These no-bake Lemon Cookie Dough Bars have a lemon Oreo crust, a lemon cookie dough middle, and a buttercream frosting topping. They're packed with bright lemon flavors and are a melt-in-your-mouth delectable treat!
I can now safely say it officially feels like summer... From the heat to the long days to the food I've been eating (and dinner on the deck every night!!) to the rosé I've been drinking (um, not every night. I swear).
And I'm feeling quite hopeful that this summer will go slowly and leisurely and that fall will not rush itself.
Because this. is. heavenly. Of course, when you have a food blog, you have to work a bit ahead of schedule, which means I should probably already be getting my fall content all ready to go and then immediately jump into holiday (ahh!).
But I'm not ready to let summer recipes go yet.
I made this summer dessert last week and despite the fact that it wasn't in my editorial calendar, knew I had to post about it right away. Because you need to make these Lemon Cookie Dough Bars.
In fact, if you're still looking for a recipe to bring to a 4th of July gathering, I'm pretty sure I just made the decision for you.
I've had a weird thing with lemon desserts lately, which is strange because I'm not usually super into them. But I'm pretty sure it has something to do with these extremely hot summer days we're currently experiencing.
After I made lemon cookies last week and sneaking a few bites of the cookie dough, I decided I needed to make an edible version of lemon cookie dough.
But since I wasn't just going to make a big bowl of cookie dough and gobble it up, I figured I should make an actual dessert out of them... Which is how these lemon cookie dough bars were born.
Why You'll Love this Recipe:
There's a lot to love about these lemon cookie dough bars. Which is why they're one of the dessert recipes on my blog that I make more than any other.
Here are my favorite things about it:
- It's a no-bake dessert! You don't have to turn on the oven to make these cookie dough bars, which makes them the perfect summer treat.
- It allows you to fully indulge in edible cookie dough that's safe to eat. Hooray!
- It packs in some serious lemon flavor.
- The cookie dough bars also taste great right out of the freezer, making them incredibly refreshing on a hot summer day.
- It's an easy recipe. It does have 3 different components, but each are really easy to put together.
How to Heat Treat Flour
This edible cookie dough certainly doesn't have any eggs in it. But lots of people don't realize it's often the raw flour in cookie dough that causes illness over the eggs.
For that reason, it is recommended that you bake it. I suppose that technically means I shouldn't call these cookie dough bars "no bake" but you can certainly bake a big batch of flour in advance or even buy it already heat-treated.
To heat treat it yourself, I recommend spreading the flour on a baking sheet and baking for 5 minutes at 350 degrees. It's so easy and I often do it in my toaster oven.
3 Components of Lemon Cookie Dough Bars
There are three components to these cookie dough bars:
- Base: the base of these bars is made with Lemon Oreo Cookies.
- Middle: The middle consists of the homemade lemon cookie dough.
- Top: And the top of the bars is covered in vanilla buttercream.
I almost made a lemon buttercream, but then I decided to chill out on the lemon and add a simple light vanilla flavor for the topping.
Oreo Cookie Base
If I showed you my snack cabinet, you'd probably be appalled by the amount of Oreo Cookies it contains. I can't help it. Every time a new flavor comes out, I must try it.
But I had actually never bought the lemon variety before because, like I said, I'm just not that into lemon desserts. But omg they are so good. The lemon cookie with the vanilla cream is heavenly and I knew they'd make the perfect crust for this summer dessert.
The cookie crust is just Lemon Oreo Cookies and butter. All you need in life, right? Or is that just me?
Just process them together in a food processor or blender. Or if you have neither, crush the cookies in a plastic bag and mix in a bowl with the butter.
Line an 8x8 baking pan with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. Pour cookie crumbs into baking pan and press down into even layer on bottom of pan.
Place pan in freezer for 30 minutes while you prepare the cookie dough.
Lemon Cookie Dough Middle
The lemon cookie dough is also extremely easy to make and is basically like a regular cookie dough, but without eggs.
In the bowl of a mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.
Add vanilla, lemon zest, and salt and blend until combined. Mix in 3 Tbsp sprinkles. Any kind you want (I use these ones from Sweetapolita)
With mixer on low, slowly add flour to bowl until well combined. Keep mixer on low and add lemon juice to combine. Then add milk in until dough comes together.
I almost added white chocolate chips, but then I decided these cookie dough bars would be sweet enough as is (I was right!).
Vanilla Buttercream Topping
The buttercream topping is also easy and requires just a few minutes to mix (if you want to use the same bowl you've been using, you can press the cookie dough into the pan with the cookie crust before making the buttercream).
In the bowl of an electric mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer or whisk, beat together butter and confectioners's sugar.
Mix in vanilla extract and salt. Add a drop of yellow food coloring and mix to combine. If darker color is desired, add another drop.
