These Sugar Cookie Bars have all the flavor of sugar cookies but no chilling, cutting, or rolling required! This recipe makes 24 bars in less than an hour. Watch the how-to video for step-by-step instructions!
I’m so excited to be sharing this updated version of my well-loved sugar cookie bars with you today! These sweet dessert bars have thick, buttery sugar cookie bases and a flavorful, just-set frosting. They are so much easier to make than cut-out sugar cookies and they practically melt in your mouth.
This time around, I decided to swap the buttercream icing I used in my original recipe with a less-sweet cream cheese frosting. Don’t worry though, we’re still adding the sprinkles–they’re not going anywhere!
Let’s get to it!
What You Need
Here’s are a few of the key ingredients that make these sugar cookie bars so flavorful, soft and chewy:
- Butter. You’ll need softened, unsalted butter for both the bars and the frosting.
- Cream cheese. The cream cheese keeps the cookie bars incredibly soft, giving them a texture that nearly melts in your mouth (it’s a trick I developed for my bundt cake recipe and petit fours!). It also helps keep the bars from being too sweet, all while not making them taste like cream cheese. I like to use cream cheese in the frosting as well to keep it from being too sweet.
- Sugar. We’ll use granulated sugar for the bars and powdered sugar for the frosting.
- Eggs. You’ll need two large eggs plus an extra yolk. The extra yolk helps keep the bars nice and chewy.
- Flour. All-purpose works best here.
- Vanilla. Vanilla extract flavors these cookie bars in a delicate, but noticeable way.
- Cornstarch. This helps to slightly firm up the icing and encourages it to develop a nice buttercream-esque crust on top–it will still be soft underneath though!
- Sprinkles. These are optional of course, but they do make the tops of the bars look pretty! Feel free to mix up your sprinkles for whatever occasion you’re baking for; these are adorable with Christmas sprinkles!
SAM’S TIP: If you’re not a fan of cream cheese frosting and want to make my original icing, you can omit the cream cheese and use ¾ cup (170g) of softened butter instead.
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Sugar Cookie Bars
- Cream together the butter, cream cheese, and granulated sugar until well combined.
- Add the eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla. Stir until completely combined.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then gradually add them to the wet ingredients until everything is completely combined.
- Spread the batter into a lightly greased baking pan. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes until the edges are light golden brown and the center is set. Let the bars cool completely.
- Cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth and lump-free.
- Gradually add your powdered sugar and mix until completely combined. Then, add your cornstarch, vanilla, and salt. Stir until combined.
- Spread the frosting over your cookie bars in an even layer.
- Top with sprinkles, slice, and serve.
SAM’S TIP: If you have trouble spreading the batter into your pan, try wetting your fingers and gently but firmly patting the dough down into the pan. You can also use an offset spatula that’s been lightly greased with cooking spray.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! I like gel food coloring, but regular food coloring will work fine too, it just won’t be quite as vibrant.
Yes! They should freeze well; just make sure to use an airtight container or freezer bag.
The frosting will develop a crust, but it won’t set all the way through. You should be able to wrap the bars without the frosting smearing though!
More Recipes You Might Like
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
Sugar Cookie Bars
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened (226g)
- 2 oz cream cheese softened (57g)
- 1 ¾ cup granulated sugar (350g)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (285g)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter softened (141g)
- 2 oz cream cheese softened (57g) (see note if you would like a buttercream frosting instead)
- 2 cups powdered sugar (250g)
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch see note
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon table salt
- Sprinkles for decoration optional
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and lightly grease a 13×9” (33x23cm) baking pan with baking spray or butter. Set aside.
- Combine butter, cream cheese, and granulated sugar in a large bowl and use an electric mixer (or a stand mixer) to beat until creamy and well-combined.1 cup unsalted butter, 1 ¾ cup granulated sugar, 2 oz cream cheese
- Add eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and stir until completely combined.2 large eggs, 1 large egg yolk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon table salt
- With mixer on low-speed, gradually add flour mixture to the butter mixture until completely combined.
- Spread batter evenly into prepared baking pan and bake on 350F (175C) for 25-30 minutes or until center is set and edges are beginning to turn light golden brown. Allow to cool completely before covering with frosting.
- Combine butter and cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer until completely smooth and creamy.10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 oz cream cheese
- With mixer on low-speed, gradually add powdered sugar until completely combined, then stir in cornstarch.2 cups powdered sugar, 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- Add vanilla extract and salt and stir until combined.½ teaspoon vanilla extract, ⅛ teaspoon table salt
- Spread frosting evenly over completely cooled cookie bars and add sprinkles on top if desired. Slice and serve. Note that frosting will crust slightly on top but will not solidify all the way through.Sprinkles for decoration
FrostingI originally published this recipe with a buttercream frosting, which I found to be a bit too sweet and have since replaced with the cream cheese version listed in the recipe. However, if you’d like to make the original icing, simply omit the cream cheese and use ¾ cup (170g) of softened butter instead.
CornstarchCornstarch is used to help encourage the frosting to crust on the surface. Please note that the frosting will not solidify all the way through and stays soft beneath the surface, much like classic buttercream frosting.
Food coloringThis frosting may be colored using food coloring, if you would like.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
I’ve made these twice now. I used cake flour both times. Not sure why, I just wanted to I guess. The first time I used peppermint extract instead of vanilla. The second time I used almond extract. Both were amazing. This will be my go to cookie bar from now on. I love the texture and the chew. Thank you!!
