These lemon sugar cookie bars are soft and delicious, with a delicious citrus lemon flavor. Made in a 9x13 pan, this easy lemon dessert is simple to make using my sugar cookie bars recipe as the base!
Whether you're celebrating a birthday, have a sweet tooth, or just want something tasty to snack on, these lemon sugar cookies bars are everything you want and more. Similar to the flavor of my soft & thick lemon sugar cookies, these are a mix between a sugar cookie and lemon shortbread bars...but much softer and melt-in-your-mouth delicious!
During the height of the pandemic, my family & I experimented with turning my frosted sugar cookie bars into a lemon version...and that's how this scrumptious recipe came to be!
What Makes These The Best Lemon Cookie Bars?
- Super soft cookies: These easy lemon cookie bars are soft and buttery with a strong hint of tangy sweetness, thanks to the lemon buttercream!
- No cookie cutters needed! All you need is a 9x13 baking pan and a knife to cut the lemon bars. No cookie cutters needed!
- Great for freezing: Keep a stash in the freezer and grab a bar any time you have a craving for a tasty lemon dessert.
- Tastes like lemonade: These cookie bars taste like frosted lemonade from Chick Fil A! They have a luscious lemon flavor that sets them apart from my regular sugar cookie bars.
Ingredients Needed For Sugar Cookie Bars:
- Sugar Cookie Dough: Butter, granulated sugar, egg, vanilla extract, lemon extract, baking powder, salt, all-purpose flour
- Lemon Buttercream Frosting: butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, lemon extract, salt, fresh lemon juice (optional but so good!)
- Tools: 9x13 metal baking pan, parchment paper, spatula.
Tip: Take a peek at my favorite soft and thick lemon sugar cookies when you want something besides cookie bars!
How To Make Frosted Lemon Cookie Bars
Step 1: Make Dough and Bake
Preheat oven to 350° degrees. Follow the instructions in the recipe card below on how to make the sugar cookie dough. Press the dough into a greased and parchment-lined 9x13 metal baking pan. Bake and let cool completely before adding frosting.
Tip: Dough too sticky? Place another piece of parchment paper on top to press the dough into the pan!
Step 2: Make Lemon Buttercream Frosting
While the lemon bars are baking in the oven, use this time to make the lemon buttercream frosting. This lemon buttercream is based on the buttercream frosting recipe that I use on all of my sugar cookies!
To make these lemon sugar cookie bars, I make my frosting that same way but I add 1.5 teaspoons of lemon extract and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to make it extra lemony.
Tip: If you really want that lemon flavor to shine through, add an extra ½ teaspoon of lemon extract (my family likes it very lemony, so we always add 2 teaspoons!).
Step 3: Frost and Cut!
Now it's time to frost the cooled bars! Use the spatula and drop dollops of the buttercream frosting on the top of the cookie bars. I recommend using a butter knife or offset spatula to smooth out the frosting in an even layer. To cut, use a large, sharp knife (this will give you a cleaner cut than cutting with a butter knife).
Tip: For the best lemon bars, sprinkle a bit of lemon zest over the top! You can also top these with the frosting used in my white chocolate raspberry cookie cake to turn these into raspberry lemon cookie bars!
Storage & Freezing
How long can I keep these lemon bars?
Place in airtight container and store in for 2-3 days (they will keep longer, but will start to dry out after about 3 days). These bars are also amazing frozen and will keep in the freezer for 1-2 months (any longer and they tend to dry out).
Can lemon sugar cookie bars be frozen?
Yes! These lemon cookie bars can easily be frozen (they're super yummy to eat when frozen!). I like to individually wrap each bar in some plastic wrap or saran wrap and place them in a freezer-safe bag. You can keep lemon cookie bars frozen for up to two months
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do I perfectly cut cookie bars?
Start out by placing the frosted lemon bars in the fridge for about 30 minutes to allow frosting to “harden”, making it easier to cut! Use a large, sharp knife to cut 24 even-sized squares. Don't forget to wipe the knife in between each cut so you get even slices.
