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, 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 9×13 pan and bake! No portioning into individual cookies. Just slice into squares and serve.
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.
Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup 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 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar reserved for topping
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 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.
- In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until combined.
- Pour into prepared pan and use a spatula to spread evenly to the edges. Batter will be thick.
- Sprinkle up to 1/4 cup of reserved granulated sugar evenly over the top of the batter.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes, then 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 with a few crumbs, then the bars are done. Bars will be lightly browned around the edges and beginning to lightly brown on top.
- Place pan onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before cutting and enjoying.
- *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.