Easy Margarita Cupcakes
Get ready to fiesta with these margarita cupcakes! They are the perfect dessert for Cinco de Mayo (or any fun celebration!) The cupcakes have a zesty lime flavor with a kick of tequila, just like the Mexican cocktail.
¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo mis amigos! Margaritas are a classic Mexican cocktail with a tangy, citrusy flavor—the perfect inspiration for a boozy cupcake. Sprinkled with lime zest and brushed with tequila, these easy margarita cupcakes are fluffy, moist and sweet!
Did you know?
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. As a way to honor Mexican-American culture and recognize its contributions to our country, we celebrate the holiday in the United States. It is also an opportunity to enjoy Mexican food, music and festivities!
Why you will love this recipe
- Festive and fun! This is the perfect adult dessert for celebrating Cinco de Mayo, birthdays or summer parties.
- Easy to make. The recipe is straight forward and uses basic ingredients.
- Flavorful. Every bite has that unique margarita flavor (think citrusy lime and hint of tequila).
- Nonalcoholic version included. If you’re sharing this dessert with people of all ages, then you can follow the nonalcoholic version using the notes in the recipe card.
- Tequila: Use your favorite tequila. I prefer a silver or blanco, such as Altos or Espolon. However, gold tequila works just as well in this recipe!
- Lime juice and zest: Use freshly squeezed limes and lime zest. This will provide the best citrus flavor. You will need about 2 or 3 limes, plus extra for garnish.
- Butter: Bring unsalted butter to room temperature for best results.
- Buttermilk: This makes super fluffy cupcakes while also adding a subtle tangy flavor. See FAQ or recipes card notes for substitutions.
- Confectioners’ sugar: Also known as powdered sugar, this is used to make the tequila lime frosting.
Add mix-ins. Blackberries or chopped strawberries would taste delicious and be a nice spin off of a blackberry margarita or strawberry margarita. Another option is adding unsweetened shredded coconut to the batter. Aim for about 1/2 cup of whatever mix-in you choose!
Use a different pan. If you’re entertaining, try making mini margarita cupcakes using a mini muffin tin. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (yields about 36 mini cupcakes). You can also bake a three layer 6-inch cake. Baking time will be 20 to 30 minutes. I suggest multiplying the frosting ingredients by 1.5 so you have enough frosting for the layers.
Try a different frosting. To make cream cheese frosting, replace 1/2 cup butter with 1/2 cup block-style cream cheese. You can also use the strawberry frosting from my strawberry cupcakes recipe.
Add a little something extra. Fill the cupcakes with lime curd or chopped fruit. If you like the taste of orange, brush the cupcakes with Triple Sec or Grand Marnier. To mimic the salted rim of a margarita glass, add a sprinkle of coarse salt to the cupcakes before serving.
How to make margarita cupcakes
- Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Beat the butter and sugar together using an electric mixer. Mix until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Mix in eggs one at at time.
- Add the wet ingredients: lime zest, lime juice, vanilla extract and tequila. Mix until combined.
- Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk to the batter. Begin and end with flour mixture. Mix until just incorporated.
- Transfer batter to prepared muffin tin. Bake at 325 F for 22 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with little to no crumbs. Cool slightly in the pan.
- Brush the tops of the cupcakes with tequila. Set the cupcakes aside to cool completely.
- Make the tequila lime frosting. Beat butter on medium high until creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until combined. Add lime juice, tequila and salt. Mix until incorporated.T
- Transfer frosting to a piping bag with desired tip and frost cupcakes. Garnish with a lime wedge and sprinkle of salt if desired.
As with most cupcakes, bring ingredients to room temperature. This will allow your ingredients to come together quickly and smoothly. Weigh your ingredients instead of measuring them. This is much more accurate when it comes to a delicate dessert like cupcakes. I use this kitchen scale and love it. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl regularly so all the ingredients get mixed in.
Ingredients matter! Use fresh lime juice and lime zest. This makes all the difference in the world when it comes to flavor. This juicer and zester make the job easy. Use decent tequila such as Altos or Espolon. The tequila you brush on the cupcakes and mix in the frosting will be the flavor you taste so pick your favorite!
Make ahead and storage tips
Make ahead: If you are baking margarita cupcakes ahead of time, I suggest waiting to brush the tequila on top and frosting. Do this the day you plan to serve the cupcakes so they are fresh and have the best taste!
Storage: Cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days. However, they taste best the day they are baked.
Freezing: Unfrosted cupcakes may be frozen for up to 3 months. Store in an airtight container or freezer bag. Defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature and frosting. I do not recommend freezing the frosting because the alcohol in the tequila will make the frosting grainy as it defrosts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Use whole fat dairy products at room temperature. Make sure your oven temperature is accurate and you don’t over bake the cupcakes, which could make them dry.
No. Bottled juice doesn’t have as much flavor as fresh lime juice. Margarita mix has added sugar, which will affect the structure of the cupcakes.
Yes, use regular milk with 1 1/2 teaspoons of white distilled vinegar or lemon juice mixed in. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes before using it in the recipe.
Yes! Omit tequila from the recipe and replace it with equal amounts of additional lime juice (or milk if you prefer less citrusy taste).
Feeling festive? Here are some desserts that will surely put you in the mood for a fiesta on Cinco de Mayo.
Did you love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below and if you REALLY loved it, consider leaving a comment further down the page.
Get the Recipe: Easy Margarita Cupcakes
- 1 ½ cups (186 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick or 113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 teaspoons lime zest
- 2 Tablespoons tequila
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup (118 mL) buttermilk, room temperature
- 2-3 Tablespoons tequila, for brushing the cupcakes
Tequila Lime Frosting
- 1 cup (2 sticks or 226 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 ½ cups (300 g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 2 Tablespoons tequila
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice, to taste
- Pinch of coarse salt
- Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly after each addition. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a silicone spatula as necessary.
- Add the lime zest, lime juice, vanilla extract and tequila. Mix just until combined and scrape down the bowl. (The batter may look curdled and that's okay).
- Reduce the mixer speed to low. Alternate adding the dry flour mixture and the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients (add flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk). Mix just incorporated (avoid over mixing).
- Divide the batter between the muffin cups, filling them about three-quarters full (I like to use an ice cream scoop for this step). Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan at the halfway point. Cupcakes are done when they are slightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with little to no crumbs.
- Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then move to a cooling rack. Brush the tops of the cupcakes with tequila. Set the cupcakes aside to cool completely before frosting them.
Tequila Lime Frosting
- To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the confectioners' sugar. Mix until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add the lime juice, tequila and salt. Mix on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 20 seconds. If the frosting is too thick, add more lime juice. If it's too thin, add more confectioners' sugar.
- Transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with desired tip (I used a large French tip Ateco 869). Frost cupcakes and garnish with lime zest, an additional sprinkling of salt and a lime wedge if desired.
Recipe inspired by Brown Eyed Baker.