The Best Strawberry Sugar Cookie Bars are soft, moist, and topped with a delicious, creamy frosting. Love sugar cookies but don't want the mess of rolling, cutting, and icing? This recipe is for you! These bars are easy to make and come together in no time. They are also topped with the most delicious strawberry icing and garnished with fresh strawberries!
Sugar Cookies have always been a favorite in our house, so these bars are a hit, of course! There are a couple of things that make these moist sugar cookie bars stand out from the rest.
First, the cookie bar itself tastes amazing! I think sometimes sugar cookies get a bad rap for being less exciting than, say chocolate chip cookies. Not these! My sugar cookie bars are full of fresh flavor and have the perfect balance of sweetness in every bite.
Wanna you know my secret ingredient? Almond extract! It doesn't taste like almonds but more of a very light hint of cherry flavor.
The other thing that sets these strawberry sugar cookie bars apart is the delectable strawberry frosting. The frosting is made with freeze-dried strawberries, which is a fantastic ingredient to have in your baking cabinet. They're loaded with concentrated flavor and can be used together with fresh strawberries for a burst of flavor, like in my strawberry mini donuts.
When you think of traditional strawberry cake, that lovely nostalgic taste you're remembering actually comes from the freeze-dried strawberries. It's hard to achieve that specific taste with fresh strawberries alone, so freeze-dried fruit is an excellent option to build that classic flavor.
These bars also have the addition of lemon zest giving them the perfect lemon undertones that brighten up the strawberries even more.
I promise your friends and family will love these sugar cookie bars. I created this recipe for an 8x8 or 9x9 pan, so it is a slightly smaller recipe. This is good for me as these are a cookie I cannot resist, and needed a smaller batch!
Why This Recipe Works
One Bowl Recipe-This recipe couldn't be easier! You can whip up the dough in just a single bowl!
Party-worthy dessert-This gorgeous dessert is worthy of any get-together, big or small. This batch does have a smaller yield, but feel free to double or triple it for a big group! The speckles formed by the freeze-dried strawberries give these bars so much character, and topped with sliced strawberries, they just exude freshness.
Healthier than Store-bought- While the bright store-bought cookies are easy to grab, they're often loaded with sugar and preservatives. Some even have as much sugar in a single cookie as I have in this recipe. While those are fine sometimes, it can feel so good to make something that you just know exactly what's in it. This strawberry sugar cookie bars recipe also contains whole wheat pastry flour. It's a super easy way to add fiber and nutrients to the recipe- I call that a win!
- Butter- It's important to use softened butter in this recipe. It won't turn out the same if it is cold butter, so make sure it is softened before using it. It typically takes a couple of hours on the counter to soften. Forgot to take it out of the fridge? Don't worry! It's super easy to soften butter quickly.
- Granulated sugar- I've found that granulated white sugar works the best. You can use brown sugar if that's what you have, but it will change the flavor and color slightly. Brown sugar has molasses, producing a deeper flavor and adding more moisture to the recipe.
- Egg- Eggs are vital in this recipe as they provide some structure to the sugar cookie dough.
- Vanilla extract- I use 100% pure vanilla extract in this, which helps to bring out the flavor.
- Almond extract- I love the combination of the strawberries and the almond extract. I use quite a bit in this recipe, and I do it so that the flavor will stand out and side with the strawberry flavor.
- All-purpose flour- All-purpose flour is a good middle-of-the-road flour for cakes and cookies. I use it mixed with whole wheat pastry flour for flavor and a delicate crumb.
- Whole wheat pastry flour- I love to use this when making cakes or cookies, especially when I want it to have a light and soft texture. Whole wheat flour has less protein, which helps it to become a more tender baked product. I buy my soft wheat berries from Farm Fresh Wheat and grind them in my Nutrimill grain mill. If you don't have a grain mill, you can buy whole wheat pastry flour from your local grocery store or online.
- Salt- Salt is essential in the flavor of these cookies, so you don't want to leave it out. It's a small amount, but without it, the dough will feel like it's missing something. Also, it brightens the flavors of all the other ingredients and balances the sweetness in the cookies.
- Lemon zest- The lemon zest adds another dimension to the almonds and strawberries, and they pair well together. This combination makes the sugar cookie bars feel light and summery.
- Powdered sugar- Powdered sugar is a must for creamy icing. This super finely ground sugar makes a yummy smooth topping that spreads evenly on the bars.
- Freeze-dried strawberries- They will give your icing the absolute best flavor! Freeze-dried strawberries are becoming more and more popular, so you should be able to find them easily in your local area. You can also order them online.
- Fresh strawberries- These aren't necessary, but I love to add them on top for a beautiful garnish.
How To Make Strawberry Sugar Cookie Bars
- Preheat the oven, prepare a baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream your butter and sugar together.
- Then, add your egg, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and almond extract.
- Add in your all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, and salt. Mix until just combined.
- Pour the batter into a prepared pan. You only want to bake these bars until they are very lightly golden brown around the edges. Don't overbake them.
How To Make Strawberry Icing
One of my favorite things about this recipe is the icing. I use freeze-dried strawberries in this natural strawberry frosting recipe. That's right, no artificial strawberry extract, just the tangy-sweet concentrated flavor of freeze-dried strawberries. It perfectly offsets the almond sugar cookie bars and gives this dessert a spring-like flavor that you will absolutely love.
