Boozy Margarita Cupcakes

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Margarita Cupcakes are loaded with lime and tequila. These moist and tender tequila cupcakes will draw you in with incredible ribbons of lime zest throughout. The icing on the cupcake? A true Margarita frosting!

titled: boozy margarita cupcakes


Margarita Cupcakes

Frosting spiked with Cuervo Gold tequila and triple sec is brightened with fresh lime juice to make these the most amazing margarita cupcakes you will ever sink your teeth into!

The cake is so tender, light, and fluffy — and so easy to make. No special tricks or methods, just be sure to add the dry ingredients as listed.

Need an entree to pair with these boozy cupcakes? You can’t go wrong with my Margarita Chicken!

And if tequila is not your thing, try my Bailey’s Brownies or cool down with a Strawberry Wine Ice Cream Float.

ingredients to make margarita cupcakes

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Cake Flour – With a lower protein content, this variety produces a lighter, fluffier crumb than all-purpose.

    Make a homemade version by replacing 2 tablespoons per cup of all-purpose flour with cornstarch.
  • Tequila – I prefer to use Gold for this margarita cupcake recipe. Choose a bottle that you like to drink!
  • Limes – Zest first, then juice, to get the largest amount of each. Avoid the white layer (pith) when zesting as it has a bitter taste.
  • Buttermilk – This ingredient adds loads of moisture to this lime dessert, plus a pleasantly subtle tang.

    If you don’t have any, make a simple substitute with regular milk and lemon juice or white vinegar.
  • Triple Sec – Use this orange-flavored liqueur in the frosting for these margarita cupcakes.

    It’s a classic margarita ingredient! Grand Marnier will also work in a pinch.
cracked eggs over cupcake batter in bowl

Tips for Making Boozy Cupcakes

  • Bring ingredients to room temperature.

When everything is at the same temperature, the ingredients blend together much smoother — meaning a lime dessert batter without any lumps.

Set the butter, eggs, and measured buttermilk on the counter for about 30-45 minutes before starting this margarita cupcake recipe.

  • Adjust the frosting consistency.

If your lime dessert frosting is too thin, thicken it with more powdered sugar — about 1 tablespoon at a time until your desired consistency is reached.

Too thick? Use the same method, but with cold water instead of sugar. Keep in mind that buttercream should be a bit stiff so it holds its shape when piped.

  • Don’t forget the garnish!

Pairing cocktail flavors with colorful toppings is half the fun of boozy cupcakes. Save some lime zest and mix it with orange zest to bring out the flavor of the triple sec.

Add a thin slice of lime, and you’ve got a bakery-worthy treat! Make it even more fun by inserting a trimmed paper straw off to the side.

iced boozy margarita cupcakes

Margarita Cupcake Recipe FAQ

Can you taste the alcohol in tequila cupcakes?

Yes — it’s subtle in the cake but fairly punchy in the frosting. It’s a fun way to enjoy your favorite cocktail in dessert form!

Because of that, tequila cupcakes (or any boozy cupcakes) should be served to the 21+ crowd only. The alcohol bakes off slightly in the cake but is very present in the frosting.

Do margarita cupcakes need to be refrigerated?

Chilling cupcakes is one of the fastest ways to dry them out, so I don’t recommend it if you’ll be making these ahead of time.

And because the frosting for this margarita cupcake recipe doesn’t contain milk or cream cheese, there’s no need to.

Store the cake bottoms in an airtight container until it’s time to frost. Leftovers are safe at room temperature for 3 to 4 days, but you can also chill them for up to a week.

close up: margarita cupcake frosting with citrus zest

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margarita cupcakes topped with slices of lime

Boozy Margarita Cupcakes with Tequila Lime Frosting

Donna Elick
Margarita Cupcakes are loaded with lime and tequila. Fluffy boozy cupcakes topped with margarita buttercream are the ultimate lime dessert!
5 stars from 5 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Total Time 29 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Method Oven
Servings 24



