sugar in this recipe not only gives these cookies that classic butterscotch flavor, but the extra moisture helps them stay soft and chewy. The extra egg yolk we’re putting in also helps with soft chewiness. Once you’ve made the cookies, keeping them in a tightly sealed ziplock or Tupperware ensures they won’t dry out and get hard and crumbly. 

Is butter or shortening better for cookies?

I love the flavor of butter, but I love the way that shortening (aka Crisco) adds lift to your cookies. All butter cookies tend to spread out more, and a flat cookie really isn’t what we’re going for here. Using BOTH gives you a perfectly textured cookie with tons of buttery flavor.

Outrageous Pretzel Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookies << soft, chewy, and packed with bucket loads of irresistible goodness. 

Soft and Chewy Andes Mint Cookies << take an awesome chocolate chip cookie, then add minty chocolate candy. Yesssssss

Chewy Cookies and Cream Cookies << over-the-top cookies loaded with chopped Oreos, dark chocolate, Hershey’s Cookies and Cream candy bars. 

Nathan’s Peanut Butter Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies << a HUGE family favorite with so many classic flavors.

Double Chocolate Cookies with Caramel Bits << so rich and decadent, you’re going to need a full gallon of milk. 

Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies from Cookie Dough Diaries

Dark Chocolate Apricot Oatmeal Cookies from Grab a Plate

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Caramel Butterscotch Cookies

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 8 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 23 minutes
Servings: 28 Cookies
Brown butter makes cookies taste amazing! And just wait til you get your hands on these Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels! Chop them up, mix them in, die and go to heaven. 


  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, 1 and 1/2 sticks
  • 1/4 cup Crisco, butter-flavored
  • 1 & 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 2 & 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled*
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 7-oz packages Chocolate-Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels***, divided (or any brand of butterscotch caramel)
  • coarse sea salt, or other coarse salt


  • In a small heavy-bottom saucepan, add 3/4 cup unsalted butter. Turn the heat to medium. Let the butter melt, stirring the pan occasionally. After a few minutes the butter will start to foam. Keep stirring every now and then. When the foam starts to subside, watch carefully to see the milk solids start to brown. The butter will stop smelling like plain butter and will smell nutty. Once browned, pour the butter immediately into a large bowl or stand mixer.
  • Meanwhile, add the 1/4 cup Crisco to a mixing bowl or stand mixer. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar. Beat well, scraping the sides and bottom.
  • When the butter has browned, immediately add it to the sugar mixture. (The butter might burn if you leave it in the pan. If you sugar mixture isn’t ready, pour it into a bowl.) Beat the butter into the sugar.
  • Let the butter cool for a few minutes, then add the egg and egg yolk, mixing well. (Or don’t wait, but add them while you have the mixer on so they don’t curdle.)
  • Add the vanilla and sour cream and beat.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour (spooned and leveled!), baking soda, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and stir until just barely combined.
  • Dump the caramels into a separate small bowl. Use scissors to split the caramels in half.
  • Add 3/4 of the chopped caramels to the dough, and stir them in gently. If your dough still feels hot enough that it will melt the caramels, refrigerate it for a few minutes, then stir in the caramels.
  • Chill the dough for at least 2 hours, or up to 5 days. (Or do the freezer trick if you are feeling really impatient: Form the cookies and place them carefully in a large ziplock bag, then freeze for at least 30 minutes. Bake as usual. You can freeze leftover dough-balls for up to 3 months, and have these cookies in your mouth in 10 minutes flat.)
  • Use a 2-inch cookie scoop (or your hands) to form the cookies. If there is a chunk of caramel on the bottom, "patch" it with more dough (See photos ). Space them about 2 inches apart on a silpat or parchment-paper lined cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes, or until they are no longer shiny on top. Err on the side of underbaking.
  • Remove from the oven and immediately top the cookies with 2 or 3 of the remaining caramel halves. Sprinkle with sea salt or other coarse salt. Let the cookies set up on the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.


