These sugar cookie bars are soft, flavorsome, with a light chew. They're super cute and a ton of fun to make, decorate, and eat!
Why it works
These cookie bars are just amazing. They're perfectly soft, but still have a nice chew to them, plus they are packed full of sprinkles in the cookie and in the frosting.
The trick is to use the cornstarch. Just a touch of it helps to keep cookies soft, puffy, and tender. This is my secret ingredient in almost all of my soft cookie recipes. A little really goes a long way here!
The cream cheese also plays an important role as it adds tanginess, body, and keeps the texture delightfully soft and lightly chewy. It is one of my favorite ingredients in sugar cookie bars.
I love that you do not need to chill the cookie dough before baking either. We don't need to worry about things like spread as we press it into the bottom of our baking pan.
Of course, you can chill the dough if you don't want to bake right away. It just isn't necessary. You can head over to the storage section for more information on saving the cookie dough to bake later!
We use a few key pantry-staple ingredients to make these sugar cookie bars. I am sure that you will have all or most of the ingredients already available in your kitchen!
- Flour - Use all--purpose flour or white whole wheat flour. It does not matter if you use bleached or unbleached flour.
- Cornstarch - Cornstarch is known to help thicken and add body to sauces, gravy, and even pie fillings. It does the same in the cookie dough in that it helps to keep the cookie dough nice and puffed to make it light and delicious. You can substitute it with arrowroot starch
- Sugar - We use granulated sugar in the cookie and powdered sugar in the frosting. I do not recommend using brown sugars or an alternative sugar substitute.
- Butter - Unsalted butter adds richness and tenderness as well as flavor. I do not recommend using margarine in this recipe.
- Cream Cheese - Cream cheese adds tenderness, tang, and moisture to the cookie, and adds flavor to the frosting. For the best texture, use full-fat block cream cheese.
- Egg - The eggs act as a binding agent, but also add moisture, tenderness, and chew.
- Leavening - Just a bit of leavening is used to keep the cookie from being dense.
- Vanilla - I love vanilla, and add it to just about everything. It is the main flavor of our cookies and in the frosting. I recommend using a pure vanilla extract.
- Salt - Using salt is so important in baking. It is the secret ingredient to really bring out and enhance flavors. It also acts to temper down the sweetness of frosting which is why we use it in both elements. I use fine sea salt, and recommend you do the same.
And of course, sprinkles. All the sprinkles you can handle! I made my own sprinkles for this recipe, and you can find the recipe for homemade sprinkles here.
Make sure you use real butter in this recipe. It does not translate well with most margarine brands, and I do not have an exhaustive list of brands that would and would not work with this recipe. I recommend sticking to using real unsalted softened butter.
Use full-fat block cream cheese. Low-fat versions have a higher water content that disrupts the balance of ingredients in the cookie and creates a watery frosting.
Yes! Add in about two tablespoons of lemon zest when you are beating the butter and sugar together, plus add about a tablespoon of lemon juice to when you are beating in the eggs. You can also use these sugar cookie bars as a base for lemon bars - just keep in mind it will be a thick cookie base!
Yes! You can bake the cookies in two separate 9x13 baking pans, or you can use a half sheet pan - just understand that it will require a shorter baking time.
This recipe stores incredibly well, which is why I absolutely love it. In fact, letting the dough chill only allows the flavors to truly develop.
If you do not plan on baking this recipe immediately, you can store it for later. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three days, or frozen for up to a month.
When storing, wrap the cookie dough in plastic wrap, then store in an airtight container.
You can also store the baked cookies once you allow it to cool to room temperature. I do not recommend storing the cookies in the refrigerator after they've been cut as it dries out the cookies. You can freeze cut cookies, however.
You can freeze the cookies frosted or unfrosted. I recommend freezing the cut bars on a baking tray first, then transferring to an airtight container. Allow the cookies to that in a single layer at room temperature.
These cookies can also stay fresh at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week once frosted.
Cookie lovers, if you loved these sugar cookie bars, you will need to try these lemon sugar cookies, sprinkle sugar cookies, chocolate sugar cookies, and Nutella-stuffed sugar cookies. If you want something a little different, try this edible sugar cookie dough, edible chocolate chip cookie dough, edible brownie batter, and edible cake batter. You can also check out the sugar cookie bar story here.
Sugar Cookie Bars
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons sprinkles
Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
- lemon zest, optional
- 3 - 4 tablespoons heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9 x 13 sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Beat the butter, cream cheese, and sugar together until light and fluffy and light in color.
- Add in the eggs and vanilla, then beat well - for about another 2 minutes.
- Mix together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder together in a separate bowl.
- Add the flour mixture into the butter and mix until just combined and there are no streaks of flour.
- Use a rubber spatula to fold in the sprinkles.
- Place the cookie dough into your sheet pan and press down until it is an even layer.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, or until it is just a light golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Make the frosting while the cookie is cooling.
- Beat together the butter and cream cheese together until well combined.
- Add in the powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add in the lemon, if using.
- Mix until well-combined.
- Add in the heavy cream as needed until it reaches a smooth consistency.
- Spread on top of the cookie, and cut into bars.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 298Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 111mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 0gSugar: 26gProtein: 3g
Calculations are estimations, use your own calculations using the brands you specifically used for more accurate numbers.