Ditch the glass: Upgrade your go-to margarita to the perfect summer dessert

Key lime pie is one of life's ultimate comfort desserts. Remix this classic as an edible margarita

By Joseph Neese

Deputy Editor in Chief

Published May 2, 2020 5:37PM (EDT)

 (Meghan McGarry/Buttercream Blondie)
(Meghan McGarry/Buttercream Blondie)

As Cinco de Mayo approaches, endless recipes are being combed through online in a quest for the perfect margarita. If you have your brain on a cocktail, you're on the right track. But here's a challenge: Think outside of the glass.

Luckily, Salon Food's resident pastry chef Meghan McGarry of Buttercream Blondie has already done the detective work for you. All you have to do is add the remarkably short list of ingredients for her margarita bars to your Instant Cart, and soon you'll be in boozy heaven. 

"We're all winding back the clock right now to those desserts we grew up as we search for comfort," McGarry says. "I grew up making key lime pie, but now I'm an adult, and I've remixed this classic dessert as an edible margarita."

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This makeover is the perfect description of what McGarry does so well: reinventing classic desserts and taking them to soaring new heights. This easy-to-make dessert has the consistency of a key lime pie, but it's on the road to being a cheesecake. The addition of cream cheese adds a lush factor, yet the pastry as a whole remains incredibly light. 

One of the best parts about this dessert is that there's nothing fussy about it. Because we're talking about a simple dessert here, every ingredient counts. There's a good amount of fresh lime zest, which is a remarkably simple way to add big flavor to your baked goods.

But these margarita bars still have everything you want in a dessert. Beyond the cream cheese, the bright citrus flavor of fresh lime juice is beautifully balanced by the bite of tequila. A golden graham cracker crust anchors the airy filling, which also includes orange liquor (just like you'd expect to find in a margarita). It's garnished with fresh whipped cream and zest of both lime and orange for an added punch of color and flavor.

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Because you want the ingredients to set, McGarry recommends letting these bars chill for a minimum of fours hours. However, they're best enjoyed after a good night's sleep in the fridge. That gives you all the more incentive to make them a day ahead. While the time spent baking in the kitchen is minimal, the only thing you should do on the big day is sit back and raise a plate. 

While these make the perfect addition to any Cinco de Mayo dinner, you'll be reaching for this recipe time and again throughout upcoming long summer night. You've just discovered the perfect way to refresh and unwind (or to crash a party).

Tune in to @ButtercreamBlondie on Instagram Sunday, May 3 to learn how to make these delicious treats on camera. 


Recipe: Margarita Bars

Graham Cracker Crust:

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


  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.

Click here to access the remainder of Meghan McGarry's margarita bars recipe. And don't forget to follow @ButtercreamBlondie on Instagram for more ways to spike your desserts!

By Joseph Neese

Joseph Neese is Salon's Deputy Editor in Chief. You can follow him on Twitter: @josephneese.

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Buttercream Blondie Desserts Editor's Picks Margarita Bars Margaritas Meghan Mcgarry Recipes Tequila