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Christmas sugar cookie bars recipe

These easy Christmas sugar cookie bars are soft, thick and topped with a fluffy vanilla buttercream frosting. Festive sprinkles are a must to give them a holiday feel. This small batch recipe is made in an 8×8 square pan.

This recipe is a version of my Christmas sugar cookie recipe in bar form. No special equipment or ingredients necessary to make these simple bars. They are perfect for any occasion and the variations are endless.

I’ll give you variations and substitutions where I can, plus helpful tips and tricks for success. Read on for this info as well as the recipe. If you’d like to skip straight to the recipe, use the jump to recipe button at the top of the post.

You may also be interested in my Christmas funfetti cookie recipe and my classic Christmas sugar cookies (cut out cookies). For ease of browsing, you can find all of my Christmas recipes in one place.

Sugar cookie bars with red and green sprinkles.

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Sugar cookies in bar form – that’s how to describe these delicious bites. They bake up nice and thick, but they stay soft just like a sugar cookie should.

Stacked sugar cookie bars for Christmas.

They are topped with a simple vanilla American buttercream frosting and sprinkles. The recipe makes 9 large bars or 16 bite size pieces.

Why you should make this recipe

  • Fast and easy – Much faster than making individual cookies and no need to chill dough.
  • Perfect for holiday gatherings – A great addition to Christmas cookie platters or parties.
  • Soft and chewy – They bake up extra thick, but keep the soft and chewy texture of a sugar cookie.
Christmas bars on cooling rack.

Ingredients

I love this recipe for its simplicity. It’s likely that you have everything you need to make these right now. Which means that anytime to mood strikes, you are only 30 minutes away from these easy treats.

Ingredients for cookie bars.
  • Butter – Use unsalted butter so you can control the amount of salt in your baked goods.
  • Cream cheese – Adds richness to the cookie dough.
  • Sugar  – Provides just enough sweetness.
  • Egg – Provides moisture and structure to the dough. Large eggs are the standard size.
  • Vanilla – Gives baked goods that familiar flavor we all love.
  • All-purpose flour – Weighing your flour is the most accurate way to measure.  
  • Salt – All baked goods need salt.
  • Baking powder – baking powder gives the cookie bars a bit of lift.

How to make

Before we learn how to make Christmas sugar cookie bars, gather all of your ingredients. Measure everything out ahead of time. This is your “mise-en-place“. You want to make sure you have everything you need BEFORE you begin.

Step by step photo instructions for sugar cookie bar recipe.
  1. Cream the butter and cream cheese together until they are thoroughly combined.
  2. Add the sugar and beat until it is light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated.
  4. Finally, add the whisked dry ingredients and mix just until combined. The batter will be thick and a little sticky.
  5. Line an 8×8 square cake pan with parchment (or butter the pan). I use small binder clips to secure the parchment so it doesn’t move around when I’m spreading the cookie dough in the pan. I use a small offset spatula, but you can also use your lightly floured hands to press it in.
  6. Once it is spread evenly, it’s time to bake the Christmas sugar cookie bars. Notice the color of the baked bars – the color has barely changed. They are just golden brown around the edges.
  7. Pile a thick layer of buttercream frosting on top and cover with sprinkles. I like to decorate on top of an overturned baking sheet.
How to make cookie bars for Christmas.

From here, I trim the sides with a very sharp knife to get a clean edge. The trimmed off pieces are known as “cook’s treat”.

The trick to getting a sharp, clean edge is to run the knife under hot water, then wipe it dry, before EACH cut. Every single cut needs to be made with a clean, hot knife blade.

Can I freeze the dough?

Yes! Christmas can be a very busy time, so I often make cookie dough in advance and store it in the freezer until I’m ready to bake. It will keep for 3 months, if stored properly in an airtight container.
Make it even easier on yourself – freeze the dough patted out to fit inside an 8×8 pan.

Can I make them ahead?

Yes you can. They can stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days ahead of time.

Should cookie bars be refrigerated?

