Sugar Cookie Bars

Your sheet pan canvas for all the cookie possibilities

sugar cookie bars

Lauryn Bodden / The Spruce

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Cool: 60 mins
Total: 105 mins
Servings: 48 cookies
Yield: 1 sheet pan
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
132 Calories
6g Fat
18g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 48
Amount per serving
Calories 132
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 4g 19%
Cholesterol 27mg 9%
Sodium 37mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 6%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 15mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 25mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This is the cookie that's here for you whenever you need it, no chilling time, rolling, shaping, or special equipment required. It's your go-to recipe for every occasion or craving. These sugar cookie bars are a cross between your basic, cut sugar cookie with crispy edges, and a softer lofthouse cookie, which has a cakier interior.

Knowing how your ingredients react in a recipe is what enables you to create a cookie just for you. The secret to these cookies is the small addition of bread flour and brown sugar. Swapping in bread flour for all-purpose does not impact the structural integrity of the cookies, but it does create a chewier bite. Similarly, brown sugar adds chewiness, and the molasses in the brown sugar creates deeper caramel notes. Almond extract adds a layer of seductive complexity to the vanilla while evoking an aroma reminiscent of your favorite local bakery.

Make these cookie bars as a quick pantry treat or serve the sheet pan whole for a special cookie cake. Even better, if you have picky eaters on your hands—some want chocolate chips, some sprinkles, some nuts—you can top sections of the sheet pan differently based on what each person craves.

"Are you team cookie or team brownie? With this recipe, you’ll never have to choose again. It’s perfect for an easy sweet treat that will feed a crowd and has all the perks of a cookie, without any of the scooping or shaping. I think this recipe will be a keeper for years to come." —Tracy Wilk

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A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups bread flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 cup light brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons almond extract

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 3 large eggs

  • Chocolate chips, sprinkles, nuts, or other toppings, optional

  • Buttercream frosting, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

  2. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

  3. Beat the butter and sugars together in the bowl of an electric stand mixer or with an electric hand mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

  4. Beat in the almond and vanilla extracts, then add the eggs, one at a time, until just incorporated.

  5. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the batter in three increments just until incorporated. Avoid over-mixing by stopping right when there are only a couple traces of dry ingredients left, and then folding in those remnants using a rubber spatula until combined.

    At this point, you can fold in any goodies (nuts, chocolate chips, sprinkles, and more) to the dough or leave as is.

  6. Line a 12-x 16-inch baking sheet with parchment paper, letting it hang slightly over the edge for easy removal. Transfer the cookie dough to the prepared sheet and spread into an even layer.

  7. If you want to add any toppings, you can press additions (see variations, below) into the top of the dough or segment with different toppings for picky eaters. Otherwise, you can leave plain, if desired. This is your sheet pan cookie, so customize it as you like!

  8. Bake until the edges are lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. The bars will continue to set as they cool.

  9. Once the cookies are completely cool, you can enjoy as is or finish with a buttercream frosting, if desired. Cut into about 48 (2-inch) bars and serve.

Tips

  • Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before starting, especially the butter. Otherwise, you will not be able to cream the butter and sugar properly and the cookies will turn out more dense than intended.
  • The easiest way to spread the dough in the baking sheet is to dollop it across the sheet, then use a lightly-greased offset spatula to push and spread into an even layer. You can lightly grease your hands and spread the dough the same way.


Why Bread Flour?

  • In simpler terms, it's all about the texture.
  • In scientific terms, it's all about the protein content. The higher the protein content, the more gluten there is to develop, and the more liquid gets absorbed, which creates a stronger dough.
  • All-purpose flour has a protein content of about 8 to 11 percent, while bread flour has a protein content of about 12 to 16 percent. Typically, bread flour creates a more elastic dough. Here, it translates to a chewier end result, versus a tender texture.

Recipe Variations

  • We love the chewy texture the bread flour adds to this recipe, but realize everyone may not have it readily available. You can use all-purpose in its place without any serious change to the cookies.
  • No brown sugar on hand? You can do a 1:1 swap with granulated sugar or even powdered sugar for a more delicate, buttery crumb.
  • This recipe was developed for a standard-sized baking sheet, but you can use a 9-x 13-inch baking sheet or dish. Adjust the baking time as needed.


Choose your own adventure and either mix in or top your cookies with any one or more of the following:

  • Chocolate chips
  • Butterscotch chips
  • Crushed peppermints
  • Pretzels
  • Caramel
  • Sprinkles
  • Citrus zest
  • Nuts

How to Store and Freeze

Room Temperature:

  • These cookies will last for up to 2 weeks stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
  • If frosted, store in single layers, separated by wax paper, in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


Freezer:

  • You can freeze the sugar cookie bars for up to 4 months.
  • It is best to freeze sugar cookies without any frosting on them. If you must freeze frosted cookies, arrange them on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer until they are frozen solid. Arrange the frozen cookies in an airtight container with layers separated by sheets of wax paper.
  • Cookie dough freezes beautifully, too. Shape the cookie dough disks and wrap in cling wrap. Transfer the wrapped cookie dough disks to a zip-close freezer bag. Label the cookie dough with the name and date and freeze for up to 3 months

Can you just throw any cookie dough into a sheet pan?

Yes and no. The last thing you want is to end up with dry, hard edges to your cookie bars while the center is still raw. You also don't want the cookie dough to puff up and over the sides of the pan, spilling onto the bottom of your oven. To start, you need the right dough for a combination of chewy and crispy. Next, you want enough dough to spread into your sheet pan so it bakes up and not just out. Drop cookie doughs like a lofthouse-style cookie work the best for doubling and turning into a sheet pan cookie.

How do you know when they are done?

The cookie bars are done when they are slightly puffed up, set in the center, and a light golden brown around the edges. If you insert a toothpick into the center, only a few moist crumbs should cling to it. Be careful to not overbake as the cookies will turn out dry and crumbly versus chewy and soft.

How are they different from blondies?

Technically, blondies and brownies are both classified as cookie bars. They are softer than cookies, but more structurally sound than a cake. Both confections are prepared with the same technique and baked in the same vessel.


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