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”

  1. pixie on June 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    can this be made without alcohol while still having an unmistakable margarita taste and not just lemony flavored cake? is there a substitute for tequila that is non-alcoholic? i’m planning to make some for a pregnant friend.


    • Michelle on June 13th, 2011 at 4:26 pm

      Pixie – There is no lemon in the recipe, so you could be getting a lemon-flavored cake. Without tequila I’m not sure that it would be an unmistakable margarita taste and I’m not aware of any non-alcoholic tequila substitute. If any other readers have any suggestions I invite you to share!


  2. Sandy on June 13, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    I wonder if the cupcakes would stay dressed if they were baked in those little white nut cups.


  3. Paula Jo @ Outdoor Garden Decor on June 14, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    This is my first time to your blog. I just love it, and I’m sure to be a regular. These cupcakes sound delicious. My hubby and I are very fond of Mexican food, and when we go out we always have Margarita’s to have with our meal. For sure, I’m going to surprise my hubby with some of these. Thanks for the recipe!


  4. Bev on June 16, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    No, neither cupcake liners were waxy. One set was plain, white paper liners and the others were decorative, non-waxy liners from Sur la Table. Perhaps I’ll try the nut cups next time.


    • Michelle on June 17th, 2011 at 11:24 am

      Hi Bev, I have one other thought on the liners. I’m wondering if when you brushed the tops of the cupcakes with the tequila, if a good bit ran down the sides, and make softened the liners and caused them to shrink up or disintegrate?


  5. Chelsea on June 17, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    I made these for a big river tubing event this weekend. I had to test them out (they’ll never miss one, right?), and my head’s a teense bit spinny right now…LOVE this recipe! Keep the boozy cupcakes coming!


  6. BK on June 17, 2011 at 10:10 pm



  7. Melissa on June 19, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    made today for a fathers day treat! this was a PERFECT cupcake! Next time I need to make more because these were devoured in minutes.


  8. Tanya on June 20, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Just had to tell you that I made these for my neice and nephew who just got married in the Carribean and now am making all their cupcakes for their reception this weekend. Muy Delish!!!!!! We’re going alltropical themed cupcakes. I love your recipes.


  9. Paula on June 24, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I just wanted to tell you I made these yesterday for some friends- they were a HUGE hit. A friend had forwarded me the recipe saying she was going to try them and I silently wished I had a reason to make them, and the next day I had dinner party plans-my wish came true!! Anyway, I had one question- I had a lot of leftover batter and I overfilled my cups trying to use it all, making them ooze together at the top a little and still had enough extra to make 12 mini-cupcakes… but overall, it was fine. But I wonder why I had so much extra? I followed the recipe exactly. Did I over-whip a step making it too fluffy? Regardless, this was hands-down the best scratch cake/cupcake recipe I have ever tried, and I’ve tried a lot. Thank you, thank you!


    • Michelle on June 24th, 2011 at 12:22 pm

      Oh wow, that’s definitely a lot of extra batter! I just double checked the quantities of the ingredients to make sure they are correct, and they are. I’m totally stumped!


      • Paula on June 24th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

        Me too! But, like I said, they tasted fabulous…who knows what I did. 😀


  10. Stephanie on June 29, 2011 at 8:38 am

    I made these for a girls night get together. They were fantastic. I can’t wait for another occasion to make them again. (because I could eat them all, and I normally am not a cake lover) Loved the bit of salt in the frosting. Yummmmmmmmmmm


  11. Jayel on July 5, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    I made these cupcake for a 4th of July party this weekend, and they came out AMAZING! This recipe is soooo great. Everyone loved them and couldn’t believe how fantastic they tasted! Make these cupcakes today!!


  12. Melissa G on July 7, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    I have these in the oven right now! it’s my birthday so after I put my kiddos to bed I’m going to enjoy a nice margarita and a great cupcake!!! I can’t wait! Best 30th birthday ever!


  13. Michelle M on July 8, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    I made these cupcakes last night and they are absolutely amazing!!


  14. Simone on July 17, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    I made the cupcakes today and they are lovely, very good margarita flavour. I amended the recipe to include a filling, I made Lime & Tequila curd with the purpose of adding it to the recipe.
    The cupcakes don’t need it, they are moist and very very lime-y on their own but I thought it would give them the extra kick.
    Am entering the cupcakes into a cake-off at a team day from work tomorrow and am hoping the judges will like it!


  15. Melissa on July 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    I cannot WAIT to make these tonight!!! I have no occasion…just LOVE margaritas!!!!
    Thank you for sharing!! I love your blog!


