Sugar Cookie Bars

October 26, 2018
52 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Makes 24 cookie bars
Author Notes

Regular sugar cookies are already pretty easy to make, but this version is even simpler. No chilling, rolling, or cutting. Instead, spread the sticky, butter-rich dough in a big non-stick baking pan and pop it into the oven. Not only does it result in a soft, almost blondie-like texture, but it’ll save you time. You can bake two dozen bars on just one tray! —Grant Melton

What You'll Need
  • For the sugar cookie bars
  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • For the vanilla cream cheese frosting
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • sprinkles, for decorating
  1. For the sugar cookie bars
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Using an electric hand mixer, cream together butter, sugar, and light brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. On a high speed, add in the eggs and vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract) and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Turn the speed to low and add in the flour 1/2 cup at a time. Once all the flour has been mixed in, add in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and and give the dough one last good mix.
  5. Scrape the dough into a nonstick 13x9 baking pan or a jelly roll pan. Using an offset spatula, spread the dough into a thin layer to completely cover bottom of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the dough has risen slightly and is golden brown on top.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool. While the cookies are cooling, make the frosting.
  1. For the vanilla cream cheese frosting
  2. Using a hand mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. On a low speed, little by little, add in the powdered sugar. Once all the sugar is incorporated, add in the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Turn the mixer on high and whip the frosting for about 30 seconds, or until fluffy.
  3. Spread the frosting over top of the cooled cookies. Place the frosted tray of cookies into the fridge to let the frosting set, about an hour. Once set, use a sharp paring knife to cut the cookies into 24 squares. Sprinkle the top with holiday themed sprinkles and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Cheryl Ross
    Cheryl Ross
  • Anna Garver
    Anna Garver
  • Olivia Nguyen
    Olivia Nguyen
  • kate chojnacki
    kate chojnacki
  • Tory Christensen
    Tory Christensen

39 Reviews

judy July 23, 2020
Well, after reading the recipe--sheet pan caught my eye--these seem a basic sugar cookie that can be modified in all sorts of ways. Reviews gave some good comments and suggestions. I was thinking of reducing sugar myself. Also, I am intolerant of brown sugar (molasses). But image the possibilities: chips of lots of flavors, crushed peppermints, freeze dried fruit powders, zests, expresso powder and cocoa powder. Or how about a spicy twist like Mexican chocolate, or cardamom or garam masala, or even anise. I will give this a try. I now live in a studio apartment and only have a toaster oven and stove top. So I am always looking for easy recipes the can be made a bunch of different ways or varieties...I had not thought of using a sheet pan, though. !/3 of a recipe on my pan for my toaster oven. I could leave on plain roll chips in one and zest in the other.....Just like I do with cookie dough, and then make into a roll and freeze to slice as desired for cookies. But this would even e easier!
Cheryl R. December 16, 2019
Taste-wise, these were just okay. Of course, the cookies in the middle of the pan didn’t get as done as those around the edges. They’re quick and easy to make, but not worth making again.
RoseJean December 10, 2019
These are amazing!!! I baked them last Christmas and can't wait to do so again. Some people I shared them with found them to be too sweet so I MIGHT try cutting back on the sugar but as far as I'm concerned, they are perfect. Great flavor, just the right chewy texture you'd expect from a sugar cookie and so easy to make. A Christmas favorite!!
Anna G. July 22, 2019
These cookies look stunning, their taste is even better!
Will try to add a bit less sugar to the dough next time (would definately add less to the frosting, but it didn't harden well enough to store the cookies in a tin or jar). Actually, there was no need for storing those - they were gone as soon as I brought them to work!
P.S.: I can't say these are too sweet, it's just me who is used to cutting sugar in every recipe. My colleagues were fully satisfied!
Olivia N. April 2, 2019
I've made this recipe at least 4 times already and it's been a great base for a recipe I'm developing myself. Fully recommend this recipe. Your guests will love and adore it (i've never gotten anything but glowing praise) and it's so easy!
kate C. March 9, 2019
Do the bars need to be refrigerated if you use the cream cheese icing?
sarah February 12, 2019
I find that mine need more baking time. Anyone else? More like 20 minutes. I don't find these too sweet - I mean, it's a sugar cookie - and the cream cheese frosting is a little tangy which is nice.
Tory C. January 26, 2019
I made these bars but cream cheese icing didn’t sound appealing on a sugar cookie so I used another recipe (a vanilla/almond shortening based frosting I’ve been wanting to try). They were a bit of a sugar bomb with icing but as a sugar beast, I wasn’t complaining. I often skip sugar cookies because I don’t want the fuss of rolling and cutouts and this is a nice way to get the flavor without the hassle of all that. I also liked the texture, firm but chewy and held together nicely.

