These margarita cupcakes are full of lime flavor... and a little bit of tequila, too! They're easy to make as full-size or mini cupcakes and perfect for summer parties!
(This recipe for Margarita Cupcakes was originally published in August 2010, but has been updated with new photos in 2019).
Hello! Coming at you from my new apartment 🙂 The move actually went quite smoothly... Yes, it took 6.5 hours, but our movers were fabulous and we got it all done.
The apartment is still a bit of a mess (boxes everywhere!), so I'm not going to show you much yet. But I do have to say, I LOVE my new kitchen.
Let's be honest- the kitchens in Boston apartments are often not much to look at (or cook in). Sometimes I look at food bloggers' kitchens in other parts of the country and swoon. But for the price and from what else I've seen in the city, I have to say my new kitchen is quite nice and a definite upgrade for me.
The best part about it? Space! When I'm low on space, I tend to freak out. And when I'm in a rush and low on space? Disaster.
So, what's the first thing I made in my new kitchen? Cupcakes, obviously! My sister invited Chris and me over for dinner and the Bachelorette finale, so I offered to bring dessert, knowing I'd want to make some cupcakes. After checking out some recipes, I settled on a version of these margarita cupcakes. Perfect for summer, right?
I cut the original recipe I followed in half, since I didn't really need 24 cupcakes ( I KNOW, but really). So, I'm giving you the recipe for 12 below. But I've made these several times now and in my updated photos, I decided to make mini margarita cupcakes.
You don't have to change anything with the recipe aside from using a mini cupcake tin and baking for less time. Instead of getting 12 cupcakes, you'll get 36. The minis are great for bringing to parties!
If you're craving margarita cupcakes, but don't want any alcohol involved (for instance, if kids will be indulging), you can simply skip the step of brushing the cupcakes with tequila and replace the tequila with lime juice in the frosting. You'll still get a great lime flavor; just without the alcohol.
Margarita Cupcakes Recipe
This is a pretty typical easy cupcake recipe, though the frosting is a bit unique. Of course, you're welcome to use your own frosting recipe and could even make a simple buttercream (with just butter and confectioners' sugar) with some lime juice and tequila added in.
However, this light and fluffy frosting really does go fabulously with the cupcakes!
Start by combining the dry ingredients together and then creaming the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer) until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Blend eggs in one at a time and beat in lime juice, lime zest, and vanilla.
With mixer on low speed, mix in dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk. Beat each addition until just incorporated taking care not to over-mix.
Divide batter into cupcake papers, filling about ¾ full. For full-sized cupcakes, bake at 375 degrees for 20-24 minutes (until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean). For mini margarita cupcakes, bake 11-13 minutes.
While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the margarita frosting. This recipe is a little bit different than your typical frosting recipe, but so, so good! Combine sugar, egg whites, and salt in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water (or use a double boiler if you have one). Whisk frequently until sugar has dissolved and mixture reaches about 160 degree F.
Put mixture in bowl of stand mixture with whisk attachment (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer) and beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and mixture is cooled. This should take about 8 minutes.
Now, reduce the mixer speed to medium and add butter, 2 Tbsp at a time, waiting to add another until the previous piece has been incorporated. If the frosting gets soupy or curdled, beat on medium-high again until it thickens up.
Stir in lime juice and tequila. If you prefer an alcohol-free cupcake, you can replace the tequila with more lime juice.
When the cupcakes are done, let them cool in the pan for a few minutes before moving to a baking rack to cool completely.
Brush those cupcakes with a little bit of tequila! If you want a margarita flavored cupcake, but don't want any alcohol in involved, you can simply skip this step!
Since the frosting isn't quite as stable as a regular old buttercream would be, I recommend just spooning it onto the cupcakes instead of bothering with a pastry bag.
After frosting the cupcakes, I sprinkled some lime zest on all of them and added a little tiny lime wedge. I also cut straws into thirds to give these cupcakes a true margarita look!
I absolutely love how these margarita cupcakes turned out! The cupcakes are super light and moist and the frosting nice and fluffy. Everything about them is summery, from their lightness in both cake and frosting to their citrus taste. To the, uh, tequila?
I don't know, but tequila just makes me think of summer and beaches.
These cupcakes would be lovely at a summer pool party. Or perhaps a Cinco de Mayo party. Of course, you can drink margaritas any time of the year (and should!), so let's not relegate these to summer.
I almost always make full-size cupcakes, but there was something so fun about having these margarita cupcakes in mini form. Mini desserts at parties just work so much better; especially if there are a bunch of other desserts on the table. I like to try a little bit of everything so don't usually want an entire cupcake.
It also makes cupcakes a little bit safer to keep around the house. Though, to be honest, it probably just means I'll eat more of them. Maybe even alongside an actual margarita.
Have you ever had an alcoholic beverage in cupcake form?
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ Tbsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- Zest from 2 limes, plus more for topping cupcakes
- 3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 2 limes)
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup buttermilk
- Tequila, for brushing
- Lime wedges, for topping cupcakes if desired
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 large egg whites
- Pinch coarse salt
- ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 Tbsp tequila
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a full-sized or mini cupcake tin with cupcake papers.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt together.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Blend eggs in one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in lime juice, lime zest, and vanilla.
- With mixer on low speed, mix in dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk. Beat each addition until just incorporated, taking care not to over-mix.
- Divide batter into cupcake papers, filling about ¾ full. For full-sized cupcakes, bake 20-24 minutes and for mini cupcakes, bake 11-13 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let cupcakes cool in tin for a few minutes before moving to wire racks to cool completely.
- Once cupcakes are completely cooled, lightly brush them with tequila. Spoon frosting onto cupcakes and top with lime zest, lime edges, and straws, if desired.
- Combine sugar, egg whites, and salt in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water (can use a double boiler). Whisk frequently until sugar has dissolved and mixture reaches about 160 degree F on a thermometer.
- Put mixture in bowl of stand mixture with whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and mixture is cooled. This should take about 8 minutes.
- Reduce mixer speed to medium and add butter, 2 Tbsp at a time, waiting to add another until the previous piece has been incorporated. If mixture seems to be getting soupy or curdled, beat on medium-high again until it thickens up. Stir in lime juice and tequila.
- Recipe adapted from Everyday Annie