Margarita Cupcakes

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

The one day a year when we can stuff ourselves full of chips, salsa, guacamole and margaritas. It’s a little bit of a foodie nirvana. Of course there is historical significance to the day, which I shared in my homemade restaurant style salsa post. But like most holidays that celebrate a heritage, people enjoy celebrating Cinco de Mayo with authentic food and drink. I for one love Mexican food and am looking forward to chowing down on chips and salsa for at least one meal and then washing it down with one (or two) of these cupcakes. Since margaritas are a classic Mexican cocktail, I found it only fitting to make margarita cupcakes for dessert on Cinco de Mayo!

Tequila and lime? Check!

They say you should only cook with wine that is good enough to drink, and I hold the same belief when it comes to liquor and baking, so I decided that these cupcakes called for Patrón Silver tequila. And since you can definitely taste the tequila in the cupcake as well as the frosting, I think this was a good call. Yum.

I did some web surfing to see what I could find in the way of margarita cupcakes, and unfortunately came across a ton of recipes that used a box cake mix. Not exactly what I was going for. And then I turned to the ever-faithful Food Blog Search and found a recipe from Shawnda for margarita cupcakes from scratch. Bingo!

Except for two things: there wasn’t any tequila actually in the cupcakes, and the frosting was a Swiss meringue buttercream (I don’t like fussy, complicated frostings – butter, sugar and added flavors do me just fine).

I adapted the cupcake recipe to amp up the liquor quotient by adding tequila into the cupcakes as well as brushing tequila onto the cupcakes after they were done baking. Mucho tequila = muy bueno. (I took 7 years of Spanish, I should put it to a little use!) Then I adapted my absolute favorite basic vanilla frosting to include lime juice and tequila, and voilà! Verrrrrrry boozy cupcakes!

Yet they look so innocent, don’t they? Sitting there all pretty with green garland laying like a feather on the buttery pillows of frosting.

They are definitely not innocent. They are all things tequila and lime. The cupcakes are buttery and moist. The frosting is velvety and buttery (more butter!). And there is a prevalent lime/tequila taste throughout. They are a Cinco de Mayo dream. If you like margaritas (or just boozy cupcakes), you will fall in love with these babies. And they’re perfect for toting along to picnics and cook-outs all summer long!

What are your eating and drinking plans for Cinco de Mayo??

One year ago: Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread
Two years ago: Three Cheese Beer Bread

Margarita Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes


For the Cupcakes:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
Zest and juice of 1½ limes
2 tablespoons tequila
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk

To Brush the Cupcakes:
1 to 2 tablespoons tequila

For the Tequila-Lime Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2¾ cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons tequila
Pinch of coarse salt


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3. In an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugar together until pale, light, and fluffy (about 5 minutes).

4. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs one at at time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the lime zest, lime juice, vanilla extract and tequila. Mix until combined. (The mixture may start to look curdled at this point, but don't worry, it will all come back together, power on!)

6. Reduce the mixer speed low. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk in two batches. Mix only until just incorporated, using a rubber spatula to give it one last mix by hand.

7. Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until just slightly golden and a skewer shows only moist crumbs attached, rotating the pan at the halfway point.

8. 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. Set the cupcakes aside to cool completely before frosting them.

9. To make the frosting, whip the butter on medium-high speed of an electric mixer using the whisk attachment for 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low, and gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing and scraping the sides of the bowl until all is incorporated. Give it a mix on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add the lime juice, tequila and salt mix on medium-high speed until incorporated and fluffy. If the frosting appears a bit too soft, add some additional sugar, one spoonful at a time until desired consistency is reached. Frost cupcakes and garnish, if desired, with lime zest, an additional sprinkling of salt and a lime wedge.

*Note #1: If you would prefer to not use liquor in these cupcakes, you can absolutely omit it from both the cupcakes and the frosting with no problem. If you do omit it, I would add 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract to the frosting.

*Note #2: I used a Wilton 1M tip to frost the cupcakes.

(Recipe adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride)


261 Responses to “Margarita Cupcakes”

Comment Pages 1 2 3 4
  1. Tracey on May 5, 2011 at 1:40 am

    These cupcakes have been on my to-do list for ages, thanks for the reminder that I need to actually get in my kitchen and make them :) They’re the perfect treat for Cinco de Mayo!


  2. Jessica on May 5, 2011 at 3:31 am

    Oh man! These are perfect for Cinco De Mayo! I love all the color!

    P.S. I plan on having a real margarita (or 3) to celebrate! 😉


  3. Kelly on May 5, 2011 at 3:49 am

    Is it ok if I’d like one for breakfast right now ;-)… they look so yummy!


