Sugar Cookie Bars

It's real life, right? Some times we sugar cookie lovers crave all the colorful deliciousness but are short on time to fuss with cookie cutters and inclination to mess with cookie decorating. Here, a simple sugar cookie dough is baked in a single pan, frosted all at once, then cut into bite-size squares. This is a great back-pocket recipe for the next time you need to be out the door in just an hour with something sweet to share: the recipe creates a full five dozen – yes, 60! – mini sugar-cookie bites, all pretty with frosting and sprinkles.

Sugar Cookie Bars ♥ All the colorful deliciousness, none of the cookie cutter and decorating fuss.

Homemade Sugar Cookie Bites, No Cookie Cutters or Decorating Skills Required. Year-Round Kitchen Staple. Budget Friendly. Great for Food Gifts. Potluck & Party Friendly, Always the Crowd Favorite.

  • "These are dee-wish-us." ~ Grandson Jackie at age 3, mouth full

Sugar Cookie Bars to the Rescue

Who else l-o-v-e-s cut-out sugar cookies? I love 'em so much, I have not one but two go-to recipes.

  • No-Chill Cutout Sugar Cookies – these are traditional sugar cookies in appearance and texture, especially at Christmas, but the dough doesn't need to be chilled before rolling out, a rarity
  • Cut-Out Spice Cookies – this dough requires chilling but is super-easy to handle, the dark cookies are really dramatic in appearance, that's thanks to both chocolate and molasses

But some times there's just not enough time (or inclination!) to fuss with cookie cutters and cookie-by-cookie creativity.

Welcome to real life, right?

I've made pan after pan of Sugar Cookie Bars for more than ten years, nearly always at the last minute, nearly always when somehow short on baking ingredients, nearly always to the great delight of wherever they're headed.

Sugar Cookie Bars ♥ All the colorful deliciousness, none of the cookie cutter and decorating fuss.

Colored Frosting & Sprinkles: Not Just for Kids

Funny thing is, early on, I had the idea that mostly, it would be the Littles reaching for small bites of small, frosted sugar-cookie bars.

Instead, both kids and adults are attracted by the color, the sprinkles and yes, the small size.

Honesty? Sugar Cookie Bars are way too good to not give away all but a few squares.

Sugar Cookie Bars ♥ All the colorful deliciousness, none of the cookie cutter and decorating fuss.

Canadian Readers: Perfect for Your Next Dainty Tray

For American readers, here's a translation.

Canadian bakers, including my Canadian family, are famous for "dainties" – small bites of sweetness collected on a platter or tiered serving tray, think lemon bars, Butter Tarts, Two-Bite Brownies, little pastry cups filled with Brown Sugar Lemon Curd, matrimonial bars, nanaimo bars and so much more. Every trousseau tea, every anniversary celebration, every baby shower, every funeral lunch, look for a dainty tray.

Sugar Cookie Bars can add a colorful, festive touch!

Sugar Cookie Bars ♥ All the colorful deliciousness, none of the cookie cutter and decorating fuss.

How to Make Sugar Cookie Bars

The detailed recipe is written in traditional recipe form below but here are the highlights. You can definitely do this!

  • Mix the cookie dough.
  • Spread the dough in a 9x13 pan and bake until just golden.
  • Spread the slab of baked dough with frosting and sprinkles!
Sugar Cookie Bars ♥ All the colorful deliciousness, none of the cookie cutter and decorating fuss.

What's In Sugar Cookie Bars? Simple Pantry Ingredients!

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. Usually I'm a big fan of substitutes, in this case, I recommend sticking with the recipe, it just works.

  • All the Usual Wet Ingredients butter + egg + sugar (granulated for the dough and powdered icing sugar for the frosting)
  • All the Usual Dry Ingredients all-purpose flour + baking powder + table salt
  • Cookie Flavoring vanilla + almond extract
  • For Festive, Pretty Color! food coloring + sprinkles (for the frosting)

For Best Results

For my weekly column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I interviewed chefs and translated their restaurant recipes for home kitchens. The most iluminating question? "How can a home cook ensure the same results?" So now I ask that question of myself, too, for my own recipes. Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

Salted Butter Contrary to conventional wisdom, I always-always-always bake with salted butter. Why? Most of all, I just like the results better. But did you know that European bakers use salted butter? And that if you bake with salted butter, you need only keep one butter on hand?

That said, if you already have unsalted butter on hand, just up the salt and be generous.

For the record, all my recipes are tested with Land O Lakes butter, the house butter; look for the best price at Target, thanks, I suppose, to both companies' Minnesota roots.

Almond Extract Flavor-wise, these sweet little bites rely on two things, fresh sweet butter and a mix of vanilla and the all-important essence, almond extract. It's the almond extract in both the cookie dough and the frosting which make you stop to notice, Wow, these are delicious.

For Picture-Perfect Squares Three tips here. For extra-pretty bars:

  • Use what's called an offset spatula to evenly spread the frosting across the entire slab. I've had the same one for twenty years, it looks a lot like this offset spatula (affiliate link). If you bake a lot, you might want a couple, one shorter, one longer.
  • Frost and sprinkle the baked cookie slab, then before cutting, put it in the fridge to cool for about an hour.
  • Before cutting into squares, cut a thin edge off all four sides of the slab.
Sugar Cookie Bars ♥ All the colorful deliciousness, none of the cookie cutter and decorating fuss.

