Margarita Cupcakes

This recipe has been featured in a post on The Recipe Girl blog with more photographs: Margarita Cupcakes.

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Prep Time: 25 min

Cook Time: 25 min

Margarita Cupcakes

These are fun for a Cinco de Mayo party, but they surely can be made for any festive, adult occasion…emphasis on adult. They do have a bit of tequila in them, so it’s probably best to keep them away from the little ones.


9 ounces Margarita Mixer, bottled liquid
3 ounces tequila
3/4 ounce Grand Marnier
1 (18.25 ounce) box white cake mix
3 large egg whites
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 Tablespoon lime zest

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 to 6 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lime zest
green food coloring, if desired
small lime slices for garnish, if desired


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two dozen cupcake tins with paper liners.

2. Prepare cupcakes: Whisk together margarita mix, tequila and Grand Marnier in a small bowl. Measure out 1 1/4 cups for the recipe; pour the rest on some ice and drink it while making the cupcakes :)

3. In a large bowl, blend cake mix, egg whites, vegetable oil, lime zest and 1 1/4 cups of the margarita mix from step 1. Blend on low for about 30 seconds and then increase speed to medium and blend for two additional minutes. Batter will be slightly lumpy.

4. Spoon the batter into cupcake liners (about 3/4 full). Bake for 20-25 min, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool for about 10 minutes in the pans, then remove them to a rack to cool completely.

5. Prepare icing: Once cucpakes are completely cooled, prepare the icing. Place butter in a large bowl and beat with electric mixer until butter is fluffy. Add 5 cups of powdered sugar, salt, lime juice, and lime zest. Mix until thick and creamy. Add more powdered sugar until the frosting is of a good spreading (or piping) consistency. Mix in a tiny amount of green food coloring or gel paste if you'd like the frosting to have a green tint. Ice cupcakes in whatever manner you prefer... spreading or piping the frosting. Use small lime slices as garnish.


*Conversions: 9 ounces = a little over a cup, 3 ounces = a little less than 1/3 cup, 3/4 ounce = 1 1/2 Tablespoons
*Grand Marnier is an orange liqueur- sub another kind if you'd like or add in some orange juice.
*Don't worry too much about exact measuring for the margarita mix/tequila/Grand Marnier. Just eyeball it and measure out the 1 1/4 cups that you'll need for the recipe.
*If you just spread frosting on the cupcakes (rather than piping), you'll probably have a bit of frosting leftover.
*If you prepare these a day before, it's best to place them into a covered container and refrigerate them. Remove them to room temperature a couple of hours before serving. Of course, they're best if eaten the day they're made.


69 Responses to “Margarita Cupcakes”

  1. postedMay 2, 2009 1:38 PM

    so nice and yumy. really interesting. Hope I don t get tipsy if I make these :)

  2. postedMay 10, 2009 5:23 AM

    Great cupcakes! were a big hit for the adults at a boring children’s birthday party. Not sure if the alcohol would remain after baking, but did not let any of the children try these. Was asked for this recipe and refered them to this website. Easy to make, and enjoyed a margarita while putting the ingredients together!

  3. postedJun 13, 2009 7:18 PM

    These turned out great for summer, thanks for the great recipe.

  4. postedJun 29, 2009 8:41 AM
    Leah L.

    These were a hit at a friends 21st birthday. The icing was amazing 😀

  5. postedJun 30, 2009 9:50 AM
    Julie W.


  6. postedApr 5, 2010 6:33 PM

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe! I made a cake yesterday for my mother in law’s birthday. It turned out great! I baked 2 – 8″ cakes at 350º for 15 min. Used the same icing recipe. Here’s a picture.

    • April 5th, 2010 @ 7:04 PM

      Rita- so glad it turned out great for you!

  7. postedJun 8, 2010 11:12 AM

    I made these for a “Sex and the City Party,” and they were a big hit. Delicious and so easy to make!

  8. postedJul 10, 2010 3:15 PM

    These look phenomenal! I can’t wait to make them!

  9. postedAug 17, 2010 9:15 AM

    i made these for a wedding shower, the brides colors were green and brown so they were perfect!!It was easy too! Everyone LOVED them! I also made a green Champange Cupcake, this recipe without a doubt was the winner!! I just used fresh lime zest as the garnish, it gave it a little extra kick and looked super cute. I think i going to have to make them again tomorrow for the people that didnt attend!!!

