Soft and chewy sugar cookie bars loaded with extra sprinkles and topped with thick vanilla frosting. And more sprinkles… of course.
These gorgeous pastel sugar cookie bars are about 5 years in the making. I’ve been dying to make sugar cookie bars with light ‘n sweet frosting for ages now. And I finally got around to it this past weekend. Let’s just call it my TV celebration treat. 🙂
In all their soft-baked, mile high frosting, sprinkles-to-the-max goodness… I can honestly say that these charming little treats were well worth the wait. I mean, just look at ’em.
The frosting is as thick as the cookie!! Have mercy.
Today’s recipe is as soft as my favorite soft-baked cookie, as chewy as my favorite blondie, and as sprinkly as my entire cookbook. You’ll find sprinkles in the cookie bar base AND on top of the frosting. Is there such a thing as too many sprinkles? Because I’m pretty sure we test those limits here on my blog.
To make the frosted sugar cookie bars ultra soft, I add a touch of cornstarch. Trust me on this! Think about it: often used as a thickening agent, cornstarch gives your gravy, pie fillings, soups, and glazes a more bodied and full texture. The same goes for your cookie dough – cornstarch will help your dough remain soft, thick, and puffy during the baking process. The small 1.5 teaspoons used is certainly a heavy lifter in this recipe!
To make the cookie bars ultra chewy, I add an extra egg yolk. I do this with a few of my cookie recipes because that little extra yolk adds so much moisture, tenderness, and chew to the cookie. And it does the same thing to the sugar cookie bar base in this recipe. You’re going to love their rich, tender texture.
What’s great about this recipe is that you don’t have to chill the cookie dough. Just press the dough into the pan and bake right away. Bake the bars in a square baking pan – 8 inch or 9 inch is fine. Only about 25 minutes. You want to slightly underbake the cookie bars in order to avoid the edges from getting too crispy and brown.
Allow the bars to cool completely before frosting. This will feel like an eternity.
If you’re the kind of person who eats cake just for the frosting, you’re going to love this recipe. And we would also get along very well. I may or may not have eaten the frosting off this cake before actually getting to the cake underneath. Uh, can you blame me?
You’ll use my basic vanilla frosting recipe for these bars. Classic, fluffy, and simple. I like to add a touch of salt to cut the frosting’s sweetness. With the sweet sugar cookie bar underneath, that tiny pinch of salt will help tame a sugar rush. Don’t get me wrong, these bars are still plenty sweet! Don’t bring them to your dentist.
And as you can see, the frosting layer is just as thick as the cookie layer. In some spots, even thicker – those were the best bites. The frosting recipe as written makes a ton, so don’t be afraid to frost the bars with a heavy hand.
Don’t want that much frosting? It’s ok, I forgive you. Feel free to halve the frosting recipe.
Ordinary ingredients can produce extraordinary desserts. Only simple, straightforward items used in this recipe and yet, the results will blow your mind!
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Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk1
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/2 cups (190g) spoon & leveled all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup (80g) rainbow sprinkles (not nonpareils)2
- 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 and 1/4 cups (270g) confectioners' sugar
- 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream or half-and-half3
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- salt, to taste
- food coloring for frosting (I used 1 drop red for this pink frosting)
- extra sprinkles for decorating on top
- Make the bars: Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, making sure to leave enough overhang on the sides. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the softened butter for about 1 minute on medium speed. Get it nice and smooth, then add the sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Beat in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cornstarch. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 different parts. The dough is quite thick. Once combined, gently fold in 1/2 cup sprinkles using a rubber spatula (or by mixing on low speed).
- Press the cookie dough evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 25-26 minutes or until very lightly browned on top. You want the cookie bars to be extra soft, so careful not to overbake. Allow the bars to cool completely on a wire rack at room temperature before frosting. The center will slightly sink - that's normal.
- Make the frosting: If you don't want a super thick layer of frosting as pictured, halve the frosting recipe. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy - about 2 minutes. Add confectioners' sugar, cream, and vanilla extract with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. Add more confectioners' sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if frosting is too thick. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. I usually add anywhere between 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Beat in food coloring, if using.
- Remove cooled bars from the baking pan using the aluminum foil overhang on the sides. Frost the bars with a thick layer of frosting and decorate with extra sprinkles if desired. Cut into squares. Use a very sharp knife and wipe off with a paper towel between each cut to make neat, even cuts. Store bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days and in the refrigerator up to 5.
Make ahead tip: You can make these bars and the frosting 1 day in advance-- store the bars, covered, at room temperature overnight and store the frosting, covered, in the refrigerator. Frost before cutting and serving. You can also freeze the unfrosted bars for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, frost, cut, and serve.
- Room temperature egg and egg yolk preferred. To bring the egg to room temperature quickly, place in a warm glass of water for about 10 minutes as you get the other ingredients ready. Or just set out when you set out the butter to soften 1 hour ahead of time.
- Use regular sprinkles (aka "jimmies") in the cookie bar base. Nonpareils (the little balls) will bleed their color and turn the sugar cookie dough green/purple/brown. I order my sprinkles in bulk here.
- Cream or half-and-half is preferred for creamiest, fluffiest frosting. Keeping that in mind, milk would be an OK substitute if you do not have either on hand.
Larger batch: You can double this recipe and bake in a 9x13 pan; the bake time is about 35 minutes.
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