The best soft, chewy, melt-in-your-mouth Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars topped with an easy vanilla buttercream. No chilling, rolling, or cutting required - just spread in the pan and cut for the ultimate crowd favorite!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If butter hasn't been softened you can place in microwave for 10 seconds to *slightly* soften it.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar on medium speed for 20-30 seconds. While mixer is still on medium speed, add in egg, vanilla and almond extract.
Once mixed, add in baking powder, salt, and *flour. (Add flour 1/2 cup at a time on low speed). Be sure to measure your flour properly using the spoon & level method, as adding too much can result in dry bars. 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. When pinched between your fingers, dough should be similar to a playdoh consistency and not be very sticky. Refer to photo above in post for how dough should look.
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).
Drop the dough into 1 tablespoon sized chunks into the prepared pan. Use your hands or a spatula to press down the dough until it covers the pan.
Tip: If the dough is sticky, you can place another piece of parchment paper on top and continue pressing down. To get clean edges, you can fold down the sides of the parchment paper and press like shown in the post above.
Bake bars at 350 degrees 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).
In a large bowl, beat 1/2 cup unsalted butter 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 and powdered sugar. Once incorporated, turn mixer to high speed and beat for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add 1 tablespoon of milk and beat for 30 seconds. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of milk if frosting seems too thick to spread.
If using sprinkles, add them immediately after frosting. If you wait too long, the frosting will set and the sprinkles won't stick.
Refer to the tips in the post above on how to cut the perfect squares!
If not eating same day or within 3-4 hours, place in airtight container and store in refrigerator for 2-3 days. These bars are also amazing frozen for 1-2 months (any longer and they tend to dry out).
Cream Cheese Frosting Option: If you want to make these sugar cookie bars with cream cheese frosting instead of buttercream, I've got you covered! Make a double-batch of my Cream Cheese Frosting for Cookies and spread on top (you can even add sliced berries for a sugar cookie fruit pizza!