  10. postedAug 19, 2010 3:02 PM

    @adult-only comment: Because the the cupcakes are baked and there is no alcohol in the frosting, all of the alcohol would be “cooked-off”.

    I’ve also made these (my own recipe) with yellow cake mix and added some green food coloring – same color as a blended margarita! Add decorative sugar crystals to make it look like the salted rim. Very cute!

    • August 19th, 2010 @ 8:32 PM

      @Angela, Yeah, technically… though I still wouldn’t feel comfortable telling my kiddo that it’s ok to eat Margarita cupcakes. I’ll stick w/ handing them out to the adults. Plus, it’s fun to stick a few shot glasses of tequila on your serving tray 😉

  11. postedAug 27, 2010 7:47 AM

    I made these for a bbq not long ago and they were a huge hit. even with my husband who doesnt really like cake. they are not too sweet. I added a little tequila to my frosting for a little extra zing.

  12. postedSep 15, 2010 10:48 PM

    I didn’t make these, but was at a birthday party where they were served. the cook gave me this site to try it myself. can’t wait :) they were yummy.

  13. postedOct 28, 2010 3:20 PM

    Just finished making these and they are amazing!
    I have to admit I read the recipe the other day so tonight I just started putting them together forgetting about only using 1 1/4 cups and used all the liquor in the recipe (I also used “margaritas” instead of mix) and they came out so moist and delicious. Thanks for posting this they will be a big hit at my party tomorrow

  14. postedJan 30, 2011 5:25 PM

    I may have to make these for the next mommies’ night!!

  15. postedFeb 4, 2011 4:23 PM

    I made this for my birthday today 2/4 and i took them to my co workers. i work in a food store. And they were great a big hit. I added the tequila to the icing. They tasted just like a margarita. I am going to try other cocktails with this recipe. Thse are a major make again. They are so easy, nice and moist.

    • February 4th, 2011 @ 4:32 PM

      @marianne, Good to hear & happy birthday to you!

      • February 4th, 2011 @ 6:07 PM

        @Lori Lange, thank you

  16. postedFeb 7, 2011 6:42 AM

    So could you just use 1 1/4 cup of Margarita mix (already prepared margaritas,) instead of having to buy the additional alcohol?

  17. postedFeb 11, 2011 7:38 AM
    Jan Patterson

    Loved this cupcake recipe. Didn’t use the fresh lime garnish though. Is there a problem with the lime reacting with the frosting and causing the frosting to melt?

  18. postedMar 15, 2011 8:41 AM

    I have made these cupcakes 3 times now (and planning or a 4th for my 25th bday coming up) and they were amazing every time!They were a huge hit, my friends still ask me when I will make them again.


  19. postedApr 1, 2011 12:55 PM
    Gaby Gamez

    Your recipe is yummy!!!! But I made these last weekend, they were a bit dry, have you tried adding more oil to the recipe? Why only 2T if the cake mix calls for 1/3 C?

    • April 1st, 2011 @ 5:41 PM

      @Gaby Gamez, I suppose you could add a little more. Shorter baking time maybe too.

  20. postedApr 23, 2011 1:11 PM
    Chris Baker

    I just made these. Wow. Incredible. I couldn’t afford the Grand Marnier, so I substituted Triple Sec. Can’t say enough how happy I am you posted this recipe. Bringing these to a Doctor Who party tonight, I imagine they will be a big hit.

  21. postedMay 2, 2011 1:48 PM

    What an awesome recipe! I’m going to be making these in a couple weeks for sure!!! Hope they come out like yours! :)

  22. postedMay 3, 2011 9:56 AM

    These were really easy to make, and the cupcakes had a yummy, yummy flavor! Sadly, though, the bottoms and tops of my cupcakes burned. Not sure why…it was at 350 for 21 minutes.

    Can’t take them to a friend for her bday today, but I’ll try again tonight! I’ll test them at 17 minutes and see what happens. We have a stock of booze on hand, and the other ingredients are inexpensive, so it’s easy and fun to make a bunch!

  23. postedMay 4, 2011 11:55 AM

    LOL LMAO — ok, i was looking up margarita cupcakes for cinco de mayo party… the drink the rest made me laugh REALLY loud! luckily the kids aren’t home, i might have scared them! :o) thanks for the laugh, these look & sound yummy so can’t wait to get to it!