Assembling Cookie Dough Bars
If you haven't done it yet, press the lemon cookie dough over the cookie crust that's been chilling.
And then spread the vanilla buttercream over the top and add more sprinkles for extra fun.
The whole pan should go into the fridge for about 45 minutes before you slice the bars.
How to Cut Cookie Dough Bars
I like to cut the bars small because they're super sweet and dense and you don't need a huge slice to be satisfied. Unless you're my husband and you eat three at a time. But I'm just happy to take that as a major compliment.
Holding onto the foil, pull the bars out of the pan and then peel away the foil and place on a cutting board. Slice using a sharp knife.
I generally cut these into 36 small squares. Of course, if you want to cut them larger, you can!
And then I recommend keeping the bars in the fridge after slicing because they are so good cold! Or even in the freezer.
I think they taste so good cold because they're kind of like an icy lemon treat.
I love that these are a no-bake summer treat that doesn't feel just thrown together. The cookie bottom gets a little crumbly, but as you can see, everything holds together really well.
More Lemon Desserts
These cookie dough bars have flipped a switch in my brain that now makes me want all lemon desserts all the time! Especially in the warmer months. Here are some of my favorites:
- Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Cream Cheese Frosting
- Glazed Lemon Cookies
- Rose Lemonade Macarons
- Tuscan Lemon Muffins
- Strawberry Lemonade Shortbread Cookies
- Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes
- Lavender Lemon Cookies
- Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Cups
- Lemon Icebox Pie (from Easy Budget Recipes)
- Lemon Raspberry Scones (from For the Love of Cooking)
Chris came home right after I finished making these and I said to him, "you need to try these; they're so good!" He looked at me and said, "wow, you never say your food is good, so they must be amazing!"
I realized he's right.... Obviously I only post recipes here that I think are great, but I rarely rave about anything I make in person. Luckily, Chris tried them and agreed!
More Cookie Dough Recipes
Edible cookie dough is one of my favorite things in life and I have lots of tried and true recipes that I make again and again. Bonus points for the fact that many of them are no-bake! Here are some of the best:
- Funfetti Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
- Lucky Charms Cookie Dough Bars
- Red Velvet Ice Cream with Cookie Dough
- Cookie Dough S'mores
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cups
- Red Velvet Cookie Dough Bars
- Cookie Dough Brownies (from Fresh April Flours)
- Cookie Dough Dip (from The Cookie Rookie)
These lemon cookie dough bars are the perfect way to end a summer meal. A little bit of tartness, a lot of sweetness all in a cold little bite or two. I think I'm going to make another batch ASAP and just keep them in the freezer for summer emergencies.
The definition of summer emergency being, "omg we just finished dinner and I NEED something sweet ASAP!" Trust me, we have them all the time.
I'm pretty sure these types of emergencies are exactly why edible cookie dough was invented. Probably Oreo Cookies, too. And definitely buttercream frosting and sprinkles.
No matter what kinds of sweet treats you'll be enjoying for the 4th of July, I hope you have a wonderful holiday filled with good food and lots of love.
And hopefully some relief from ridiculously hot weather.
What's your ideal summer dessert?
Lemon Cookie Dough Bars
Lemon Cookie Crust
- 26 Lemon Oreo Cookies
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Lemon Cookie Dough
- 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp sprinkles, plus more for topping
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (see note about baking)
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp whole milk
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 1-2 drops yellow food coloring
Lemon Cookie Crust
- Put Oreo Cookies in a food processor and blend until they turn into fine crumbs. Pour in melted butter and pulse a few times until well blended.
- Line an 8x8 baking pan with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. Pour cookie crumbs into baking pan and press down into even layer on bottom of pan.
- Place pan in freezer for 30 minutes while you prepare the cookie dough.
Lemon Cookie Dough and Assembly
- In the bowl of a mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.
- Add vanilla, lemon zest, and salt and blend until combined. Mix in 3 Tbsp sprinkles.
- With mixer on low, slowly add flour to bowl until well combined. Keep mixer on low and add lemon juice to combine. Then add milk in until dough comes together.
- Remove pan with cookie crust from freezer and press cookie dough into an even layer over cookie crust.
- Spread buttercream frosting over the top of the cookie dough and smooth evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle additional sprinkles over the top.
- Place pan in fridge chill for at least 45 minutes. Once chilled, remove bars from pan by lifting foil. Using a sharp knife, slice into squares.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer or whisk, beat together butter and confectioners's sugar.
- Mix in vanilla extract and salt. Add a drop of yellow food coloring and mix to combine. If darker color is desired, add another drop.
- If you are wary of eating raw flour, you can toast it. Just spread flour on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes.
- I recommend keeping these bars in the fridge in an airtight container.
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