Bars & Brownies Cookies

Christmas Sugar Cookie Bars

December 19, 2021

The best ever frosted sugar cookie bars! These super soft and perfectly buttery sugar cookie bars are the perfect last […]

The best ever frosted sugar cookie bars! These super soft and perfectly buttery sugar cookie bars are the perfect last minute holiday dessert to feed a crowd. Topped with a generous layer of vanilla buttercream and festive sprinkles, these one pan wonders are as easy as they are delicious!

A couple of weeks ago over on Instagram I posed the question “what recipes do you want to see next on the blog?”.  Your quick and kind responses ranged from things like red velvet bundt cake {noted!}, easy, no chill cookies {done and done!}, classic cinnamon rolls {I see you cozy winter mornings} and my personal favorite….cookie bars.

It just so happens that I made these easy-as-can-be sugar cookie bars for my kids last weekend in lieu of making an extra trip to the store for a dozen of their favorite store-bought cookies. You know the ones….those deliciously sugary sweet cake-like cookies that are almost always topped with a thick layer of brightly colored buttercream and a heap of sprinkles?

Those cookies are the epitome of nostalgic childhood treats and if you love a good sugar cookie as much as I do, you’re in for a real treat.

Why you’ll love these sugar cookie bars

If you’re into recipes that require minimal baking time and deliver maximum flavor, these sugar cookie bars have your name written all over them. The best part about these one pan wonders is that there is no need for rolling out cookie dough or waiting for dough to chill.

It’s the holidays and we’ve all got too much going on to be scooping cookie dough all day which makes these simple sugar cookie bars my go-to for a speedy sweet tooth fix. Just bake the dough in an 8 x 8 pan, cover generously with a layer of smooth and creamy cream cheese buttercream, and top with a heavy dose of rainbow sprinkles. Tah-dah, dessert is served!

They deliver the same rich, buttery, chewy goodness we all love from a regular sugar cookie but in half the time. It’s a lazy baker’s dream come true!

Ingredients you need

If you need dessert in a hurry, these sugar cookie bars are the answer. You can whip up a batch to feed a crowd in mere minutes with just a few simple ingredients that I bet you already have in your pantry. Perfect for last minute holiday house guests or whip up a batch for family movie night over Christmas break. Don’t forget the sprinkles!

  • Flour. This recipe calls for all-purpose flour as well as bread flour. Bread flour gives cookie bars the little extra sumthin-sumthin I like to call the “chew factor” that I simply cannot resist. If you don’t have bread flour on hand, feel free to substitute with more all-purpose flour.
  • Sugar. These bars will tempt your sweet tooth thanks to a blend of granulated sugar in the cookie bars and confectioners sugar in the vanilla frosting. For best results, sift the confectioners sugar for a smooth, silky buttercream.
  • Butter. Just one half cup of unsalted butter is all you need for a buttery, soft sugar cookie that will deliver the most delicious melt-in-your-mouth flavor. Be sure to use softened butter for both the cookie bars and the frosting.
  • Egg. This recipe calls for just one large egg to bind everything together. Like the butter, your egg should be at room temperature. If you’re in a hurry to get baking, just set your egg in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes to bring it to room temperature.
  • Vanilla and almond extract. I LOVE the flavor of sugar cookies with a dash of almond extract added to the mix. Reminds me of the sugar cookies my mom used to make when I was kid. The almond extract is entirely optional so if you aren’t a fan or don’t have any on hand, feel free to omit it altogether and only use the vanilla extract. 
  • Baking powder. Just a pinch is all you need to give these sugar cookie bars the very best texture. Always check the expiration date on your baking powder to make sure it’s fresh.

Tips for the best sugar cookie bars

These bars are a cinch to make but here’s a few tips that guarantee they bake up perfectly every time….

