Red Velvet Sugar Cookie Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting


These could quite possibly be the best cookie bars that I have ever made.  I mentioned earlier that my oven went out.  We thought that it was fixed but now it gets way to hot and burns things.  I have really been having withdrawals from baking a yummy treat.  You can only do so much with a slow cooker, microwave and a toaster oven.  Sigh.  So I spent my Friday night doing some baking at my parents house.  It turned out to be quite nice.  I relaxed while I was baking and caught up on some chit chat with my dad.  They will let me use their oven any day in exchange for a yummy treat.

These bars though.  I can’t believe how heavenly they were!  Perfect sugar cookie base.  Moist and delicious.  And I love anything that has to do with red velvet.  The best part.  The cream cheese frosting.  Wow.  You are going to love these bars!  And so will everyone around you.  I know that red velvet is big around Valentine’s Day, but these are going to be made year round at our house!


4.2 from 13 reviews
Red Velvet Sugar Cookie Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Delicious red velvet sugar cookie bars with cream cheese frosting without all of the hard work!
Serves: 16
  • 3⅓ cups flour
  • ¼ cup unsweet­ened cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon bak­ing pow­der
  • 1 cup but­ter, softened
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons (one 1-ounce bottle) red food coloring
  • Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 2 8 Oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have a 9x13 inch pan ready. I like to line mine with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray so that the bars easily lift out and are easy to cut.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream together 1 cup butter softened and sugar until light and creamy. About 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, and food coloring until combined.
  4. Add the flour mixture until a soft dough forms. Press into the bottom of the 9x13 inch pan. Bake for about 20 minutes until the edges start to pull away from the sides and a toothpick entered into the center comes out clean. Allow to completely cool before frosting.
  5. To make the cream cheese frosting, Beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat together until smooth. Frost the top of the bars and enjoy!

Recipe Adapted from Chocolate Moosey


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Alyssa Rivers

I am Alyssa and the blogger behind The Recipe Critic. I started my blog in June of 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family.

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  1. Ugh I hate oven problems, but at least you were able to bribe your parents for their oven with these cookie bars 😉 Glad you liked them!

  2. Goodness gracious that looks incredible! Fantastic recipe 🙂 Be sure to stop by my link party, Om Nom Nom Friday (Even though it’s Sunday) and share some of your delicious creations!

    Happy Blogging!
    Happy Valley Chow

  3. These look delish. Definitely want to make them for Valentines Day. When do you add in the food coloring? Am I missing it? I am assuming with the eggs and vanilla…

  4. These look perfect! I haven’t actually ever made a cookie bar, but it’s brilliant! So much easier than having to make a bunch of individual cookies. Plus, red velvet and cream cheese icing is my life.

  5. Heather Burns says:

    These look amazing! I am definitely pinning this for Valentine’s Day (and beyond)!
    One question – Do you think these would freeze well? Could I make them in advance and freeze them?


  6. My oven gets too hot, too, and this is what I did: I use an oven thermometer to determine what the actual temperature of the oven is and turn the dial down accordingly.

  7. These are furthering my obsession with red velvet! I’m sure they taste great, but they look beautiful. too! Pinning!

  8. Sharon Solly says:

    These look and sound lovely. Thank you for sharing! They will be great for Valentine’s day at my house. One note though, in the instructions you forgot to add in the red food coloring. Since I am a baker it is no big deal but I figure newer cooks might need the info.

    I love your blog and your recipes ! Keep the yummy foods coming please 🙂

  9. lynee taylor says:

    please could we have the weights for the cookies in grams or ounces which is what we use in the UK
    I like a lot of the recipes posted but am unsure of what is meant by a cup???

    • GentleBrown says:

      A cup is 8oz

      • not 8 oz by weight, though. 1 cup is 8 oz by liquid measure. If you weigh out an 8 oz measuring cup of flour it will weigh 4.5 oz

    • elaine disanto says:

      Based on the web sites I’ve used for conversions, the weighed amounts would be:

      416.6 grams flour
      31.3 grams unsweetened cocoa
      226.8 grams butter, softened
      300 grams sugar

      452 grams cream cheese, softened
      113.4 grams butter, softened
      250 grams sifted powdered sugar

      • Is the Unsweetened Cocoa the Chocolate cocoa or someone mentioned they have red cocoa also.

