Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars are your classic sugar cookies baked into a bar. I don't know if I'll ever go back to regular sugar cookies. This dough is SO easy to work with and skips several steps to save you some time! It tastes like the sugar cookie you know and love- it's chewy, just sweet enough, and has a kick in flavor with just a dash of almond extract!
- Unsalted Butter: Room temperature, unsalted butter is the trick to this sugar cookie bar. You'll need to leave your butter out an hour or two ahead of when you bake your bars. You want your butter to still be cool to the touch, but you should be able to stick your pointer into the stick and make an indent. You shouldn't be able to break through the stick with your finger. Salted butter can be used if that's what you've got on hand, but I would leave the salt out or decrease the amount to ¼ tsp.
- Granulated sugar: This is a no-brainer. We are making sugar cookies!!! What's a sugar cookie without sugar? I will say that this cookie base isn't overwhelmingly sweet, as I intended to top it with a rather sugary frosting. If, for some reason, you just want plain sugar cookie bars, I would add another ¼ cup of sugar!
- All-Purpose Flour: What is new, my friends? All-purpose flour brings these bars to life. PLEASE make sure you measure the flour correctly, meaning that you spoon the flour into your measuring cups before leveling off the tops! If you simply pack the flour into the measuring cups, you will end up with too much flour in your dough! This will lead to dry bars... NOT what we want!
- Baking Powder: Baking powder helps this bar to have a slight rise and also helps to ensure that it's not just a dense slab. This helps the bars puff up a bit. Do not leave it out!
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch is my not-so-secret secret ingredient in most of my treats. It helps the bars to stay chewy, soft, and stable.
- Salt: Salt helps to bring out sweetness in treats! Obviously, if you add too much salt into a recipe, the result will be an overpowering salty flavor! However, with just ½ teaspoon of salt in this recipe, it only enhances the sugar flavor! If you are using salted butter, omit the salt or decrease it to ¼ tsp.
- Vanilla Extract and Almond Extract: Vanilla extract intensifies that sugar cookie flavor we all know and love while almond extract really enhances the flavor!
- Eggs: There is both an egg and an egg yolk in this recipe. The combination creates a chewy and moist texture! Using room temperature eggs is key, so leave your eggs out on the counter an hour or two before baking OR place them in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes before baking if you forget!
Baking Sugar Cookie Bars
You'll want to keep an eye on your pan while it's in the oven! As I always say, every oven works differently!
In my oven, 22 minutes is the golden spot. You want the tops of these frosted sugar cookie bars to be light and puffy, and the edges should be light golden brown! The cookie bars will look SLIGHTLY shimmery on top, but will have an overall dry appearance. The top should look a bit puffy.
A toothpick inserted into the center will not come out clean. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out with just a few moist crumbs. The bars will continue to cook while they are cooling in the pan, so you really want to be careful not to leave them in the oven too long. This will lead to dry, crumbly bars!
As I mentioned earlier, you can use salted butter if that's what you prefer or have on hand! I would reduce the salt amount to ¼ tsp! You can also substitute butter with vegetable shortening, though it will not have that intense butter flavor that classic sugar cookies are so known for!
Pan size can also be altered, but bake time will be altered! The bigger the pan, the less time the cookie bars will need to cook since the bars will be thinner. The same goes the other way- the smaller the pan, the longer the bars will need to bake since they will be thicker!
You can absolutely use whatever frosting you would like! Cream cheese frosting, canned frosting, grandma's special recipe.... whatever works for you is fabulous!
Tips for Perfect Cookie Bars
- Room temperature ingredients: I mentioned this above in the ingredient overview, but these frosted sugar cookie bars are SO simple. They require just a few ingredients, so correctly incorporating those ingredients is so important. Using room temperature ingredients (butter, egg, egg yolk) in these bars will make such a difference in texture!
- Pan: I used an aluminum pan rather than a standard glass pan. I have found that bars bake so much nicer in metal pans rather than glass. I found this to be especially true in my brownie recipes. If you do use glass, you'll probably need a few more minutes of baking time!
- Mixing: As I say in almost all of my recipes, do not overmix. Overmixing will lead to dryer and denser baked goods. Though it's less dangerous in cookies than muffins and cakes, mix only until the dry ingredients are smooth and incorporated.
These bars can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Bars are best served when fresh, but they maintain their texture really nicely for 2-3 days!
You can freeze unfrosted bars for up to 2 months for an easy bake-ahead treat. I do not recommend freezing frosted bars. Simply wrap the uncut bars in plastic wrap before placing the whole tray (not the pan, obviously) in the freezer. Thaw at room temperature before frosting, cutting, and serving!
These sugar cookie bars have the same classic taste as the sugar cookie you know and love, but they are baked into bar form for an even easier treat! They are soft, chewy, and topped with a sweet frosting that is simple enough to be made in YOUR kitchen!
For the Bars
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
For the Frosting
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1 ¾ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
- Optional: food coloring
For the Bars
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9×9 baking dish with parchment paper. Spray the paper with cooking spray to ensure the bars remove cleanly.
- In a medium bowl, whisk all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, and cornstarch until combined.
- In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat room temperature butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until smooth, light in color, and fluffy.
- Add egg and egg yolk to the batter one at a time, mixing on medium speed. Add vanilla extract and almond extract. Batter will look slightly curdled. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, beating on low speed. Mix until the flour mixture is JUST incorporated. To ensure that you do not overmix, you can switch to mixing with a wooden spoon as your flour mixture begins to better incorporate.
- Scrape down the sides of your bowl to ensure that everything is fully mixed.
- Pour batter into prepared pan, using a knife or spoon to spread the batter evenly across the pan. Batter will not spread easily, as it should be thick.
- Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Begin checking the pan at 15 minutes, as every oven works differently. The top should look puffy, light in color, and just slightly shimmery. It should not look wet. The edges should be light golden brown in color. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out with just a few crumbs. The cookie will continue to bake in the pan after being removed from the oven, so do not overbake if you are looking for a soft cookie.
- Allow the cookie bars to cool for at least 30 minutes in the pan. Carefully remove flip the bars onto a cooling rack to finish cooling before frosting.
For the Frosting
- In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip butter on high speed until smooth.
- Add powdered sugar on medium/low speed until the mixture turns creamy and smooth. Frosting will look thick and slightly yellow.
- Add vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of milk or heavy whipping cream. Beat frosting on high for 3-4 minutes until it turns light in color and velvety and fluffy in texture.
- Optional: add food coloring of your choice.
- Frost bars and decorate as desired with toppings.
Keywords: Sugar Cookie Bars, Buttercream, Sugar Cookies