Sugar Cookie Bars are soft and chewy dessert bars topped with festive red homemade American buttercream frosting and sprinkles. The dessert bars give you the same great taste as my Ugly Sweater Sugar Cookies but without any rolling or cutting of the dough! If you love classic cut-out sugar cookies and decorating them, be sure to check out my Cut-Out Sugar Cookie Recipe.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Bars: It starts with the sugar cookie dough for this recipe. Then, it’s all about the homemade buttercream frosting.
Butter: Unsalted butter is used in both the bars and the frosting. (If using salted butter, you may want to lessen or omit the salt in the recipe.) To properly cream the butter and sugar to form the buttercream, the butter must start at room temperature. If the butter is too cold, the emulsion might break causing a separated buttercream.
Eggs: For the bars, you will need 4 eggs (2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks). The combination of egg yolks and whole eggs in the recipe helps create a tender and chewy texture in the sugar cookie bars, making them soft and delicious. And, don’t get rid of the egg whites! Save them to use in another recipe like Fried Ice Cream!
Frosting: American buttercream is the easiest style of buttercream to make with very few ingredients and steps. You will be able to pile on the frosting and make it as bright in color as you desire!
Food Coloring: Gel food coloring will give you a more vibrant color. If you are using liquid food coloring (not gel), you may need to add a little peppermint extract to offset the bitterness. Play around with colors to fit your celebrations or festivities! If the buttercream will not be used right away it must be stored in the refrigerator.
How to Make Bright Red Frosting
If it’s at all possible to plan ahead, make your icing a day or two in advance. The color will deepen considerably as it sets. The ratio I use is a 1-ounce bottle of McCormick red food color in about 4 cups of buttercream. If using gel, it will be much less.
I make the frosting as directed and add the food color when I add the vanilla. Make sure it is fully incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Then, dampen a towel and set it over the bowl for a few hours. If the red looks perfect after a few hours, place it in an airtight container and store it until needed. If the color doesn’t seem red enough, add more food color 1/2 teaspoon at a time allowing it to set for a few hours between each addition. Letting the frosting rest overnight will darken it considerably and you often do not need any more food color!
Can I Make The Dough Ahead Of Time?
Sure! Just like you can make the frosting in advance, you can also get the dough for the bars made ahead of time. Once you have the dough made, wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. It will last up to 2-3 days. If you want to store the dough for a longer period, you can freeze it. Double-wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container or a freezer-safe bag. Frozen cookie dough can usually be stored for several months. When you’re ready to use it, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator before proceeding with baking.
How To Store Sugar Cookie Bars
To store sugar cookie bars, keep them in an airtight container at room temperature. They will last up to a few days. Or, freeze the bars for up to 2-3 months. When ready to enjoy, let the bars thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
Sugar Cookie Bars
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until well-combined (about 2 minutes).
- With the mixer on low, add in the eggs and egg yolks, mixing until well incorporated.
- Turn off the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl.
- With the mixer back on low, add the vanilla and almond extract.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
- Mix the flour mixture with the butter mixture about a cup at a time until fully incorporated.
- Press the batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake 20-25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool as you make the buttercream frosting.
- Combine the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
- Start mixing on low speed until the sugar is incorporated with the butter. Increase the mixing speed to high and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Adjust the consistency with milk as needed.
- Add in food coloring until desired color is reached. Spread the buttercream over the cooled sugar cookie bars. Cut and enjoy!
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