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Posted on Feb 3, 2014 | 0 comments

Pan Cookies – The Easiest Cookies Ever

Pan Cookies – The Easiest Cookies Ever

The appeal of these sweet babies lies in their utter ease to assemble. They are basically soft cookies, without the most tedious part: scooping uniformly-sized balls and placing them evenly around a baking pan. Yawn.

Spreads Cookie Bars - side by side - Sand and Table



With this recipe, just six essential ingredients, and a pan, you can have truly yummy treats in 25 minutes flat. I can’t imagine a more kid-friendly recipe but I had fun sneaking off to the kitchen by myself and surprising the kids with the results in the time it took them to completely destroy my living room (which is not as long as you might think).

Spreads Cookie Bars - Chocolate Tower - Sand and Table


I especially like that this recipe doesn’t require milk, which I always seem to be out of.

The idea was inspired The Pioneer Woman, that crafty lady. She’s always up to something interesting.

I started with the PW, then veered way off. Whole-wheat-off. (Some might just say “off.”) But I am not afraid of dark foods! I used spirulina in my son’s birthday frog cookies, for heaven’s sake. I always use about a third whole wheat flour (or more) in baking because it makes things taste nutty, deep, rich. Yummy!

Then, for a final blow-out, I use Nigella Lawson’s Burnt Butter Icing. It melts onto the warm cookie spread and hardens into a glaze. I sprinkle white decorating sugar on top of that. It all looks very sparkly and icy. And, as usual, that Burnt Butter Icing makes these unusually delicious, as well.

Spreads Cookie Bars - Icy Icing - Sand and Table



The second batch got melted chocolate chips and rainbow colored confetti sprinkles. The kids went nuts for that one. Or should I say they went sprinkles? (No, probably not.)

Spreads Cookie Bars - Rainbow Confetti - Sand and Table



You may decide to let the kids come in and help you decorate the chocolate version, but do make at least one batch with the Burnt Butter Icing. You deserve it.

Spreads Cookie Bars - squares - Sand and Table



Stop by The Pioneer Woman’s site Tasty Kitchen for her original recipe.

Here’s my off version of pan cookies.

Pan Cookies, The Easiest Cookies Ever
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Fast, easy, and chewy cookie bars. A perfect last-minute treat. Makes two batches to decorate as it delights you.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 24-48
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, spreadable but still cool, not mushy
  • 2 cups brown sugar (light or dark, or a combination - I like 1 cup of each)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1¾ teaspoons fine grind sea salt or 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 6-8 ounces dark chocolate chips OR Burnt Butter Icing (see next recipe)
  • Sprinkles, crushed candy bars, nuts, or other toppings (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Put brown sugar and butter into a mixer and cream together.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla.
  4. With mixer on low, slowly add flours and salt and mix until flour is incorporated. Turn off mixer.
  5. Scrape the bottom of the mixing bowl and mix again for another 5-10 seconds. (This dough doesn't get overworked easily.)
  6. Put dough on a cookie sheet and spread into a rough rectangle, about ½ inch thick. You can use an offset spatula, a butter knife, or your hands.
  7. Bake 15-20 minutes. Turn off oven.
  8. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Place back in oven for one minute to melt.
  9. Spread chocolate to the edges. Add sprinkles or other toppings you want.
  10. OR, instead of chocolate chips, spread a thin layer of Burnt Butter Icing on top, but don't put back in the oven (it will melt from the warmth of the cookie). Add sprinkles or other toppings.
  11. Let cool completely. Cut off rough edges with a pizza cutter or knife (chef's treat!). Cut the rest into squares.


I admit I use silicone baking mats because I’m not crazy about the idea of cooking food directly on aluminum. (Note to self: hunt down some stainless steel baking pans!) You could try parchment paper but the silicone mats stick themselves to the pan and don’t let go. This is very handy when spreading sticky dough on top of them. The trouble is that you may cut them when slicing your cookies which leads to all sorts of ominous trouble. Mine were fine. If you promise to be very, VERY careful as you cut, you might give them a try if parchment paper is too slippy.


Stop by Nigella Lawson’s site, Nigella, for lots of culinary inspiration. Her recipe for Burnt Butter Icing from How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking has taken me far and wide. From cupcakes to Halloween treats to baby shower mini-cupcakes to these pan cookies.

Nigella says not to put the butter in the frig after browning (“burning”), but I did, and just checked it every 15 minutes. I must not have the patience of Ms. Lawson (nor a few other things of note, I am sure).

You may not need all the milk called for. Go slow. If you get it too runny, you’ll need to add more powdered sugar to get it back  into shape, but that changes the taste – too sweet, and not enough brown butter flavor which is the entire point of this exercise, and perhaps my life as a whole.

And last, as usual, I recommend one tiny change to Nigella’s recipe: use salted butter. The play between salt and sugar with brown butter is exquisite.


Cookie Spreads - Brown Butter Icing - Sand and Table

~Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. I chose them because I own the products my very own self! If you purchase anything from a link on this site, I may earn a few cents, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!

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