        I have not tried these yet and would like for them to turn out right.

  10. I love the color contrast and the little sprinkles are the perfect touch! Very sweet of your parents to let you use their oven!

  11. These Red Velvet cookie bars look amazing Alyssa! Love the pretty color and the cream cheese frosting looks so creamy and pretty!

  12. These are such pretty bars and perfect for this time of year! That stinks about the oven, but at least your parents are close enough to “borrow” theirs in exchange for goodies. I would totally let you come over and bake for me too 🙂

  13. Lucy L'Mont says:

    What type of flour do you use? Plain, all purpose? Thank you!! 🙂 x

  14. Wow, those are gorgeous Alyssa, the color is amazing! My oven is psycho. We have replaced the thermostat twice already. Sometimes it doesn’t cook, sometimes too hot, sometimes only half of the pan, but each time is different!! 😉

  15. These look scrumptious! I know they are meant to be an easier take on a rolled sugar cookie, but would these work rolled and cut with cookie cutters? I have a friend that LOVES everything red velvet and would just love to make these for her.

  16. Not only do they look yummy, but they look really pretty too!

  17. Kayla Mae says:

    I was wondering if you could cheat and use box red velvet cake mix to make these? What are your thoughts?

  18. Ok, I think I’m completely sold on making these for valentines day. Gorgeous pictures! Just to clarify, the recipe calls for 2 8 oz packets of cream cheese, as in 16 oz total?

    Thank you!

  19. Gorgeous! IDK how I missed these the first time around. Glad I found them tho!

  20. These look amazing!!! However I’m trying to stay away from red food coloring seeing as it is a carcinogen (I wouldn’t normally be so picky, but I’m pregnant).. Is the food coloring necessary or is it just for show? Thanks!!

    • Judy Barbiaux says:

      I was wondering about that, too. Food coloring adds no flavor, so why add it? Lots of folks have problems with red dye.

    • Barbara W says:

      I’ve heard of people using beet juice for coloring. I’ve never tried it, so don’t know how much it would affect the flavor. Maybe just make a half batch to test it out?

      • I have used beet juice and it works great. In fact, in the original version of RVC from the Waldorf Astoria, they used beet juice.

  21. Hi! Do these have to be refrigerated?

  22. Jennifer says:

    Hi there, I’m looking to make these for a party (along with bunch of other food). I’m wondering how you store these, and how long they will last after making them. I’m hoping to make them ahead of time.

  23. Loved the frosting and the idea but my cookie/cake tasted like food coloring 🙁 blah! Next time I’m skipping the red.

  24. These cookie bars were fairly easy to make, and ever sooo delicious to eat! Loved the contrasting textures and flavors. The frosting was amazing and will be my “go to” for cream cheese frosting. My cookie bars turned out very close to the picture, so I was delighted with that.

  25. Ok so it made these and they didn’t turn out right, they tasted bad and after I added the powder mixture to the liquid mixture it wasn’t red anymore. I was hoping they would maybe come out of the oven red but they didn’t, they turned out brown and didn’t taste very good. But I was very careful so I do t know what happened 🙁

    • Dang I hate when that happens! This was one of my favorite recipes. I am not sure where it went wrong either…

    • Haley, the same thing happened to me too. Super dry and tasted like flour. I’m wondering if a touch of confectioners sugar to the dry mix would sweeten them up a bit. I have the same problem with my rolled sugar cookies too, and that’s what I do to sweeten them. Hmm =/

    • Jennifer Coffman says:

      Haley, did you forget to add the red food coloring? Also check your Vanilla Extract it may have expired.

  26. Just made these and they are heavenly! They taste amazing only difference I made was using 1 tbsp of food coloring because thats what I had and it still turned out just as red. Making this again for sure!

  27. Was just wondering about the vanilla… Is it vanilla essence or vanilla the plant? Coming from Australia we use different terms for things!! These look delicious and I am definetly making it!

  28. red velvet is actually a flavor of buttermilk and cocoa, not just food coloring. But these look good as just a chocolate bar with cream cheese frosting!

