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
Christmas Sprinkle Sugar Cookie Bars
- Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
- Yield: 24 bars
These Christmas sugar cookie bars are the perfect festive holiday dessert! Not only are they decorated with a frosting Christmas tree, but they’re also so soft and tender with just the right amount of sweetness.
Sugar Cookie Bars
- 1 cup (220g) unsalted butter, room temp
- 1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temp
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup (60g) sour cream
- 2 1/2 cups (330g) all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup (220g) unsalted butter, room temp
- 4 cups (440g) powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2–3 tbsp milk
- Green gel food coloring
Sugar Cookie Bars
- Preheat the oven to 350F and grease and line a 9×13 baking dish.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl using a hand or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugars until pale and fluffy.
- Mix in the eggs, vanilla, and sour cream until smooth.
- Pour in half of the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Once smooth, mix in the rest of the dry ingredients to form a thick and smooth dough. It should almost look like creamy mashed potatoes.
- Spread the dough in the prepared pan and bake for 20-23 minutes or until the edges are a very light golden color and the middle no longer appears wet.
- Allow the bars to cool completely before frosting. This can either be at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
- In a large bowl using a hand or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the butter until smooth.
- Then mix in the powdered sugar one cup at a time, adding in the vanilla and milk when the frosting starts to get dry and crumbly.
- Once smooth, scoop out 1/3 of the frosting and place in a separate bowl. To this, add a couple drops of green gel food coloring and mix to combine.
- For the Christmas tree design, cut out a 9×13 sheet of parchment paper. Fold it in half length wise and draw out one half of a Christmas tree on one side. With the paper still folded, cut along the outline and then unfold the paper to reveal a perfectly symmetrical tree.
- Place the tree in the center of the cooled bars and very lightly dust the outline with powdered sugar. Remove the tree too reveal a sugar-dusted outline.
- Place the green frosting in a piping bag fitted with a small star tip. Dot the buttercream inside the outline to form our tree. Top with sprinkles and brush away any excess sprinkles that are left on the blank surface of the bars.
- Now place the white frosting in a piping bag fitted with a small star tip. Fill in the remaining surface area, piping as close to the tree outline as possible to create a sharp border.
- The bars are now ready to slice and enjoy!
STORAGE – Cover the bars with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. They’ll keep for about 5 days and can be enjoyed chilled or at room temp.
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.
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cooling Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: sugar cookie bars, christmas sugar cookie bars, frosted sugar cookie bars, christmas desserts, holiday dessert recipes
This is a wonderful recipe! Reminds me of the sugar cookies I used to get on my lunch hour in high school at a nearby bakery that’s now out of business! My husband of 47 years bought me one every day! Great memories! I’ve been looking for a recipe for years that had that yummy soft vanilla flavor! I’m a vanilla girl so the amount of vanilla and the sour cream must be the difference I’ve never used in other recipes! Your recipes are wonderful and will keep trying more of them! You said you can freeze this does that mean already iced?
Thank you for sharing! Yes you can freeze them with the frosting on 🙂
Sorry I forgot to add the rating 5 stars!
Lisa Ann says
I enjoy an amazing amount of your recipes. My family and extended family loves them too. Thank you !!!!!!
Just made these, tried right away, couldn’t even wait – one of the best and the most delicious recipes I’ve ever tried! Thanks Jenna!!
These are amazing! I don’t really like regular sugar cookies. This is how I will have them from now on.
These are so soft and taste fantastic. I actually made these for Easter-so I just spread the icing on top and added some sprinkles. The recipe and tips were easy to follow and I had all the ingredients on hand. I will definitely make these again.