  4. Bronnie on May 5, 2011 at 4:01 am

    These look AMAZING!!!!! thanks for sharing xx


  5. Gwenevere on May 5, 2011 at 4:38 am

    Are you kidding me…had you kept the wrapper on… these may have looked innocent, but this little cupcake just performed a strip tease for me! 😮 There is nothing innocent about these little guys. :)


  6. Jil @ Big City, Lil Kitchen on May 5, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Goooodness – these look incredible!


  7. Alicia at AliGirl Cooks on May 5, 2011 at 8:02 am

    I need to make these cupcakes stat! They are a combo of my two faves-margaritas and cupcakes!


  8. Blog is the New Black on May 5, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Love it! :)


  9. Lauren at KeepItSweet on May 5, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Now this is how one should consume tequila!


  10. T. on May 5, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Your cupcakes look awesome! I actually found that same recipe when I was searching around for a yummy Cinco dessert…I almost went for it, but I chickened out! I’m thinking of doing a nice and easy Mexican brownie instead.


  11. Annalise on May 5, 2011 at 10:27 am

    I love all of the extra tequila you added to these, these are my kind of cupcakes! Thanks for sharing!


  12. Lisa @ The Cooking Bride on May 5, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Patron! Yeah, you got the good stuff!


  13. jen @ the baked life on May 5, 2011 at 11:07 am

    yum those look soooo good! I might need a real margarita to wash these down.


  14. Jen of My Tiny Oven on May 5, 2011 at 11:24 am

    These cupcakes are super cute! Great pic’s! I could eat 1 or 3 of them right now!!


  15. JazzRules on May 5, 2011 at 11:28 am

    “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (It is sweet and proper to die for one’s country)”


  16. Erin on May 5, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Adorable! I am making a version of Margarita Cake for a get together tomorrow night! Looking forward to it!


  17. Shawnda on May 5, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Beautiful! I approve of all things tequila-y :)

    And I totally agree about brushing the cupcakes with the extra tequila – or a half tequila/ half orange mixture. It gives them a nice happy hour punch!


    • nelda on August 29th, 2011 at 12:02 am

      I really enjoy baking! I made these delicious cupcakes and added some orange zest and a tad bit of orange juice. Woooohoooo! love them!!!!


  18. Robyn on May 5, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    my friends are coming over for smoky beef tacos and churro cupcakes!


  19. Paula on May 5, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    We don’t celebrate your holiday here but that’s no excuse not to bake these beautiful cupcakes!


  20. Katy on May 5, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    These look absolutely incredible!! And, thank goodness, another use for the two (I know) bottles of Silver Patron I have in my pantry. They were gifts from friends, very sweet, but a bit impractical unless I want to do shots alone. Cupcakes are much more fun… most of the time :)

    And, in an unrelated note, have you been watching the playoffs even though our beloved Penguins have been eliminated? Tampa sweeping Washington last night may have made my week :o)


    • Michelle on May 5th, 2011 at 4:10 pm

      Hi Katy, Yes I have been watching a lot of hockey! I love playoff hockey, even though the Pens are out of it, it’s fun to watch good hockey and not have to be stressed 😉 And yes, I think these cupcakes would be a good way to celebrate the Caps getting swept last night! I was so excited! 😉


  21. Hannah at FleurDeLicious on May 5, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    I like that you made them so you can actually taste the tequila in the cake and frosting. And they’re so pretty! I think I’ll be making these all some long, they sound so refreshing. Might even play around with a strawberry marg version! Thanks for the recipe.


  22. Sallie @ Texas Cottage on May 5, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Michelle, you take the most wonderful photos. Absolutely beautiful! And the cupcakes sound delicious!


    • Michelle on May 5th, 2011 at 4:20 pm

      Aw, thank you Sallie!


  23. Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) on May 5, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Oh how I would love one of these right now.


  24. tom(watkins product associate) on May 5, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    sweet and with a kick! nice


  25. Happy When Not Hungry on May 5, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Wow these cupcakes look fantastic! Love the tequila in this. Yum!


  26. Tricia on May 5, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    I made Margarita Cupcakes today, too. I’m going to try yours for sure….mine did not have tequila in them. Oh! The tragedy!!!

    I love your deco. Yum.


  27. The Café Sucré Farine on May 5, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    These just look incredible! So moist and buttery, yum. I’m having a cupcake party at the end of the month and will definitely include these, can’t wait!


  28. Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen on May 5, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    What pretty pretty pics!


  29. Evan Thomas on May 5, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Oh my, if I made these for my mother for mother’s day she would be over the moon!


  30. Desiree on May 6, 2011 at 1:44 am

    When you posted these this morning I knew I HAD to make a batch asap! They turned out AMAZING! Instead of a buttercream frosting, I used your cream cheese frosting recipe from the red velvet cupcakes (and still added the Patron and lime of course). So yummy!