  • Use room temperature ingredients. Room temperature butter is key for that smooth, soft and tender, ultra buttery, cookie dough texture. Set your butter and egg out at least an hour before baking.
  • Do not over mix. The way to these ultra soft and tender cookie bars is to only mix the dough until the dry ingredients are barely combined. Don’t be tempted to over mix the dough as your bars will turn out dense and super chewy.
  • Do not over bake. These cookie bars taste best when ever so slightly under baked. Bake until the edges are a light golden brown and the center is still soft and barely set. Over baked bars will be hard and crispy. Keep an eye on your oven.
  • Chill before serving. For a clean, sharp cut, chill the cookie bars for at least two hours or overnight once frosted. Use a sharp knife and clean it thoroughly between each slice by running it under warm water and then drying with a clean dishcloth. 
  • Have fun with the sprinkles. Now is your chance to go wild with all the fun and festive sprinkles. The more the merrier! For these bars I mixed and matched the random sprinkles I had left over in my pantry. More on my favorites below. And the best part is you can customize these frosted cookie bars for any holiday. Dress them up for the 4th of July, Halloween or Easter! Sprinkles make these bars extra happy but if you don’t have sprinkles on hand, mini chocolate chips, holiday M&M’s or crushed candy canes would be equally delicious.

How to make silky smooth cream cheese frosting

This frosting is the perfect balance of sweet and tangy and you only need 5 simple ingredients and 5 minutes to whip it together. It’s super smooth, extra creamy and it spreads easily. Take note of these tip for the perfect frosting every time.

  • Use block cream cheese. For the thickest, smoothest, creamiest cream cheese buttercream be sure to use full fat cream cheese from a block. Reduced fat cream cheese from a tub won’t result in the same texture and consistency. Make sure your cream cheese, and butter, are at room temperature for best results.
  • Use unsalted butter. To control the amount of salt in the frosting I recommend using unsalted butter. If you only have salted butter on hand, omit the salt from the recipe.
  • Sift the confectioners sugar. For a silky smooth cream cheese frosting, it’s important to sift the powdered sugar first. It takes just an extra 60 seconds and is so worth it!
  • Cool the bars completely before frosting. If you try to frost the bars when they are still warm, the frosting will turn soupy and run right off the side of the bars. Always cool the bars completely before frosting. If you’re in a hurry, let the bars cool at room temperature for 30 minutes and then pop them in the fridge to speed up the cooling process. 

Where to find the cutest holiday sprinkles

There is nothing wrong with your traditional red and green holiday sprinkles but these days, there are so many options to dress up your holiday desserts. You only get to celebrate the holidays once a year, so I say go for it! I love to mix and match a variety of sprinkles. From shimmering and shiny to festive and fun, here’s a few of my faves:

How to store cookie bars

Because these bars are topped with a cream cheese buttercream frosting, it’s best to keep them tightly covered in the refrigerator. Properly stored, they’ll last for up to 4 days in the fridge. To freeze the bars, I recommend cooling them completely and freezing before frosting. Defrost the bars at room temperature and then add frosting and sprinkles just before serving. 

FAQ’s

Can I double the recipe?

Absolutely! These cookie bars are so easy to make and they are a real crowd pleaser. Perfect for when you need dessert in a hurry! If you are baking treats to share with your family and friends, double the recipe and bake the bars in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Baking times should remain about the same but watch your oven for those golden brown edges and be careful not to over bake. Be sure to double the recipe for the frosting too.

Can I make these gluten free?

You sure can! Swap the all-purpose and bread flour for your favorite gluten-free flour blend. Keep in mind that the bars may bake up slightly more dense and dryer than the original version. 

My cream cheese frosting is really soft. What went wrong?

A few things might contribute to a too soft cream cheese frosting. First, make sure you are using full-fat cream cheese from a block, not a tub. The cream cheese and butter should both be at room temperature. You can firm up the frosting by either adding more confectioners sugar or by refrigerating it for 15-20 minutes.

If you’re in a bit of a time crunch this week prepping for the holidays for baking for Santa, these bars will save the day. I hope you love them as much as we do!

Happy holiday baking friends!

Looking for more easy and delicious holiday cookies? You’ll love these recipes….

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Christmas Sugar Cookie Bars Recipe

  • Author: Heather Mubarak
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 16 squares 1x
  • Category: Cookies & Bars
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Amercian

Description

The best ever Christmas sugar cookie bars! These super soft and perfectly buttery sugar cookie bars are the perfect last minute holiday dessert to feed a crowd. Topped with a generous layer of vanilla buttercream and festive sprinkles, these one pan wonders are as easy as they are delicious.


