Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars are an easy to make, homemade dessert recipe that's perfect for spring and summer. Tender and moist sugar cookie bars are filled with lemon zest and topped with a crunchy sugar crust.
Lemon sugar cookie bars are the perfect addition to your next picnic or spring gathering. These bars are light, tender, lemony, and incredibly easy to make.
They are made with easy to find, simple ingredients, and the dough whips up in just a few minutes. The best part about making sugar cookie bars is that you simply spread it into a 9x13 pan and bake! No need to portion into individual cookies.
Serve these lemon sugar cookie bars for Easter, your next summer barbecue or picnic, or any time you're looking for a sweet lemon treat. You may also love my lemon mousse and lemon icebox cake recipes!
Ingredients and substitutions
As with most baking recipes, I do not recommend many substitutions, since each ingredient has its purpose and baking is an exact science.
The unsalted butter and salt can be substituted with salted butter.
For this recipe, you'll need baking powder, not baking soda. The two cannot be used interchangeably, so you must use baking powder in this recipe.
Lemon juice and zest
You'll want to grab one large lemon at the grocery store - you'll need fresh lemon juice and fresh lemon zest for this recipe.
When zesting and juicing your lemon, I recommend zesting with a microplane, and juicing.
With one lemon, your bars will have a light lemon flavor. If you want an intense lemon flavor, I suggest zesting up to two lemons for this recipe.
Storage and freezing
Stored in a tightly sealed container, your sugar cookie bars will keep for 3-5 days.
To keep them fresh for longer, add a slice of bread to the container and replace it when the bread gets stale. The bread slice helps keep the bars soft and moist.
Sugar cookie bars will also keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Make sure to tightly wrap them with multiple layers of foil or plastic wrap, and store inside a freezer safe container or bag.
Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars
- 1 cup (198 g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest, *double for a strong lemon flavor
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 ½ cups (300 g) all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup (48 g) granulated sugar, reserved for topping
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper, or lightly grease the bottom and sides and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla extract, lemon zest and lemon juice, then beat until fluffy, about a minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined.
- Pour into prepared pan and use a spatula to spread evenly to the edges. Batter will be thick.
- Sprinkle up to ¼ cup of reserved granulated sugar evenly over the top of the batter.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until bars are lightly browned around the edges and beginning to lightly brown across the top. To test with a toothpick for doneness: Insert toothpick into the center of the pan. If toothpick comes out with wet batter, the bars are not done. Continue checking every 2 minutes. If toothpick comes out dry or with a few crumbs, your bars are done.
- Place pan onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.
- *For a stronger lemon flavor, add more lemon zest. As written, your bars will have a light lemon flavor.
- Once completely cooled and sliced, store bars in an airtight container at room temperature. Bars will keep for 3-5 days. To keep them fresh for longer, add a slice of bread to the container and replace when bread gets stale. Bread will help keep the bars soft and moist.
- For this recipe, you'll need one large lemon for the juice and zest.