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Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars

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These Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars are soft, thick, chewy, buttery, and lemon-y sugar cookies slathered with sweet vanilla buttercream.

three lemon cookie bars stacked on a serving platter

Easy Lemon Sugar Cookies

Sometimes we just need something homemade that’s easy to throw together and thick and soft and chewy and lemon-y and layered with lemon buttercream…Okay, sometimes we just need these Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars.

Now, you and I both know that sugar cookie bars are way easier than actual cookies. For starters, you don’t have to chill the dough. It’s right in the oven for these babies. There’s also no extra step to scoop the dough and bake in batches. Just pack it into a baking dish and toss it in the oven. And third? No standing at the counter carefully and tediously frosting individual cookies. Just slather these cookie bars with buttercream frosting in one go and they’re ready to devour.

These lemon cookie bars are soft and chewy, sweet and tangy, and ready with a quick 20 minutes of prep!

What You’ll Need:

For the Cookie Bars

  • Butter – use unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Lemon Extract and Lemon Zest – we’re using both to give the sugar cookie bars the best lemon-y flavor.
  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Baking Soda
  • Cream of Tartar – this is what gives the lemon sugar cookie bars that classic tangy sugar cookie flavor and more chewy texture.
  • Salt

For the Frosting

  • Butter – use unsalted butter cut into smaller chunks.
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Heavy Whipping Cream
  • Vanilla – you can use either vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste.
  • Lemon Zest
three lemon cookie bars stacked with a bite out of the top cookie bar

How to Make Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars

For the Cookies

  1. Combine the wet ingredients: Combine butter and sugar in your mixing bowl and beat until creamed together. Add the lemon extract, lemon zest, and eggs. Mix until fully combined.
  2. Add the dry ingredients: In a separate bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients until combined. Mix that into the wet ingredients on medium-low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed and beat until the dough comes together.
  3. Bake and cool: Press the dough into a parchment-lined 9×13″ baking pan, then bake at 375ºF for 18-20 minutes. Cool completely.
lemon sugar cookie dough in a mixing bowl from above

For the Frosting

Step 1: Whip the butter: Cut the butter into smaller pieces, then use a paddle attachment to whip the butter for 5-7 minutes until lighter in color.

spatula full of frosting held over a mixing bowl

Step 2: Add other ingredients: Add in 2 cups of powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Beat until well combined, then whip for another couple of minutes before adding the remaining powdered sugar. Beat until the desired consistency is reached.

Step 3: Frost the bars: Spread the frosting in an even layer over the cooled lemon cookie bars, then garnish with lemon zest, slice, and serve.

overhead of a platter piled with lemon cookie bars

How to Zest a Lemon

Turns out, you don’t have to have an actual citrus zester on-hand in order to zest a lemon. Here are a few super easy methods for zesting a lemon with kitchen tools you already have available to you!

  • Cheese grater. A cheese grater works in the same way a citrus zester works. Simply hold the lemon tightly with one hand and move it back and forth over the grate. Be careful not to cut your knuckles!
  • Vegetable peeler. A vegetable peeler is a good option if you don’t have a cheese grater in your kitchen. It’s a little more difficult to get smaller pieces of lemon zest, so you may need to chop the peel up a bit after you’re done to get zest.
  • Sharp knife. This is my least favorite option just because you do need to be very careful if you’re trying to zest a lemon with a knife. But knives are pretty easy to come by in most kitchens. Just gently slice around the outside of the lemon to remove the bright yellow part of the peel. Chop into smaller pieces of needed!
overhead of lemon zest in a bowl surrounded by whole and halved lemons

Tips for Lemon Cookie Bars

  • Wash the lemon. Since we’re using the very outer layer of the peel, be sure to clean it before zesting it.
  • Avoid the white part of the peel. The white “pith” of the peel directly under the bright yellow outer layer is bitter. Try to avoid getting into that part as you zest.
  • Line the baking dish. Lining the baking dish with parchment paper makes it so much easier to remove the cookie bars after they’re baked.
  • Cool completely. Make sure the lemon cookie bars are completely cool before you add the frosting. If they’re warm at all, the frosting will just melt.
two lemon cookie bars on a yellow stand

How to Store

Baked and frosted lemon sugar cookie bars will last in an airtight container on the counter for 3-5 days.

If you’re going to freeze the cookie bars, I recommend doing so unfrosted. Simply bake, cool, wrap tightly, then store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Print
closeup of three lemon cookie bars stacked

Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars

  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 18 minutes
  • Total Time: 38 minutes
  • Yield: 15 bars

Description

These Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars are soft, thick, chewy, buttery, and lemon-y sugar cookies slathered with sweet vanilla buttercream.

Ingredients

For the cookie bars:

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (380g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) lemon extract
  • 1 medium lemon- zested
  • 3 cups (420g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter
  • 3 ½ cups (455g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 2 medium lemon- zested

Instructions

For the cookies:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the butter with the sugar and beat on medium speed until well creamed together.
  3. Zest the lemon and add the zest together with the eggs and lemon extract. Mix into the butter and sugar until the eggs are well beaten.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients. Slowly add into the batter and beat on medium-low speed until most of the flour is incorporated and beat until the dough comes together.
  5. Press the cookie dough into the pan. Bake at 375°F 18-20 minutes. Allow the cookie bars to cool completely.

For the frosting:

  1. Cut butter into pieces. Using the paddle attachment, whip the butter for 5-7 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Beat until the butter looks light in color.
  2. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar with the vanilla extract & lemon zest from one of the lemons. Ensure the powdered sugar is well combined, then whip for 1-2 minutes before adding more powdered sugar.
  3. Add the remaining powdered sugar, beat until combined then increase speed to medium-high and beat for another couple minutes until desired consistency is reached.
  4. Spread over cooled cookie bars. Garnish with more lemon zest. Slice and enjoy.

Notes

These bars should be slightly underdone in the middle.

For the cookie bars, if you’re using vanilla extract instead of lemon, consider zesting 2 full lemons into the dough to get enough lemon flavor.

Nutrition Information:
1 bar
532
54g
56mg
25g
74g
0g
3.7g
90mg
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: easy cookie bars, sugar cookie recipe, lemon cookie, lemon dessert,

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8 Responses
  1. Emma

    If you love lemon desserts you need to make these!! This recipe was so good and will take care of the lemon fix you need!

  2. Nicole Johnson

    Are these the bars that you brought for us to try in Portland?? Because those were LEGIT, and these look equally amazing. I can’t wait to make them at home! <3 <3

  3. Heather Kinnaird

    these are making it very hard to stick to weight watchers, I LOVE lemon, and sugar cookies, and frosting. pretty sure these would be worth the cheat

  4. D Dell

    I think these are what I’m going to break my long sugar-free eating with. I can almost taste them! The lake looked awesome as usual and I sure hope I can meet you there next time!!

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