Sugar Cookie Bars

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Soft, tender, and chewy sugar cookie bars piled high with a sweet buttercream frosting and loads of sprinkles! If you prefer cream cheese frosting, we’ve also included a tested cream cheese frosting as well!

These bars are simple to make and are great to serve at a party or potluck! You can change the color or frosting and sprinkles for a festive treat depending on the holiday or event you’re making these for.

Overhead image of the sugar cookie bars still in the pan

Sugar Cookie Bars

I love a good chewy & soft sugar cookie, but I’ve had far too many taste-less, overly thick, cake-like, & dry sugar cookie bars in my life. But that all changes with these sugar cookie bars!

These sugar cookie bars have the perfect ratio of bar to frosting — instead of these bars being overly thick, they are on the thinner side. This ensures an ultra chewy bar instead of a cake-like bar that has too strong of a flour flavor. To also ensure a chewy, softer sugar cookie bar we fully melt the butter and add an additional egg yolk (which also adds more richness to these bars).

And finally, we top these bars with a sweet vanilla buttercream and plenty of sprinkles! When we polled on Instagram for buttercream frosting or cream cheese frosting the votes came in at exactly 50-50 — half of you said buttercream is a must and half said cream cheese so we’ve included a (tested) recipe for both frostings!

(Personally, I love cream cheese frosting, but do prefer the buttercream on these bars).

Process shots-- images of the melted butter, sugar, and eggs being added to a bowl and mixed together

Tips for Making Sugar Cookie Bars

  • Don’t over mix the cookie batter. Too much stirring is going to start the gluten development in the batter and make the cookie bars less soft & chewy.
  • Pure vanilla extract will make a bigger impact on the flavor. For an even stronger vanilla flavor, use vanilla bean paste or a full vanilla bean in place of the vanilla extract. There are general equivalency directions on jars of vanilla bean paste, so consult that for how much to use.
  • Set out the butter an hour before making this frosting. If the butter isn’t at room temperature, it won’t mix and whip up as smoothly. Here are some tips for how to bring butter to room temperature quickly. We also want to make sure the butter isn’t at all melted; again, it won’t whip up how we want it to.
  • Wait for the cookie bars to fully cool before frosting. Otherwise it will melt the frosting resulting in the wrong texture.
  • Line the pan with parchment paper, but don’t line the pan with foil or wax paper for this recipe. Leave an overhang of parchment paper to easily remove the sugar cookie bars and cut into them on a cutting board.
  • Use a sharp chef’s knife and make decisive cuts. Run the knife under warm water, dry on a kitchen towel, and repeat for each cut.

Process shots-- images of the vanilla, egg yolk, baking soda, and salt being added and mixed together

Using the Extra Egg White

Sugar Cookie Bars call for one large egg and one egg yolk. The additional egg yolk contributes to richer flavor and softer texture. You can save the egg white and add it to breakfast the next morning (we love this Egg Skillet) or use it in our favorite Egg Wrap

Process shots-- images of the flour being added and the dough being added to prepared pan and the sugar cookie bars being baked

Sugar Cookie Bars Variation Ideas

  • Tropical: Add coconut extract to the base and this coconut frosting on top. Once frosted, top with toasted coconut flakes for the ultimate coconut sugar cookie bars!
  • Fruity: add zest of an orange, clementine, or lemon to the dough along with 1/2 teaspoon orange or lemon extract or emulsion (here are the differences between extracts and emulsions)
  • Sprinkles: add sprinkles on top for different holidays (think red and blue for the 4th of July, black and orange for Halloween, green for St. Patrick’s Day, pastels for Easter, red & green for Christmas, etc.).
  • Sugar cookie bar recipe with no frosting: don’t love frosting? Just prepare the base cookie recipe and enjoy as is or throw in 1 cup of white chocolate chips or M&M candies to the base.

Process shots-- images of the frosting being made

Sugar Cookie Bar Storage

Sugar Cookie Bars are best enjoyed 1-2 days after being made. Leftover bars can be tightly wrapped and frozen but they do lose some taste/texture after being frozen and thawed.

Process shots-- images of the buttercream frosting being spread over the sugar cookie bars

Sugar Cookie Bars FAQs

1How do you make sugar cookies taste better?

  • Use real, pure baking extracts instead of imitation extracts
  • Use real butter, not margarine
  • Add some flavorings like the zest of citrus or even some spices like cardamom or cinnamon
  • Bake for the right amount of time — just a few minutes too long of baking and the cookies can go from soft and flavorful to dry and a bit bland.

2Why do my sugar cookies taste like flour?

Typically it’s because there is just too much flour in the recipe which can be common in sugar cookie bar recipes to keep them from spreading.

These sugar cookie bars are NOT intended to taste floury or cakey which is why it’s so important to measure flour by spooning it into measuring cups and leveling the tops off with the back of a butterknife.

Under-baking bars is another culprit of floury tasting bars.

3How do you get sprinkles to stick to sugar cookies?

Sprinkles don’t stick to frosting that has dried or become stiff so it’s important to add sprinkles the minute the frosting has been spread over the cookie bars.

