Crazy for Crust

Orange Dream Bars

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Move over lemon, Orange Dream Bars are IN THE HOUSE.

Orange Dream Bars - this easy recipe is like a lemon bar but with orange! Sweet and tart, they're the perfect dessert recipe!

I’ve talked at length before about how, while I love my house and my friends here in Sacramento, I really, really don’t want to live here forever. My heart belongs to the San Francisco Bay Area, the ocean, and the fog. It would also be easier for my husband if we lived in the bay area, because there aren’t many IT jobs where we live. Luckily, he’s been able to work from home for the last 10 years, but you never know how long that will last. Also, if I have to live in this heat until I die I might go insane.

We stay here because it’s affordable and because our daughter is happy here. She’s settled in a school, with friends, and we don’t want to uproot her. My husband moved a lot when he was a kid and never wants to do that to Jordan if he doesn’t have to. So, until she graduates from high school we just enjoy occasional weekends trips to Half Moon Bay and San Francisco, and we plan how we’re going to win the lottery and buy a house by the beach in 9 years. And, you guys, my husband had the BEST idea last week and I think we can actually make it come true.

Orange Dream Bars Recipe

Real estate in Half Moon Bay (and the entire bay area) is INSANE. Like, in my parent’s neighborhood (Burlingame) it would cost $5,000/month to RENT a 2BR/1BA house. It’s insane. We know that we’ll never be able to afford a house there, because starter homes are upwards of $800,000 (and that’s usually one that needs a ton of work). Mel’s idea was to buy some land now, then figure out a house later. It’s kind of like buying a house in two parts and it’s genius. You know why? Wait for it…

…Because when we can finally move to our dream house by the beach we can fill the land with Tiny Houses, since we probably won’t be able to afford to pay $300 per square foot to build. A village of tiny homes on our lot by the ocean. Isn’t it genius? My village would have:

A tiny living room house: living area, family room, kitchen, bathroom. No loft, just super high ceilings with a pantry stocked sky high full of food blogger props.

A master bedroom house: where we’d sleep, with a little sitting area and a bathroom.

An office tiny house: Room for two desks, a bathroom, and a loft for guests.

And, finally, a guest room/Jordan’s room tiny house: another master bedroom house, for guests.

Heck, maybe I’ll even add in a kitchen/photography only tiny house. JUST FOR ME.

It’s GENIUS. A village of tiny homes, all on one lot, walking distance to the ocean.

I’ll sit on my tiny porch and eat Orange Dream Bars all day long while I live my dream.

Orange Dream Bars - this easy recipe is like a lemon bar but using orange! The perfect citrus recipe, tart and sweet with a shortbread crust.

These bars are super simple to make and they’re so good. If you like lemon bars, you’re going to LOVE these. In fact, I used my lemon bar recipe, but I used orange juice instead! They’ve got a thick shortbread crust, which is super important for any citrus bar. I used fresh orange juice and zest in the filling. The filling is simple to make – you just whisk eggs and sugar and the orange juice and zest and poor it over a partially baked hot crust. Once the bars cook and cool the filling is like a nice thick orange curd. They taste like sunshine and the morning all in one, sun-bursting in your mouth!

I used fresh mandarin oranges for the bars, but you can use any fresh oranges that you like best. We get lots of mandarins here in Sacramento, so they’re almost always readily available. Naval oranges would be great too! Skip the OJ with breakfast and have an orange dream bar instead… 🙂

4.07 from 16 votes
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Servings: 24 bars

Orange Dream Bars

Total Time:
1 hr
Orange Dream Bars - this easy recipe is like a lemon bar but using orange! The perfect citrus recipe, tart and sweet with a shortbread crust.



  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice — I used mandarins, about 6 of them
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • Powdered sugar — for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9x13” pan with foil or parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Beat butter with a hand or a stand mixer until creamy, then add the flour, sugar, and salt and beat until a dough forms. (If you’re using a hand mixer it will take extra time.) Press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 18 minutes.
  3. A few minutes before the crust comes out of the oven, prepare the filling. Place all filling ingredients into a blender jar and blend until smooth, a few seconds to almost a minute, depending on your blender.
  4. Carefully pour filling over evenly over hot crust. Return to oven and bake until the top is no longer jiggly, about 20-23 minutes. Cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar and slicing into bars.

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  1. Yep, mortgage is tough in that area. My friends had to split their mortgage with another family to buy and share a house. And here in DC, it’s about that much to rent an apartment too. Madness.
    I’m totally with you on moving someday. We’re in an area that’s good for our kids, but not as good for me. I’m looking forward to beach living someday!
    These bars are totally dreamy. I have to try the orange version. Wow.

  2. The tiny house fad really fascinates me. I like the idea of a tiny house village and totally support a house for photography and blogging! Wow, real estate in the Bay Area is absolutely insane! Your orange dream bars are insane too (but in a good way, of course). 

  3. OMGosh! These look just amazing, I actually always prefer orange over lemon!

    Also, can I have a tiny house in your village? I’d stock it with cheese and wine and you could come hang out in it?

  4. I just moved here to Roseville, can you be my friend and show me all the good places to eat before you leave to build your tiny houses? I can help with any leftover orange dream bars too! I’m a giver like that.

  5. They’re like the cousin to Lemon Bars and they look amazing! And I love your tiny house plan 🙂

  6. I love all the orange recipes – my favorite flavor, other than chocolate.  You are so innovative!  If we win the lottery we are moving to the Monterey area (after our daughter is finished with high school, of course – no uprooting here, either!). My sister is retiring as an engineer and moving to a beach town in Oregon, but that is too isolated for me.