For The Cupcakes

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 limes – zested and juiced, 2 tablespoon zest, 1/2 cup juice
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Cuervo Gold Tequila
  • 1 cup buttermilk, or make your own

Boozy Margarita Frosting

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup Cuervo Gold Tequila
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons triple sec
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups powdered sugar


For The Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside.
  • In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
  • In the bowl that you will prepare cupcake batter, add lime zest and sugar and mash together with a fork (or your fingers), until your sugar is coated in lime oils. Attach bowl to stand mixer and use paddle attachment (or prepare electric mixer). Add butter and whip until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix until combined. Add lime juice and tequila. Your mixture may start to look funny here, just continue on with the next step. It will work itself out.
  • With mixer on low add dry and wet ingredients; add 1/3 dry ingredients to bowl, allow that to combine. Then add 1/2 of buttermilk wait for that to combine. Add another 1/3 of dry ingredients and mix. Add other 1/2 of buttermilk and mix. Then finally add remaining dry ingredients. Mix until combined. Stop to scrape down the bowl as often as needed. Do not over mix.
  • Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out with few moist crumbs.
  • Cool on a wire rack. Frost cupcakes with Boozy Margarita Frosting when completely cool.

Boozy Margarita Frosting

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter and shortening on medium speed until completely smooth (about 1 minute). Add 3 cups of powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time, beat until well combined after each addition. Add tequila, lime juice, triple sec and salt, beat to combine. Add remaining powdered sugar one cup at a time. Beat completed mixture for another minute or so until the batter is smooth and fluffy.
  • If frosting is too thin, add powdered sugar to thicken it, about 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  • If frosting is too thick, add cold water a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 393cal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 59mg | Sodium: 198mg | Sugar: 42g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled image (and shown): boozy margarita cupcakes

Originally published July 2012, updated and republished July 2023

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  1. Not a fan of "shortening"… I'm guessing doing 1C of butter would work fine…?
    Sounds great.

    1. I only use butter in my buttercream. The shortening gives the buttercream an oily after taste/texture I don't care for. However, an all butter buttercream will "melt" easily in warm weather. Just keep them cool and away from sunlight.

      1. I just made these and they are DELICIOUS! The tequila and triple sec in the frosting is not over powering but gives a nice kick. I used all butter – no shortening.

    1. You don’t have to buy cake flour for this for every 1 cup of flour remove 2 tablespoons of flour and add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to make cake flour.

  2. I haven't made them, but being a baker all my life and reading this recipe…. don't dare use a mix! LOL!! Just take the extra 10 minutes to line up the ingredients. It looks like a very unique, "adult" cupcake. Can't wait to make them!

  3. I’m wondering if anyone has made these with gluten free flour. I have a friend who must be gf and she is attending a birthday luncheon for which I am baking. Was going to do a different dessert, but remembered she was gf, so I need to change up my baking plan. Thanks for advice.

    1. 5 stars
      I didn’t receive a response to my question, but did want to note that I used a 1-for-1 GF flour in these. They were not only delicious, but GF as well. Had I not said anything, noone would have known the difference.

  4. Delicious cupcakes!! I am making these for a high school graduation party and wondered if there are suggestions for an alcohol-free version for the frosting?! Thanks!

  5. 5 stars
    These are outstanding!! All the adults in the house love them!! In addition to being photogenic, they are flavorful, and not too sweet. My method:
    * I halved the recipe and still ended up with 16 cupcakes. Next time I will fill each liner with more batter.
    * I used all butter, no shortening in the frosting. It is yummy!!
    * I used KAF Measure for Measure gluten-free flour. To make it cake flour, I removed 2 Tbsp flour per cup and subbed in 2 Tbsp cornstarch per cup. Easy peasy.

    1. Hi Elizabeth,
      We have not made a cake with this recipe but if you try it please let us know! Have a great day and happy cooking!
      TSRI Team Member,

  6. 5 stars
    These Margarita Cupcakes are a total game-changer! So easy to make and absolutely delicious. Donna and Chad’s recipes from The Slow Roasted Italian never disappoint!

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