  24. postedMay 5, 2011 2:50 PM

    Contrary to popular opinion, cooking removes only a portion of the alcohol added to a dish,
    a much smaller portion than previously thought.

    Perhaps most interesting, 75% of the alcohol remains after flambe-ing. A whopping thirty-five percent (35%) of alcohol remains even after a dish has been simmered 30 minutes on the stove, according to a 2003 USDA study. Alcohol remains in a dish chemically, even when its taste in undetectable – a very important consideration for someone in sobriety or for those cooking for someone in sobriety.

    USDA Table of Nutrient Retention Factors, Release 5 (2003)

    Table from USDA Showing Percent of Alcohol Retained After Cooking
    Preparation Method Percent of Alcohol Retained
    alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat 85%
    alcohol flamed 75%
    no heat, stored overnight 70%
    baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture 45%
    baked/simmered, alcohol stirred into mixture:
    15 minutes 40%
    30 minutes 35%
    1 hour 25%
    1.5 hours 20%
    2 hours 10%
    2.5 hours 5%

    From the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, April, 2002, by Eleese Cunningham:

    “The extent of loss depends on the severity of the heat application, or any other factor favoring evaporation. Cooking time had the greatest impact on alcohol retention. Flaming a dish results in much smaller losses of alcohol than cooking. Uncooked and briefly cooked dishes had the highest alcohol retention. Alcohol retention during cooking was also greatly affected by the size of the cooking vessel used. The smaller the cooking utensil the greater the amount alcohol retained. This was likely due to the smaller surface area for evaporation.”

    • May 8th, 2011 @ 6:51 PM

      Thanks for the info!

  25. postedMay 14, 2011 7:16 AM

    Do you use fresh lime zest in the cupcakes?? It looks more like bottled??

    • May 14th, 2011 @ 7:21 AM

      freshly grated!

  26. postedMay 14, 2011 7:58 AM

    I see the green speckles in the frosting.. The cupcakes looked a brown speckled color? Maybe it’s these new glasses.. lol

    • May 14th, 2011 @ 8:28 AM

      Yes, they do come out a little speckly like that… not sure why!

  27. postedJun 19, 2011 11:33 AM

    Made these cupcakes for a Margarita house party last night – They were a HUGE hit! I made strawberry frosting with lime zest in it – yummy!

    • June 19th, 2011 @ 6:57 PM

      That sounds great! Love the variation.

  28. postedJul 21, 2011 10:50 PM

    Hello, there! I was actually thinking about making these tomorrow for a friend of mine and I was wondering: If I changed the recipe and used strawberry mix instead of classic lime, would it turn out the same? Also, if I did substitute in the strawberry mix, is there anything you’d recommend using instead of lime zest?

    • July 22nd, 2011 @ 6:18 AM

      I think it would probably turn out fine, except I’m not sure how much of the strawberry flavor would come out with just that substitution. You might try adding a strawberry frosting instead. I’d keep the lime zest in there.

  29. postedJul 22, 2011 9:28 AM

    Hm. I was also actually wondering if, since it would be a strawberry margarita, perhaps a strawberry cake mix might work out.

    • July 23rd, 2011 @ 6:41 AM

      Sounds like a great idea!

  30. postedNov 5, 2011 12:30 PM
    Michelle Maybury

    Margarita Cupcakes,,,,,,,wonderful, made them for an adult Halloween Party.
    Just made another batch with same ingredients, except for the Grand Marnier and Tequila. They also came out great..I called these Key Lime Cupcakes.Thanks for the great ideas. Michelle

  31. postedFeb 7, 2012 2:26 PM

    Can these be frozen for future use?

    • February 8th, 2012 @ 4:53 PM

      I guess the cupcakes themselves can be if they are sealed well… but I wouldn’t frost until serving.

  32. postedMay 1, 2012 1:57 PM

    I found this info from an author who has a book on cakes/cupcakes that use alcohol.
    She states, “when booze is mixed into the batter and baked 40 % is retained for cupcakes baked for 15 minutes and 25% for a cake baked an hour. But when soaked into the cake after baking 70% of the alcohol is retained. Heat and exposure to air is what makes alcohol dissipate a little. Most of our frostings and creams are not heated, so 100% is retained.”

    Everyone always thinks alcohol is totally baked off, and that’s not true. You would have to cook something for hours and even then, there would be trace amounts. Not a big deal for most people, but for some, it is still a concern.