  29. Made these for a family gathering last night. They were awful! We couldn’t even stomach them! Went back and double checked the recipe and didn’t miss a thing. Wonder what went wrong? The cake tasted so artificial and the frosting was yuck! So sad! The picture is amazing and I’ve never made a thing from your site that I didn’t love! You’re my go-to site for dinner planning 🙂

    • I am shocked!! These are one of my favorite bars on my site. And the cream cheese frosting is my favorite part! Everyone I have shared them with has LOVED them. I don’t think I would like something that tasted artificial. Sorry you didn’t like them!

    • Sharon Roberson says:

      Agree…they were dry and texture was crumbly; frosting way too sweet; very disappointing. And yes, I followed the recipe exactly.

      • I really am so surprised that people are commenting saying they were dry. These were one of the best cookie bars that I have made. Mine were moist and the people I shared them with loved them as much as we did. I wouldn’t post a dry cookie recipe so I don’t know what is happening… 🙁

  30. It only LOOKS like red velvet. Red Velvet is coco and cherry, not coco and red food coloring.
    But, looks and sounds yummy.

  31. I’ll be tinting my cream cheese frosting green. That with the red velvet bottom will make a festive Christmas dessert idea.

  32. Could you sub marischino cherry juice for the food coloring? Or add in for flavor?????

  33. Just curious could a box mix of Red Velvet Cake be used instead of making it from scratch.

  34. Specifically what kind of flour should we use? Regular flour? Self-raising flour? Cake flour? Thanks!

  35. I made these, but actually added a 1/2 cup of hot coffee and 1 tsp of vinegar to it and they turned out awesome! I have a different recipe for a red velvet cake that called for the coffee and vinegar and I love the flavor of it so thought I’d add it to.these too, and I’m glad I did! I’m planning on making them again only this time just making cookies instead of the cookie bars…

  36. Could these be frozen?

    • I made them and froze them and they came out perfectly. I cut them into serving pieces and froze them after cutting.

  37. Roger Fulk says:

    I made these for the first time today, and they turned out picture-perfect. The icing was amazing. It made so much, though, that I have enough for another batch of bars.

  38. Carolyne Smith says:

    would love to make these but all the measurements are for US -UK llbs and ounces or grams would be most appreciated please! Thanks

  39. What could you use in this recipe for egg substitution…….would be afraid bananas or applesauce would change the flavor.

  40. Can I use a boxed Red Velvet cake mix for this instead if scratch?

  41. I found this recipe earlier this week and was so excited to make for my mom’s birthday dinner today. I read over all the comments and tips and was a little worried after reading the comments from ones where they didn’t turn out good. But the positive comments won.. Being very careful and using all the baking tips I know I am very sad to say they did not turn out good

    • Yeah I just don’t get it. I even made them again to double check and they turned out amazing and moist and were raved about! I don’t know what is going wrong for some people.

  42. A coworker sent me this link and requested I make these for her, which I was more than happy to do so. I only made one change. When it was done I poured some melted chocolate that was mixed with condensed milk and cherry extract to the top and chilled it for 10 minutes. Then, I flipped them over and put the frosting on the other side. They were a huge hit and I will definitely be making them again

  43. Patricia Bonham says:

    these look yummy!!! Going to make them for Valentines Day!!! ❤️

  44. Maxine August says:

    These red velvet bars look delish. I want to try them for early 2015. Will most likely pull back on
    the coloring to apprx. 1 tbsp. and will hope for the best on color. They look so yummy in the picture,
    so I’m hoping for a good-tasting good-looking finished product. Thanks for sharing with all of us.

  45. Seems like 2 packages of cream cheese would make too much?

  46. Made these yesterday – just as directed. They turned out great, and the co-workers scarfed them up. I will agree that the recipe makes a bunch of icing, but I just slathered it all on anyway!

  47. Would love to try to make these gluten free… any recommendations for the substitutions?


  48. For the bars you put vanilla extract and for the frosting you put just vanilla. I want to make sure they are two different things or maybe you meant to put extract for the frosting also? Thanks! Can’t wait to make them! 😉

  49. These look fantastic!! Will definitely be making these for work on Friday. Two quick questions:

    1) Do you use unsalted butter?

    2) Are we talking the little dropper bottles of food coloring that you can get at the grocery store?

    Thanks so much!

  50. These looked really good and very pretty, however I made these last night and the bars are extremely dry.. I thought maybe there was too much flour added to the batter?