You can sub Greek yogurt for the sour cream if you want.
You must chill the dough for this recipe, or your cookies will bake flat. Put the dough back in the fridge in between batches when you bake them. Do not put cookie dough onto a hot pan; stick the cookie sheet in the fridge or freezer for a couple minutes to allow it to cool down.
*You must spoon and level the flour for this recipe. That means use a scoop to dump flour into your measuring cup, then scrape the top of the measuring cup with a knife to get rid of any excess.
***2022 UPDATE: Sad news my friends! Trader Joe’s no longer sells my beloved caramels! What a tragedy. But the good news is that you can make these cookies with any store bought chocolate-covered-caramel. One of the easiest to find will probably be these Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel squares that Ghirardelli sells. Chop them up and use as directed in the recipe!


Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 217kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 142mg | Potassium: 65mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 179IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Calories: 217
Keyword: Browned Butter, Butterscotch, Cookies, sea salt
Did you make this? I’d love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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  1. So I just finished making two batches of these for a church cookie exchange tomorrow. The cookies are yummy BUT can you check measurements on flour again?

    I’m in the Cleveland, Ohio area and my dough, using the 2 3/4 cup flour, was nothing but crumbs! I followed the recipe exactly. I used 2 3/4 cup of King Arthur AP flour that I sifted (after measuring) with the salt and baking soda.

    In order to get the crumbling “dough” to hold together, I had to take a handful and work it in order to form a ball. Then by hand I had to flatten and shape them into disks. It was a ton of work and there seemed to be too much of the butterscotch caramels and not enough dough even though I followed the directions exactly.

    Just wondering if you can make these again and double check measurements. I have never had problems with elevation or weather impacting baked goods here in Northeast Ohio.

    I’m sure these will be a hit at the exchange but I am reluctant to give the recipe as something seems off.

    Thanks so much and Merry Christmas!

    1. Hi Diana! I’m sorry these cookies were so much work for you! They have always worked for me as originally written, but I’ve had a couple other complaints that the dough was crumbly. So I made them again today, and I think I’ve found the problem. I’ve changed the recipe. I hope you can forgive me; I really do mean it when I call myself a food charlatan. :) I posted this recipe exactly one year ago, and I’ve learned a lot about using browned butter in baking since then. You ready? It’s not necessary to chill the browned butter. You only have to chill the dough once it is all put together. I think chilling the butter didn’t give enough moisture for the flour to absorb. I’m sticking with the 2 and 3/4 cup flour. They turned out perfectly for me today. As far as there being too many caramels, I think that might be a personal preference. I like the amount called for, but feel free to add less.
      I’m glad the cookies weren’t a complete failure for you, but I am sorry that it took you so long to get them done. The revised recipe is obviously a lot quicker because there is only one chilling step. Thanks for your feedback Diana! Have fun at your cookie exchange and Merry Christmas!

      1. Thanks so much for the update!

        Makes sense to me that the chilled butter wouldn’t provide enough moisture to absorb the dry ingredients. It’s also probably why the dough/caramel ratio seemed off.

        They were a lot of effort but hubby agrees it was totally worth it. Hopefully the ladies at the cookie exchange will benefit from our trial and error. Merry Christmas!

  2. I made these tonight. They are awesome. They should be the hit of our Super Bowl party. Well that is if any are left :-)

    1. I’m so glad you like them T-bone! Also, I’m really excited that I now know someone named T-bone. I think my cool-factor just went up like 10%.

  3. I have never browned butter before I made these, and it was just as magical as you claim. I am seeing some serious browned butter lovin’ in my future. I used 1/4 cup less flour than was called for and the soft texture was perfect (I live in South Texas, if that’s helpful). Also, I live like 3 and a half hours away from a Trader Joe’s and would never ordinarily be able to use the admittedly addictive butterscotch caramels if it hadn’t been for a Christmas present that included them. That being said, the cookies themselves are wonderfully butterscotchy and I think that just using butterscotch chips, or chocolate chunks, or both (!) would be great too.

    1. Ooh I like the idea of adding butterscotch chips to these!! I’ve made these cookies with just chocolate chips before (because I ate all the caramels…oops) and they are still really good. Thanks for commenting on the flour, I think that the climate really does effect how much you need.

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