Crazy for Crust

Margarita Bars

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May is fast approaching which means three things: Cinco de Mayo, hot summer nights, and margaritas. Or should we make that margarita bars? Margarita Bars are like a lemon bar but with a margarita filling: lime juice and tequila make a gooey margarita in bar form on a graham cracker crust!

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The BEST Margarita Bars! It's an easy lime bar recipe with a hint of tequila and a graham cracker crust!

Have I ever told you about the time that a treadmill hit me in the face? #truestory

And before you get all, “Now Dorothy, get real. Treadmills can’t hit someone in the face. You must have eaten too many margarita bars and fallen on the treadmill. You just say it hit you in the face for laughs,” I’m going to tell you it’s the truth.

A treadmill hit me in the face once. And it was not fun. And no margaritas, bars or otherwise, were involved.

Easy Margarita Bars with a graham cracker crust.

It was about 10 years ago when the treadmill got pissed off and decided to beat me up: the treadmill was in our garage and it was folded up, lock engaged. Mel and I were moving it and I was directing in the front while he was pushing from behind, where the belt is.

And all of a sudden the lock broke.

And the treadmill opened and the heavy side (where the controls are) flew at me and hit me in the face, right next to my eye. If it had been 1 mm to the right it would have actually hit me IN the eye.

This is the only time I’ve ever almost passed out when no margaritas were involved.

All I really remember during my haze is that Mel was yelling and Jordan was crying because I’d fallen on her toy pumpkin and she thought I’d broken it.

I don’t remember what happened to the treadmill after that, but we no longer have it. I’m still a little shy around treadmills in general. I mean, it’s not every day one gets ornery.

Instead of walking in place these days, I prefer to eat margarita bars. They’re basically lime bars with a hint of orange and a hint of tequila. So, margarita.

Margarita Bars in a stack

What are Margarita Bars?

Margarita bars are the marriage of two wonderful recipes: lemon bars and margaritas. They have a crunchy graham cracker crust and a lemon-bar like filling, but instead of lemon it’s margarita flavor.

I made these bars last week, ate two, and promptly sent the rest to Jordan’s school. Lime bars like this have no place in my house. I will literally eat myself sick on them. Same thing with lemon bars, lime curd, and lime cheesecake. I think I like citrus more than I like chocolate. *gasp*

These bars are super easy and they’re the perfect dessert for summer, especially if you’re throwing a Cinco de Mayo party.

How do you make Margarita Bars?

  • Start with a thick graham cracker crust. I pre-bake it a little so it’s crunchy and not soggy after you add the margarita topping.
  • The filling is based off of my favorite white chocolate lemon bars except I turned them into your favorite summer drink by using lime juice, orange juice, and tequila. Let’s break the components down:
  • Lime Juice: please use fresh, if you can. You need lime zest but you can omit it if you really can’t find limes. I know they’re a pain to squeeze but using a lemon squeezer helps immensely.
  • My favorite margaritas always have orange liqueur in them, so I added 1 tablespoon of fresh orange juice to the mix.
  • And, lastly, tequila. I wanted these bars to have a more authentic margarita taste and for that you need tequila. You can omit the tequila if you want or need too. Just add more orange or lime juice (see the notes in the recipe).

Do Margarita Bars have tequila in them?

Heck yes! BUT you can omit, see the recipe notes.

Once the Margarita Bars cool you cut them and dust them with powdered sugar. Then serve them with a frozen margarita. Is that a paradox?

Easy Margarita Bars

Why are my Margarita Bars Soggy?

TIP: it’s very important to compact the crust. I’ve had readers say the topping switches with the crust and that’s because there is a hole somewhere in the crust. You want to be sure that you compact the graham cracker crust so that nothing will soak through. Pre-baking will help, but make sure it’s pressed firm.

It’s also helpful if you use pre-crushed graham cracker crumbs or crush them fine in a food processor. Any chunkiness of the graham cracker crumbs will make it hard to get a firm crust.

How do you store Margarita Bars?

Like lemon bars, these should be stored in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.

Tips for making Margarita Bars:

  • Bake in a 9×9-inch pan for thick bars. For a thin bar you can make it in a 9×13-inch pan.
  • Bake until they’re no longer jiggly in the center. Let cool and chill before slicing.

