These Key Lime Cupcakes hold no punches when it comes to flavor. This is a tender and delicious combination of key lime flavored cake and zingy cream cheese based frosting that tastes as “bright” as the sun.
Key Lime Cupcakes Recipe
You’re going to love the bright punch of flavor from fresh key lime juice (and zest) in every bite of these cupcakes.
Key limes have a unique tart-bitterness not found in regular lime juice. The tartness complements the sweetness of the cupcake and the frosting in all of the best ways.
Serve these cupcakes for a St. Patrick’s Day dessert (add a touch of neon green food coloring for a shade of chartreuse), make them for Easter brunch or for any spring soiree.
I love the unique flavor key limes give, more of a tart-bitterness, which is a good thing when it comes to baking and cooking with them. They do pack a flavor punch but in a pinch you could get away with using regular lime for these cupcakes. Just remember the key lime boasts a higher acidity and stronger aroma than regular limes, so it might change the overall limey-ness of this recipe.
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Ways To Juice Key Limes
Soften key limes in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds. (This will make them juice more easily.) Then use a citrus reamer (or even just a fork) to extract the most juice possible.
You can also juice a key lime by placing a sliced one between your index finger, your second finger and your thumb and press on it firmly until the juice slowly drips out.
My favorite way to juice a key lime is using a potato ricer. Slice the limes in half and place several of the halves in the ricer at a time and squeeze out the juice over a bowl.
Stick to the mixture of all-purpose and self-rising flour in this recipe. The raising agents found in self-rising flour make the cupcakes ‘rise’. If you just used all-purpose flour, you will end up with a flat and dense cupcakes. You can make your own self-rising flour by adding 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt to 1 cup all-purpose flour, mixing well.
While sifting flour seems like an extraneous step, it’s an important process that helps break up any lumps in the flour, while aerating it at the same time. Sifted flour is much lighter than unsifted flour and makes the process of mixing it into other ingredients much easier. This is especially important when baking from scratch, since overmixing can lead to cake that is not tender.
Fresh key lime juice boasts a higher acidity and stronger aroma than regular limes, so using regular lime juice will change the overall limey-ness and flavor of this recipe. You can absolutely use regular lime juice, but key limes are worth seeking out. Bottled key lime juice pales in comparison to fresh.
Keep frosted cupcakes refrigerated since frosting is made with cream cheese and butter.
More Lime-Focused Recipes You’re Going to Love
These lime desserts will give you a new found zest for life!
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Key Lime Cupcakes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup self-rising flour
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1-1/4 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp key lime zest
- 2-1/2 tbsps fresh key lime juice (about 10 key limes)
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 tsp neon green food coloring (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- Sift and whisk all-purpose flour and self-rising flour in a medium bowl.
- Beat butter until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and beat to blend. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add lime juice, lime zest and food coloring (optional). Continue mixing until all ingredients are well combined.
- Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions. (DO NOT OVER MIX! Your cupcakes will not be light and airy if you mix too much.)
- Spoon equal proportions of batter into prepared muffin pan.
- Remove cupcakes immediately from pan, letting them cool on a rack.
- While waiting for them to cool down, make the frosting.
- Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, lime zest and vanilla extract on medium until smooth.
- Pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Sprinkle with extra lime zest if you like.
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