These sugar cookie bars have the flavor of holiday sugar cookies, but without all the work! Almond extract in the bars and frosting provide the classic sugar cookie flavor, and it’s all topped with festive sprinkles. Grab a slice to eat with a big mug of homemade eggnog!
I think we all love sugar cookies, but don’t always love the effort that goes into making them. Whisking, mixing, chilling, rolling, cutting, baking. Although I have to admit, I think that my no chill sugar cookie cutouts are probably as easy as it gets.
What if I told you that you could get that distinctive sugar cookie flavor, but with far fewer steps? Let’s talk through them – but spoiler alert: it’s pretty easy.
Making sugar cookie bars
Start with your dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set it aside so it’s ready to go when you need it.
Cream the butter. Beat the butter in a separate large bowl until creamy, then add the sugar and beat again until light and fluffy. This gives the bars structure by beating air into the butter, and the sugar helps hold that air.
Finish the wet ingredients. Add your egg and extracts, then beat again to combine.
Slowly add the flour mixture. Start on low speed, and increase the speed as the dough thickens.
Don’t overmix the dough. Beat until everything has just combined, then stop the mixer. You don’t want the the bars to end up tough and chewy (in a bad way).
The dough will be thick! Press it into your pan (lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with nonstick spray ) with a spatula, and/or your hands if needed.
Making the buttercream frosting
Beat butter until creamy. Same as you did with the dough! You’re a pro at this point.
Add the rest – powdered sugar, heavy cream, and extracts, and beat on low speed increasing the speed as the powdered sugar incorporates. You’ll beat it until well combined and fluffy.
Now taste test. If it’s too sweet, add a little salt. If the frosting is too thick, add a little more cream.
Frost and sprinkle! Use a spatula to evenly frost the bars, then add whatever sprinkles you’d like. I like to use these holly sprinkles for a simple, festive touch.
The flavor and scent we typically associate with sugar cookies is brought to you by almond extract – so you’ll notice we use it in the batter and the frosting for these bars.
I like to cut mine into four rows of four, for a total of 16 bars. If you wanted to cut them smaller to serve more people, you certainly could.
Can we take a moment to appreciate the height on the frosting?
It’s not quite a 1:1 ratio of sugar cookie bar to frosting, but it’s close.
Want less frosting?
If you’re not a frosting fiend like I am, feel free to cut the recipe in half, or reduce it to use 75% of what I call for:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Just over 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
- Just over 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Salt, to taste
Another great thing about these bars is that the day after you make them, the flavors have really melded and the bars are even softer and chewier. I almost prefer them on day two!
… not that it stops me from inhaling a few on day one.
After you’ve made this recipe, please consider coming back to share your experience with others by leaving a comment below with a star rating!
Sugar Cookie Bars
Sugar Cookie Bars
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup butter, softened to room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg, room temperature*
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 ¾ cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Salt, to taste
- Sprinkles, optional, but encouraged!
Sugar Cookie Bars
- Preheat oven to 350°F and prep an 8x8" pan with aluminum foil, making sure that it hangs over the sides a bit.
- In a medium bowl, whisk to combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until smooth and creamy, about a minute.
- Add sugar and beat again until fluffy and light in color, about another minute.
- Add egg, almond and vanilla extracts and beat again until combined.
- Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture a little at a time, mixing on the lowest speed. Increase speed a little if needed as the dough gets thicker.
- Press into prepared pan into an even layer - you may need to use your hands as it will be thick and sticky.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top is just starting to turning lightly browned on the top. You want the bars to be soft, which means they'll be a tad underbaked. Place pan on wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes, then lift the bars out of the pan by the edges of the aluminum foil and place directly on wire rack to cool completely.
- In a large bowl with a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter on medium speed until creamy.
- Add powdered sugar, heavy cream, almond extract and vanilla extract and beat on low speed, increasing speed as powdered sugar incorporates. Beat until well combined and fluffy.
- Taste test and add salt to taste to cut the sweetness. If the frosting is too thick, add a little more cream and beat again to combine.
- Frost cooled bars with an icing spatula and top with sprinkles. Slice into 16 bars (4 rows of 4), serve and enjoy!