Margarita Cupcakes


You don't have to choose between drinks and dessert.

Margarita Cupcakes
Photo: Photographer: Jennifer Causey Food Stylist: Melissa Gray Prop Stylist: Heather Chadduck Hillegas
Active Time:
35 mins
Bake Time:
20 mins
Cool Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 25 mins
24 cupcakes

If you're in need of a fun dessert for a margarita lover, these Margarita Cupcakes will be the hit of the party. A doctored-up white cake mix and tequila-spiked frosting (yes, really!) make these the easiest and most memorable cupcakes you've ever made. Lime-flavored gelatin mix makes our Margarita Cupcakes the perfect shade of light green, and adds a hint of tanginess. When making a homemade cake batter, it's important to not overbeat after adding the dry ingredients because it can make the texture of the cake tough. Cake mixes, on the other hand, actually have to be mixed for two to three minutes to ensure that they bake and rise properly. The margarita frosting—which is the real showstopper here—balances out the tanginess of the cupcake with creamy sweetness and a bit of heat from the blanco tequila. And just like the cocktail, our Test Kitchen finished these treats with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. (Obviously, leave off if you prefer your margaritas sans salt.) It's the next best thing to a cocktail—or maybe it's even better?



  • 1 (16.25-oz.) pkg. white cake mix (such as Betty Crocker)

  • 3 tablespoons lime-flavored gelatin (such as Jell-O) (from 1 [3-oz.] pkg.)

  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk

  • ¼ cups butter, melted

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 24 paper baking cups


  • 1 cup salted butter, softened

  • 1 tablespoon grated lime zest, plus 4 to 5 Tbsp. fresh juice (from 3 limes), divided

  • 8 cups (about 32 oz.) powdered sugar

  • ¼ cup (2 oz.) blanco tequila

  • 2 drops green liquid food coloring

  • Flaky sea salt, thinly sliced lime wedges, and grated lime zest


  1. Prepare the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat cake mix, gelatin, milk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium, and beat until well blended, 2 to 3 minutes.

  2. Place 24 paper baking cups in 2 (12-cup) standard muffin pans; spoon batter into cups, filling each about three-fourths full (about 1/4 cup batter in each). Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center of cupcakes comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool completely in pans on wire racks, about 30 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pans.

  3. Prepare the Frosting: Beat softened butter and lime zest with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and gradually beat in powdered sugar, tequila, and 4 tablespoons of the lime juice until frosting is well combined and smooth. Beat in remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency. Add food coloring; beat on high speed until food coloring is evenly dispersed throughout and frosting is light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

  4. Spoon frosting into a 1-gallon ziplock plastic freezer bag. Snip 1 corner of bag to make a small (about 1/2-inch-wide) hole. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes, and garnish with flaky sea salt, lime wedges, and lime zest.

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