4Why do my cookies get hard after they cool?

This is most likely because the cookie bars were baked too long. As they cool they’ll become more dense and hard. Slightly under-baked cookie bars will harden up to an ultra chewy consistency.

The longer cookie bars sit, the more stale they become and sugar cookie bars are no exception. Over time, the moisture in the cookies evaporates which makes them become harder and stiffer.

5Are sugar cookies better with butter or shortening?

Butter will yield far more flavor than shortening in cookies. Real butter is such an important ingredient in creating the most flavorful sugar cookie bars possible.

Up close overhead image of the sugar cookie bars cut into squares

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Sugar Cookie Bars

5 from 2 votes
Soft, tender, and chewy sugar cookie bars piled high with a sweet buttercream frosting and loads of sprinkles! If you prefer cream cheese frosting, we've also included a tested cream cheese frosting as well!
Print Recipe

Sugar Cookie Bars

5 from 2 votes
Soft, tender, and chewy sugar cookie bars piled high with a sweet buttercream frosting and loads of sprinkles! If you prefer cream cheese frosting, we've also included a tested cream cheese frosting as well!
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword sugar cookie bars
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 28 minutes
Total Time 48 minutes
Servings 24 bars
Cost $5.87

Ingredients

Sugar Cookie Bars

  • 12 tablespoons (170g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-1/2 cups (300g) white granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk Note 1
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt Note 2
  • 2-1/2 cups (295g) white, all-purpose flour Note 3
  • OPTIONAL flavorings: 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom & 2 teaspoons zest of clementines OR 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract & 2 teaspoons zest of lemon

Frosting -- See Note 4

  • 6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2-1/2 cups (250g) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Tiny pinch fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons (40g) heavy cream
  • OPTIONAL: sprinkles to top bars with (~2-3 tablespoons)

Instructions

  • PREP: Lightly spritz a 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray (this helps the parchment paper stick nicely), then lay on parchment paper leaving an overhang for easy removal of the bars. Lightly spray parchment paper with cooking spray and set aside. Melt the butter in the microwave and then set aside for about 5-7 minutes to cool to room temperature. (If it is hot it will melt the sugar and cause greasy cookie bars.) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (162 degrees C).
  • WET INGREDIENTS: Once butter is cooled to room temperature, add in the white sugar. Vigorously whisk until sugar and butter are incorporated, about 2 minutes (it may seem like the two won't incorporate, but whisk until a smooth mixture forms). Add in one egg and whisk until combined. Next, add in the egg yolk and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. IF using an optional flavoring add in here: either add 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract (what we typically stick with!) or the almond extract and lemon zest, or the clementines zest and 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom. Whisk to combine.
  • DRY INGREDIENTS: Add in the baking powder, salt, and correctly measured flour. Mix until just combined, being careful to not over-mix (which will result in denser bars). Use a spatula to transfer every bit of this dough to the prepared pan. It's fairly sticky so lightly spritz your hands with cooking spray and then press the dough firmly into an even layer.
  • BAKE: Bake in the preheated oven for 23-28 minutes or until the top of the bars is no longer glossy and the edges are a very light golden color. Be careful to not over bake; the bars will not be as soft and flavorful. Remove from the oven and let the pan cool on a wire cooling rack until they reach room temperature.
  • FROSTING: In a large bowl, add the room-temperature butter. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, or until completely smooth and fluffy, scraping down the sides with a spatula as needed. Add in the vanilla, cream, and salt; beat to combine. Finally, add in the powdered sugar and then beat the mixture (on low speed) to combine. Once combined, increase the speed of the mixer and beat until the frosting is very light and fluffy-- about 3-4 minutes. It should turn a brighter white. Add a few drops of food coloring (dye frosting to your desired color intensity) Beat on low speed for about 15-20 seconds just to color the frosting. Use a butterknife to spread on the completely cooled bars. Immediately top with sprinkles if using. Use the parchment paper overhang to remove the bars before frosting. Cut into bars and enjoy.
  • STORAGE: Sugar Cookie Bars are best enjoyed 1-2 days after being made. Leftover bars can be tightly wrapped and frozen but they do lose some taste/texture after being frozen and thawed.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: You can save the egg white and add it to breakfast the next morning or simply discard the leftover egg white if desired.
Note 2: Fine sea salt is not the same as table salt. If using table salt reduce to 1/4 teaspoon.
Note 3: Flour is the most important measurement in this recipe. If you press a measuring cup into a bag of flour, you are likely packing in way too much flour, which will yield thick and flavorless cookie bars. Spoon the flour into a measuring cup and level the top with the back of a table knife.
Note 4: If you like cream cheese frosting better, here's the cream cheese frosting we tested for these bars:
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2-1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Tiny pinch of salt
  • Red food coloring
Beat room temperature cream cheese and butter together until completely smooth. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, & salt. Beat until smooth, scraping the sides down as needed, and then add in the food coloring to desired color intensity. Beat until frosting is colored. Spread on completely cooled bars.

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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