Tools for success:

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Servings: 16 bars

Margarita Bars

These bars are full of lime and margarita flavor! There's a burst of citrus in the filling and a sweet crunch from the graham cracker crust.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter — melted (no substitutions - use REAL butter)
  • 2 1/4 cup granulated sugar — divided
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice — from about 5-6 limes
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon tequila — optional (you can omit and use an extra tablespoon lime or orange juice instead)
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • Powdered sugar — for dusting

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x9 square pan with foil or parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Mix crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar, and melted butter with a fork in a large bowl. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Be sure to compact it very well. Any little holes in the crust will cause the filling to leak through. Bake for 12 minutes.

  3. While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. Whisk the eggs with remaining 2 cups of sugar. Whisk in juices, zest, and tequila, then whisk in flour until no lumps remain.
  4. Note: you can omit the tequila if you wish. Use an extra tablespoon of orange or lime juice in it’s place.
  5. Pour lime mixture slowly and carefully over hot crust then continue baking for about 25 minutes until the top starts to brown and is no longer translucent. Cool bars completely before cutting. It’s easiest to cut cold bars, so I suggest chilling them before cutting. Dust the tops with powdered sugar. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Recipe Video

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bar, margarita

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (1 bar) — Calories: 250, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 60mg, Sodium: 72mg, Carbohydrates: 45g, Sugar: 38g, Protein: 2g

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73 comments

  1. Hi! This recipe looks amazing! I was wondering if it could possibly be substituted with a pre-made margarita mix instead of just the lime juice/orange juice mix? The mix I have is virgin margarita mix. I’m wondering if it would have more a a flavor punch. I didn’t see any other comments/questions like this, so I figured I’d ask 🙂 

    • I’m pretty sure you could Brianna, as long as you use the same liquid called for. The only thing would be sweetness. If I remember correctly, that mix is pretty sweet right? You might want to reduce the sugar slightly, just so it’s not overpowering!

  2. Oh yes, definitely. Great idea! 🙂 Thank you!

  3. These are so freaking good! Made them for Father’s Day and my nephew asked me to make them again today. They’re the perfect cool treat for this ridiculous Sacramento heat.

  4. Could you double the recipe for a 9×13 pan to get the same thickness as the 9×9 pan?

  5. I made these bad boys this morning. The batter tasted amazing, but now that they are out of the oven and cooled, I have questions. took my pan (9×13) out at 2 minutes left because it tends to over bake things (not my fault, of course ;)). The top was browning and had a nice solid layer, so I thought I was good to go. Well, I chilled them for about 20 min and then took them out and they seem like a gooey mess. Is it just my fault for taking them out too soon? I put them in the freezer to see of that helps. Please tell me they just need to chill longer and I didn’t ruin them. That would make this pregnant lady sad! I have to celebrate Cinco De Mayo somehow, right?

    • That is so strange! I’m not sure why that happened, it didn’t happen when I made them. I’ve used other crumbled cookie crust to make similar recipes with success. Did you may any substitutions at all?

  6. I just made these and I have no idea how this happened, but the graham cracker crust and the lime topping transposed and the crust ended up on top with the lime on bottom. Still tasty, but they really don’t look as nice this way. 

    • Were yours super sticky and messy too? The tin foil on the bottom was a very bad idea for me as I had to peel it off of every bite. Super pain!

    • That is so strange! I’m not sure why that happened, it didn’t happen when I made them. I’ve used other crumbled cookie crust to make similar recipes with success. Did you may any substitutions at all?

  7. It was very strange.

    The only substitution I made was orange cream liqueur in place of the orange juice – my only thought was that it was more dense than orange juice perhaps and weighed it down to bring it to the bottom. The crust was made exactly as is, but didn’t stick together as nicely as I’d have liked and maybe that was part of it too (could’ve been older crackers or something?).

    Just so odd. It is quite a bit messier with this result. 

  8. The only substitution I guess you could say I made was adding more crust ingredients (about a 1/4 more of each) so it would still be a thick crust for a 9×13 pan. Otherwise, I did everything exact on. I have had them in the fridge for a couple more hours, so we’ll see. They will be fine and still taste good, just not as pretty and was going to take them to my birthing class tonight. 

  9. The moral of the story is that they were still AMAZING and as long as we keep them in the fridge/freezer, they are good. Definitely keeping this recipe! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  10. Same thing happened to me! I followed the instructions precisely, yet the filling and the crust transposed. The crust was crunchy on the top, and the filling gooey on the bottom.
    However, it tasted really good 🙂
    Just not as pretty and very hard to cut and take out of the pan.

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