What Makes This Recipe Special

  • Ready to go in just an hour!
  • Easy to cut into small, bite-size pieces to plate with other dainties.
  • Easy to match the frosting color and sprinkles with birthday party themes, holidays, school colors, etc.
  • Always a crowd favorite at potlucks and parties.
  • Makes the eyes of small children light up!
  • Ready to get started? Here's your recipe!

Bookmark! PIN! Share!

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this sweet treat inspires you, please do save and share! I'd be honored ...


Hands-on time: 15 minutes to mix, 20 minutes to finish
Time-to-table: 1 hour
Makes 1 9x13 pan for about 60 one-bite squares; halve recipe for an 8x8 pan
  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons, 8oz, 225g, usually 2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt (more if using unsalted butter)
  • 3 cups flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 375g
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 2oz, 57g, usually 1/2 stick) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1-1/2 cups (180g) powdered sugar
  • Food coloring, optional, just a drop or two
  • Milk, as needed
  • Sprinkles, optional (but don't sprinkles make everybody just happier?)

PREP Bring the butter and egg to room temperature. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking pan, then line the bottom with a piece of parchment long enough to extend up and over the pan's short sides to form "handles" to lift out the cookie slab after it's baked. For good measure, spray the parchment too. Set the oven to 350F/180C.

MIX THE DOUGH With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy and fully combined, scraping the sides of the bowl and the beaters once or twice. Add the egg, vanilla, almond extract, baking powder and salt and combine well. Mix in the flour until well-combined.

BAKE Drop dollops of the dough across the bottom of the pan, use your hands to spread the dough evenly across the pan. Bake until the edges and top are golden, about 20 - 25 minutes (in my oven, 22 minutes is the magic mark).

COOL Let the cookie slab cool completely. Before frosting, lift the slab out of the pan onto a cutting board.

FROST In a bowl, use an electric mixer to mix the butter, vanilla, almond extract and powdered sugar until smooth. Add the food coloring if using. Spread a small test amount of frosting on the cookie slab. If it's hard to spread evenly, put the test amount back in the bowl and mix in milk, a teaspoon or two at a time, until a nice, spreadable consistency is reached. Spread the frosting evenly across the cookie slab. Now the fun part: sprinkle with sprinkles! If there's time, let the frosted slab rest for at least a few minutes before slicing, longer is fine too.

CUT THE BARS or SQUARES With a long, sharp bread (or similar) knife, cut the cookie slab into bars or squares, first one direction, then the other, pressing the knife straight down from above in one long cut (or a half cut if using a shorter knife) rather than a "see saw" back and forth cut.

SERVE & STORE Okay, dig in! The icing isn't messy but is soft, you'll want to store the bars in a single layer.

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS Best the first day or two but they do keep, if any are leftover, that is. If you do bake and frost the cookie slab a day before, wait to cut into squares on the day you'll be serving.

VARIATIONS Try different extracts, vanilla and almond are my favorite but vanilla and lemon, say, are also lovely.

ALANNA's TIPS If you're serving the bars straight from the pan, skip the parchment entirely or just line the bottom of the pan, not the sides. I have the idea that both the dough and the frosting could be mixed by hand with a wooden spoon, just be sure the butter is very soft instead of room temperature. Out of all-purpose flour? It happens. Bread flour works great too. The cookie slab will cool more quickly if it cools in the pan for about 5 minutes, then gets lifted out to a cooling rack. On cool days, I'll even set the pan outside to cool more quickly, lol, a short stint in the fridge works too if there's room. I use the same bowl for the dough and the frosting, there's really no need to wash it between uses. You may/may not need to add milk in the frosting. It seems to depend on timing. If I mix the frosting while the cookie slab is baking, a little milk helps make the frosting more spreadable; if I mix it right before frosting the cooled slab, no milk is needed. For extra-pretty bars, after frosting, refrigerate the frosted cookie slab, then cut off the four edges in thin strips. Cook's treat! If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Bar (assumes 60): 85 Calories; 4g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 13mg Cholesterol; 56mg Sodium; 12g Carb; 0g Fiber; 7g Sugar; 1g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 2 & SmartPoints 4 & Freestyle 4 & myWW green 4 & blue 4 & purple 4 & future WW points

More Small, Sweet Bites

~ mini desserts ~
Mini Blueberry Tarts ♥, miniature cheesecake-like tarts baked in a mini muffin pan with a pop of fresh blueberry, a welcome colorful addition to a tray of mini desserts. The press-in crust is easy, so is the sour cream filling.

Chocolate Cream Puffs Stuffed with Strawberries & Cream ♥, barely sweet little desserts just two bites big, perfect finger food.

Fresh Cranberry Bars ♥, a chewy almost-blondie molasses and spice bar with bursts of juicy cranberry, topped with a scattering of sugar snow. No mixer required.
  • THE RECIPE Fresh Cranberry Bars A chewy almost-blondie molasses and spice bar with bursts of juicy cranberry, topped with a scattering of sugar "snow".
  • ANOTHER TAKE Snickerdoodle Bars Snickerdoodle flavors with the firm, chewy texture of blondies.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Anonymous4/21/2023

    Made the sugar cookie bars last night and they are Fantastic! Happy Easter and thanks.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna