These Sweet Tea Vodka Cupcakes take lemony cupcakes lightly brushed with sweet tea vodka and top them with plenty of sweet tea vodka frosting for the ultimate summer treat.
(This recipe for Sweet Tea Vodka Cupcakes was originally published in August 2011, but the post has been updated with new photos and content in 2018)
I'm a Northern girl through and through. Born and raised close to Boston, I never had a sip of sweet tea growing up. Sweetened ice tea, sure, but I don't think I had even heard of actual sweet tea until college.
While I had absolutely no lack of delicious food growing up, my childhood was seriously lacking in the sweet tea department. And the grits department. And the catfish department. But don't worry, I wasn't deprived of fried chicken.
And there's no way you'll ever find me complaining of my New England fare consisting of lobster, baked beans, and maple syrup. And fluff. How could I complain about anything when marshmallow fluff is involved?
But then I grew up, fell in love with vodka (t'was a lifelong romance), and discovered sweet tea vodka. Mixed with a little bit of water, lemon, and ice; sweet tea vodka totally hits the spot when it's sweltering out and you want to sit outside in a big hat with a plate of hush puppies. Just kidding; I never had a hush puppy as a child either.
I first created these cupcakes back in 2011 when sweet tea vodka was just gaining in popularity. Luckily, it's stuck around and there are now several varieties on the market. Whether sitting on your farmer's porch down south or on your tiny and noisy Boston deck, sipping on sweet tea vodka just feels like summer to me.
Fun fact: My husband is from Virginia and for our wedding favors, we gave our guests sweet tea in a jar to tie together and pay homage both of our roots (you know, the Boston tea party and all). It was all well and good until I went to the grocery store and bought 130 lemons two days before the wedding, only to realize that every single one of them was too big to fit into a mason jar (when our families gathered together to assemble the jars).
Ah well, they say every wedding has to have some kind of disaster and if that was ours, I think we're doing pretty well (we ended up slicing the lemons and wrapping them in plastic wrap, which didn't have the same visual effect, but got the job done).
Sweet Tea Vodka Cupcakes Recipe
Back to the sweet tea vodka cupcakes! The cake portion of the dessert is super lemony (just how I like my sweet tea) from the addition of lots of lemon zest and juice. Other than that, they're pretty standard cupcakes with a batter that's easy to whip up.
Once the cupcakes are out of the oven and cooled, you'll lightly brush the tops with sweet tea vodka. If you're planning to serve some of these cupcakes to kids, you may want to set those ones aside without the vodka brush.
Then again, the frosting has sweet tea vodka in it, too....But I promise it's a super small amount.
The frosting is a simple buttercream, but with the addition of the vodka and some lemon zest. And the garnishes can be whatever you want, but I recommend a little straw (I cut my straws into thirds), a tiny lemon wedge, and some lemon zest.
I just think cupcakes with straws are the cutest little things, y'all. Just kidding, I promise I'm not going to start pretending I'm from the south just because I made a batch of sweet tea vodka cupcakes. Though I do really like saying y'all and just can't help myself sometimes.
But these sweet tea vodka cupcakes are incredibly fun and the perfect party dessert no matter where in the world you are. And I WILL pretend the weather is 80 degrees and sunny and perfect for deck sitting and sweet tea vodka cupcake eating and cocktail drinking. At all times.
No matter what time of year it is or where in the world I am. I know a lot of people don't love the heat, but 80 degrees is my dream temperature.
Seriously though, this is simply a summer cocktail in cupcake form. But in case you're worried, I should tell you that the vodka is definitely not over-powering at all; but there's a touch of tea and a whole lotta lemon involved. Just the refreshment you need in the summer heat.
It doesn't get much better than this on a summer evening. Maybe a side of fried chicken would have been appreciated, but I'm not complaining.
Actually, the only thing better than sweet tea vodka cupcakes? A sweet tea vodka cupcake with a GLASS of sweet tea vodka to wash it down. I know it's only Monday, but doesn't that kind of make it even more necessary? That's what I thought.