Ingredients

Units Scale

Sugar Cookie Bars

  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (94 g) bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 6 TBSP unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 TBSP cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups (228 g) confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 12 TBSP heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup holiday sprinkles for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F degrees and spray a 8 x 8 inch baking pan with non stick baking spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts. Mix until well combined.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture and mix until just barely combined. Do not over mix.
  6. Transfer the sugar cookie dough to the prepared pan and use your hands or a spatula to press the cookie dough into an even layer, pressing into the corners.
  7. Bake the sugar cookie dough for 20-25 minutes or until edges are slightly golden brown. The center of the bars should look slightly under baked. Do not over bake.
  8. Remove from the oven and cool completely before frosting with the vanilla cream cheese buttercream. To speed up the process, place the sugar cookie pan in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.

Vanilla Frosting

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the softened butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. About 1 minute.
  2. Add the confectioners sugar and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium high and beat for 1 minute.
  3. Add the vanilla and salt and beat for one minute more on medium high speed.
  4. Add the heavy cream and beat for an additional minute.
  5. If frosting is to thin, add more confectioner’s sugar. If too thick, add more heavy cream.
  6. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting evenly over the top of the cooled cookie bars.
  7. Top with sprinkles.
  8. Chill before cutting into 16 squares. Serve chilled.

Notes

Recipe may be doubled and baked in a 13 x 9 inch pan.

Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Sugar cookie bars may be frozen before frosting. Defrost at room temperature before adding frosting and sprinkles.

  • Reply
    Lonán Mooney
    March 31, 2022 at 5:22 am

    Have made these so many times in the past few weeks and they are the best! Perfect for decorating with buttercream flowers or any occasion and perfect as a gift! So soft and delicious! Will be making again tomorrow , thanks again for your wonderful recipes!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    December 22, 2021 at 2:02 pm

    Can spreadable cream cheese be used in the frosting or should it be the brick kind?

    • Reply
      Heather Mubarak
      December 22, 2021 at 9:13 pm

      You want to use block cream cheese, not one from a tub. Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Suzie
    December 20, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    Made these last night and they were a huge hit, love that the sprinkles can be changed out for the season! Definitely kid-approved and super easy!

  • Reply
    Emily Peers
    October 2, 2021 at 1:37 am

    I love a good sugar cookie and these bars are definitely on my list to make again! I also converted this recipe to gluten free. I substituted the flour with Cup4Cup gluten free multipurpose flour with no problems!

  • Reply
    Emily
    July 7, 2021 at 4:50 pm

    What would be a substitute for the cream cheese? I just checked and I dont have any!

    • Reply
      Heather Mubarak
      July 7, 2021 at 11:22 pm

      Hi Emily! If you don’t have cream cheese I would just omit it and make a standard buttercream using all of the other ingredients listed in the recipe. It will be a little sweeter than the cream cheese version but still delicious!

  • Reply
    Annie
    December 20, 2020 at 5:03 pm

    Looks amazing! Can these be stored at room temperature after frosted?

    • Reply
      Heather Mubarak
      December 20, 2020 at 6:39 pm

      They can but I love them straight from the fridge too!

  • Reply
    Ash
    December 2, 2020 at 6:54 pm

    Such a delicious recipe. Will definitely be putting this on my Christmas dessert table this year. It was a real crowd pleaser everyone at work loved them.

    • Reply
      Heather Mubarak
      December 3, 2020 at 7:32 pm

      I’m so happy to hear that you love these bars! They are a favorite over here too!!

  • Reply
    Heather
    October 13, 2020 at 8:18 pm

    Yum! This is the straightest path to a frosted sugar cookie. I went with a thinner layer of basic buttercream, but I’m sure they’re even better with the frosting in the recipe. Next time I’ll check them sooner, because I think they would have been done before 20 minutes.

    • Reply
      Heather Mubarak
      October 13, 2020 at 8:52 pm

      I’m so happy to hear you loved these!! They disappear quickly at our house!

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