  7. I love the idea of eating these orange bars for breakfast instead of drinking OJ. And I love your tiny house village idea. Only 2 things you may need to consider: 1) don’t get property too close to the beach or it may not all be there (erosion) when you are ready to build and 2) the coastal commission (or whatever it’s called) may not agree that a village of tiny houses would be really great near the coast. 🙂

  8. Ha! You’re a genius. I would totally live in a tiny house if I had 5 of them! Lol.

  9. Love the idea of orange bars, a nice twist on the classic lemon square!! And yummm shortbread crust!

  10. Well, now I know what it would look like if a creamsicle and a lemon bar had a baby! They take after lemon bar, but have creamsicle’s complexion. 😉

  11. I love tiny houses. I’m fascinated by all the cool storage ideas they come up with and the cool ways something magically turns into a table. Sounds cool! This sounds like pure, distilled summer.  I’m loving all the orange!  

  12. Your tiny house village idea is hilarious! I’m always amazed at what I hear about housing prices in California! The Midwest is much more affordable, but no ocean here. 🙁
    Love these orange dream bars! (California orange dreamin’. . .) A thick shortbread crust is a must, and so delicious!

  13. Lemon bars, orange bars, I’ll take them all. I like your idea for tiny houses. It’s going to be the next big thing. I really want to live in California. I just can’t stand winter.

  14. My husband really loves that Tiny House show where they build them for people.  It’s such a cool idea, especially if you had 5 of them 😉  These bars are also such a good idea, Dorothy.  You always see lemon bars everywhere, but I think orange sounds just as delicious!

  15. Ooh, these look great!
    I can’t wait to try them. This recipe sounds even better then
    just original lemon bars. I am so excited!! 😛

  16. Would you ever consider San Diego or anywhere else down in ca?

  17. LOL to Mels idea, just great! I want to visit half moon bay!! Love how orange the bars are, bet these were tasty!!

  18. I’m in love with the tiny house idea……lots of places for people to stay when they come visit! I’ll bring the wine, you bring the bars, and we’ll be all set! 

  19. Wow, these look fantastic. I ADORE lemon bars, trying these ASAP! I don’t want to stay where I live for forever either, but my kids need to be close to their dad, so 14 more years…. :/

  20. Sounds like a real life dream,of course athought came to my mind , building permits,and all that stuff that pertains to building anything.

    About 30 years ago we moved from Ontario,Canada just across the bridge from Sault Ste Marie,Michigan & moved out to Manitoba,Canada to care for hubbys mom,at the time,to a tiny village & bought an old house for $7,000,it was liveable as there was an elderly older lady living in it,is one level we did a lot of work & still always doing something to it . But the 2nd year with our tax return paid it off,payments were $184. a month,lady held the mortgage,we are still here as of today,not fancy by any means but we have 3 lots, 2 gardens & there is privacy so I have went out in house coat as the neighbors are either not home in daytime or cannot see,lol. even with this wee place they say you need permits just about for everything over $5,000. We can afford to live here,we are on old age pension,so it is not easy to make ends meet,we pay 84.00 for 3 months water,we have our own septic tank,our taxes are$250.00 we get a subsidy for part of the taxes that’s why they are low,its our phone,internet,hydro,cable that sucks up a lot of our pension.But this seems to be were God has planted us ,it meets our needs ,not as nice as what I dreamed when I was younger,but this is the hand we seem to be dealt,my husband worked in construction,renovations most of his life,so he has been able to do most repairs,& I worked at doing homecare for the province for close to 30 years,of course we should have save for retirement when we were younger but you know how that goes,anyways this is my reply,lol I loved the lemon bars so I know I will love the orange as I drool over citrus ,I still have 2 acres of land in Ontario but we cannot afford to live there as cost of living is to high,& would have to start over building a place,so I have listed the property several times but no luck selling it.Sorry for this story book,lol

  21. P.S. Love your idea,I love the idea’s people have of tiny homes or making a container into a home,its a roof over our heads & 4 walls to keep us warm & dry

  22. I love citrus curd of every kind! We are having a heat wave in the Midwest. A tall glass of iced tea and an Orange Dream Bars sounds just right! p.s. Be sure to fit a full size oven into your little house kitchen. It would be annoying to have to by smaller baking pans! 😉

  23. Soooo I tried to make the orange bars and something went quite awry.
    Was I supposed to have docked the crust?

  24. Do the orange dream bars need to refrigerated? 

  25. OMGOSH~!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love the idea of a tiny group of houses! That would be such a dream!

  26. Hi, can these dream bars be frozen ?

  27. I tried this, and based on my knowledge that citrus squares are supposed to be translucent from the juice and white sugar, HoWeVeR, the product of the filling of this recipe is not translucent. There may be too much egg and flour. As for the crust, it may need a few adjustments as well because it came out moist/soft but quite crumbly. My personal preference of the crust is closer to a dry/soft crumble. For the flavor, the citrus amount is on spot, but you can still taste egg. So, maybe imagine something between a kish and a square.

  28. I had a box of oranges from Costco that started to go bad so I was looking for what I could do with them when I found this recipe.  My husband absolutely loves these, not too sweet but not too tart.  They are a hit with our family!!

  29. I made this recipe but cut it in half just to try it out. I was using fresh squeezed Honey bell oranges but had filtered out the pulp. The end result was disappointing as there wasn’t any orange flavor. Today, I made the recipe again, also with Honey Bells, but I left the pulp in the juice and simmered the juice in a saucepan to reduce the liquid by half.(1 cup reduced down to 1/2 cup) I also added 1/2 tsp of orange extract. The resulting bars were deliciously orange. Hope this will be a help to anyone who tries this recipe and wants that orange flavor to shine through. The Honey Bells this year are on the tart side so the amount of sugar called for in the recipe was perfect.

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