  31. Desiree on May 6, 2011 at 1:47 am

    Also, I didn’t have buttercream so I was planning on using a substitute of vinegar or lemon juice and milk… I discovered I didn’t have any vinegar… or lemon juice. Lime juice worked just fine!!


  32. Juanita on May 6, 2011 at 5:59 am

    Those look amazing!
    Buttermilk is always such a winner for cakes/caupcakes…it lends a moist crumb.
    That frosting looks dangerously delicious! :-)


  33. Mackenzie@The Caramel Cookie on May 6, 2011 at 7:16 am

    What a great recipe and beautiful pictures!


  34. Peggy on May 6, 2011 at 8:55 am

    These look fantastic! Wish I could have had one yesterday! It’s Derby time now… maybe there’s such thing as a Mint Julep cupcake? =)


  35. Bev on May 6, 2011 at 10:12 am

    I was going to make these tonight for a party tomorrow night. Do you think they’ll still be fresh tomorrow? Should I freeze them? You’d think they’d be “preserved” with the tequila, but wanted your opinion on this. Thanks, and great recipes!


    • Michelle on May 6th, 2011 at 10:32 am

      Hi Bev, Yep they will be just fine! I would keep them in an airtight container. I kept mine at room temperature and the icing didn’t slide at all, but you could pop them in the refrigerator overnight just to make sure (I would take them out a few hours in advance if you do this so they come to room temp), and then garnish right before you serve.


      • Tiffany Henry on December 15th, 2014 at 9:59 am

        i wanted to make some of these in advance. How many days will they keep. What is the best way to store them?


  36. Bev on May 6, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Great! Thanks Michelle.


  37. Lindsey@Lindselicious on May 6, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Why do I love alcohol based cupcakes so much? LOL these are adorable and the perfect end to like a Taco night.


  38. annabananna on May 6, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    From one brown eyed baker to another these look fantastic! What icing tip did you use to get that effect? I have tried for years and they don’t quite look like yours. Thanks!


  39. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction on May 6, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    These cupcakes look amazing! :)


  40. Kim on May 12, 2011 at 9:34 am

    I was wondering, if you don’t mind sharing…What tip # did you use for the frosting? And did you use a “swirly” motion or pipe straight down? These are so beautiful! My first thoughts when I saw this post was how beautiful the frosting looked.


    • Michelle on May 12th, 2011 at 9:41 am

      Hi Kim, I use a Wilton 1M to frost the cupcakes. I just sort of let it pipe out and slowly move in a circle, moving up and in as I go. I hope that helps! I am thinking of doing a video tutorial of this since I receive this question a lot!


      • Melissa G on July 30th, 2011 at 7:57 am

        Did you ever make that tutorial? I went looking for that tip at (walmart) and they didn’t have them #’d like that. So I have no idea if I got the right one.


  41. Bev on May 12, 2011 at 10:11 am

    OK, so I made 3 dozen last week and they were the hit of all the parties I’d brought these too. Very moist, flavorful and so delicious! The problem I had was that the cupcake papers peeled away from the cake…not all of them, but about half. I used plain white cupcake papers, and made both regular size and miniature cupcakes. I’d googled and learned that sometimes citrus-based cupcakes do this. Did anybody else have this problem? Any suggestions? I thought about changing papers and/or filling the batter up to the top so they mound and the paper stays put. I need to make another 3 dozen for Memorial Day…they’re that good!


    • Florence on April 23rd, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      I realize I’m a few years late lol, but I know why your cupcake papers peel away. I think you are over beating your batter. It used to happen to me all the time when I made my red velvet cupcake recipe. They were absolutely delicious, but I made them dozens of times and each time the papers peeled away. I tried everything and I read absolutely everything on line to try and figure it out. Then one day I came across a baker’s article and it talked about how important it is to not over beat your batter. Next time I made them, I beat my batter only until everything was just mixed and what do you know, ever since then my cupcake liners have never peeled, ever. I hope this helps :)


  42. RisaG on May 14, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    These cupcakes look amazing. Sound good too.

    I made Red Enchiladas on Cinco de Mayo. They came out great. From Eva Longoria’s book. Delicious.


  43. Eileen on May 15, 2011 at 2:44 am

    Holy buckets, these are good. I put in a little bit of artificial rum flavoring instead of the tequila (birthday party on a dry campus) and I had people lining up to lick the bowl. Yum. Will definitely make again.


  44. Michelle on May 16, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Totally making this into a cake for my brother in law. I’m going to experiment with adding strawberries too. I think it will be delish!


  45. Kelsey on May 19, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    I’ll have to try these. My roommate and I tried some last year and they didn’t turn out amazing. Great flavors though, so a new recipe is worth a shot!


