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

Enjoy!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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margarita cupcakes topped with slices of lime

Boozy Margarita Cupcakes

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 4 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

Equipment

Ingredients
 

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

Instructions
 

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.

Nutrition

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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52 Comments

  1. These are so beautiful! I can almost smell the tart lime. Goodness they are wonderful. No I can't think of a better way to celebrate National Tequila Day!

  2. Boozy cupcakes! count me in! these are simply beautiful and I'm sure taste out of this world 🙂
    Mary x

  3. Could our recipes be more different today? I love that about our friendship. It always makes me grin. These look absolutely perfect, Donna. I bet the citrus in them made them completely addicting, didn't it?

  4. I just discovered this post on taste spotting. The cupcakes look very pretty. Definitely a good option to get refreshed in the the summer heat. Best in combination with some cold drink 🙂

    – Annika

  5. I almost hate to admit it, but I love baking with alcohol. These look absolutely amazing. I also love that you use butter and shortening in the buttercream. The only way I like American buttercream, I usually make Italian meringue buttercream, is if it has butter and shortening. The two together give the best flavor.

  6. Oh yum! I think the only thing better than drinking a margarita would be eating one in cupcake form!

    1. You can. Substitute table salt 3/4 teaspoons per 1 teaspoon kosher salt called for.

      Thanks and enjoy!

    2. What about sea salt or Margarita Salt? and how do you make the buttermilk …could not find it at the store…?

  7. In the photograph, there is lime zest and something else over the top. Is it lemon or orange zest, or something else?

  8. It looks like I just found the perfect cupcake recipe for my sister's bachelorette party. Love this idea!

  9. I've made these quite a few times now and people line up at work for them! In all the recipes I've seen calling for citrus zest, only one other has directions to mix the sugar and zest to release the oils. It's THE best way to impart the maximum flavor from the citrus.

  10. If I make the. Icing a day or two ahead of time does it have to be stored in the refrigerator.? These look yummy can't wait to make them. Thank you for sharing. Kathy

  11. If I make the icing a couple of days before I need it do es it have to be refrigerated? These look yummy thank you for sharing

    1. I would refrigerate the icing. Then whip it up before using. Enjoy and let us know how it goes.

  12. WOW! I just made these and they are fantastic! I brushed with a lime simple syrup before frosting and they are great. I didn't have triple sec so I guess I need to bake again when I get a bottle!Better than the last margarita cupcake recipe I used and that is saying something!

    1. Measure 1 cup of regular flour. Remove 2 Tablespoons and replace with Cornstarch, then sift 5-6 times.

  13. Can you really "feel" the alcohol? Just wondering

    A lot of work… If you did not feel really good after having one. Lol

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