Key Lime Margarita Cupcakes


I grew up listening to Jimmy Buffet. It’s in the salt, it’s in the sand, it’s in my brain, it’s in my veins. Every year since I can remember, up until we all went to college, I went to Nags Head, North Carolina with my family and 3 other families. 13 kids, 21 people total. There I made some of my happiest, sweetest memories of my life. These people are my best friends and my family. All day, everyday, Jimmy would be playing. At the forefront or in the background, he was there.

Now, many years later since the last time we were in Nags Head, we all see each other often, but we never ever miss the annual Jimmy Buffet concert at Jones Beach. Every year, it falls on the weekend of my mom’s birthday. I always try to come up with a fun new birthday treat to serve at the 10 hour pre-concert tailgate (yes, you read that correctly). This year I decided to stick with the theme – and make some Margaritaville cupcakes! Enjoy, and remember, “if life gives you lemons, make margaritas!”



1 box (4-serving size) vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup Key lime or regular lime juice
4 drops green food color
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar


48 regular-size paper baking cups
1 box of super moist yellow cake mix (or regular, if you can’t find super moist!)
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box


1 container of whipped fluffy white frosting
1 tablespoon Key lime or regular lime juice
1/2 teaspoon grated Key lime or regular lime peel


  1. In large bowl, beat pudding mix and whipping cream with whisk 2 minutes. Let stand 3 minutes. Beat in 1/4 cup Key lime juice and the food color; stir in powdered sugar until smooth. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Place 24 of the paper baking cups in each of 24 regular size muffin cups. Make cake batter as directed on box. Spoon about 1 rounded tablespoonful batter into each muffin cup, using about half of the batter. (Muffin cups will be about one-third full.) Refrigerate remaining batter. Bake 11 to 15 minutes (14 to 20 minutes for dark or nonstick pan) or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan to cooling rack. Repeat with remaining baking cups and batter. Cool cupcakes completely, about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove paper baking cups from cupcakes. Swirl about 2 teaspoons topping on top of each cupcake.
  4. Stir frosting in container 20 times. Gently stir in 1 tablespoon Key lime juice and the lime peel. Spoon frosting into 1-quart resealable food-storage plastic bag. Cut 1/2-inch opening from bottom corner of bag. Squeeze 1 rounded teaspoonful frosting from bag onto topping. Garnish with fresh lime wedge, if desired. Store in refrigerator.

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