Margarita Bars

margarita bars recipe

Can you say weekend plans?

As soon as the weather gets warmer, I find myself gravitating towards bright, unfussy desserts. I want comforting, yet light, and these bars hit all the right notes. They have the consistency and ease that you'd expect from key lime pie, and while you could definitely bake this recipe in a pie dish, I love making bars! I don't know exactly what it is, but I find them super easy to make and I love a little hand-held dessert that I can grab whenever it strikes my fancy. And let me tell you, it strikes my fancy more than usual lately!

While the bars are similar to key lime pie, they have more substance to them thanks to the addition of cream cheese. It makes them a little more decadent and even more satisfying. The fresh lime juice adds that punch, keeping them light, and a good dose of lime zest is major bang for your buck in the flavor department. You could also add the zest of an orange if you wanted to. There are no rules here!

This is all great, but if we're going to call these margarita bars, we need the good stuff! A splash of tequila (I recommend using what you like to drink) and orange flavored liqueur give the bars that pop and cut through the sweetness beautifully, balancing all the flavors just like a well crafted cocktail! I recommend chilling the bars for a minimum of 4 hours, but I prefer them chilled overnight. If you're anything like me, waiting can feel like torture, but I feel like it gives the the flavors time to ripen and really shine.

One bite and you'll quickly realize, they were worth the wait. They're lush, yet light and the sweetness is balanced beautifully thanks to the pop of tequila. The golden, buttery graham cracker crust brings the crunch and while they're brilliant as is, you know I had to give them a little zhush! A dollop of fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of lime and orange zest are even better than a salted rim!


Graham Cracker Crust:

  • 1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Margarita Filling:

  • 4 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • Pinch of salt
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. tequila
  • 2 tsp. Tripe Sec or orange flavored liqueur of choice
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Whipped Cream Topping:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. Triple Sec
  • Lime and/or orange zest for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8x8-inch pan with nonstick pan spray, line with parchment paper, and spray once more.
  2. In a medium size mixing bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, salt and melted butter. Press evenly into the bottom of prepared pan and bake for 8-10 minutes. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream cream cheese until smooth. Add sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, salt and lime zest and mix on medium speed until well combined and smooth.
  4. Add lime juice, tequila, triple sec and vanilla, and mix on low speed until smooth. Pour filling on top of baked crust (it’s okay if the crust is hot) and bake for 16-20 minutes, rotating once halfway through. Bars are done when they are set on top.
  5. Once bars have cooled to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours. I prefer to chill these overnight for best results.
  6. When ready to cut the bars, lift them out of the pan by the parchment paper (you may have to let them stand on the counter for 5 minutes to make their release easier) and place on large cutting board. Using a clean, hot knife, cut bars into three even rows. Rotate cutting board and cut three rows once more, yielding 9 squares.