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. Hi Sally! 
    Just wanted to let you know that I made these for Cinco de Mayo & they were fantastic!! LOVE all the wonderful lime flavor!! Will have to get my hands on some lime extract for next time (cause there will certainly be a next time!) so the frosting holds a little better. Thanks again for another winner!!

    1. Thanks for letting me know you loved ’em! Lime extract definitely makes a difference in the frosting’s thickness/texture.

    2. I used Key Limes for the entire recipe, because the flavor is a little stronger. It allowed me to cut down the lime juice in the frosting to 1.5 T to keep the consistency good. I used a very small grate for the zest and it piped out perfectly. These cupcakes are amazing!

  2. Every time I bake something from your site, Sally, my boys flip!!  My 14 year old recently has gotten into baking.  When I showed him the pics of the Margarita cupcakes, he said he was going to make them.  He did a wonderful job; zesting the lime, juicing them, following your directions to the letter.  The cupcakes were so moist and flavorful.  Went to 3 different stores trying to find lime oil/extract – no luck. From all the reviews, I’m certain when we make these again, after purchasing the extract online, the lime flavoring will make a huge difference.  Love that my son scrolls through your recipes to see what he’ll make next!!

  3. Does the tequila have to be room temperature? Cause I have my Tequila in the refrigerator will that work?

  4. Hi Sally,

    First of all congratulations with your website and awesome baking skills. I’m new to your site and newbie when it comes to baking cupcakes. I love your helpful and very informative blog on how to measure ingredients correctly, difference between baking powder and soda and so on!

    I’m definitely gonna give a go to your blueberry cupcake recipe and banana bread!

    I’m a huge fun of pistachio cakes and I would love to ask please if you could set your awesome skills on serving us with a recipe of green coloured pistachio cupcake with any frosting you deem appropriate!
    I guess it could be a fun challenge and an awesome addition to your collection too!

    1. Hey Tina! Thanks so much for the incredibly kind comment and WELCOME to the blog! I’ve never made a pistachio cake before but I’m always up for trying something new. Great suggestion and thanks for sharing!

    1. 12. I would make 2 separate batches instead of doubling. Working with more batter risks overmixing and you don’t want to do that with these delicate cupcakes.

  5. Okay I love this but how would you handle pairing this frosting with 1. another flavor of cupcake (say, oh I don’t know, chocolate) and also making it a strawberry marg instead of lime? 

    1. This frosting would be pretty epic on a chocolate cupcake. Great thinking. And for a strawberry marg cupcake– oh goodness. My head is spinning. What about filling these cupcakes with a strawberry filling?

      1. What about- that sounds perfect. It’s proving difficult to find strawberry extract so I’m thinking I’ll make my own (unless you know of any in-person venders-I don’t have time to order it online before I need the cupcakes). The recipes I’m finding look a lot like simple syrup recipes in that water, sugar and fruit are combined and then the remaining berries are strained out. Does that sound right to you? I guess I assumed alcohol was involved for making an extract. 

    2. So would making the strawberry frosting with 2 TB of tequila be ok for strawberry margarita cupcakes?? I loved the idea of making these flavored margarita cupcakes.

  6. I went to the event at Juliska a few months ago and have been dying to make these cupcakes ever since! I finally had the perfect occasion – End of Summer Office Happy Hour!! What could be better than ending the summer with wine in one hand and a margarita cupcake in the other! My coworkers adored them! Thank you for another amazing and simple recipe 🙂 

  7. I tried these tonight and baked them at 350 F for 20 minutes and were still not done. Even using a convection. It’s been a total of 35 minutes baking these. I have now put them back in at 350 F with a conventional bake. Hopefully this will be the last extra 6 minutes. 

    1. Something must be wrong with measurements or ingredient amounts that you put in the batch. Cupcakes should only bake to 18 minutes at 350. If it won’t bake then something is not right. I would start over and measure precisely everything.

      1. I’m experiencing a similar issue and I think I finally figured it out. I think my baking powder is past it’s prime!

  8. Hello I have a question. If I want to use the infusers ( I think that’s what they are called) in the cupcakes. Can I use those? 

  9. So yummy! I don’t really care for margaritas but made these for a girls night this weekend. I actually liked them a lot better than my Kahlua and I always pick chocolate first. I am super excited to use this as a base for all sort of flavor combinations. I am thinking rum punch cupcakes with pineapple juice, orange zest and a rum and mango frosting, blood orange in place of the lime and maybe even pomegranate variation. I got a lot of compliments on these. I ended up getting about 16 out of the batch so not sure I my cupcake pan smaller than normal but extra cupcakes isn’t a bad thing!

  10. So I plan in the future to open my own bakery featuring some boozy themed cupcakes and this recipe was just wonderful! I cant wait to play around with it and possibly include margarita cupcakes to my future dream! thank you!

  11. These cupcakes were amazing! I saw them last week, and knew I had to try them, I’m SO glad I did as did my family, they were a big hit!