What's your favorite summer cocktail turned dessert?
If you're interested in more boozy desserts (my specialty!), check out these Blueberry Mojito Doughnuts or these Rosé Sour Patch Kids. I also love these Paloma Cupcakes from Nourish and Fete.
Sweet Tea Vodka Cupcakes
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups confectioners' sugar
- 2 Tbsp lemon zest
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp sweet tea vodka
- 1 batch Sweet Tea Vodka Frosting (recipe below)
Sweet Tea Vodka Frosting
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 ½ cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- 3-4 Tbsp sweet tea vodka
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12-cavity cupcake tin with cupcake papers.
- Combine butter, confectioners' sugar, and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer or whisk. Beat until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating to blend.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Mix half the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until just combined. Add in the milk and lemon juice. Then add in the other half of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, taking care not to over-mix.
- Pour batter into lined cupcake tin, filling each cavity about ¾ of the way.
- Bake cupcakes for 16-20 minutes, until cooked through and slightly golden at edges.
- Let cupcakes cool in the pan for a few minutes before moving to wire rack to cool completely. When cool, brush lightly with about 2 Tbsp sweet tea vodka.
- Frost with Sweet Tea Vodka Frosting and top with lemon wedge, zest, and straw, if desired.
Sweet Tea Vodka Frosting
- In the bowl of an electric mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer or whisk, beat together butter and confectioners's sugar until light and fluffy.
- Mix in lemon zest and 3 Tbsp sweet tea vodka. Continue adding sweet tea vodka until desired consistency is achieved.
Camels & Chocolate says
I'll be sipping on something, ANYTHING, to help me forget this horrendous week of 2,500 miles of driving across barren, rural American countryside =) Hey, since I'll be back in the South, it could very well be Firefly vodka!
(These look delish...not like I've ever not wanted to bake anything immediately that you've posted!)
Lauren at Keep It Sweet says
These cupcakes are so fun, love it!
Simply Life says
wow, you are so creative! I love this idea!
The office all agreed that these were amazing. When I brought the extras into the office yesterday they disappeared within seconds. Also the pictures look amazing.
LOVE Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka. I have the raspberry one in my freezer right now!
Jenn's Food Journey says
Wow, those look gorgeous!! I've had sweet tea vodka before... YUM!! I can imagine how wonderful these little cupcakes were!!
amy @ fearless homemaker says
too fun! i was also raised in boston, never heard of sweet tea 'til i moved to nashville, + blogged about a sweet tea dessert a few weeks ago (a sweet tea tart with a gingersnap crust). we loooove firefly sweet tea vodka around here -normally mix it with lemonade or fruit tea + serve it on the rocks. i'll definitely be making these soon!
Beth @ DiningAndDishing says
quite possibly the best cupcake idea ever!! im working at a winery this weekend so i bet you can probably guess what ill be sipping on :).
Lacey Bean says
DEAR GOD YES. You just made my day. I love sweet tea vodka, and I can't wait to make these.
you can probably guess what I'll be sipping on 😉
i pretty much always have a bottle of this at my bar too - in the summer! it's the absolute best!
yum!! i can't wait to try these. i LOVE me some firefly vodka! and i guess i am spoiled because their distillery is right down the road from my house!
@Lindsay- Lucky!! If I lived near the distillery, I'd probably move in 🙂
WOW! These look professionally made and I love to bake! i am definitely going to try this out because I enjoy entertaining and this would look so adorable for my next soiree at my place!
love these!!! I found this because FireFly Re tweeted in on twitter!! Great cupcakes!!
wow! These sound absolutely amazing!
I have half a bottle of Firefly in out liquor cabinet...hmmmm.....
The Duo Dishes says
Firefly is the best brand of the sweet tea vodkas. We've tried three brands, and it beats them all. Great cupcake idea!
So cute! I love all your alcohol-laden cupcake ideas.