I plan to make these again with the same icing but may try reducing the sugar in the bars to balance the sweetness of the icing.
sarah February 12, 2019
The tang of the cream cheese frosting goes really well with the sugar cookie bar.
Tory C. November 13, 2023
I did end up trying these with the cream cheese icing and, for me, it ruined them. I’ll keep making them with the Christmas sugar cookie frosting recipe I used the first time.
Hillary K. January 12, 2019
So delicious and super easy. Wonderful texture and the icing is perfect. The only hard part spreading the batter in the pan but I lined my sheet. Unlined would be a cinch. Just make them. You won’t be disappointed!
Eve January 1, 2019
I put in a little under a cup of sugar, probably about 3/4 cup, after reading that some thought they were too sweet. This seemed to work out fine and the sweetness level of the frosting was just perfect. I’d make this again.
Elizabeth January 1, 2019
These were great! As others have mentioned, the cookie is sweet enough on its own, so the frosting is a bit overkill, especially in the quantity the recipe indicates. Will probably only use half the frosting next time.
trish December 24, 2018
I have made this twice and it is delicious! My friends and family love this recipe and it is so much easier to make than rolled out sugar cookies. But I have a question, why does the cookie bar come out billowy and puffy but when it cools, it flattens down. Is it suppose to do this? If not, how to prevent it from flattening down? Thanks so much in advance!
Kathy H. December 20, 2018
I made this recipe. Easy to make. After it cooled I was craving a taste so I cut into the pan before frosting. Great bar, even without the icing. Curious...I lined the 9x13 pan with parchment paper. Soft cookie. Wondering if I had not lined with PP, would crust be more crunchy. It’s a soft bottom. But then, worried it could stick. Any suggestions/thoughts. Thx
Lauren B. December 19, 2018
Just made this on sunday - its been a hit with everyone! Making more soon. Would advise waiting to add sprinkles until serving as the color can leach out of them into frosting. Definitely a keeper!
Kathy H. December 20, 2018
Did you grease pan? Spray with Pam?
Carly T. December 19, 2018
These are soooo good! We made them in a regular brownie pan so they were a little thicker and chewier, but super tasty nonetheless. We also didn’t do the frosting, they were perfectly sweet as is. Definitely make these for, well, any occasion really.
Jen P. December 17, 2018
Can you make this gluten free? With a cup 4 cup gf flour?
Cate December 27, 2018
The writer of the article, on the page prior to sharing the entire recipe, did answer a reader’s question regarding this issue. He said he used Cup 4 Cup in many of his other recipes and it worked fine. He felt that it would be a good substitute to use in this recipe is well. I’m going to be using King Arthur’s Flour wheat replacement in this recipe today. Will try to post The results.
Mary H. October 19, 2021
Because gluten free flours don’t absorb far as well as wheat flour, I would reduce the butter in the recipe by 2-3 tablespoons and experiment with that.
Sheri B. December 17, 2018
Any suggestions on what to use if I don't have a nonstick jelly roll/sheet pan?
Babs I. December 17, 2018
I don’t have any non-stick pans. I grease the pan with butter, line with parchment and grease again. DIY non-stick. If the question is about size, some other answers address that; you can adjust the recipe for smaller pan.
mary C. December 13, 2018
This was super easy and actually fun to make. Just finished and I’m eating a piece as I type. Cookie square is REALLY sweet but it’s absolutely delicious. I will be making again!!!!!
Kim December 13, 2018
I tried to post a questions but it did not work. There is a big difference between a 9x13 and a jelly roll pan. Which was used for the bars that are pictured?
Cate December 13, 2018
A usual jellyroll pan is about 10 or 11“ x 15“. Spreading the cookie in the entire jellyroll pan it will be thinner than using a 9“ x 13“ baking pan. You’ll have to watch the bake, and perhaps take it out a little sooner in a jellyroll pan then the cake pan. Given amount of batter made, I thought it looked as though the picture use a 9 x 13 pan. It’s almost as thick as a Blondie. But it is all good!
Kim December 13, 2018
Thank you Cate. That is what I thought as well.
Smaug December 14, 2018
Actually, I think 10 1/2x 15 1/2 is standard for a jelly roll pan, though manufacturers seem to care less and less about standard sizes, and a lot of people use half sheet pans instead.
Cate December 14, 2018
I agree with you about losing the standardizing of sizes for the pans. I have pans that measure 11 x 15“, 9 1/2“ x 14 1/2“, and 16 x 12. They are all called jellyroll pans, sheet pans, lacking any standard sizing equivalents. I have found If the recipe is sensitive and needs perfect measurements, that I measure the pan, work up the volume of my batter,and adjust The recipe and baking time accordingly.
Babs I. December 13, 2018
I think the baking time wore different, depending on the size of pan used. Any thoughts?
Babs I. December 13, 2018
Would be different.
Cate December 13, 2018
In my baking experience when using a 9 x 13” pan or the larger jellyroll pan, the thinner cake or cookie bake faster in the jellyroll pan. I just watch them and take them out a little bit sooner than stated in the recipe,looking for that slightly golden around the edge or top as I normally would.