The flavor of margarita in an easy-to-make summer dessert. Equal parts tart, sweet, salty, creamy, but most of all, irresistible.
Calling all lime and citrus lovers,
Margarita Pretzel Bars may become you’re new ‘go to’ summer dessert!
These bars come together quickly, with the hardest part about this recipe
having to wait for them to firm up in the freezer!
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The heat and humidity are on the rise here in North Carolina.
After a nice cool spring, it’s going to feel more like summer with temperature
climbing to the upper 80s by the end of the week.
These bars are the perfect summer dessert… citrusy, light and refreshing,
make-ahead and almost ‘no bake’!
My hubby declared these his new favorite dessert and better than Key lime pie!
The texture is somewhere between an icebox pie and ice cream . . .
cold, creamy and ideal for summer!
I’ve made these bars twice in two weeks, the bars are that good.
They have a satisfying crust-to-filling ratio crust, made with a
sweet and salty combination of graham crackers and pretzels.
While these bars mimic the flavor of a margarita,
they don’t come across as boozy, with just 2 tablespoons of tequila
and 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier (or Cointreau) to add the orange note in a margarita.
For more margarita flavor, feel free to bump up the tequila to 4 tablespoons
or omit the alcohol all together if you prefer.
Limes were on sale last week so I picked up an extra bag,
when I bought one for my Cinco de Mayo centerpiece.
You’ll need about 4 juicy limes for 1/3 cup of lime juice in the recipe.
Note: Make sure you zest your limes before juicing.
You’ll need the zest of one lime for the filling and more zest for the top of the bars, if desired.
In addition of the lime zest, I added some flaky sea salt to the top of the bars,
which help balance the sweet flavor.
I highly recommend the sea salt, but it’s optional, just like rimming your margarita glass. :)
To make these bars, here’s what you’ll need:
For the crust:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups pretzels (twists, snaps or sticks)
3 sheets of graham crackers
For the filling:
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 limes, or good quality lime juice such as Nelli & Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice)
2 tablespoons tequila
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or Cointreau
Zest of 1 lime
8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened (use full fat for best texture)
The crust comes together quickly with a food processor.
Pulse your pretzels and graham crackers until you have crumbs; add sugar and pulse to combine.
Pour in melted butter and pulse until butter is incorporated.
Alternatively, crush pretzels and graham crackers in a ziptop bag with a rolling pin; mix crumbs with sugar and melted butter.
For easy removal of bars, line an 8 inch square pan.
with parchment paper, with the edges hanging over the pan.
Press the crust mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan,
using bottom of measuring cup to make an even layer.
Bake at 350°F for about 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
Transfer to wire rack to cool completely (about 30 minutes) before adding filling.
To make filling, add softened cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk to a bowl,
and using a mixer, beat until combined.
Add lime juice, zest, tequila and Grand Marnier; mix until thoroughly incorporated.
Pour the filling into the prepared crust and freeze for 4 hours or overnight.
Note: If you’ve ever made no-churn ice cream, you know that sweetened condensed
milk doesn’t freeze solid due to its sugar content.
The bars will be firm enough to cut after 4 hours in the freezer, but a ‘soft-firm’ texture.
Remove from freezer, allow to warm up for 5 minutes and lift edges of paper to remove bars from pan.
Cut into 16 bars. Garnish with additional lime zest and flaky sea salt if desired.
These bars soften quickly at room temperature, so you want to serve and enjoy soon after cutting.
To prepare ahead, cut bars and garnish, return tray to freezer until ready to serve.
Store leftovers (ha!) in a sealed container in the freezer up to 3 months.
My photos don’t do these bars justice. If you’re a fan of citrus and Key lime flavor,
I hope you’ll try these bars if you’re looking for an easy, make-ahead dessert!
- food processor
For the crust:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups pretzels twists, snaps or sticks
- 3 sheets of graham crackers
For the filling:
- 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
- ⅓ cup fresh lime juice about 4 limes, or good quality lime juice such as Nelli & Joe's Famous Key West Lime Juice
- 2 tablespoons tequila omit for alcohol-free dessert
- 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or Cointreau omit for alcohol-free dessert
- Zest of 1 lime
- 8 oz. package of cream cheese softened (full fat, not reduced fat or fat free)
- Zest of 1 lime
- Flaky sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch square pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper that overhangs the edges; set aside.
