These festive Christmas sugar cookie bars are so fun to make and taste just as good as they look! The bars are soft and tender with the perfect amount of sweetness while the top is decorated with a buttercream Christmas tree. They’re so festive and perfect for any Holiday party.
Tips for baking sugar cookie bars
This recipe took a surprising amount of tests to get just right! I wanted them to be soft, tender, and buttery while still maintaining a sugar cookie consistency. It was tough to toe the line between cookie bar and blondie, but we finally nailed it! Here are my top baking tips to ensure yours turn out just right:
- Flour – I say this in every post, and for good reason. It’s the number one reason why most recipes fail. If there’s too much flour, these bars can turn out tough and dry. If possible, measure the flour with a food scale. Otherwise, gently spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level it off with a flat edge. If scooped directly into the flour container, the flour becomes packed down into the cup which could leave you with 1/4 cup or more of added flour.
- Butter – Make sure the butter is softened before starting. This is important as soft butter combined with granulated sugar will create a light and airy paste. This airy consistency creates tiny little air pockets all throughout the dough, allowing the bars to bake perfectly even. As an extra tip, go for good quality European style butter for the best flavor!
- Mixing – Once the dry ingredients are added to the dough, mix very carefully. Over working the dough will lead to a tough sugar cookie bar.
- Baking – Spread the dough as even as possible before baking. You can tell they’re done with the edges are a very light golden color with a wrinkly consistency. The center should also be slightly puffed with a matte surface.
- Cooling – Allow the bars to cool completely before frosting. Even a hint of warm can cause the buttercream to melt. This can be done at room temperature or sped up in the refrigerator.
What makes these Christmas sugar cookie bars so good?
It was my goal to create a sugar cookie bar that tastes exactly like a quality, bakery-worthy sugar cookie. The consistency has to be dense and buttery but also light and tender. After some trial and error, some dry cookie bars and some fudgy cookie bars, here are the key ingredients that make these sugar cookie bars JUST right:
- Cornstarch – Just a tablespoon is all that’s needed to create a tender cookie consistency. When cornstarch is combined with flour, it helps soften the strong gluten strands for a more tender texture.
- Sour Cream – After trying this recipe with milk, oil, and completely without any added fat agent, sour cream proved to be the best option by far. The thick and creamy consistency creates an incredibly smooth dough while the slightly sour flavor balances perfectly with these sweet bars.
- Vanilla – Of course, vanilla extract in sugar cookies is a no brainer. But this recipe calls for an entire tablespoon to add sooooo much flavor! For the most payoff, use pure vanilla extract or even vanilla bean paste.
How to make a buttercream Christmas tree
These wouldn’t be Christmas sugar cookie bars without some festive decorations! The entire surface is dotted with vanilla buttercream in the shape of a tree. It may look difficult, but it’s actually so easy to do.
- Step 1 – Draw and cut out a tree design using a sheet of parchment paper. To ensure the right size, start with a sheet that’s cut to a 9×13 rectangle. Then fold the paper in half and cut the tree on one side. Once folded back open, it will reveal a perfectly symmetrical tree.
- Step 2 – Place the tree in the center of the pan and lightly dust the border with powdered sugar. I say lightly because if there’s too much sugar, the buttercream won’t stick to the surface of the bars.
- Step 3 – Pipe the entire inside of the tree with green frosting and top with sprinkles. Make sure to brush away any sprinkles that landed outside of the tree.
- Step 4 – Complete the design by piping the empty space in white buttercream.
It may look like a lot, but once you get going the piping happens very fast! Just turn on some Christmas music and jam out as you pipe along.
How to store Christmas sugar cookie bars
Once the bars are decorated, cover the pan and chill. The bars will keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days and can be served chilled or at room temperature.
Can the bars be frozen?
Sure! Just make sure they’re well wrapped and they should freeze well for a few months.
Can I spread the frosting on top?
Yes! These bars are just as good with a spread layer of buttercream on top. Just make sure to add the sprinkles right away so that they can stick to the surface.
Can this recipe be made gluten free?
Although I haven’t tested it, I do think this recipe could work well with gluten free flour. Simply sub the all purpose flour with a cup for cup gluten free baking flour.
Can I halve the recipe?
Yes, cut the recipe in half and bake in an 8×8 baking pan for 18-20 minutes.
For more Christmas desserts, check out my:
- Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
- Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies
- Perfect Cut Out Sugar Cookies
- Gingerbread Cookies
- Soft Molasses Cookies
- Blossom Cookies
Make sure to tag me @butternutbakery on Instagram and comment below if you make these sugar cookie bars. To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can use the button on the recipe card or on any of the photos above. Happy baking!Print