These Best Ever Orange Bars are a spin on my Best Ever Key Lime Pie Bars but made with delicious ORANGE flavors! These are so juicy, creamy, gooey and scrumptious – you’re going to love these bright and tasty bars!
So, I’m in a seasonally confused place right now.
Stores are already putting out Halloween?? Ahead of Back to School??
I went on one of my favorite clothing retailers, ModCloth, and they have a whole Halloween drop of clothes available for sale right now. I’m like… ???. And Bath and Body Works just dropped a Halloween collection that’s already sold out. Meanwhile, the weather in Sacramento the last two days was… really nice? I’m like totally confused. This is so unlike well, life?
Don’t get me wrong, I am always clamoring for fall earlier and earlier (I am so NOT a summertime person!). And the past two days of 90 degree weather was a definite nice change of pace. I had my windows open into the late afternoon (!!) which is virtually unheard of since it typically reaches 100 degrees F by 11am most days in the middle of the summer. I was loving the kind of fall-ish feeling weather mixed with my Halloween online shopping. AND planning for fall recipe content! Bring me all the pumpkin, apple, maple, and spice!
And then it all crashed and burned because we’re back to our regularly scheduled 100+ degree weather. Oh well.
But lest you think I’m skimming over summer, I still have a few good summer recipes up my sleeve, so fret not. This is definitely one of those good summer recipes!
My Best Ever Key Lime Pie Bars are one of my most popular recipes and for good reason – they’re seriously divine! They taste like a juicy key lime pie but in a petite and cute little square bar. I decided to revamp that recipe and make an orange version because.. why not? Everyone loves oranges and their sweet and juicy flavor, and thankfully it worked beautifully!
The crust for these bars is your classic, perfect, do-no-wrong graham cracker crust. It consists of graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and some sugar mixed together. We’ll partially bake the crust for a brief 10 minutes to help it get started, then we’ll add the filling to it and continue baking.
The filling is the best part, in my humble opinion! It consists of some cream cheese for silkiness and stability, sweetened condensed milk for sweetness and creaminess, orange juice for flavor, orange zest for even MORE powerful orange flavor, and a little orange extract to really drive home the orange-ness. The orange extract is optional, but I thought it really brightened up the filling.
These Best Ever Orange Bars are creamy, gooey, juicy, sweet and SO delicious. You’re going to love them!
Best Ever Orange Bars
For the Crust:
- 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
For the Filling:
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 28 oz sweetened condensed milk (two 14-oz cans)
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- Zest of one medium orange
- 1 tsp pure orange extract optional but recommended
- Whipped cream for garnish, optional but recommended
- Preheat oven to 350° degrees F. Line an 8x8 square light metal baking pan with foil, extending the sides of the foil over the edges of the pan. Spray the foil liberally with cooking spray; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and granulated sugar until moistened. Pour the crust into the prepared baking dish and press the crust into an even, compact layer. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven but keep oven on. Cool for about 5 minutes.
- For the filling: In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese with a handheld electric mixer until smooth. Add in the sweetened condensed milk and mix well until smooth. Add in the orange juice, orange zest and orange extract, if using, and mix until fully combined. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and smooth out the top.
- Bake for an additional 10-20 minutes or until the filling is just about set. If it jiggles slightly, that's okay, but it should not be sloshing around in the pan. I found mine to bake closer to the 20 minute mark, but yours may take around the 10 minute mark which explains the large baking time difference. If needed, continue baking past 20 minute mark in 5 minute increments. I think because orange juice tends to be a touch more watery, it causes the filling to take longer. Cool the bars for about 30 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours to cool, firm and set. Just before cutting into squares, garnish with fresh whipped cream, if desired. Store any remaining bars in the refrigerator.
I love the pure, fresh orange flavor in these mouthwatering bars!
Have a super sweet day!