Jennifer @EsqEvents says
I didn't realize you could buy Firefly up here....must go look!
Your cupcakes are very adorable! I was recently at a party where Firefly sweet tea vodka and lemonade were mixed for a spiked arnold palmer. Very tasty and refreshing!
You are hilarious! My Sister&Bro-in-law had Firefly as one of the signature drinks at their wedding. I forwarded this along 🙂
Foodies on the Fly says
Yum! Those look so delish.
EVERYTHING tastes better in a mason jar. I've never had any of the other brands, but I reckon Firefly is the best because they make it just down the road from me on Wadmalaw Island in SC 🙂
Dustin Rennells says
I do a VERY similar cupcake in my cupcakes and cocktails class at bcae! I might try out your frosting next time. Firefly and lemonade is my go-to summer drink. XOXO,
I am seriously deprived since I've never had sweet tea and never even heard of sweet tea vodka! Your cupcakes are just adorable.
these cupcakes are so pretty! they go perfectly with my fave drink lately - an arnold palmer (with sweet tea vodka of course!)
First time I heard of Sweet tea Vodka too! I love the cupcake presentation. Very cute.
Jennifer Ward-Pelar says
I would have never thought! LOVE it. They look/sound de-lish. I'm now going to have to break down and make cupcakes. 🙂
Will I ever get out of the kitchen??
Travel Food Phil says
These look delicious, although I've never tried sweet tea vodka, not sure if I can even get it in Ireland! We've been making peppermint and lime ice tea recently, maybe I'll give that a go in cupcake form. With a bit of gin of course!
A-amazing idea! From Atlanta (live on SoCal now) and always yearn for more and more sweet tea creations. So excited to make this....soon. Maybe for our Labor day bbq! p.s. I've caught my hubs checking out your blog. He says "oh you left it up so i just browsed around." yeah right, hehe! Love it!
Autumn @ Good Eats Girl says
Love this idea...need to make them! They are so cute!
So cute! Would think of candying the lemon slices to sweeten it up even more!
More sensational photography...great job, Sues!
emily @ the happy home says
the stripey straws! the vodka! i'm swooooning. love love love.
Such a creative cupcake idea!! Yes I too just discovered sweet tea vodka like last year 🙂 Delish. And those cupcakes sound amazing!
5 Star Foodie says
The cupcakes sound incredible with the sweet tea vodka in the batter and the frosting, neat!
I know I already commented and drooled all over he place about these BUT! Just poppin by to let you know I gave you a silly little award thing--one of those "accept this award and pass it on!" kind of deals. Check out my blog to pick it up!
Being a born and bred northerner as well, I have a serious lack of sweet tea in my life. Time to bake some cupcakes!
Emily @ A Cambridge Story says
Great idea!! I'll need to get my hands on this vodka... and these cupcakes!
As a girl who rarely sweetens her iced tea, I feel like sweet tea has the ability to kill me, haha. I AM intrigued, however, but its use along with vodka in these cupcakes. Where there is vodka, that's where you'll find me (I'm Armenian, you know).
haha, i've yet to try the vodka... but perhaps i'll start with a cupcake 🙂
This looks AMAZING, can't wait to try making these tasty treats!
Aly ~ Cooking In Stilettos says
That's it - I'm promptly marching my stilettos to the State Store and picking up a bottle of Sweet Tea Vodka. This recipe looks amazing!
I tried this recipe last night and these cupcakes are FANTASTIC!! Yum!! Keep up the wonderful recipes!
Erica Acevedo says
I came for the sweet tea, but I'm staying for the vodka. Seriously loving this creative cupcake!
Aimee Shugarman says
LOVE the fresh lemon in these cupcakes too, in addition to the sweet tea. A perfect summer treat.
What a fun recipe! We loved the flavor that the sweet tea vodka added to the frosting!
I've never used vodka in a cupcake recipe before so I was intrigued! This is a great recipe!