The measures restrict oil imports and ban textile exports - an attempt to starve the North of fuel and income for its weapons programmes.
The US had originally proposed harsher sanctions including a total ban on oil imports.
The vote was only passed unanimously after Pyongyang allies Russia and China agreed to the reduced measures.
The sanctions, which were passed at a UN Security Council meeting on Monday, were met with anger by North Korea.
A statement on state news agency KNCA called the US a "bloodthirsty beast obsessed with the wild dream" of reversing Pyongyang's nuclear programme. It warned that if the US did eventually push through harsher sanctions, North Korea would "absolutely make sure that the US pays due price".
Media captionHow would war with North Korea unfold?
The US had called for the harshest ever sanctions on North Korea including a total ban on oil imports, a measure seen by some analysts as hugely destabilising for the regime.
But the new measures instead only place limits on such products. China, Pyongyang's main economic ally, supplies most of North Korea's crude oil.
A proposed asset freeze and travel ban on leader Kim Jong-un have also been dropped.
A ban on exports of textiles - Pyongyang's second-biggest export worth more than $700m (£530m) a year - and measures to prohibit North Koreans from working overseas will go ahead.
The US said Pyongyang heavily taxes its 93,000 citizens it sends abroad for work, and estimated the latter move would cut off $500m of revenue every year.