Margarita Cake


Now, who's ready for the beach?

Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
2 hrs 30 mins

Warm weather means cold drinks, but on a hot summer day in the air-conditioned kitchens of our homes, you can enjoy the flavor of one of the most beloved summer cocktails in the form of a sweet and delicious cake. Our Margarita Cake uses tequila in a lime syrup that is brushed across each cake layer. The simple addition of a few tablespoons of lime-flavored gelatin to the cake's dry ingredients lends flavor and color to the airy cake layers, and store-bought margarita mixer is added to the rich cream cheese frosting to spike it with additional margarita taste.

A little green food coloring is used at the end of frosting the cake to give a faded green-and-white color across the surface of the cake. Lastly, the cake is garnished with candied lime peels and a generous sprinkling of flake salt around the cake's edge. Now, who's ready for the beach?

Margarita Cake

Southern Living


Cake Layers

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 3 tablespoons lime-flavored gelatin

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 cup unsalted butter

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

  • 1/4 teaspoon tequila


  • 10 tablespoons butter

  • 5 ounces cream cheese

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Zest of 1 lime

  • 4 cups powdered sugar

  • 1/4 cup margarita mixer

  • Green food coloring as needed


  • Flake salt

  • Candied lime slices (optional)


  1. Prepare pans:

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 3 8-inch round cake pans; set aside.

  2. Make the Cake Layers:

    In a medium bowl, combine flour, gelatin, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Beat butter with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer on medium speed until creamy. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating on low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla extract. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans.

  3. Bake Cake Layers:

    Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, 27 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely before removing from pans.

  4. Make the Syrup:

    Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

  5. Make Frosting:

    Cream together butter, sugar, salt, and lime zest until well combined. Add powdered sugar and combine on low until incorporated. Slowly add margarita mixer and continue to beat on low until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until Frosting becomes airy, about 3 minutes.

  6. Assemble Cake:

    Brush each cake layer heavily with Syrup. Take first layer and spread 1/3 cup of Frosting evenly across the surface. Add the second layer and spread another 1/3 cup of Frosting atop that layer. Add final layer and cover entire cake with 1 cup of Frosting. Add green food coloring as desired to remaining Frosting and stir to combine. Apply colored Frosting to cake, adding more to some areas and less to others, giving the cake a gradient of color between white and green. Garnish by sprinkling the edge of the cake with flake salt and decorating with candied lime slices.

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