  46. Jenny @ Savour the Senses on May 28, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    These look so perfect for a nice summer party! They look awesome. I am going to save this for my next summer party. Thanks!


  47. Tiffany on June 3, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Just wondering how strong the tequila is. I am looking to take some of these to some lonely nurses on night shift. I have heard that the alcohol will cook out and all will be right with the world :)


    • Michelle on June 3rd, 2011 at 10:40 am

      Hi Tiffany, This is a fuzzy type question. The tequila in the cupcakes may bake off a bit (however I couldn’t even begin to estimate how much), but any tequila brushed on top or used in the frosting definitely will not since it is applied after baking.


      • Tiffany on June 3rd, 2011 at 1:43 pm

        Thanks. Sorry to make it sound so confusing. I just didn’t want to take any to work and have anyone impaired while working. Thanks for clarifying.


  48. Sandy Aldern on June 11, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    First off – amazing cupcakes! Great lime/tequila taste! 325 was a really low oven and even though my oven thermometer indicated my oven was correctly heated, they took much longer to bake. Do you think they will bake okay at 350? Baked standards and minis. Loved all the flavors in the minis the most! We called them Margarita Shooters! This is definitely joining my top 10 cupcakes list!


    • Michelle on June 12th, 2011 at 8:37 pm

      Hi Sandy, You could try 350, but I will just keep a really close eye so that they don’t dry out. So glad you love them! :)


  49. Jeanne on June 13, 2011 at 8:05 am

    I love “Holy Buckets”… I get a visual on that one… Anywho, I’m with @ BEV above. I made these for a pool party over the weekend… I used REALLY cute green striped cupcake wrappers… made the cupcakes Saturday, took the tin foil off their plate on Sunday morning and there were a dozen NEKKED cupcakes under there. First thought it was the tequila… no, really — isn’t there a song about getting naked on tequila? Their cute little, green wrappers were all opened like flowers and laying on the plate. I threw away the wrappers, decorated and served them — sans covering. Keith had 4! How do I keep their clothes on in future? Was it the citrus? Anyone?


    • Michelle on June 13th, 2011 at 10:03 am

      Wow, I’ve never seen cupcake liners come completely away from the cupcakes! I am honestly not sure what could cause this. Are you using the same brand of liners each time? Maybe try a different one? The only thing I could think of is maybe the liners have a sort of lining in them that might be nonstick or something like that, and with the butter in the recipe it causes it to be TOO nonstick?? That’s really the only thing I can think of.


      • Jeanne on June 15th, 2011 at 4:25 pm

        Thanks for the response Michelle… They WERE new cupcake liners I bought online, they seemed just a tad waxy. But too non-stick?!? That cracked me up. The cupcakes tasted really awesome, but I couldn’t pack them in the six-pack cupcake boxes I use to travel or gift with, if they don’t have their clothes on! I’m going to try this again, with different [plain] non-waxy liners and see what happens… I’ll report back.


        • Kerri on May 9th, 2013 at 5:52 pm

          I have noticed this with other recipes as well. I use the cheap pastel liners from the grocery store and keep them in an airtight container. I assumed it was from moisture; it seems as if some of the moisture from the icing is absorbed into the cake because they always seem more moist and taste better the second day. I’ve had it happen with non-boozy ones too so I’d say it’s not because those drunk cupcakes were having too much fun 😀


          • Florence on April 23rd, 2014 at 10:19 pm

            Ladies, I just commented on Bev’s question about the same topic above. Its got nothing to do with the flavour of the cupcake being citrus or the type of cupcake liner or any ingredient in the recipe. It used to happen to me all the time with my red velvet recipe. I made them dozens of times and always the same outcome. Then I read an article once on how important it is not to over beat your batter (and when I thought about it, I really was over beating my batter). Since then I beat my batter only until it is just mixed and it has never happened to me again since then. I didn’t change anything else, same wrappers, same ingredients. Hope this helps!


  50. Bev on June 13, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Thank you Jeanne for validating my comment and problem! I thought I was the only one out there with naked cupcakes. In fact I made them again…and used really, really cute pink polka dot cupcake liners, and some of them peeled away as well. I agree that they’re drunk and cant keep their clothes on! This second time I filled them up a little bit more, thinking the overflow or domed top would keep the papers on, but it still did it. Mine are cooked through, but perhaps they need to be kept in the oven for an extra minute or so? It really is a great recipe (I’ve made 6 dozen so far!) and everyone loves them, but for me they lose a few points with presentation.


    • Jeanne on June 15th, 2011 at 4:28 pm

      Hey, @Bev see above… were your polk-dot wrappers waxy too? Have you tried any just “straight-up” liners? Check back, I’m a gonna try it one more time!


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