Guys, I am REAL excited about these sugar cookie bars. Is there anyone who doesn’t LOVE a sugar cookie? Especially when they’re melt-in-your-mouth soft and topped with a fluffy buttercream swirl. These vanilla bean sugar cookie bars are quick to whip up – and no chill time, rolling dough, or cookie cutters required! Just throw the dough directly in a baking dish, and toss them in the oven while you make the easiest (and tastiest!) strawberry buttercream of all time. You in? Okay, let’s do it!
How to Make Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookie Bars
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a baking dish by lining it with parchment paper. I used a 9X9 square pan like this one. Also, if you don’t have parchment paper on hand, you can skip it. I just like it because it makes it easy to lift the entire batch of cookie bars out of the pan for slicing. **Also this is a great time to set out the butter and heavy cream for your buttercream**
In the bowl of a stand mixer cream the butter and sugar for 3 minutes on medium high. This might seem like overkill, but beating the butter and sugar for a long time is what gets you the softest cookie bars. Trust. Turn the mixer on low and add the egg and vanilla bean paste. Mix to combine.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture 1/2 at a time, mixing until just combined. I stop the mixer when there are a few streaks of flour remaining, then gently finish mixing with a rubber spatula. This helps to ensure you don’t over mix and end up with dense cookie bars.
Press the dough into an even layer in the baking dish and bake for 15-17 minutes. The center should still look a tad under baked. It will finish baking as it cools on the counter.
Let cool completely before topping with buttercream and slicing into bars.
How to Make Strawberry Buttercream
This strawberry buttercream is super easy to make thanks to Freeze Dried Strawberries. All you have to do is pulverize them and then mix them into some classic vanilla buttercream. This way you get all of the strawberry flavor with none of the thinning that pureed fresh strawberries would give you. It’s one of my favorite tricks for when strawberries aren’t in season.
To make the buttercream, make sure that you set out the butter and cream about 30 minutes before you start. Put the butter in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 5 minutes. The butter should be very soft and lightened in color.
While the butter is working, sift 4 cups of powdered sugar. I know – sifting is like THE WORST. I try to avoid it in most of my recipes, but when it comes to frosting I think it’s necessary. Once the butter is done mixing, add a pinch of salt and the vanilla extract. Mix to combine.
Add the powdered sugar in two batches, mixing for 2-3 minutes each time. Add the pulverized strawberries. Mix to combine. Add the cream 1 TBSP at a time until you reach your desired consistency. For this recipe, I like to leave the buttercream pretty thick – but that’s up to you! Spread the buttercream on the cooled cookie bars in an even layer. I also topped these with some white nonpareils for fun!
Getting that Perfect Slice
Getting perfect and clean bars is really easier than you might think. Just grab a damp paper towel and a large knife. Make one large slice right down the center, so you have two long pieces. Wipe down your knife with the damp paper towel between each cut. Then turn the bars and make another slice directly down the middle. Now you will have 4 equal squares.
Now do the same thing to each of the 4 squares to end up with 16 servings. Wiping down the knife will ensure that each slice is clean and there isn’t frosting on the sides. It’s not necessary, but it’s a good trick to know when you’re entertaining and want everything to be extra special!
If you’re into this recipe, you’ll also like my Soft Sugar Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting! Find it here. It was one of my first recipes I posted here and the photos make me cringe, but the recipe is on point! Ha!Print
Soft melt-in-your-mouth sugar cookie bars topped with super easy and delicious strawberry buttercream.
For Sugar Cookie Bars
- 3/4 C (1 1/2 sticks) Unsalted Butter at room temperature
- 3/4 C Granulated Sugar
- 1 Lg Egg at room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Bean Paste (you can sub for vanilla extract)
- 1 tsp. Baking Powder
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 2 C All Purpose Flour
For Strawberry Buttercream
- 1 C (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter at room temperature
- 4 C Powdered Sugar
- 1 Package of Freeze Dried Strawberries – pulverized in a food processor.
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of Salt
- 2–3 TBSP Heavy Cream at room temperature
For Sugar Cookie Bars
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9X9 baking dish with parchment paper
- In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar for 5 minutes
- Add egg and vanilla bean paste, mix to combine.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture 1/2 at a time, mixing until just combined
- Press the dough into an even layer in the pan and bake for 15-17 minutes. Let finish baking on the counter
- Cool completely
For the Strawberry Buttercream
- In stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed for 5 minutes
- Sift the powdered sugar and set aside
- When butter is ready, add salt and vanilla and mix to combine
- Add the powdered sugar in two batches, mixing for 2-3 minutes each time
- Add the pulverized strawberries.
- Add cream 1 TBSP at a time until you reach your desired consistency
- Spread the buttercream on the cooled cookie bars and then slice and serve!
I like to make my buttercream when the butter is still a little bit chilled – not completely squishy. My general rule is to let the butter sit out for about 30 minutes before I make a buttercream.
Keywords: Sugar Cookies, Cookie Bars, Strawberry Desserts