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A cross between a blondie and cake, these simple glazed orange poppy seed bars are packed with white chocolate, vanilla, and fresh orange flavor.

glazed orange poppy seed bars

I made today’s bars after falling in love with my glazed orange pound cake. I picked my brain and archives for inspiration on a variation of said pound cake and came up with today’s bars. Or blondies. Or cake bars. They’re a cross between cake and a dense blondie. A blake. Or a clondie…?

stack of glazed orange poppy seed bars on a blue plate

Whatever we call them, today’s glazed orange poppy seed bars are good. Really, really good.

To throw you completely off, this recipe doesn’t begin like a blondie or even a citrus cake recipe. Rather, it starts like a brownie recipe. Butter is melted down with pure white chocolate to create one rich, flavorful base. This is the same way I begin my favorite chewy brownies, only using white chocolate instead of semi-sweet. Since we’re using melted butter, there is no need to pull out that mixer. Everything is mixed by hand.

White chocolate is already quite sweet, so I don’t use quite as much sugar as I do with brownies, blondies, or cakes. Two eggs create a wonderfully moist, dense bite while the baking powder lifts everything up to create a cakey blondie texture. I like to compare their texture to these snickerdoodle blondies. So if you’ve had the pleasure of those, you know what to expect here.

For supreme taste, make sure you’re using pure white chocolate. ↓ ↓

chopped white chocolate and half and orange on a wood board

For a little texture and crunch, I add poppy seeds. Not too many, but just enough to keep my texture loving tastebuds satisfied. Vanilla extract adds a layer of goodness and and and let’s not forget all that orange flavor! I make the bars with Sunkist navel oranges. Fresh and flavorful, these oranges always fit the bill when I’m looking for high quality taste. Especially when it comes to my baked goods. Fresh orange juice goes right into the batter, along with a hefty amount of orange zest.

The combination of vanilla, white chocolate, and orange is insane. It’s like a creamsicle meets a white chocolate bar. And yes! You can absolutely use lemon instead of orange today. Even grapefruit for an interesting twist.

And this is the kind of glaze that “sets” after a few minutes and slightly cracks when you take every bite. In other words, the BEST GLAZE IN THE WORLD. You know the kind. To achieve this texture, you simply have to warm the glaze ingredients on the stovetop and pour over the cooled orange poppy seed bars. Or you can dip each bar individually.

glazed orange poppy seed bars on a blue plate

The glaze is also flavored with fresh orange juice.

glazed orange poppy seed bar on a blue plate with a fork

These wonderfully zesty, sweet, buttery, glazed, truly incredible and unique dessert bars that taste much more fancy than they actually are to make. And one bite will leave everyone begging for the recipe.

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glazed orange poppy seed bars on a blue plate

Glazed Orange Poppy Seed Bars

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1216 bars 1x
  • Category: Bars
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

A cross between a blondie and cake, these simple glazed orange poppy seed bars are packed with white chocolate, vanilla, and fresh orange flavor.


Ingredients

Scale

Orange Bars

  • 6 Tablespoons (86g) unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces (226g) white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • juice and zest from 1 orange*
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (219g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Glaze

  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) whole milk*
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) fresh orange juice*
  • 2 cups (240g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • optional garnish: orange slices

Instructions

  1. Make the bars: Melt the butter and white chocolate together in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes. Or melt in a medium microwave safe bowl in 20 second increments, stirring after each, in the microwave. Remove from the heat, pour into a large mixing bowl, and allow to slightly cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan* with aluminum foil or parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the granulated sugar into the cooled butter mixture. Whisk in the orange juice and zest, then the eggs. Whisk until the batter is completely smooth, then whisk in the vanilla. In a separate medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds together. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
  4. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the bars are lightly browned around the sides and on top. If you find they are browning too quickly on top, loosely cover the bars with aluminum foil. A toothpick inserted into the center of the bars should come out with very few moist crumbs when the bars are done. All ovens are different, so keep an eye on them after 30 minutes and use the toothpick test to see when yours are finished. Allow the bars to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack.
  5. Make the glaze: Combine the glaze ingredients, except for the fresh orange slices, in a medium saucepan over low heat. Whisk until the glaze is smooth. Remove saucepan from heat and either (1) pour glaze over the cooled pan of orange bars, then cut the bars into squares or (2) keep the saucepan of glaze over low heat, cut the orange bars into squares, and dip each individually into the glaze. Garnish each square with orange. The glaze will set after about 10 minutes.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: These bars can be made 3 days in advance and kept in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to serve. I suggest glazing and garnishing with an orange right before serving. Glazed or unglazed bars freeze well, up to 3 months. Simply thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving. Leftover bars can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or at room temperature for up to 1 week.
  2. Oranges: 1 medium orange will lend around 1/4 cup fresh orange juice. So if you buy a large orange, just use 1/4 cup juice total in the bars. The zest amount can vary, but you can never go wrong with lots of fresh orange zest. For the glaze, you’ll need the juice from half of a medium orange. Bottled orange juice can work for both the bars and the glaze.
  3. Milk: For creamiest texture, use whole milk. A lower milk fat would be fine; do not use skim.
  4. Pan: You can use an 11×7 inch baking pan instead – the bake time is about the same.

