Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars are flavored with lemon zest and topped with crunchy sparkling sugar for a sunny, yummy, easy-to-make treat!
A few weeks ago, the middle child was "Superstar" at school. Lest this requires an explanation, over the course of the year, each first grader has a turn to be class Superstar for one week. The Superstar gets to share a poster with the class full of facts and photos of them. The Superstar's family is invited to eat lunch with him/her. The Superstar's parent(s) visit the classroom one afternoon to read a story. And the Superstar gets to bring a treat of some sort to share with the entire class.
Well, let me just say that after waiting all school year for his turn, my 7-year-old was WAY excited to finally have his
moment week in the Superstar sun. And since his favorite desserts have always been lemony, he asked me to whip up some special lemon treats for the occasion.
I thought about making traditional lemon bars, but I was worried they'd be too messy. However, I like doing bars of some sort when baking for a large group, since slapping cookie dough in a pan is a lot faster than forming individual cookies.
I decided to take my ever-popular Chewy Snickerdoodle Bars recipe and see if it would translate to a lemon version. I omitted the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cream of tartar and added lemon juice, lemon zest, and a splash of lemon extract.
And while I've seen other lemon sugar cookie bars that were frosted, I wanted mine to be sugary on top. So I sprinkled the unbaked bars with a combination of granulated sugar and sparkling sugar, for simultaneous coverage and crunch. Then I crossed my fingers and popped 'em in the oven.
(Might I add here that I made a double recipe to have enough bars for all of my son's classmates and teachers -- meaning two 9- by 13-inch pans' worth -- so I really hoped the recipe was going to work on the first try!)
And...drumroll, please...I'm happy to report that my Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars turned out perfect! They're soft, light, and slightly chewy. The flavor is lusciously lemony but not overpowering. And the sugar cookie tops are sweet and crackly and crunchy (←my favorite part).
These were a hit with my son's class and they were a hit with our family at home (because having doubled the recipe, there were enough bars to save a few back for us as well...not by accident). But most importantly, these Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars were a huge hit with the Superstar himself! In fact, I think Mr. Resident Lemon Lover may just have a new favorite bar recipe... 😉
More Lemon Desserts
- Lemon Sugar Baked Donuts
- Lemon Sheet Cake
- The BEST Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
- Lemon Pound Cake
Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon pure lemon extract, optional
FOR THE TOPPING:
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon sparkling sugar
- Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Grease a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with butter (or spray with cooking spray); set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to stir butter until creamy. Blend in sugar and beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, and add the lemon juice, vanilla extract, and lemon extract, if using. Blend until just smooth.
- Mix in the flour mixture until well combined. Spread in an even layer in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the granulated sugar and sparkling sugar evenly over the top of the batter.
- Bake for 22 to 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (do not overbake). Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into 20 bars.