Margarita Cupcakes

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!

margarita cupcakes

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?

margarita cupcakes

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

margarita cupcake batter

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:

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients together.
  2. Cream the wet ingredients together. Begin by creaming the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla extract.
  3. 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.
  4. Fill the cupcake liners. These cupcakes rise a lot, so remember to only fill your cupcake liners about halfway.
  5. Bake.
  6. Brush the warm cupcakes with tequila. This infuses extra tequila flavor.
  7. 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?

creamy tequila lime frosting

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.

  1. 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).
  2. 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.

margarita cupcakes with tequila lime frosting

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.

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margarita cupcakes

Margarita Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes or 30 mini cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Margarita cupcakes begin with a simple sweet lime cupcake base and are topped with fluffy tequila lime frosting!


Ingredients

  • 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
  • 34 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. Make the batter: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. Milk: For richest taste and texture, I strongly recommend whole milk or buttermilk.
  3. Lime Zest & Juice: You’ll want about 2 Tablespoons zest and 1/4 cup lime juice.
  4. Tequila: Any tequila works! Want them alcohol free? Use 3 Tbsp of milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream instead.
  5. 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

Eat your margaritas with these easy cupcakes!! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com
Eat your margaritas with these easy cupcakes!! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

133 Comments

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  1. Anna @ Anna Can Do It! says:

    These cupcakes are pure awesomeness! Who doesn’t want their margaritas in fluffy cupcake form?! I just  love this recipe! – Love, Anna

  2. Andrea @ Cooking with a Wallflower says:

    I love the idea of these cupcakes! They’ll definitely be the life of any party. I just know that these cupcakes will be gone instantly. And oh my gosh, I’m totally for naming 6 pups after the cast of Friends. I mean, I watch Friends so many times over the years, anyway!

  3. I love this idea! Eating a margerita?! Delicious. I have a birthday party to go to in a couple of weeks and i think these will be perfect for me to take along!

    1. *Margarita. Sorry, autocorrect on my phone

  4. Sally, these are SO beautiful! Seriously, that frosting…it looks like the picture next to “frosting” in the dictionary 😉 I love love love lime, so these would be so great…I’d probably substitute more lime juice (or maybe coconut milk??) for the tequila, but that’s just me 🙂 Thanks for the recipe!

    1. I KNEW you’d love these!

  5. Tori//Gringalicious says:

    So completely YES! These cupcakes couldn’t be more perfect and they’re just what this weekend needs!

  6. Now I’m gonna go scour Amazon for lime extract. I have lemon. Why did I never think to buy lime? 
    And I’d drink margs every night in my fantasy life, too. I’d also have a very clean house with some kind of tricked-out patio where I did workouts by the water with a personal trainer. We can all dream!

    1. I didn’t pick up lime until I began playing around with this recipe. It’s a flavor I ALWAYS overlook! The key lime pie is what I bought. It’s incredible. And smells even better!

      1. Gina Hankerd says:

        The key lime pie syrup, or the one with the picture of a pie?

  7. Marina @ A Dancer's Live-It says:

    Looks like you had so much fun! So sorry I missed it. But I’m definitely making these cupcakes with my birthday being on Cinco de Mayo! 🙂

  8. Rachel // Mesa Cooking Co. says:

    So fun! Your description of the flavor of these cupcakes is perfect because at first I just couldn’t imagine what they would taste like. I get it now – and they sound awesome! 

  9. I think your suggestion for Blackberry Lime Cupcakes sounds awesome!! Will be making this weekend!!!

    1. Perfect. You’ll be trying them before I do! So let me know how they turn out. 🙂

  10. These look so cute and delicious! I have to try them soon! That muffin pan is absolutely adorable!!!

    1. Isn’t it pretty? It’s even better in real life. And still looks great after a couple years baking with it.

  11. demeter | beaming baker says:

    Just when I thought ‘ritas couldn’t get better… Seeing that photo with the cupcakes and a perfectly rimmed glass… goodness gracious, it’s time for a vacation, to somewhere warm. With these cupcakes and that drink right by my side. 😉
    Okay, where are these puppies? And is the sleeping one Joey Tailiani? And the crazy hyper one is Phoebe Poochfay, right? Ross Yeller has doggie glasses on; I can just feel it. 😉 Monica Yeller has a mini chef’s hat on. And (okay, I so cannot even stop at this point)… Rachel Greenhound has a Ralph Lauren button down shirt on, plus a briefcase. Oh, and someone almost forgot Chandler because… Ya know. 😉 Okay, Chandler Biscuit has an argyle sweater vest on. 
    Could this pawsibly be cuter?
    Thank you Sally, for making the day funnier, brighter and happier with this post. Have a great weekend! 

    1. Omg the Friends dog last names. I can’t even handle you right now!!

  12. I’m thinking about making these for Mother’s Day! My mom is a huge margarita fan. I’ll just have to make two batches of cupcakes: alcohol free ones for the kiddies, and over the top margarita ones for the grown ups. Thinking these would also be really cute topped with little sparkly coke balls (to mimic ice) 🙂 

    1. VERY cute!

  13. Hi Sally!
    I took a mental health day from work today and now I know what I’ll be doing! Going to buy limes and then making these awesome cupcakes! Thank you for another creative and delicious recipe!
    Do you have a rum cake recipe? That’s my fave and I know yours would be heaven!