  16. Nici on July 25, 2011 at 11:13 am

    So happy to see this recipe re-featured. I’m making my own birthday cupcakes (the one big problem with being the baker amongst your friends), and all the margarita recipes I found had tequila in EITHER the cake or frosting. I prefer it in both, thank you so much!


    • Nici on August 6th, 2011 at 4:27 pm

      Ok, today’s my birthday party and I just finished these. I made a double batch and oops had some icing left over. I do believe I’m a wee bit tipsy, can’t wait to have a whole cupcake!


  17. Ellen on July 26, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    My boyfriend has been begging me to make him margarita cupcakes basically since we met, and I made these for us over the weekend. HE WAS THRILLED! These are seriously so delicious! I had no idea what I was in for, but these are spot on! Thanks so much for this recipe, I can’t wait to make them over and over!!


  18. Kristine on July 27, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Just made these and they came out great! My wrappers pulled away on some of them, so I just wrapped a second decorative printed one around it. The tops were a bit sunken in on some( did anyone else have that happen?), so I just covered that up with icing. Love this recipe!


  19. KQ on July 28, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Hi, these cupcakes are inspiring! I’m making them this weekend for a friend’s graduation celebration. What do you think about adding a little coarse salt to the top? Would that work?


    • Michelle on July 28th, 2011 at 9:52 pm

      Absolutely, I actually included that in the recipe.


      • KQ on July 30th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

        Yes, sorry, I missed that the first time around! thank you!


    • Melissa G on July 29th, 2011 at 1:16 pm



  20. Alicia on August 6, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    I made these last week and they came out amazing! Thanks for the recipe…everyone loved them:)


  21. kristine on August 7, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    I just finished making these cupcakes and even though they tase fantastic, I don’t taste any of the teuquila in the cake. I used Jose Gold. Would this maybe be the reason? Aka should I use a different brand or silver?


    • Michelle on August 7th, 2011 at 11:43 pm

      Hmm I used Patron Silver just because I wanted to have good tequila because with the amount of tequila used you definitely could taste it. Maybe the flavor got diluted?


  22. Anna on August 17, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Thank you for this recipe! The buttercream is truly out of this world. I don’t like buttercream and this buttercream defies the overly sweet and heavy rap that buttercream has. I had a couple of wrappers peel away just a tad but no biggie. I stored them in a baking dish pretty close together, so it seemed the ones that had more room pulled away from the wrapper. Maybe this will help? I want to make more of your cupcake recipes but my doubled recipe made quite a few more than 24. What size tins do you use? I don’t think tins have a measurement but if you could tell me the width and depth or brand, it’d be awesome. I’m thinking mine might be a tad smaller.


    • Michelle on August 18th, 2011 at 10:09 am

      Hi Anna, It’s a Calphalon non-stick muffin pan.


  23. Kelly on August 18, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    I came across this recipe when I was searching for a fun new cupcake recipe for my work’s cupcake day. Today is cupcake day, and these are a HUGE hit to say the least. Great job, and I will definitely be making these again!


  24. Dawn on August 22, 2011 at 11:14 am

    I just made these and they were delicious. The cake was moist and the flavor outstanding. My husband wants me to make them again! I brought some into work and gave some away to my sister, who is a margarita freak. Thanks for baking from scratch!


  25. Wine Harlots on September 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    How did I miss this post?
    These look awesome — I’d pair then with a demi-sec sparkling wine.


    Nannette Eaton


  26. Stephanie Kindig on September 9, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    My cooking group made these cupcakes today and they are amazing. Not too sweet, not too tart and a touch of salt. Just wonderful!!!


  27. Leah on September 13, 2011 at 4:03 am

    Hi Michelle,
    Thanks for a lovely recipe. I just baked these over the weekend. I liked them, however, I got four comments that the cupcakes were too sweet, referring to the icing. I followed the recipe for the icing step by step. Do you or any fellow bakers have any suggestion of what could have happen? Or has anyone else gotten this feed back ?


    • Carla on June 25th, 2013 at 4:51 am

      It doesn’t look like anyone is going to answer you, so I will give you my input.
      I add a dash of salt to make it less sweet. Hope this helps and that you get the message. It’s been a long time since you commented.


  28. Crystal on September 13, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    I think this recipe looks absolutely delicious. However, I have a few quick questions. I am making several dozen cupcakes for a shower this weekend and am trying to find ways to save time and a little money. Would a boxed cake mix (yes, hanging head in shame) work just as well for this recipe? Also, could these be made the night before with the tequila being brushed on them in the morning? Could the frosting be made the night before as well? Any tips or advice you could offer would be great! Thank you.


