Sugar Cookie Bars

October 26, 2018

Test Kitchen-Approved

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

Makes: 24 cookie bars
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 15 min


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
In This Recipe


For the sugar cookie bars

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool. While the cookies are cooling, make the frosting.

For the vanilla cream cheese frosting

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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Cookie|American|Cream Cheese|Make Ahead|Quick and Easy|Serves a Crowd|Bake|Party|Christmas|Entertaining|Winter|Vegetarian

Reviews (29) Questions (5)

29 Reviews

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.
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.
Eve December 11, 2018
Tried posting this as a question but it wouldn't post. I'd like to know if these can be made ahead, cut, stacked & placed in a tin. I'd think not, as that frosting sounds like it wouldn't harden so maybe they have to remain flat and refrigerated because frosting ingredients contain butter and cream cheese - ??
Cate December 13, 2018
Having made similar bars, I could share with you what I did that was successful. <br />After cutting the bars I placed them in a tin, separated with small sheets of parchment paper. I kept it in the refrigerator to keep the frosting fresh. <br />To serve: I would take the amount of bars I wanted to serve out 15 to 30 minutes prior to serving and set the bars on a plate to come to room temperature. <br />One tip: when not serving immediately, save the sprinkles or colored sugar for just prior to serving. If you sprinkle them on the frosting and then try to store them for any length of time, the colored sugars will melt a bit and look more messy in the frosting. After the bars come to room temperature, sprinkling the top will look fresh and festive prior to serving. Good luck.
Alegria December 14, 2018
Thank you. How long can they be in the fridge? Two days? Longer? I guess freezing is out of the question. Does a glass 9x13 buttered container qualify as a non stick pan?<br />Thanks again!!
Caitlin December 18, 2018
I made these two days ago and have had them in the fridge. They still taste great today and I am guessing will tomorrow today, though of course fresh is most delicious of all. As for the frosting, upon refrigeration I have found it to have consistency of regular icing, ie: it has some structural integrity, and i could probably stack them, at that temperature, but the second they get a bit warmer the icing does have a tendency to stick to things. Also I think a buttered pan is fine. <br />
Alegria December 18, 2018
Thank you so much!! This is very helpful. I'll make them today.
Girlfromipanema December 4, 2018
What is the new "Test Kitchen Approved" checkmark? Like Twitter's "Verified"?
Katie M. December 5, 2018
Great question! This should explain it :) <br />
witloof November 1, 2018
This recipe looks good, and also as if it needs one final pass by the copy editor.