    Here is the site I got the info from:

    • May 1st, 2012 @ 9:55 PM

      Great info- thanks for sharing!

  33. postedMay 20, 2012 6:43 AM
    Lisa Smith

    Truly inspired! A huge hit! Everyone loved them and raved at what a great idea it was. Definitely adding them to my regular cupcake rotation. Thanks!

  34. postedJun 8, 2012 6:07 PM

    Great recipes, thanks for sharing. Also I tried your buttercream and it was delish. I will try one of the cake recipes tonight.

  35. postedJun 24, 2012 7:17 PM
    Ann Walt

    I could not fine the champaign cupcakes that someone was talking about. Can you tell me where I might find it?

    • June 25th, 2012 @ 7:11 AM

      not sure- I don’t have a recipe for champagne cupcakes on my site.

  36. postedJun 26, 2012 9:36 AM

    Are there any instructions for making this recipe into a layer cake?

    • June 27th, 2012 @ 6:08 PM

      not really- you could always try it as such though!

  37. postedAug 18, 2012 7:49 AM
    Michelle P.

    How would I make these non alcoholic?

    • August 19th, 2012 @ 7:20 AM

      I suppose you could use all margarita mix instead of adding any actual alcohol. But you may prefer to just find a lime cupcake recipe instead!

  38. postedNov 12, 2012 9:02 AM

    Hi Lori. I plan on making these for a Farewell Fiesta this Friday! I was only able to find a box of cake mix that was 16.25 oz. How do you think I should alter the rest of the recipe? Thanks for the help!

    • November 12th, 2012 @ 7:06 PM

      Those new cake mixes are really messing things up! Some folks have just purchased a 2nd mix and added the extra ounces, but it will likely be okay to make as written with the slightly smaller box.

  39. postedDec 22, 2012 12:06 PM

    So I have been wanting to make these for so long and am holding back for fear of messing this up so a question just to ease my mind before i make them. When adding ingredients is it replace the water in the cake mix or make the cake mix as is and then add the margarita mix also?

  40. postedJul 26, 2013 1:22 PM

    These look absolutely delicious, but I had to laugh at the “alcohol remaining after cooking” post. There are three ounces total booze in 24 cupcakes. So if 35% remains after 25 minutes, that means barely more than an ounce divided among 24 cupcakes, that is about one ml per cupcake. a ml is a very tiny amount.

  41. postedAug 15, 2013 4:56 AM

    They look great for a bridal shower that I’m hosting! What kind/size of piping tip did you use for the icing?

    • August 15th, 2013 @ 8:49 AM

      It was so long ago that I’m afraid I don’t remember. It was just a basic tip though, nothing fancy.

  42. postedAug 22, 2013 5:37 AM

    Ok, Thank you

  43. postedAug 30, 2013 6:04 PM

    Yummy! I love your kind of cooking – enjoying an adult beverage to help with the recipe, The cupcakes are fantastic. If I don’t get them out of the house, I will eat them all.

  44. postedFeb 21, 2014 9:09 PM

    Oh yes, this is why I love you! You make life fun!, I am throwing a big St Pats & Purim party next month. ( The two holidays collide this year!) I think I’ll make these with green icing ????

  45. postedMar 4, 2014 3:18 PM

    Made these today!! I had Margaritas, (not the mix) and triple sec. Didn’t drink the extra mix of tequila, triple sec and margarita… added it to the frosting!! Then topped the cupcakes with a tiny bit of line zest! Super yummy!!

  46. postedApr 16, 2014 9:31 AM

    These were yummy! I used the leftover margarita to brush the tops of the cupcake before frosting them. The frosting was soo good- a touch of lime and salt!

  47. postedApr 6, 2015 12:04 PM


    Has anyone tried this recipe without using the Tequila or Grand Marnier? I would like to make these for a Fiesta themed party but don’t want to put any alcohol into it. Any other suggestions on alternative recipes that are non-alcohol? 

    These look delicious! 

    Thanks so much, 

    • April 8th, 2015 @ 5:09 PM

      You could probably just use the margarita mix (non alcoholic) in place of the amount of alcohol that is called for.

  48. postedApr 10, 2015 3:52 PM

    Made these for my boyfriends birthday yesterday and they were a huge hit! I was skeptical about how they might turn out, but it was a fun touch to have something so unique. The cake is super fluffy and the frosting is to die for. I served each with a required shot of tequila to get the party going 😉

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