Deliciously soft and moist margarita cupcakes begin with a simple sweet lime cupcake base and are topped with fluffy tequila lime frosting. Like classic margaritas, these cupcakes are full of zippy, fresh lime flavor. See my recipe note for a non-alcoholic version. Cheers!
Today’s margarita cupcakes get you in the mood for vacation, are the perfect dessert for warm spring/summer weather, are great for Cinco de Mayo, and satisfy your margarita craving. They’re buttery and moist with a light fluffy texture and fresh, tangy lime flavor. Out of the dozens of cupcakes I’ve made, these lime cupcakes are towards the tippy top. They’re everything we expect from a margarita in cupcake form.
We’re eating our margs, ok?
These Margarita Cupcakes Are:
- Light and fluffy
- Ultra moist
- Packed with fresh lime flavor
- Topped with tequila lime frosting
- Everything we love about margaritas in cupcake form
- Great for parties and celebrations
Let’s Make these Margarita Cupcakes!
These lime cupcakes are incredibly simple to prepare. Using my lemon cupcakes as the starting point, I replaced lemon with lime. I’m a firm believer in finding a bunch of quality base recipes, then developing new flavors and combinations from there. Like lime cupcakes from lemon cupcakes. There wasn’t enough lime flavor for it to really shine through, so I added a little more zest to these. Here’s an overview of how to make these cupcakes:
- Whisk the dry ingredients together.
- Cream the wet ingredients together. Begin by creaming the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla extract.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Add some of the dry ingredients alternating with some of the milk until it’s all mixed. Mix in the lime zest and juice.
- Fill the cupcake liners. These cupcakes rise a lot, so remember to only fill your cupcake liners about halfway.
- Brush the warm cupcakes with tequila. This infuses extra tequila flavor.
- Frost the completely cooled cupcakes.
Baker’s Tip: Try adding 1 cup of berries to the batter before filling the cupcake liners. Blackberry lime margarita cupcakes sound delicious, right?
How to Make Tequila Lime Frosting
While most of my frosting recipes are made with cream for a super smooth consistency, today’s frosting recipe is cream free. How? Tequila! We use standard frosting ingredients like softened butter and confectioners’ sugar, but replace the cream with tequila– only about 3-4 Tablespoons total.
Beat the butter until it’s silky smooth and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes on high speed. Then, add the confectioner’s sugar 1 cup at a time to maintain the ultra smooth consistency and add even more fluff. Once creamy and combined, beat in the tequila, vanilla extract, and lime flavoring. I also like to add a little salt to this frosting. Just a pinch or two to cut down on sweetness and because salted rims are the best part of an actual margarita. Taste and add more salt or flavoring as needed.
This is not salty, heavily tequila flavored frosting. You’ll mostly taste sweet lime with a hint of tequila. 🙂
For lime flavor in the frosting, you have a couple options.
- Lime extract or lime oil. These are specialty ingredients that you’d have to order, but I highly suggest picking up a bottle. I recommend starting with 2 teaspoons of lime extract or 1 teaspoon of lime oil, but taste as you beat it in and add more as you find necessary. I also prefer lime extract or lime oil because it has incredibly concentrated flavor as opposed to just lime juice and lime zest (next option).
- Lime juice and lime zest. Adding enough lime juice for flavor will thin out your frosting, making it more difficult to pipe. Similarly, lime zest in your frosting complicates piping because the little chunks can get stuck in the piping tip.
If piping isn’t a concern and you’d like to just free-hand swipe frosting on top, you can use lime juice and lime zest together. If you’re going for looks and a true thick buttercream texture, pick up some lime extract or lime oil.
Decorating Margarita Cupcakes
You have a few options! I used a Wilton 1M tip for today’s cupcakes, but you could certainly use a Wilton #12 round tip. Here are even more of my favorite piping tips with a video tutorial showing you how to use each. Garnish frosted cupcakes with lime slices, lime zest, coarse sugar, or even strawberries.Print
Margarita cupcakes begin with a simple sweet lime cupcake base and are topped with fluffy tequila lime frosting!
- 1 and 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (115g; 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature preferred
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk*
- zest + fresh juice of 3 medium limes*
- optional: 2 Tablespoons tequila (for brushing in step 5)
Tequila Lime Frosting
- 1 cup (230g; 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 4 cups (480g) confectioners’ sugar
- 3–4 Tablespoons (45-60ml) tequila*
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- lime flavoring (please see notes– there are options)*
- pinch of salt, to taste
- optional: lime slices, lime zest, and/or coarse sugar for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- Make the batter: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on high speed in a large bowl until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed.
- With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add some of the dry ingredients alternating with some of the milk until all is mixed. Increase to high speed and beat in the lime zest and juice until incorporated. Try to avoid overmixing.
- Pour/spoon the batter into the liners – fill only 1/2 – 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For around 30 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. While still warm, brush finished cupcakes with tequila. This infuses extra tequila flavor. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
- Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, beating on low at first then increasing to high speed. Once incorporated, add the next cup. Once creamy and combined, beat in the tequila, vanilla extract, lime flavoring, and pinch of salt on high speed. Taste. Add more salt or flavoring as needed.
- Frost cooled cupcakes. I used a Wilton 1M tip for these photos. (Another favorite is this Wilton #12 round tip.) Garnish with lime slices, lime zest, or coarse sugar.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Milk: For richest taste and texture, I strongly recommend whole milk or buttermilk.
- Lime Zest & Juice: You’ll want about 2 Tablespoons zest and 1/4 cup lime juice.
- Tequila: Any tequila works! Want them alcohol free? Use 3 Tbsp of milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream instead.
- Lime Flavoring: 2 options! You can use 2 teaspoons lime extract or 1 teaspoon lime oil. Start with those amounts then taste the frosting and add more to taste. I use exactly 2 teaspoons of key lime flavoring when I make these. You can use 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice and lime zest from 1 lime instead. Zest is optional. This amount of lime juice will add flavor, but it will thin out the frosting. The zest makes it difficult to pipe. See the post above for more detail.
Keywords: margarita cupcakes, tequila lime frosting