    • I was worried about the comments being too dry so I made them both ways. One with the original recipe and the second reduced by 1/3 cup of flour. The original turned out great. The reduced flour was way too gooey.

  51. These look amazing AND taste amazing. I just made them tonight for my husband for Valentine’s Day and I am extremely pleased with how simple they were and how thick and creamy the frosting was.

    I’m not sure why you got bad reviews, but these are not a recipe to be disappointed in. Delicious!

    • Yeah I couldn’t understand why they aren’t turning out for some people. I worried about it so much I made them again and they turned out great for me. Sigh

  52. Gaye Shakeshaft says:

    Please can you tell me what sort of flour is used. I am in the UK and we have plain and self raising. Thank you

  53. First things first: I made these for a work potluck and they were a huge hit! Full disclosure, I have my own cream cheese frosting recipie and I used that instead, but I don’t think it changed it much. I read the comments and saw some people had problems. I think I have some insight.
    1. Cookie bar turned brown. Most of the food coloring sold in supermarkets is PINK, not red, so that turns it’s kind of maroon. Annoying, but it happens. Happened to me and didn’t change the taste.
    2. Tastes too floury. I decreased the flour by a tiny bit. I added 1/3 cups cocoa powder and 3 1/4 cups of flour. You can honestly get away with adding even slightly less.
    3. Cookie bars too hard. You probably over baked them. It seems 20 minutes might be too long. I did 17 minutes and it was perfect.

    Anyway, I hope this helps. These came out really good and I will definitely make them again!

  54. Thank you for this fantastic recipe. I made for my family for Valentine’s, and they were amazing!!!!! Everyone loved them! I’ll be making these for my birthday rather than a cake 🙂

  55. Crystal says:

    These were delicious, can’t wait to make again!

  56. I made these and they were great! I’m wondering if the people who thought they were dry were expecting something like a brownie or cake. I was confused why people kept asking about using boxed cake mix… that would give you cake not sugar cookies. These were awesome!

    • It is so weird because they get mixed reviews but turn out amazing for me every time! I am glad they worked out for yoU!

  57. Want to make these for a cookie exchange.. Any tips on storing these? Would these be good for this? Please respond, want to do these asap!

  58. Help asap please! Just made these. Do they need to be refrigerated?!

  59. Do you use plain or self raising flour??

  60. hi , your recipe looks good but i have a question please please reply can i use cookie cutter for this recipe

  61. Made this recipe today and they were very hard and dry! I will try them again but will increase the butter and reduce flour!

  62. Pregnant and Sad Now says:

    These turned out absolutely horrible. I even checked the recipe twice to make sure I did it correctly. Don’t make these. They will be going in the trash. Dry and crumbly and tasted like flour.

    • Thats interesting because someone just left a comment that said this: These cookie bars were fairly easy to make, and ever sooo delicious to eat! Loved the contrasting textures and flavors. The frosting was amazing and will be my “go to” for cream cheese frosting. My cookie bars turned out very close to the picture, so I was delighted with that.

      I am wondering if there was a problem on your end. These bars are amazing!! One of the best cookie bars and a family favorite. Chewy, delicious and the cream cheese frosting on top is awesome!

  63. Marie Nixon says:

    These bars do look pretty but I was disappointed in them. Mostly in the frosting. IMO, the ratio of cream cheese, butter and confectioners sugar is off. The frosting just wasn’t sweet enough. For two 8 oz.of cream cheese, most recipes would call for 1 cup of butter and 4 cups of confectioners sugar. Plus a dash of salt or lemon to bring out the flavor would really help. Cream cheese is expensive and I feel like I wasted 2 blocks of cream cheese. As far as the cookie base, that turned out fine for me. Very red in color and very moist.

  64. Can you use sugar cookie mix, then add red food coloring to it?

  65. Just made these for Christmas…and only one word is appropriate…AMAZING!!!! This recipe is perfect…at first I was worried they might be too dry because the dough seemed so stiff and I practically had to shove the last bit of flour in there. But my worries were put to rest after the first glance and then the first bite. These will be a hit tomorrow, and I will for sure make them again…Valentine’s Day, Christmas, St. Paddy’s Day (with green coloring? Lol!). Thank you for this!!

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