What are freeze-dried strawberries?
Freeze-dried strawberries are slices of strawberries that have been freezer dried and contain almost no moisture. As a result, they're puffy and crunchier than dehydrated strawberries. They have a concentrated strawberry flavor similar to strawberry candy or artificial strawberry flavoring. These are especially great because they have a more intense flavor than fresh strawberries and add a vibrant color.
Crush the strawberries- The first thing you need to do is turn the freeze-dried strawberries into a powder. Grinding them in the food processor is my favorite method, but you can roll and crush them in their bag.
Combine the ingredients- In a large bowl, mix the powdered freeze-dried strawberries and the softened butter together. Add powdered sugar and lemon juice to the bowl. Beat the icing until it becomes fluffy and is well combined.
Spread evenly- Let the bars cool completely for about 30 minutes before frosting to avoid the icing melting and running off. When cooled, spread the icing evenly on top of the bars and garnish with fresh sliced strawberries.
- Don't overmix- It is very important that, other than when you are creaming your butter and sugar, you do not overmix. These cookies are supposed to be dense, so we don't want to incorporate a lot of air into the batter.
- Use pastry flour-When you use whole wheat flour; I highly recommend whole wheat pastry flour. Of course, you can use another whole wheat flour, but the texture might change a little bit, as well as the flavor.
- Use a metal baking pan-I love to bake my cookie bars in a metal pan. It offers a more even heating surface than glass, and it bakes a lot faster.
- Pay attention to baking time-These cookies have a short baking time. Make sure not to overbake them, or they will be dry and crumbly. They should be almost slightly underbaked when you take them out of the oven.
- Serving-These sugar cookie bars are perfect when served right away. You can also refrigerate them if you want, but if you aren't planning on eating them within 6-8 hours, I do not recommend putting the fresh strawberries on top. Hold off on that until you are ready to serve. You can keep them in an airtight container and hold them well for up to 24 hours.
FAQ About Sugar Cookie Bars
Well, if they last longer than a few hours, which they rarely do in my house, they need to be refrigerated. I like storing them in an airtight container in the fridge. They can also be frozen, just remember airtight in there as well.
Nope! These cookies are dense and don't require any leaveners.
Yes!! The bars are delicious even on their own. I prefer the icing, but it is a personal preference for sure!
Yes!! I have used raspberry. You can also use blueberry, but I find the flavor is a little too mellow for what I am looking for.
Sure! For a buttercream option, feel free to use the icing from my Patriotic Sugar Cookie Bars or this cream cheese based frosting.
Other Cookie Ideas
If you love these sugar cookie bars, I also have other cookie suggestions that you should try! A must-have recipe is my Raspberry Almond Shortbread Bites. These have been hugely popular on the blog, and for a good reason! They are delicious. They are also made with those yummy freeze-dried raspberries.
For another fruit and cookie combination, check out my Delicious Mandelmusslor Recipe. This Swedish cookie recipe is essentially a tiny tart filled with a sweet softened cream cheese filling and topped with red currant jelly.
More for cookie lovers: lemon cookies with drizzle, blood orange shortbread cookies, chocolate chips with caramel and pretzel, and peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies.
Got leftover freeze-dried strawberries? Try my Mango Donuts with Strawberry Glaze.
The Best Strawberry Sugar Cookie Bars
- ½ cup softened butter
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon almond extract I know it might seem like a lot, but I lot the way it matches taste with the lemon and strawberrries.
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
- dash salt that is actually ⅛ teaspoon if you want to measure
- ½ cup softened butter
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- ⅓ cup ground freeze-dried strawberries I do this in my food processor or your can roll them out.
- Fresh lemon juice I use this as a variable to get the icing to the consistency I am looking for. I used about 2 tablespoons for mine.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a 9x9 baking pan with parchment and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter and granulated sugar for the cookie bars together. This should only take a minute. Add in your egg, vanilla, almond extract, and lemon zest. Mix to combine. Add in your flour mixture and again, mix to combine.
- Put it into your parchment-lined pan and press to even out.
- Place in the oven and bake for about 18 minutes. These should not be baked until they are browned, you will overbake them. Mine was baked to VERY, VERY lightly browned just around the edges.
- Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes. Then, using the parchment paper, remove it from the pan and set it on a cooling rack. Cool them for another 25-30 minutes.
- While they are cooling, mix your icing. I add all the ingredients with about 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. Mix well and add more lemon juice to get the consistency you are looking for. Mine was a little stiff, but you can always make it a little thinner if you want.
- These are delicious served right away, but they also hold really well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days! Just make sure they are wrapped well or stored in an airtight container.
- Don't overmix. it is very important that other than when you are creaming your butter and sugar, you do not overmix these bars. Even creaming the butter and sugar you don't want to mix it too much, these cookies are dense, not light, and fluffy. After you add in the other ingredients, you only want to mix just to combine. While we want the bar dense, we don't want it tough!
- When you use whole wheat flour, I highly recommend whole wheat pastry flour. You can use other whole wheat flours, but the texture might change a little bit as well as the flavor.
- I love to bake my cookie bars in a metal pan. It offers a more even heating surface than glass, and it bakes a lot faster.
- These cookies have a short baking time. Make sure not to overbake them, or else they will be dry and crumbly. They should be almost underbaked when you bake them.