Keywords: orange poppy seed bars, glazed orange bars

Right this way for more brownies/bar recipes.

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Sally – I made these tonight, followed the recipe and am sad to say they weren’t very moist. I checked the bars at 30 minutes as suggested, and they were done to a light golden brown as described. Any suggestions? Any particular white chocolate you recommend?

    1. Anne, do they look overbaked or burnt?! I suggest maybe around 3 minutes less in the oven. I’ve made these bars 3 times and never have experienced a dry crumb. I always use Baker’s or Ghirardelli white chocolate.

  2. Made them, love them! In the words of my family “don’t lose this recipe.” Haha. Great recipe Sally. I love the orange flavor paired with the glaze.

  3. What a great recipe. I was trying to decide what to bake for my Mom for Mother’s Day, and this is perfect. So the test batch (LOL!) was delicious! I made that batch for my husband and me without the glaze. Now I just baked the real ones for my Mom. I’ll put the glaze on hers. Gonna have to do it tonight, and hope they don’t get soggy.

    Thanks, Sally!

  4. If I make this with lemon, would you recommend using the same amounts? 1 lemon in the batter, 2 T in the glaze?  Thank you!  These sound delicious.

  5. These bars make the perfect treat. A bit of your 5 a day and some chocolate. #winning 

  6. I made two batches of these today for church.  I used lemon instead of orange and they were delicious!  I did have a difficult time with melting the white chocolate (I actually burned a batch and had to start over) but other than that they were pretty easy.

    1. Update: these were a huge hit at church this morning.  I overheard one woman describing them the way Sally did “not a cake, not a cookie, but very moist and delicious!”.  I’ll be making these again.

  7. OMG Sally!!! This recipe is AMAZING! ☺️ I was wondering if I could substitute the white chocolate for dark chocolate instead? 

  8. Hi Sally. Just wanted to check, do you have to use baking white chocolate or will ordinary white chocolate do? Also, what else can I substitute for poppy seeds? Thank you!

    1. Any pure white chocolate works. You can leave the poppy seeds out. Or perhaps use chia seeds instead.

  9. Hi Sally, these look delicious! I was wondering if it would make a difference if i sub the orange for lemon instead

    Thanks! 

    1. Would be delicious! Now that I think of it, I would slightly reduce the sugar in the batter because orange juice is sweeter than lemon.

  10. This recipe has been on my “to bake” list since you published it last year. I finally had a reason to make them today and wow! They are even better than I expected. They taste like a sophisticated orange dream bar. I had some extra sugar cookies (ran out of buttercream) so I dipped them in the leftover glaze. They look so pretty! If you need a recipe idea for the future, a citrus poppy seed roll out cookie dipped in this glaze would be spectacular! Thanks again for all the work you do to publish these amazing recipes! 

  11. I made these last weekend for a baby shower and they were such a hit! I love the twist with the orange instead of the more traditional lemon poppyseed. They were a bit more cake-like than chewy bars, but the flavor is so bright and refreshing so I didn’t mind AT ALL. Thanks for another great bake!

  12. Hi Sally! These look delicious, but I’m not a fan of white chocolate. Is there anything I can substitute?

    1. Hi Amanda, we haven’t tested this recipe with a white chocolate alternative. If you end up trying them, let us know what you think!

    2. Try lemon icing. Poppy seeds and lemon icing always goes well together.

  13. Have made these bars and they are EXCELLENT! Did not have poppy seeds though, only chia seeds. Thought they would get soggy, but they didn’t! They worked perfectly!

  14. Hi Sally, I work in a kitchen and these will be great the tray I have is a rectangle, and it is 10 inchs by 15 inchs , can you help with how to adapt this recipe for a bigger quantity please

    1. Hi Melissa! You should need about a two batches for that size pan.

  15. My children both agreed, that they don’t like these bars, they LOVE these bars! Another great recipe from this website! Only little change I would make is to double the poppy seeds.

  16. The icing is delicious. At first I was worried that the bars were going to be dry and crumbly. I took a risk and froze them anyway for my sister’s baby shower. We defrosted then and iced them today and they’re really good. A yummy and unique treat just like the blog post says.