    • Michelle on September 13th, 2011 at 8:08 pm

      Hi Crystal, There are actually some versions of margarita cupcakes made with a box mix floating around the internet, you can find one here: You could definitely make them the night before, just store them in an airtight container, this will keep them moist. I would recommend just making the icing the same day you plan to decorate them, because if you make it a day ahead and refrigerate it, you’ll have to re-whip it anyway because the butter will cause it to firm up in the refrigerator.


  29. rose on September 23, 2011 at 1:25 am

    These cupcakes are amazing!! I used jose curevo but I felt as tho it didn’t have that strong of a tequila taste. I will just have to brush on tons more next time I make it lol. As for the frosting, I omitted the tequila and added more lime and they were suuuuuper tastey and tangy! I cannot wait to make these again!! Thank you for sharing such amazing cupcake recipes! I’ve already made the irish car bombs, vanilla w/ vanilla buttercream, dark chocolate w/ peanut butter frosting, and the red velvet. All of which are amazing, especially the red velvet!!


  30. Heidi on October 11, 2011 at 12:57 am

    I’m wondering if I can use regular milk instead of buttermilk.I was at two stores this weekend and neither of them had buttermilk in stock.


  31. Heidi on October 11, 2011 at 4:16 am

    Thank you for this recipe!!! I used whole milk instead of the buttermilk and they came out fine.I am at high altitude so I thought I might need to add flour but the mix was thick enough there was no need. I basked at 350 for 25 minutes and they came out perfect. This was my first time making cupcakes from scratch and this was simple! Also my first time making buttercream from scratch – learned A LOT while doing this tonight. Don’t overwork your butter, it starts to melt. LOL
    THANK YOU again, these came out awesome!


  32. Denise on October 11, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Thanks for the inspiration for these great cupcakes and ideas for decorating! Not only does this recipe come out fabulously as a standard sized cupcake, but are amazing for both mini and micro (yes, smaller than mini) cupcakes. Here’s the liquor free (I was out of tequila) version I made:



  33. Alanna on October 21, 2011 at 2:04 am

    I just found your blog through Pinterest, and your photography really captured my attention. It’s such a pleasure to browse through your photos and admire the tremendous skill and… brightness… you capture. Definitely a new fan! Thank you!


    • Michelle on October 21st, 2011 at 3:58 pm

      Welcome Alanna! And thank you for the kind words!


  34. desertpa on October 21, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    These cupcakes are the best! You will not be disappointed even if you dont like tequila. My husband and I ate the left over frosting with a spoon!


  35. Michelle on October 24, 2011 at 11:16 am

    i have made these cupcake and i have to say they taste fantastic, i’ll be making them again :)


  36. amy on November 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    These are great but I seem to have a problem getting them as moist as everyone else. I tried adding a little oil on my second go around and brushed extra tequilla (well maybe that had nothing to do with it) The flavor is great but they still seem dry. Any suggestions?? Cut back on the flour some?


    • Michelle on November 10th, 2011 at 1:28 am

      Hi Amy, These cupcakes turned out great for me, and definitely moist so I wouldn’t cut out any flour. I would make sure your oven isn’t running hot, and that you aren’t overmixing the batter. Also, covering them in an airtight container overnight sometimes helps to seal in moisture.


  37. allison @ thesundayflog on November 18, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    i have a fabulous margarita cupcake recipe that i am partial to, but it uses a tequila lime glaze and i wasn’t feeling that this time around (they are for a wedding shower and i wanted them to look fancier). i made this buttercream but added the zest of one lime and it is FANTASTIC. i also filled the cupcakes with homemade lime curd :) so good that i dont want to give them away! thanks :)


  38. kristianna on December 5, 2011 at 1:13 am

    I tried this recipe and it was ok but a little on the dry side…..i had a margarita cupcake from Serranos(mexican resturant) this recipe didnt come close to it so it was kinda disapointing…


  39. Patty B on December 10, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Went to a tequila bar the other night and a friend commented that he had seen a recipe for Margarita cupcakes and how fab they would be. I found this recipe and just got done frosting them. I made 1/2 without the tequila because we have a friend in recovery…no biggy, they’re gonna taste amazing either way! They look and smell devine!! Can’t wait to share them tomorrow!! PS..while I was writing this post my dog licked the frosting off 3 of the cupcakes with tequila!! He’s a little guy and I think he might be a little buzzed!! Silly puggle!


  40. Maddie on November 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Made these yesterday, they were absolute amazing and the recipe was so easy to follow! Thank you so much!