What other icing can I use instead of buttercream frosting?
If you don't like buttercream or want to try a different posting, you can use some of my other sugar cookie frosting recipes and add lemon extract to it! If the recipe calls for almond extract, simply replace it with lemon and adjust to your liking. Then, top them off with a bit of lemon zest for extra flavor!
- Cream Cheese Frosting for Cookies = Double the batch, omit the almond extract, and add in the lemon extract & fresh lemon juice from this recipe to turn this into lemon cream cheese frosting - a perfect alternative to buttercream!
- Easy Sugar Cookie Glaze = The glaze is a runny icing that you can easily drizzle or dip the cookie bars into. To keep the lemony flavor, consider making a lemon glaze by replacing the vanilla extract with 1 teaspoon of lemon extract or fresh lemon juice.
- Royal Icing = If you like it when the icing on a cookie is hard, this is the type of icing you want to use (just be sure that your lemon extract is oil-free). It also works great if you plan on adding some sort of a design to the lemon bars.
Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars
Sugar Cookie Bars:
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon lemon extract tablespoon, not teaspoon!
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt omit if using salted butter
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick) softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ teaspoons lemon extract
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice optional, but makes it so good! If omitting, replace with milk to help thin frosting.
- A drop of yellow food coloring optional
Before you begin! If you make this, will you do me a huge favor and leave a review and rating letting me know how you liked this recipe? This helps my small business thrive so I can continue providing free recipes and high-quality content for you.
- Preheat oven to 350℉. If butter hasn't been softened you can place in microwave for 10 seconds to *slightly* soften it.
- In a large bowl, cream together the unsalted butter (1 cup, i.e. 2 sticks) and granulated sugar (1 cup) on medium speed for 20-30 seconds. While the mixer is still on medium speed, add in egg (1 large), vanilla extract (2 teaspoons), and lemon extract (1 tablespoon).
- Once mixed, add in baking powder (1 ½ teaspoons), salt (½ teaspoon), and all-purpose flour ½ cup at a time on low speed (2 ¼ cups total). Mix until all flour disappears, typically 20-30 seconds. You do not need to beat/mix this any longer than it takes to mix in the flour.*Be sure to measure your flour properly using the spoon & level method, as adding too much can result in dry bars.
- Spray a metal 9×13 pan with cooking spray, then line pan with parchment paper (having the grease underneath the paper will help the paper stay down).
- Press dough into an even layer in pan.
- Bake bars at 350℉ for 14-16 minutes. The trick to soft sugar cookie bars is to take them out right when you see the TINIEST amount of brown around the edges. The center may look underdone and this is okay; the bars will continue to bake in the hot pan when cooling.
- Allow to cool completely before frosting (you can put the pan in the fridge on a cooling rack to speed this up).
To Make Frosting:
- In a large bowl, beat unsalted butter (½ cup, i.e. 1 stick) on medium speed using a hand or stand mixer (with paddle attachment) for 1-2 minutes (until light and creamy).
- Keeping the mixer on medium speed, slowly add in vanilla extract (1 teaspoon), lemon extract (1 ½ teaspoons), and powdered sugar (2 cups). Once incorporated, turn the mixer to high speed and beat for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add fresh lemon juice (1 tablespoon) and beat for 30 seconds. If desired, add a drop of yellow food coloring.* If omitting the fresh lemon juice (or if your frosting is too thick to spread), add a splash of milk to help thin the frosting.
- If using sprinkles, add them immediately after frosting. If you wait too long, the frosting will set and the sprinkles won't stick. Cut into 24 squares.
- Place in airtight container and store in for 2-3 days (they will keep longer, but will start to dry out after about 3 days). These bars are also amazing frozen and will keep in the freezer for 1-2 months (any longer and they tend to dry out).
Last Step! Please leave a review and rating letting me know how you liked this recipe! This helps my small business thrive so I can continue providing free recipes and high-quality content for you.