    But I didn’t plan ahead well enough in advance to get the lime extract, so I tried something a little different and thought I would share it with you all in case it helps someone else. In place of the lime oil I juiced 1 lime, and then concentrated it myself by freezing the juice in a small container, once the juice was a solid block, I put it in a funnel in a cup, and let the lime juice ice begin to melt. Once the ice was partially melted and nearly white, I threw the white ice out and used the remaining lime juice for the frosting flavor. I found the frosting to be still bursting with lime flavor, without messing up the consistency of the frosting and I loved it because I meant I skipped zesting another lime. Hope that helps!

  12. HI I tried these just now and my cupcake liners pulled away. I am thinking it might have been too much moisture? Would this be the case? How should I fix this? 

    Thanks in advance!

    P.s. I was nervous to make this because I am not usually a citrus dessert kind of gal but I have got to say WOW THAT MAY HAVE CHANGED… so yummy!

    1. That happens with some liners I use. I don’t find that it is the recipe. Were they too moist and wet when you tasted them?

  13. I second the question about making a layer cake with this recipe. I want to make a cake for a cinco de mayo birthday with this recipe!

  14. Hi Sally!
    I’m planning on making these this weekend for a Cinco de Mayo dinner party, they sound great! Just one question, is there a big difference between key lime extract/oil and regular lime extract/oil? I assume there’s some sort of flavor variation, but was wondering if you prefer one over the other for any reason. I haven’t ever done much citrus baking, so I’m looking forward to trying these! Thanks so much!

  15. Just made these today for a Cinco de Mayo party AND my friend’s graduation party, as mini’s, so I tripled the recipe. They turned out great! I was a little worried after I was done mixing the batter and ready to put into the liners, because the batter looked a little curdled. But all went well. I baked them at 325 for 13-14 minutes (I always lower the temp for minis) and came out perfect. I would actually add more lime zest to them, and maybe a little key lime flavoring. I made a POTENT tequila-lime-triple sec ermine buttercream frosting that goes so well with them. Thanks for the recipe. Going to keep this one 🙂

  16. I made these for a Cinco de Mayo party and they were a huge hit! I added some lime juice crystals to the frosting to make it extra zippy — thank so much for the recipe!

  17. Hi there!! I’ve made these several times, I’ve even used the recipe as a base to create strawberry margarita, pina colada and other flavors, but yesterday I tried to make these as a cake and it was a disaster. The cake sunk and the texture was off, I’m wondering if it was too much liquid for an actual cake? I will give it another try. It’ll be great if you could adapt this into an actual cake

  18. I’m under time crunch here but I really want to bake these mini cupcakes. Can I substitute lime oil with lemon oil? I can’t find the lime oil and I don’t have time to order one. Is that ok?

    1. Hi Shelley! I can’t find them on Amazon anymore. I bought them there! But search for colorful wrappers on there and a lot of options will come up 🙂

  19. In the process of trying out this recipe for a fiesta potluck tomorrow! I live in Arizona and the heat is ridiculous right now,, I’m worried about the sturdiness of the frosting. Do you think it can hold up on the ride there or is there a way to thicken it up a bit with out sacrificing flavor? Thanks!

    1. IT should be just fine on the way there! You can always sub in some shortening for the butter in the frosting if you’re nervous about it!

  20. I made these for my friend’s 30th birthday party on Cinco de Mayo. They were absolutely delicious. I took your advice and bought lime extract from a specialty kitchen store in the area and this worked really well for the frosting (lots of flavor without compromising the consistency of the icing). This was my first time using your site (I also made your chocolate cake pops which were fantastic!) and it was a wonderful experience. Plan to make many more of your recipes.

  21. How should I adjust the recipe in terms of cooking time and maybe temperature if I want to make this into 9″ rounds?

    1. Hi Olivia! First, I suggest making the batter twice (instead of doubling). Working with more batter risks overmixing and you don’t want to do that with these delicate cupcakes/cake. Divide the batter between a few 9-inch cake pans, filling halfway. You can use any extra batter for cupcakes. Unsure of the exact bake time but you can use a toothpick to test for doneness. Same oven temp.

  22. Hi!
    Want to make these as minis for my friends retirement party! Can I substitute the key west lime juice in the frosting for the extract??

    1. Hi Chris! I don’t recommend regular lime juice or key lime juice as you’d need a lot of it to get the same amount of flavor, which could ruin the frosting’s texture. Lime flavoring has very concentrated flavor.

  23. Hi Sally! I have a friend who opened her own small cake business. She makes Margarita cake pops, and they are to die for! But she won’t share the recipe! 🙁 Any secrets to turning these into cake pops other than baking the cupcakes, and mixing with the frosting?

    1. Those DO sound delicious!! And yes, that would be how I would attempt to make them! Be sure to read through this post for my cake pop tips before you begin:

  24. Loved this recipe! I didn’t have lime extract or oil so I made some oleo saccharum to flavor the frosting with. I just incorporated the zest of 2 lemons and 6 limes with 1 tablespoon of sugar and let it sit for 2 hours at room temp. Then I put it in a nut milk bag, although cheese cloth would work fine, and squeezed the liquid out. It worked great!

  25. I’m going to make a dozen margarita cupcakes. How in the world would it take 3 HOURS to make them?!

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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