- In a food processor combine the pretzels and graham crackers. Pulse until crushed. Add sugar; pulse to combine. Pour in melted butter and pulse until butter is incorporated. Press the crust mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, using bottom of measuring cup to make an even layer. Bake at 350°F for about 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely (about 30 minutes) before adding filling.
- For the filling, add softened cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk to a bowl, beat until combined with mixer. Add lime juice, zest, tequila and Grand Marnier; mix until thoroughly incorporated.
- Pour the filling into the prepared crust and freeze for about 4 hours or overnight.
- For easiest cutting, cut while frozen. Remove from freezer, allow to warm up for 5 minutes and lift edges of paper to remove bars from pan. Cut into 16 bars. Garnish with additional lime zest and flaky sea salt if desired. Store leftovers (ha!) in a sealed container in the freezer up to 3 months.
- For more margarita flavor, feel free to bump up the tequila to 4 tablespoon or omit the alcohol all together if you prefer.
- If you don't have a food processor, crush pretzels and graham crackers in a bag with a rolling pin; mix crumbs with sugar and melted butter by hand and press into pan.
- For best texture, use full fat cream cheese.
- Sweetened condensed milk doesn’t freeze solid due to its sugar content. The bars will be firm after 4 hours in the freezer, but a 'soft-firm' texture. They'll soften quickly at room temperature, so serve and enjoy soon after cutting. To prepare ahead, cut bars and garnish, return tray to freezer until ready to serve.
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We love key lime pie…therefore, this sounds like a high key lime! LOL!! Printed it and will be making! Thank you Mary!! ❤️🍈🍈🍈
Hi Ellen, if you like Key lime, I think you’ll love these bars. Thanks for your visit! ♥
YUM…I may try this w/lemon…&…limoncello…franki
A lemon version with limoncello sounds wonderful Franki! Do you make your own limoncello?
Wow! On my list to make. Pinned, thank you!
I hope you have a chance to try them Rita, I think you’d like them. Wishing you a wonderful week ahead. ♥
These sound really good Mary, my son would love them! The pretzel/graham cracker crust sounds amazing!
They’re so easy and refreshing Jenna! Happy Tuesday. ♥
Such a yummy easy dessert Mary. My husband loves pretzels and lime, so this would be a welcome dessert for him. Happy week.
Thank you Linda! Happy Tuesday ♥
Oooooo… These sound delicious. A yummy combination of lime and pretzels. A great treat.
Have a great week!
Hi Nancy, Yes, they’re pretty irresistible. :) Happy Tuesday. ♥
Sounds so yummy! Would the recipe work doubled in a 9 x13 pan? Can’t wait to try it!
Hi Ann, Yes, you could double and make in a 9 x 13, twice the deliciousness. :) Enjoy, Happy Tuesday. ♥
This looks delicious, Mary! I love all citrus especially in warm weather. Thank you, I think I will make these. Happy Monday!
Hi Pam, I think you would love them! Happy Tuesday. ♥
Mary, this is refreshing! Our heat and humidity arrived Saturday, just in time for a planned garden party bridal shower! At least it didn’t get rained out!
I’ve pinned your pretty lime filled flower vase to use this idea at a future garden party, and the recipe is printed and in my recipe files. Thank you! You always provide amazing inspiration!
Thank you Sarah! I’m sure your garden party / shower was a beautiful celebration and a good time was had by all. ♥
Ooooh yummy deliciousness, Mary! I’m thinking that these would be wonderful for our next luncheon with my big group of water aerobic friends. Thank you!
Hi Kitty, I think they would be a hit and they’re so easy and make ahead too. Happy Tuesday! ♥
Oh my! Sounds delish! These are now on my to do list!!
I would say “Now You’re Talking” but you’re “always” giving us such wonderful recipes! Just in time for Mothers Day.
I can’t wait to surprise my family with these. I know these will be a summer go to also. Thanks again Mary…Now You’re Talking – again and again! You’re the best!
YUM,YUM,YUM! Thank you for sharing. 🐝🌻🐝🌻