These Easy Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars bring all of my favorite things about sugar cookies with a bright, lemony twist! They have a thick, chewy lemon-scented sugar cookie base and are drizzled with a sweet lemon icing. These lemon bar cookies are so simple and delicious and would be great any time of year!
My favorite type of cookies are dense and soft rather than crunchy, which is why I created this iced lemon cookie recipe. Because the moist sugar cookie dough is baked in a pan instead of in individual cookies, they are extra thick and chewy.
The lemon flavor in the dough and icing add a mouth-watering zest that I just can't get enough of! For another zesty cookie, try my White Chocolate Chip Key Lime Cookies! Or, if you're a fan of almond flavoring, give my Almond Sugar Cookies a shot! They're just as buttery soft and delicious as these lemon ones.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- You'll only need a few pantry staples to make these lemon cookies from scratch.
- No need to portion out individual cookies - pop the dough into a pan and bake!
- These easy lemon cookie bars are packed with lemony flavor.
- They freeze really well so you can have these sugar cookie bars on hand whenever the craving strikes.
- The lemon sugar cookies dough comes together in a snap.
- These sugar cookies get their lemony flavors from lemon extract in the cookie base and lemon zest in the icing. Use a good quality lemon extract for the best flavor! This can be found in grocery stores near the vanilla extract.
- Like classic sugar cookies, these bars start with softened unsalted butter and granulated sugar.
- Baking powder adds a slight rise to the cookie dough while baking.
- Salt is really important to help balance out the sweetness of these bars.
- Powdered sugar dissolves easily with a little milk to create the perfect icing.
See recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
Substitutions & Variations
- You can substitute any citrus zest for the lemon zest in the icing. Try lime, grapefruit, or blood orange for a fun twist.
- Make this recipe into a lemon cookie cake by baking it in an 9-inch round pan and topping with buttercream or lemon cream cheese frosting.
- Bake these into individual lemon sugar cookies by replacing the baking powder with baking soda and check them after 8-12 minutes of baking!
This recipe has not been tested with other substitutions or variations. If you replace or add any ingredients, please let us know how it turned out in the comments below!
How to Make Lemon Cookie Bars
Step 1: To make the lemon sugar cookie base, cream room temperature butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg and vanilla and lemon extracts.
Step 2: Mix the all purpose flour, baking powder, and salt into the wet ingredients until just combined.
Step 3: Press the dough evenly into a parchment lined 8x8 inch square pan.
Step 4: Bake at 350°F until the edges of the cookie bars are light tan and the center is slightly puffy, about 18-22 minutes. Let cookies cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
Step 5: Make the lemon icing by combining the powdered sugar, lemon zest, and milk until smooth.
Step 6: Cut the lemon sugar cookie into equal squares. Drizzle lemon icing over the cookie bars.
Expert Baking Tips
- Don't want to get your hands dirty while pressing the dough into the pan? Try using the bottom of a measuring cup or pint glass or an offset spatula to distribute cookie dough into the pan and smooth the top.
- Don't over-bake your cookie bars! Start checking your cookies for tan edges around 18 minutes and remove as soon as they are visible. This will ensure you get that amazing, soft center.
- If your icing isn't the right consistency, you can add a little more milk or powdered sugar until you get just the right thickness. Feel free to add extra lemon zest for more flavor as well!
Unlike traditional lemon bars, this sugar cookie version does not require refrigeration as long as they are stored without icing in an airtight container on the counter.
Lemon extract is a much more concentrated flavor than lemon juice. It is made from essential oil from lemons with an alcohol base, similar to vanilla extract.
This is likely from over-measuring the flour if it gets packed into measuring cups. I recommend weighing it in grams on a food scale for an accurate measurement.
First, create a parchment paper sling by lining strips across the pan so that they fold up and over the sides. Press the dough into the parchment-lined pan and bake. When the lemon cookie bars have completely cooled, lift the parchment paper to pull them out of the pan.
These should bake well into regular cookies, just be sure to replace the baking powder with baking soda and check for doneness around 8-12 minutes of baking.
Store unfrosted lemon cookie bars in an airtight container on the counter for up to 3 days.
Lemon sugar cookie bars with icing can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5 days.
Individually wrap fully cooled, un-iced bars in plastic wrap. Place in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Once thawed, make the lemon icing and drizzle over the bars.
Did you try this recipe?
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Easy Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars with Icing
- 8 inch square pan
- Parchment paper
- Mixing bowls
- Measuring spoons
- Hand mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment recommended
Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1½ teaspoons lemon extract
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour weighed in grams or spooned and leveled
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup powdered sugar sifted if clumpy
- 1-2 tablespoons milk more or less depending on your preferred consistency
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper so that it folds over the sides.
- Bake until the edges start to tan (about 18-22 minutes).
- In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes on medium speed). Mix in the egg, lemon extract, and vanilla extract.
- Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt into the wet ingredients just until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed.
- Press the lemon sugar cookie dough into the prepared square pan and bake until the middle is puffy and edges are light tan (about 18-22 minutes). Let cool in the pan, then lift the parchment paper to remove them.
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