Lemon Drop Sugar Cookie Bars

I thought about calling these bars Kill You With Lemon Bars but it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as Lemon Drop Sugar Cookie Bars, right?

The truth is, that glaze on top? That luscious, sweet and crazy tart lemon glaze? It’s gonna kill you with lemon. Now, in my lemon loving world, that’s a good thing. But if you aren’t quite as hip on lemons as I am, consider yourself warned that the glaze on these bad boys is screaming with lemon flavor. I just don’t want anyone upset with me. Or with lemons. Or with glazes in general.

Lemon drops were my favorite candy as a kid but I haven’t enjoyed them in years and years. And while we eat a lot of home baked sweets around here, real live candy is in short supply. So crushing up lemon drops for a glaze on sugar cookie bars is like the ultimate splurge for me and the family. It felt a little naughty, I’m not going to lie, but the result was so yummy, I couldn’t resist sharing.

The sugar cookie bars themselves are soft and mildly sweet making them the perfect vehicle for that insane lemon glaze.

Lemon Drop Sugar Cookie Bars

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Lemon Drop Sugar Cookie Bars

Yield: Makes a 9X13-inch pan of bars

Lemon Drop Sugar Cookie Bars

Ok, let's talk. First of all, make sure you zest the lemon before you juice it (the zest is used in the batter and the juice is used in the glaze). Also, I want to be clear that these bars are soft and sweet but the glaze is super lemony in a tart and sweet way, so if you want to tone down the crazy lemon factor in the glaze a bit, you could always use milk in place of the lemon juice (I personally love the lemon juice option, though). I didn't measure beforehand, sorry, but I think the 6 ounces of lemon drops is about a cup of lemon drops (before crushing!).


  • 3/4 cup butter (12 tablespoons), softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest (from 1 large lemon or so)
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Lemon Drop Glaze:
  • 6 ounces lemon drop candies, crushed
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or milk (see note)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, granulated sugar and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, and lemon extract and mix for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until combined.
  3. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Press and/or spread the sugar cookie mixture gently into an even layer into the bottom of the pan.
  4. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Don't overbake!
  5. For the glaze, whisk all the ingredients together (use less lemon juice for a thicker glaze/more for a thinner glaze). I used my blender to crush the lemon drops, then just added the powdered sugar and lemon juice and pulsed a couple times until combined.
  6. Pour the glaze over the slightly warm or cooled bars.

Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (bars from this favorite recipe and glaze from an old handwritten recipe for lemon drop cookies I found in my recipe binders)

19 Responses to Lemon Drop Sugar Cookie Bars

  1. Mariah says:

    I made these today and they turned out beautifully.

  2. Krista says:

    Hey Mel,
    Made these today for a BBQ, taste amazing. I love the cookie/bar effect. I didn’t make the topping, in case people didn’t love lemon like myself, just sprinkled with powdered sugar: ) However, I couldn’t get the dough to spread, so much like cookie dough, stuck to everything. Not high altitude and followed the recipe. Is that normal?

    • Mel says:

      Krista – The dough is fairly thick but should spread OK. Sounds like the dough might have had too much flour which can happen if its packed too much in the measuring cup. I usually try to spoon it in and then sweep it off.

  3. Evelyn says:

    I made these this afternoon for our Easter dinner (which we are doing tonight). Wow! I’ve never zested anything before, but it wasn’t hard to figure out. The bars turned out a-maze-ing! The wonderfully light and not-too-overpowering lemon taste is a perfect spring treat!

  4. Karen says:

    Yum! Made these today to take to my Mom’s for Easter. I did add a layer of your buttercream frosting and then swirled the glaze on top, since I can’t do sugar cookies without frosting. They look very pretty except for the corner that someone (me) had to taste test. Weird that the corner turned into a half a row. Oops! 😉

  5. Leslie says:

    Really?! Hmm… I’m not high altitude (2,200 ft), and they did raise up nicely while baking, but then fell flat while cooling. The outer edge was normal, but they still tasted a bit strong on baking soda (I did put the 1.5 tsp in). I thought maybe I forgot some of the flour, but I’m pretty sure it was right since my 7 y.o. was there counting with me. 😉 What is the consistency of the dough before baking?

    • Mel says:

      Strange, Leslie- I’ll add a note to the recipe…I’d say if the baking powder works for you from the original recipe, I’d stick with that. The consistency of the dough is pretty soft but not super sticky or wet.

  6. Leslie says:

    Love your site Mel… I refer to it often since finding it a few months back. Was very excited to try this recipe today, but it totally flopped and was a pan of dough. So I checked back with the recipe, compared it to the original, and yep, it said baking soda instead of baking powder. Bummer! Glad it was the typo’s fault, as I really want to make these work! Will try again. 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Leslie – oh man, sorry the bars didn’t work out! The funny thing is that I don’t use baking powder anymore in the sugar cookie bars either – I always use baking soda…so it isn’t a typo. But I’m sorry they didn’t work out. Are you at high altitude? If so, perhaps the baking powder is important. I’m glad you checked back with your experience to help others though.

  7. Lindsey says:

    A local (ish) bakery here makes a cookie with lemon drops in it that is to die for. I cannot wait to try these. It sounds like we share the same feelings about lemon. 🙂

  8. I am not exaggerating, reading the recipe my mouth got that funny feeling that you get when you are eating lemon. These are waaaaaaaaaay too close to traditional lemon bars to be ignored. Plus they are lovely Easter egg yellow.

  9. Stephanie C says:

    If it’s not chocolate my other go to is lemon. The glaze sounds amazing, can’t wait to make these tomorrow morning.

  10. Barb says:

    During one of my pregnancies I craved lemon so badly! Mostly those little lemon drops.
    These would have been lemon heaven. My baby is 16 now , so all I crave is peace and quiet.

  11. Jen T says:

    Hope you and your family are doing ok. These look soo good and just scream spring!! love them!

  12. Kim in MD says:

    I love lemon, and these bars look amazing! I hope that being on the down low this week doesn’t mean you are sick, Mel. If so, feel better soon!

  13. Ashley says:

    Lemon extract – could I use a couple of drops of lemon essential oil?

  14. Janna says:

    The lemon bars look delicious! Hope you are up and doing well soon!!!

  15. Sheila says:

    Oh, yum! I wish my down low produced such excellence. You rock, Mel, and I am so thankful I found you on cyber space.

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