If you want truly celebratory cupcakes, try these festive and delicious Margarita Cupcakes. The cupcakes themselves are melt-in-your-mouth tender with a bright lime flavor and a hint of tequila in the background. Serve these on Cinco de Mayo or any other cupcake-worthy occasion.
(This recipe was originally published in September 2012, but was updated with new photos and content in 2022).
These delightful Margarita Cupcakes truly encompass the beloved flavors of a classic margarita. They're moist and fluffy with a hit of lime and a hint of tequila. The finished cupcakes are very lime forward in flavor, and in a pinch you can easily make them family friendly by omitting the tequila.
The not-too-sweet, citrusy American-style buttercream is ultra creamy and silky smooth. It helps round out these cupcakes as the perfect treat for any fiesta. Serve these up for any Mexican-themed gathering like Cinco de Mayo, or for birthdays, barbecues, or any occasion you want to celebrate.
- Limes: You'll need both lime zest and fresh lime juice for these margarita cupcakes. Make sure to wash your limes really well before zesting them, especially if they aren't organic. Also, if you want your cupcakes to be extra special, be sure to save a lime or two for garnishing.
- Tequila: You could use silver or gold tequila for this recipe. Just use whatever tequila you like best! If needed, you can omit the alcohol entirely, and these will essentially be lime cupcakes (still delicious, but not boozy).
- Buttermilk: Buttermilk adds a bit of tanginess and a lot of tenderness to baking. I love it, but if you don't have any or don't want to buy it just for this recipe, you can use regular milk. If you have leftover buttermilk from making margarita cupcakes, use it to make Irish Guinness Brown Bread, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Buttermilk Pumpkin Spice Waffles, Gingerbread Muffins, or Honey Butter Glazed Cornbread.
How to make it
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until pale, light, and fluffy.
Next, add the eggs one at at time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the lime juice, tequila, lime zest, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. The mixture may look curdled at this point, but don’t worry, it will all come back together.
Add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk in between. Mix just until incorporated.
Divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups.
Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until just slightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack. Brush the tops of the cupcakes with the 1 to 2 tablespoons of tequila. Cool completely before frosting them.
To make the frosting, beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until super creamy. Reduce the speed and gradually add the confectioners' sugar. Next, add the tequila, lime juice, and salt. Mix until smooth and fluffy.
Frost the margarita cupcakes and garnish, if desired, with lime zest, an additional sprinkling of coarse salt and/or a lime wedge. I like to use a high quality finishing salt like fleur de sel for an extra special touch.
Please scroll to the bottom of the post for the full recipe (in a printable recipe card) including ingredient amounts and detailed instructions.
You will need some fresh lime juice in your frosting before you need more lime zest for your garnish. In order to be most efficient with the least amount of waste, first zest your lime into a small bowl and then cover it with a damp paper towel to keep the zest from drying out. Then cut and squeeze the lime for its juice. The zest will stay fresh and you can use it as a garnish after frosting the margarita cupcakes!
Although you can bake the cupcakes a couple days in advance and store in an airtight container (room temp is ok if they're not frosted), I would recommend waiting to frost and especially waiting to garnish until right before serving. Lime slices and lime zest can dry out if you garnish too early. You may store frosted margarita cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple days, but be sure to bring them to room temperature before serving.
Other recipes you may like
- Chocolate Cupcakes with Red Wine Buttercream Frosting
- Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey's Frosting and Irish Whiskey Ganache Filling
- Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes
- Reese's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes
- Pink Lemonade Cupcakes
- Guava Margarita
- Prickly Pear Margarita
- Hibiscus Margarita
- Tamarind Margarita
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- 1 ½ cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 ounces (113 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)
- 2 tablespoons tequila
- 1 tablespoon (packed) freshly grated lime zest (from about 2 limes)
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup buttermilk or milk
To Brush the Cupcakes:
- 1 to 2 tablespoons tequila
- 6 ounces (170 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 ¾ cups (175 grams) confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
- 2 tablespoons tequila
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- Pinch of coarse salt
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a standard muffin pan with 12 paper liners and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugar together until pale, light, and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Reduce the mixer speed and add the eggs one at at time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
- Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the lime juice, tequila, lime zest, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. The mixture may look curdled at this point, but don’t worry, it will all come back together.
- Add the dry ingredients in three batches on low speed, alternating with the buttermilk in two batches. Mix just until incorporated (don't over-mix). Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and give it one last mix by hand.
- Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until just slightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack. Brush the tops of the cupcakes with the 1 to 2 tablespoons of tequila. Cool completely before frosting them.
- To make the frosting, beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 5 minutes until super creamy. Reduce the speed and gradually add the confectioners' sugar. Periodically scrape the sides of the bowl and continue beating until it's all incorporated.
- Next, add the tequila, lime juice, and salt. Mix until smooth and fluffy. The frosting will increase in volume as air is whipped into it. If the frosting appears a bit too soft, add some additional sugar or refrigerate briefly to firm up.
- Frost the cupcakes and garnish, if desired, with lime zest, an additional sprinkling of coarse salt and/or a lime wedge.
- If you would prefer to make these cupcakes alcohol-free, you can omit the tequila from both the cupcakes and the frosting. Instead, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the frosting if omitting the tequila.
- You may store frosted cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple days, but be sure to bring them to room temperature before serving.
- If making these cupcakes in advance, I recommend waiting to garnish them until right before serving. Lime slices and lime zest can dry out if you garnish too early.
- Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*