    1. Hope you relax and rejuvenate your mind today Erin. I actually don’t have a rum cake recipe, but I’ve been searching for one. I have a friend who loves it too. If you find a good one, send it to me!

  14. Austria Azaceta says:

    Hi Sally,
    Love love love these cupcakes!!  Can’t wait to make them!!  As much as I love lemon I love lime even more (& hello tequila frosting!) so these NEED to happen for Cinco de Mayo.  I love the idea of the black berries.  Being that the black berries can get pretty big, i was thinking of just sticking one in the middle of each cupcake before putting them in the oven.  Will have to give it a try!  Thanks so much for this lovely recipe!! 🙂

    1. Now THAT sounds like a fun idea.

  15. These sound so good. I think these will be the perfect Cinco De Mayo treat next Thursday. I love how I’ll be able to prep it in advance. I almost want to make it cake instead that way I can have more of that yummy lime frosting in every bite, or it will just prevent me from eating all the frosting first. 🙂 Thanks for this recipe and the photos are beautiful. Glad you are feeling more rejuvenated after going to the workshop.

    1. Thanks very much Courtney. If you make them, let me know how you like ’em!

  16. Natalie Munroe says:

    Mmm. I could go for a margarita about now. Ah dreams… I Just wanted to say that your photos for this recipe are particularly gorgeous. The colors! The textures! Ahhhh! I can SEE the deliciousness. Also? I’m thinking a party with your mango guacamole and these cupcakes might be on my summer menu.

    1. It should simply read “milk” — sorry about that Pam and thanks!

    2. Ahhh thank you so much! I’m working on adding more texture to my photos. Yes yes yes to the mango guac. It’s been way too long since I made it. I used to make it on a weekly basis!

  17. With only 1/2 cup in the recipe, I don’t notice a huge taste difference between the two. Where you would notice the difference (in the texture, mostly) is if you used lower fat or nonfat milk.

  18. What a super fun idea! I could bring these to my office!
    Kari
    www.sweetteasweetie.com

  19. How fun and festive!! You’re right, I don’t think anyone will complain about two booze-filled recipes this week 😉

  20. Lynn @ Fresh April Flours says:

    You’re killin’ me this week, Sally. All this liquor and me with a baby in mah belly. NOT MAD (soooo not mad) that I can’t drink… But I am an absolute sucker for margs. And G&Ts. Apparently I have a thing for limes. I actually posted a G&T cake on my blog in the fall and I am dying to make it into cupcakes! Looks like this summer will be full of poopy diapers and boozy desserts!

    Sorry for writing “poopy” on your blog. I hope you’ll still be my friend 🙂

    1. Always. 😀

  21. Mary // Chattavore says:

    Citrus flavors are my favorite. This sounds absolutely amazing…must make!

  22. Tequila Lime Frosting? OMG YES!!!! I think I can almost taste it…  

  23. Oh my heavens, I can’t wait to make these for Thursday. I got official permission from my supervisor to bring them into work! One quick question, though: one of my coworkers has Celiac, so is there a gluten-free flour you can recommend? Thanks!

    1. I’m no expert on GF flours, sorry! If you find one that works, please let me know. 🙂

      1. I made them for today with rice flour. The taste is fine, but they didn’t rise as much as I imagine they normally would. They actually kind of deflated. It was fine, though; I just filled in the craters with extra frosting. Piping covers all manner of sins 🙂

    2. I have converted several of Sally’s recipes to gluten free (the Very Vanilla Cupcakes are our favorite!), and I have great results.  I use Better Batter flour for baking.  It turns out great, BUT turn down the heat 25 degrees when you use gf flour.  Good luck!

  24. Julianne @ Beyond Frosting says:

    This is my kind of cupcake!! 

  25. I have really strong doTerra lime essential oil. What type of oil were you using? I think a teaspoon of mine would be overwhelming.

    1. LorAnn. Add little at a time until you feel the flavor is sufficient. The amount is up to your tastebuds!

  26. I love Juliska  design but can’t afford them 🙁

  27. Michelle @ Modern Acupuncture says:

    Girls’ weekend coming up… definitely making these! I better practice them ahead of time. You know, for research 😉

    1. [email protected] Yes, I am going to try these prior to next weekend.

  28. These are going to be great! They are in the oven right now :0) I need a couple for little ones so those will be sans tequila. I’ll core them and put sprinkles in theirs to make little piñatas out of them. The adults and the kids will get a little surprise HA! Thanks for the great recipe!

    1. I hope everyone loved them– and I love the piñata idea for the kids!

  29. Stella @ Stellicious Life says:

    Love how colourful and fun these cupcakes are, serious party ‘cakes! 😉

    And that Juliska muffin pan is gorgeous!!

  30. I made these for Cinco de Mayo and they were AMAZING. Thank you! 

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