Sugar Cookie Bars – the easiest way to make sugar cookies! They’re super soft and fluffy, unbelievably tender (think delicate and cake-like) and they have an irresistible sweet and buttery flavor.
Sugar Cookie Bars
Haven’t we all loved frosted sugar cookies as long as we can remember? People of all ages can never resist these things.
They are the perfect thing to make for a party or even a birthday. Or really just any day of the year because they are always a highlight to what could have otherwise been a bland an boring day (just plan on sharing, they’re dangerously addictive!).
Here you get sugar cookies with a melt-in-your-mouth Lofthouse style texture, in super easy to make bar form! No chilling, no cutting and no shaping here. Just mix, spread and bake.
All the deliciousness of sugar cookies, without all the extra work!
I shared a recipe many years back for these, but I’ve realized over the years I wasn’t using enough butter. More butter equals more flavor, more moisture and an even more tender cookie bar (along with a little bit of cornstarch).
Sure the recipe says it makes 24 bars but I would definitely plan on 2 per person, these are simply too tempting!
Sugar Cookie Bars Ingredients
- All-purpose flour: I like to use unbleached as it has a better flavor. But standard bleached will work too.
- Cornstarch: This small addition makes for a more tender cookie.
- Baking powder: We add this to make the bars nice and fluffy.
- Salt: Don’t forget this or they will taste totally flat!
- Granulated sugar: I’ve found 1 cup to be plenty since the frosting is very sweet.
- Eggs: A critical ingredient to hold the cookie together.
- Unsalted butter: This is used in both the cookie base and the frosting. A key ingredient to a good cookie, don’t sub with margarine or shortening.
- Vanilla extract: We use a fair amount here for a delicious treat!
- Almond extract: An ingredient that offers that funfetti style flavor to baked goods. Use the real stuff.
- Powdered sugar: No substitutes here. We need that very fine texture for a smooth frosting.
- Heavy cream: Half and half or even milk will work too, the frosting will just be a little less rich and fluffy.
- Sprinkles and food coloring: These are both optional but the make for a more visually appealing dessert.
How to Make the Best Sugar Cookie Bars
- Heat oven, prepare baking pan: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13 by 9-inch baking sheet.
- Whisk dry ingredients: In a medium mixing bowl whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer cream together 1 cup butter with 1 cup granulated sugar until blended. Scrape down mixing bowl.
- Blend in eggs and extracts in additions: Mix in each egg, 1 at a time. Scrape down mixing bowl then blend in 1 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond extract.
- Mix in flour mixture: Add flour mixture and mix just until combined.
- Spread dough into pan: Spread mixture into prepared baking dish. Tip: To help even it out I also like to press even with greased hands (sprayed with non-stick cooking spray).
- Bake until set: Bake in preheated oven until puffy and just baked through (be careful not to over-bake as they’ll continue to cook slightly in hot pan once removed from the oven), about 15 – 16 minutes.
- Cool through: Let cool completely on a wire rack, about 90 minutes (or about 60 minutes in the fridge).
- Mix all frosting ingredients: In a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer blend together powdered sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 2 Tbsp cream, and 1 tsp vanilla extract until pale and fluffy. If desired tint frosting with a few drops of food coloring.
- Frost bars and decorate: Spread frosting evenly over cooled cookie bars. Immediately finish with sprinkles if using.
How to Store Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars
- These bars can be stored at cool room temperature, don’t let them get warm or the frosting will melt.
- Keep stored in airtight container (or tightly wrapped with plastic wrap in the pan they were baked in).
- To extend shelf life store in the refrigerator (for about 5 days), then bring to room temperature before serving.
- They can also be frozen for up to 2 months (chill in fridge first if you plan on stacking to help firm up the frosting, then lay parchment paper between each layer).
- Use other flavors of natural extract. If there is a nut allergy omit the almond extract and increase the vanilla to 2 tsp in the bars.
- Omit the almond extract and use citrus zest instead (orange, lemon, lime).
- Finish with a cream cheese frosting instead of the buttercream frosting used here.
- Tint frosting any color you’d like and finish with any variety of sprinkles.
- Another option is to use naturally colored sprinkles and food coloring (Kroger sells a set of liquid drops I like). Another great option is beet powder to ting the frosting pink (just sift first if clumpy).
Tips to Perfect Them
- Use room temperature butter and eggs so ingredients blend together better (I’ve shared tips in the recipe notes to bring to room temperature quickly, I’m often not the plan ahead type baker).
- Go with an aluminum baking pan vs. glass if you’ve got one for better baking (plus glass always seems a little bigger so bars will be thinner).
- No need to whip the butter and sugar to a pale and fluffy stage, unless you want the bars super fluffy. I like a medium density, the baking powder already makes them pretty puffy.
- Scrape down the bowl as you mix the dough to ensure everything is evenly incorporated.
- Careful not to over-bake or bars will be dry. But on the other hand don’t under cook or they’ll taste doughy. To taste for doneness you can do a toothpick test and look at the overall appearance, they shouldn’t appear raw but just starting to dry on top.
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Sugar Cookies Bars
- 2 1/4 cups (319g) all-purpose flour (preferably unbleached), scoop and level to measure
- 1 Tbsp (10g) cornstarch
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature*
- 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, at room temperature*
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- For the cookie portion: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13 by 9-inch baking sheet.**
- In a medium mixing bowl whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer cream together 1 cup butter with 1 cup granulated sugar until blended. Scrape down mixing bowl.
- Mix in each egg, 1 at a time. Scrape down mixing bowl then blend in 1 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond extract.
- Add flour mixture and mix just until combined.
- Spread mixture into prepared baking dish. To help even it out I also like to press even with greased hands (sprayed with non-stick cooking spray).
- Bake in preheated oven until puffy and just baked through (be careful not to over-bake as they'll continue to cook slightly in hot pan once removed from the oven), about 14 - 16 minutes.
- Let cool completely on a wire rack, about 90 minutes (or about 60 minutes in the fridge).
- For the frosting: in a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer blend together powdered sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 2 Tbsp cream, and 1 tsp vanilla extract, and a few drops food coloring (if using) until pale and fluffy.
- If needed thin frosting with another 1 Tbsp cream.
- Spread frosting evenly over cooled cookie bars. Immediately finish with sprinkles if using.
- Keep bars covered with plastic wrap or store in an airtight container.
- If needed (for this recipe) you can bring butter and eggs to room temperature with these shortcuts. Soften butter in the microwave in about 3 - 4 second intervals rotating to next side between each interval until just soft. To bring eggs to room temperature quickly place in a bowl, cover with warm water and let rest 5 minutes.
- **If you'd like to be able to lift bars out before cutting then butter baking dish, line with parchment paper and butter over each layer of parchment paper.
- For a longer shelf life bars can be refrigerated or frozen, bring to room temperature before serving.