Virgin/Mocktail Margarita Cupcakes

It seems like folks don’t understand the concept of “virgin” anymore. I was looking for a good non-alcoholic margarita cupcake recipe and every one of them called for tequila. Years ago a ‘virgin’ variation of a cocktail meant it did not have alcohol in it. Apparently, that’s not the case today. I suppose the word carries too much of a stigma and it was my own fault for using that word in my search! Apparently “Mocktails” is the way to go.

Whatever you choose to call them, they are delicious!

However, if you’re a cupcake purist, you may want to look away now….

Why? Because I started out using a white cake mix from a box.100_4115

I know, I know… I cringe when using a box mix too, sometimes. I’m all for using it when you’re going to be doctoring it up and personalizing it. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that I made it from scratch though. I wish I had, but I was having trouble getting the measurements to be just right. So, I took the cheater’s way. Don’t hate.

Besides- I added tons of fresh citrus:100_4112And a tasty margarita mix:100_4113

And used pretty green liners:100_4119And fresh lime zest (I used more than half of one lime, but if you want a more potent flavor, add more):

100_4120100_4116I replaced the water in the recipe with the margarita mix and some fresh lime and orange juice. I love my margaritas with Grand Marnier or Triple Sec, so the orange juice acts as that flavor. One large orange will produce more than enough juice, as you really only need about an ounce (or tablespoon if you’d rather measure that way).

You’ll need the egg whites and oil called for on the box mix. And you’ll want to throw in some fresh lime zest. A tablespoon will do, I ended up using more than half of one lime, but if you like a more lime flavor, add more. If you want a lower-fat cupcakes, it’d be absolutely acceptable to use 1 12oz can of a diet lemon-lime soda. You can use that in place of the margarita mix, eggs, and oil, but still mix in some fresh lime juice and zest.100_4127

The cupcakes bake up looking like white cupcakes- but there are little flecks of the zest throughout- so don’t be fooled! Depending on the amount of zest used, these little guys can pack a sour punch!

So, I decided to top them with a lime buttercream. You can take the cheater’s way and use a store-bought can of frosting if you want. You’ll be doctoring that up with some lime juice (or the margarita mix, if you wish!) and lime zest. I had just enough leftover from the large batch that I always make. I tossed in a little leftover green frosting to tint the buttercream (or use a tiny bit of green food coloring in a fresh batch to make it a light green color, if desired!). I tend to make a large batch without using all the liquid called for so that the batch is extremely firm. This gives me the opportunity to take from the large batch and add flavors (juices, etc) without making the buttercream runny. (I’ll post that recipe below as well.)

I added lime zest and mixed it all in!100_4121 100_4122

Then, I frosted a ring around the cupcakes:100_4129

Because I wanted to use a coarse sanding sugar to rim the edges (like you would a margarita!)100_4131 100_4132 100_4130 I finished the inside off with a swirl.100_4133And even tossed some left-over zest on top.

100_4138They still looked a bit lonely, so I candied some lime wedges:100_4143 100_4147


Virgin Margarita Cupcakes

1 box of white cake mix
1 1/4 cup good margarita mix
1 tbsp orange juice
3 egg whites
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest (and the juice of that lime)

1- Mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl, saving the zest until last. Fold in the zest.
2- Scoop into lined cupcake pan until 3/4 full.
3- Bake at 350 for 12 minutes for the minis and 23 minutes for the standard size or until a toothpick inserted removes clean
4- Allow to cool completely before frosting with Lime Buttercream.
5- Once frosted, rim the sides of the cupcake with a coarse sanding sugar to create the look of the rimmed margarita glass.
6- Garnish with a lime wedge, lime candy, lime zest, or candied lime as desired.

Lime Buttercream

1 Stick of Butter softened
1lb (about 2 1/2 – 3 cups) of confectioner’s sugar
Juice and zest of one lime
Green food coloring (optional)


1- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter.
2- Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar on a low speed. Mix it in in batches for a smoother frosting.
3- Slowly add the juice of one lime until it reaches a spreadable consistency. You may need more or less depending on how much juice your lime produces.
4- Fold in the zest.
5- Pipe onto cool cupcakes



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