Because the bars contain cream cheese and the frosting contains a bit of milk, they should be stored in the fridge.

How do you cut Christmas sugar cookie bars cleanly?

First, you need the sharpest knife you own. Run the knife under hot water until the blade is warm. Slice through in one cut and drag the knife out. Repeat. Each cut needs to be made with a warm, clean blade.

Frosted cookie bars on baking sheet.

Variations and substitutions

The variations for these really are endless. Change the color of the sprinkles to make them fit any occasion – birthday parties, summer celebrations, baby showers or Valentine’s Day.

  • You could add a gingerbread spice mix to the cookie dough or the frosting for a seasonal spin.
  • Top with peppermint buttercream frosting for a wintery version of these Christmas sugar cookie bars.
  • Top with crushed candy canes instead of sprinkles.
  • Add a few drops of gel food coloring to dye the frosting or the cookie bars.
  • For an organic, gluten-free food coloring, try red beet powder instead of gel color.
  • Add sprinkles to the dough to make them a funfetti cookie bar.
Cookie bars with frosting and sprinkles.

We are loving this peppermint biscotti recipe. It’s full of crushed candy cane bits and it’s so good.

Ginger molasses cookies are my all time favorite Christmas cookie. This is the recipe that I’ve been making for 2 decades. (yes, I’m that old)

Lemon ricotta cookies are always a favorite and this recipe was tested many times to get it perfect.

Planning to send some treats to friends and family? Check out my post on how to ship cookies without breaking for helpful tips and tricks so your baked goods arrive in one piece.

Cut up bars on baking sheet.

Helpful tools and equipment

  • Hand mixer – no need for a stand mixer, this hand held mixer does the job.
  • Mixing bowls – I prefer stainless steel bowls above all others. They don’t stain, they won’t break and they are what we use in professional kitchens.
  • 8×8 square pan – a square cake pan can be used for cakes, cookie bars, brownies, etc.
  • Sharp knife – I cannot overemphasize the importance of a good Chef’s knife. It will last you a lifetime.

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Yield: 16 small or 9 large bars

Christmas sugar cookie bar recipe

Christmas sugar cookie bar recipe

Christmas sugar cookie bars are soft, thick and topped with a vanilla buttercream frosting.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 24 minutes
Cooling Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 39 minutes

Ingredients

For the cookie bars

  • 2 cups all purpose flour // 240 g (*See notes)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened // 1 stick
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened // 113 g
  • 1 cup sugar // 200 g
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

For the buttercream frosting

  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered (confectioners/icing) sugar // 284 g
  • 2 - 3 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Sprinkles, optional, but highly recommended

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F with convection // 350° without convection fan //  180°C // Gas Mark 4.
  2. Line an 8x8 square cake pan with parchment paper. (*See notes)
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
  4. Beat butter and cream cheese together until uniform. Then add sugar and beat until light and fluffy (3 - 4 minutes).
  5. Add egg and vanilla. Beat until combined.
  6. Add dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated.
  7. Press into prepared pan with lightly floured hands, or use a small offset spatula to spread the dough. Make sure to push dough into the corners and make it as even as possible in the pan.
  8. Bake for 22 - 25 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the edges are just barely golden brown.
  9. Cool completely (at least 2 hours) before frosting.
  10. While bars are cooling, make vanilla buttercream: Combine butter, salt and vanilla in a large bowl. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat to combine. Add 2 tbsp. milk and remaining powdered sugar. Adjust consistency by adding 1 tbsp. of milk, if needed. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
  11. Spread buttercream over completely cooled bars and top with sprinkles. (Trim edges, if desired.) Cut into 9 large bars, or 16 bite-size pieces.

Notes

  • Weighing ingredients is the most accurate way to measure and I HIGHLY recommend getting a scale. The link under the recipe is the same scale I have.
  • I secure the parchment paper to the pan with small binder clips to keep it from moving around while I'm spreading the cookie dough in the pan. You can also lightly butter the pan if you don't have parchment paper.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 241Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 171mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 0gSugar: 13gProtein: 3g

Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.

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