All the flavor and fun of sugar cookies, without the work of rolling and cutting shapes! This recipe yields an entire half sheet pan of thick and chewy sugar cookie bars topped with a pillowy vanilla almond buttercream. If you’re not trying to feed an army, it can easily be halved as well to fit in a standard 9×13 pan.
To begin, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your baking sheet. If you plan on cutting and serving straight from the pan, you can even skip the parchment and just grease the baking sheet!
Next, prep the dough. This recipe is basically my go to Soft and Chewy Cut Out Sugar Cookie recipe with just a few variations! I skipped the cornstarch since holding shape is not a factor, and I also added baking powder to add a pinch of leavening.
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Once the dough has been prepared, press it into an even layer in your baking sheet or pan. I started out using my hands, and then switched to an offset spatula at the end to smooth it out a bit.
Bake on the center rack of your oven for 22-25 minutes, or until the middle feels set. Rotate the tray halfway through baking to promote even heat distribution.
Allow cookie bar to cool completely before attempting to remove from the pan. If you used parchment paper and want to remove it before cutting and frosting, begin by running a butter knife around the edges of the pan to release the sides. Then, place an equally sized baking sheet onto the top of the cookie. Holding both trays with the cookie bar sandwiched in the middle, flip it over, and pat on the tray that is now on top to help the cookie to release. To flip back over, you can do the same trick with a cutting board or whatever you’d like the cookies to be frosted and cut on.
While the cookies are baking, you can work on the buttercream! This is my favorite buttercream recipe for cookies because it is fluffy, creamy, not overly sweet, and has just the right amount of almond and vanilla flavor.
My biggest tip for buttercream is to ensure you beat it long enough in each stage. Under whipped buttercream is dense and lacks the desirable light and smooth texture.
Once the cookie bar has cooled, you can begin frosting it! This part is super easy with cookie bars as opposed to cut out cookies. You can keep it rustic and spread it out organically with an offset spatula, or you can create a smoother look using a cake scraper after distributing it over the whole bar. You can also get creative and use piping tips to decorate the top if you’d like, but for simplicity sake, I stuck with just a simple organic look.
Cookie bars just feel naked without sprinkles, so I recommend finding a fun blend of colors to add a bit of visual interest and spunk! I’m a sucker for white and gold, so I created a custom blend with a few sprinkle types I had on hand.
Once your cookie bar has been frosted, you can either cut it as is, OR you can pop it in the fridge to chill if you want to go for super clean and sharp cuts. Once it’s chilled, it’s much easier to get clean lines.
Next is another option to adjust to your preference. You can either eyeball your cuts, or you can bust out a ruler if you want to ensure your bars are equally sized. Then, use the largest knife you own to cut your lines, wiping the knife clean after every cut for best results. (This definitely takes a bit of extra time, but it makes a big difference!)
That’s about it for the process! Enjoy within 3-5 days for optimal texture, and store in an airtight container.
Thanks for stopping by today! See you next time!
Sugar Cookie Bars Frequently Asked Questions
Can I halve the recipe?
Absolutely! To halve the recipe, use a 9×13 pan instead. You will also need to reduce the bake time a bit and keep an eye on it to check when it’s done.
How many cookie bars does a full recipe make?
This recipe makes 24 bars that are just under 3″x3″
Can I freeze sugar cookie bars?
If you want to make them in advance to freeze, I recommend freezing the cookie bar unfrosted. You can also make the frosting in advance and freeze it as well, but the consistency turns out better if the frosting is rewhipped nice and fluffy before frosting!
How can I tell when it’s done baking?
Try sticking a toothpick in the center and making sure it’s clean. Also, gently press on the center to check if it feels set. If it’s still super squishy, give it more time in the oven!
Can I use unsalted butter instead?
You can! Just be sure to add an extra 1/4 teaspoon for every stick used to compensate. Many bakers use unsalted to have better control over how much salt is in a baked good due to varying salt amounts in brands, but I just start with salted for simplicity sake and go from there. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I prefer salted butter in buttercreams because I feel like the saltiness is more evenly distributed rather than granules.
Do I have to chill the dough like regular sugar cookies?
No chilling required! The chilling process in cut out sugar cookies is designed to make the dough easier to work with, and to also minimize spread. With sugar cookie bars, workability and and spread aren’t a factor so you can skip the chill time!
Looking for a Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe? Check Out My Go To.
Sugar Cookie Bars
- 12 oz salted butter still cold, but just soft enough to make small dent when pressing firmly on it (24 tbsp)
- 4 oz cream cheese cold (8 tbsp)
- 21 oz granulated sugar 3 cups
- 3 eggs
- 4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp almond extract
- 1 lb 14 oz all purpose flour (7 cups)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookie Buttercream
- 12 oz softened salted butter 1 ½ cups
- 17 oz powdered sugar 4 cups
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 pinch salt 1/8 tsp ish
- 1 tbsp french vanilla coffee creamer Optional sub. heavy cream and add extra vanilla and almond extract to taste
Sugar Cookie Bar
- Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit, and line one baking sheet with parchment paper. (If you plan on frosting and serving the bars in pan, you can skip the parchment and grease the pan instead.)
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Cream the butter and cream cheese together in a large sized bowl using an electric mixer until well combined. Scrape down the bowl, and repeat.
- Add in granulated sugar, and continue creaming ingredients together until light and fluffy.
- Mix in the eggs one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Add in extracts and mix them in as well, once again scraping the bowl to ensure even mixing.
- With the mixer on a low speed, slowly add in the flour mixture, and allow dough to come together until no dry ingredient streaks are remaining. Stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl and beater, and beat for another several seconds on medium speed.
- Press dough in an even layer on to the prepared baking sheet. (Optional: Use an offset spatula to smooth out the top layer further)
- Bake tray on the center rack for 22-25 minutes rotating halfway through. Bake until the center of the bar feels set and no longer squishy or doughy. Make sure to rotate tray around halfway through the bake time.
- Allow the cookie bar to cool completely before frosting.
Vanilla Almond Buttercream
- Beat room temperature butter in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium high for 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and add vanilla and almond extract, and beat for another 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.
- With the mixer on a low speed, slowly pour in the powdered sugar along with the pinch of salt. Once the dry ingredients have been incorporated, turn the mixer up to medium high and beat for 5 more minutes.
- Turn the mixer on low, pour in the coffee creamer (or heavy cream). Stir until combined, and then allow the mixer to run on a low speed for another few minutes remove the majority of the air bubbles.
- Frost the cookie bar in an even layer in your preferred method, and eat within 3-5 days. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!
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