  41. Patti on November 18, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    I think these are one of the best cupcakes ever!!! The only problem I have had (3 different times 3 different liners) was that the liners peel away. I can’t figure out why. Every now and then that might happen to 1 cupcake just a little, but these are coming off quite a bit and on a lot of them. Help please.


    • Michelle on November 20th, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      Hi Patti, I have heard of multiple people having this issue, but I’ve never experienced it. I only use paper liners; hope that helps!


  42. Alyse on November 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    I have made these a few times now and every time I am told they are the best cupcakes I have ever made. (And I make a LOT of cupcakes!) Such a great recipe!


  43. Tessa B. on December 12, 2012 at 9:30 am

    I will b making some tonight for a wrk. party, reading the comments has me very anxious about trying one. I will let ya’ll know 2morrow.


  44. Ali on December 14, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    I baked these the other day and they turned out great! I fiddles with the icing recipe just a tad because I found it to be too sweet, so I added more lime juice. The cake was moist and almost a little too crumbly but very good. However, when I pulled them out of the fridge the next day to give to my friend (her birthday cake 😀 ) the cakes turned into this super dense poundcake thing. While they still tasted awesome, I would not suggest putting them in the fridge! I also wouldn’t forgo that little sprinkle of salt, just put the icing on its toes. Thank you a bunch for posting a non-packaged cupcake recipe! I agree, it gets quite annoying finding the ‘use 1 package of yellow cake mix’, so not fun.


  45. Angela on January 13, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Made two batches of these. Both came out a little more dense than I expected, which I’m actually okay with. Both batches also looked perfect on top but had very dark bottoms. (Probably time for an infrared oven thermometer.) They still smell great, and I can’t wait to try one… or three.

    On a side note, how much juice should 1 1/2 limes come out to?


    • Michelle on January 15th, 2013 at 6:55 pm

      Hi Angela, It obviously depends on the size of the lime, but on average you’ll get about 2 tablespoons of juice per lime, so 3 tablespoons for 1.5 limes.


  46. Sharon on January 22, 2013 at 8:25 am

    This recipe looks sooo delish . . . I’m excited to make them for my sister’s birthday. One question – the cooking time is obviously for full-size cupcakes, and I plan to make minis. What would you suggest for cooking time? I definitely don’t want to overbake these yummy little guys!!


    • Michelle on January 22nd, 2013 at 6:09 pm

      Hi Sharon, I would start checking them around 8 minutes. Enjoy!


  47. Maddycakes on January 27, 2013 at 2:24 am

    I made these today .. Very yummy ! But they were very flat .. Not a nice rise like in the picture.. I didn’t fill the cups compeltely full , maybe about 2/3rds could that be the problem ? Thanks !


    • Michelle on January 27th, 2013 at 2:06 pm

      Did you make 12 cupcakes and divide the batter evenly? Or did you fill them 2/3 full and make more cupcakes? Using less batter will definitely affect how tall your cupcakes are.


      • Maddycakes on January 27th, 2013 at 6:19 pm

        OH! well I guess that’s what I did wrong.. I should have distributed all the batter amongst the 12 cups. I made like 17 cupcakes when I did it. Thanks for the reply! Everyone lovedddd this btw 😉


  48. Claudia Durango on January 29, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Hello! I’m found this and i’m in love. I tried to do it two time but didn’t work. ): I replace the buttermilk for milk and lime juice. Is that a problem? Oh, man i really want to do this recipe for my boyfriend who loves margarita.

    Sorry for bad english,
    Love from Perú!


    • Michelle on January 30th, 2013 at 2:01 pm

      Hi Claudia, You don’t mention how this didn’t work for you, so there’s no way I can even start to guess at what the problem might be. I have never used lime juice to make buttermilk, I do not know if it has a different acidity than lemon juice.


      • Claudia Durango on February 17th, 2013 at 9:19 pm

        Ops. The recipe didn’t work because the cupcakes never get cooked. Until i followed the instructions very carefully.


  49. Melissa on February 4, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    What temp and how long should I bake these if I am making mini cupcakes? I made these twice and they were amazing just want to do mini ones for a party.


    • Michelle on February 4th, 2013 at 11:23 pm

      Hi Melissa, Use the same temperature, but I would start checking them around 8 minutes just to be sure they don’t get dry. Enjoy!


      • Emily on April 22nd, 2013 at 4:41 pm

        Perfect, thank you! I was going to make them mini as well. Glad I saw this comment.


  50. Jenni K on February 6, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    What a perfect way to celebrate cinco de mayo. They look so delicious!


Comment Pages 1 2 3 4

Leave a Comment

(Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for your patience! If it is your first time commenting you may want to review the Comment Guidelines.)