These are SO VERY GOOD!!!! My kids absolutely love them (as do I,haha). Do you have a chocolate version??? Thanks!
Hi Sara! Unfortunately I do not have a chocolate version, but I can add it to my list of things to make. 🙂
Sam, love all your recipes!!! I’ve mage the sugar cookie bars twice, and each time the middle seems not quite done. Even though my toothpick comes out clean and the edges are lightly browned. I do have a convection oven, so I adjust the oven temp to 325F. Any suggestions?
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
Hi Dina! Have you tried cooking them at the proper temperature? We know convection ovens sometimes need to be dropped 25 degrees, but it sounds like 325 just isn’t cooking them properly. They may need a few minutes less at that temperature, so keep an eye on them. Hope that helps! 😊
is there an alternative for cornstarch
You could use a little bit of extra flour. 🙂
Hi Sam, this is my second time making this recipe. They are delicious! Question for you: do these bars need to be refrigerated because there’s cream cheese in the frosting? The first time I made these I didn’t refrigerate them, but after hearing that regular cream cheese frosting should be refrigerated, I’m now unsure. Thanks!
Hi Maggie! They will be fine out of refrigeration for about 2 days. 🙂
I made these bars yesterday and there are none left today. I shared them with my daughter and her family and received rave reviews. The recipe was easy and the results great. I didn’t make the frosting because my grandson prefers sanding sugar which is what I sprinkled on top of the bars. Sam, I was wondering, can I turn this into a layer cake? I was thinking about increasing the ingredient to 1 1/2 times and using two 9″ pans or three 8″ pans. What do you think? Thank you so much for this recipe.
Hi Ann! If you leave the recipe as is you’ll get two layers that are the same thickness. If you double it you could have 2 layers that are twice as thick as the bars you made. It will work, but I’m not sure how long it will need to bake.
Thanks Sam. I’ve already been asked to make the bars again this weekend. Thanks again for a great recipe.
I had to bake these, to use up the cream cheese left over from making the Coconut Cream Bars (OH, that frosting!). These bars are very easy, and better than any sugar cookies I’ve ever had. They are chewy, and less dense than bar cookies often are. Since the amount of cream cheese is small, it just provides richness, rather than making them tangy like Sam’s coffeecakes. Likewise, the cream cheese in the frosting provides a little flavor, but it mostly reduces the sweetness, which Sam said was her goal. The frosting is wonderfully fluffy, and just plain good. The corner pieces are delicately crisp on the outside, making them a little more chewy (in a very good way) than the rest of the bars. I’m sure these bars would be great with a chocolate ganache frosting, or a thin layer of homemade caramel.
I lined the pan with non-stick foil for easy removal, and no clean-up.
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We’re so happy you enjoyed both bars, Bruce! Thanks so much for your review–we always appreciate it! ❤
I am making these this weekend for my son’s surprise engagement party….I want to use cookie cutters to cut champagne flutes and then use a glaze and perils to make them elegant….do you think the cookie cutters will work?
Hi Gloria! Cookie cutters would work after it’s baked. 🙂
Thank you Sam……the first batch is in the oven now. … smelling delightful!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We hope they turn out great! Enjoy, Gloria ❤
Well the champagne flutes didn’t work because I didn’t have time to freeze them before cutting, but the bars were soooo pretty and perfect……a huge hit!!
Very nice vanilla sugar cookie bar. Made just as recipe stipulated for the cookie bar. My icing used 1 cup more powdered sugar and less butter since we don’t care for such a buttery frosting. Adding just a little milk instead gets it to the correct stiffness. Plenty to share with the neighbors since it’s just the two of us.
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We’re so happy you like the bars, Cheryl! Thanks so much for trying our recipe and coming back to leave a review ❤
These sugar cookie bars are so delicious! Moist and chewy with yummy buttercream frosting. Much better tasting than regular sugar cookies.
Does the frosting set/dry? I want give as gifts and will need to individually wrap the bars.
Hi Patty! It’s like a stiffer buttercream, so it won’t set as firm as say a sugar cookie icing but it won’t smear. 🙂
Can I freeze these with frosting?
Yes that will be fine, enjoy!
Hello Sam! Another lovely recipe to try, thank you. I wonder if you could let me know the weight of the butter required for the icing? I know that I am always asking you similar questions, sorry…. My family truly appreciate your recipes so I am grateful to you for providing me with all the details so that I can create something wonderful for them!
Hi Bitsie! I’m so sorry I missed that! I have added it for you. It is 141g. 🙂
Making these now, in a dark nonstick brownie pan. I lowered the temp to 325. Fingers crossed!
I hope they turn out for you! You shouldn’t have to lower the oven temperature when using a dark pan though.
I made these and they are so yummy. Make as directed, terrific cookies.
I am so glad you enjoyed it so much, Sandy! 🙂
Hi, will this recipe work in a cookie sheet pan instead of a 9×13? Looking to make a sheet for cookie bars. Thanks.
Hi Kristi! They will be pretty thin but I don’t see any reason it wouldn’t work. 🙂
Thanks for great recipe! These turned out amazing, and they were super easy to make.
I did add a bit of cream cheese to the frosting. But other than that I followed the recipe to the T.
I am so glad you enjoyed them so much, Marie-Claude! 🙂
How much cream cheese did you add? I’m guessing 1 or 2 oz.
I added about 1 oz of cream cheese to the frosting. This recipe is a keeper. Delicious.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it so much, Dana! 🙂