Margarita Cupcakes

Margarita Cupcakes with Tequila Lime Frosting on

We’re eating our margs today, ok?

This is the recipe I demoed on Tuesday night at my book signing event with Juliska. By the way, it wasn’t until I posted Monday’s recipe that I realized both desserts this week have booze in them. That was a complete oversight on my part, but I don’t expect many complaints about truffles with rum and cupcakes with tequila.

And these cupcakes with tequila? They’re for cinco de mayo // the cult obsession with margaritas. Proud member right here. I know you are too.

Margarita Cupcakes with Tequila Lime Frosting on

In my perfect world I’d drink margaritas on the rocks with salted rims every night of the week. However also in my perfect world I’d have a cozy vacation home tucked away in the mountains and I’d pay someone to make me a pretty little cappuccino with foam art on top every morning. Scratch that. It’s my perfect world so I wouldn’t pay them.

Also: 6 puppies named after the cast of Friends.

Instead, my real world consists of very un-arty herbal tea in my very un-cozy home that is currently loaded with moving boxes and piles of dirty dishes. Luckily, my real world also consists of margarita cupcakes, a pup named after a Beatles song, and baking for all of you. 🙂

Margarita Cupcakes with Tequila Lime Frosting on

Margarita Cupcakes with Tequila Lime Frosting on

What I have for you today is a very basic lime cupcake recipe. And by basic, I very much do not mean “boring”– I mean simple! Crazy simple. So much so that when I taught this recipe the other night/spilled confectioners’ sugar all over the counter like I do EVERY SINGLE TIME, readers went totally bonkers over their simplicity. That may just be in my head but I swear they’re really easy.

When I tested this recipe last week, I started with my lemon cupcake base and replaced lemon with lime. I’m a firm believer in finding a bunch of quality base recipes and 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. The cupcakes are buttery and moist with a light fluffy texture and fresh ‘n’ tangy lime flavor. Out of the dozens of cupcake bases I’ve made, these lime cupcakes are towards the tippy top. They rise up up up, so remember to fill your cupcake liners only about halfway.

Also: try adding 1 cup of berries to the batter before going into the oven. Blackberry lime marg cupcakes sound pretty awesome right??

Margarita Cupcakes with Tequila Lime Frosting on

Let me tell you about a frosting that doesn’t include cream. And that’s very weird for me considering that cream is always my secret to the best frosting on the planet. Standard ingredients here– softened butter that is whipped until silky smooth and fluffy. Confectioners’ sugar added 1 cup at a time to really smooth things out and add even more fluff. Next up? 3, 2, 1… TEQUILA! Only about 3-4 Tablespoons total.

Because if you’re not adding tequila to your frosting, you’re doing it wrong.

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 getting your hands on a bottle. I’ll guide you with the best amount of each, but taste as you beat it in and add more as you find necessary. I also prefer lime extract or lime oil because it’s an incredible amount of 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 will get stuck in the piping tip. Tried it and I hate to report that the results were not OK. Delicious, yes. Attractive? Abso-freakin-lutely not.

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. I also 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 marg.

PS: this is not salty, heavily tequila flavored frosting. Which I imagine would taste completely revolting. You’ll mostly taste sweet lime with a hint of tequila.

Margarita Cupcakes with Tequila Lime Frosting on

Cheers to you!


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


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
  • 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


  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.


  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 this key lime flavoring when I make these. You can use 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice and lime zest from 1 lime instead. This will thin out the frosting and the zest makes it difficult to pipe. See the post above for more detail.

Keywords: margarita cupcakes, tequila lime frosting

Thank you to my readers who came out and to Juliska for having me! The ceramic muffin pan you see above is from Juliska. We registered for Juliska dinnerware and serving dishes. I adore this whole berry & thread line! It all makes pretty gifts too.



Eat your margaritas with these easy cupcakes!! Recipe on
Eat your margaritas with these easy cupcakes!! Recipe on


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

  2. 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!

  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!

  5. 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!

  7. 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. 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. 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! 

  10. 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) 🙂 

  11. 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!

  12. 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!! 🙂

  13. 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.

  14. 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. I noticed in the ingredient list for the Margarita Cupcakes you used whole milk however in the directions you incorporated Buttermilk with the dry ingredients. So I was wondering which milk you actually used for his recipe. 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!

  15. Hi Sally –

    Do you have a strong preference between using buttermilk or whole milk? Or is it not that big of a deal and not really change in the cupcake’s consistency? 

    BTW these look absolutely amazing! Perfect timing for cinco de drinko 😉


    1. 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.

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

  17. 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 🙂

  18. 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 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 🙂

    1. 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!

  19. 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!

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

  21. 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!

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

    And that Juliska muffin pan is gorgeous!!

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally