Margarita Cake

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This Margarita Cake is flavored with lime and plenty of tequila for a moist and tender layer cake that is so full of margarita flavor! It is definitely a new favorite!

Margarita Cake recipe

So are all pretty familiar with the fact that when you’re pregnant, you have to cut out certain foods and drinks, such as alcohol. Given that we tried so long to get pregnant before we got pregnant with the twins, it didn’t really bother me much. I totally expected to be able to go back to drinking caffeine and alcohol afterwards though and definitely didn’t take into account that with breastfeeding, you have to keep many of the same things out of your diet.

Of course it’s not as strict, so the occasional thing here and there isn’t going to hurt anything. One of the things I was most excited to taste again was a margarita. It seems like most people have some bad tequila experience that keeps them from loving tequila, but I have to say that it’s one of my favorites.

When I went to test and bake this cake, I was shocked to find that we didn’t have any tequila in the cabinet. I asked the hubs to run out for me and when he came back with the tequila, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. The first thing I did was open the bottle and just smell that delicious tequila smell. Is that weird? HA! What can I say? I’m a fan! Naturally I had to incorporate plenty of tequila flavor in with the lime flavor of this cake.

Best Margarita Cake recipe
Favorite Margarita Cake

How to make this Margarita Cake

So to get started with this margarita cake, I used my Moist and Fluffy Vanilla Cake as the base. I have several vanilla cakes and cupcakes to choose from, but this cake is so buttery and tender, I thought it was perfect for this cake. It has a whopping one and half cups of butter in it, but it is so worth every bit! It’s produces and wonderfully moist and flavorful cake!

The butter is combined with some sugar and creamed until light and fluffy. It’s important to not gloss over this step, as the creaming adds air to the batter that helps give the cake some of it’s rise.

Next up are the egg whites and vanilla extract. The egg whites add structure to the cake and the vanilla adds some flavor to balance out the tequila and lime. The remainder of batter is made by alternating the addition of the dry ingredients with some milk and the lime juice and zest and tequila.

This margarita cake uses a full half cup of tequila to give it lots of flavor! There’s also a quarter cup of lime juice and some lime zest. I would say though that the tequila is the stronger flavor in the cake. Additional lime flavor comes from the frosting. You can certainly reduce the tequila a bit and add a little more milk, if you want to tone it down a bit. Totally up to you, but like I said – I’m a tequila fan!

Once the cake is baked and the frosting is made, it’s time to frost that lovely margarita cake and dig in! I wish it was possible to give you a taste through the screen because not only is the flavor on point, but the texture is so wonderfully soft and tender, it just melts right in your mouth. It’s a cake you’ll want to make over and over again, for sure!

Best Margarita Cake slice
Best Margarita Cake slice

Watch How To Make It

Read Transcript

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upright slice of Margarita Layer Cake on plate

Margarita Cake

  • Author: Life Love and Sugar
  • Prep Time: 1 hr 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours, plus cooling time
  • Yield: 12-14 Slices
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


This Margarita Cake is flavored with lime and plenty of tequila for a moist and tender cake that is so full of margarita flavor!


Tequila Lime Margarita Cake

  • 3 cups (390g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (336g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (414g) sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 2 tbsp lime zest

Lime Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups butter
  • 1 1/2 cups shortening
  • 12 cups (1380g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp finely grated lime zest
  • 6 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • Lime slices, for decor
  • Sugar sprinkles, for decor


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Line three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper in the bottom and grease the sides.
2. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl on medium speed about 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
4. Add the egg whites and vanilla and beat on medium speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, as needed, to make sure everything is combined.
5. Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the batter and beat on medium speed until incorporated.
6. Add the milk and beat on medium speed until incorporated.
7. Add another third of the flour mixture to the batter and beat on medium speed until incorporated.
8. Add the lime juice, tequila and lime zest and beat on medium speed until incorporated.
9. Add the remaining dry ingredients and beat on medium speed until well combined and smooth.
10. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and spread evenly.
11. Bake the cakes for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Don’t be alarmed if the tops are a little browned, that is normal.
10. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
11. To make the frosting, add the butter and shortening to a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth.
12. Slowly add about half of the powdered sugar, mixing until well combined and smooth.
13. Add the lime zest and lime juice and mix until well combined and smooth.
14. Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.
15. Add additional lime juice, if needed, to thin out the frosting.
16. To put the cake together, trim the tops of the cakes so they are flat. The cake layers should be pretty flat, but if there’s a dome, trim it off.
17. Place the first layer of cake on a serving plater, then top it with about 1 cup of frosting and spread into an even layer.
18. Add the second layer of cake and another layer of frosting.
19. Top the cake with the remaining cake layer and frost the outside of the cake. I used my 9 inch offset spatula to create the lines on the side of the cake, but feel free to leave that off.
20. Finish off the cake with some swirls of the remaining frosting and lime slices. I also sprinkled some coarse sugar sprinkles around the top of the cake to mimic the look of salt, but that’s optional.


I store my cakes in a large cake carrier (the cupcake inserts are removable) at room temperature, but it can be refrigerated. The cake is best if eaten within roughly 3 days.


  • Serving Size: 1 Slice
  • Calories: 1033
  • Sugar: 113.6 g
  • Sodium: 411.5 mg
  • Fat: 52.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 138.8 g
  • Protein: 5.7 g
  • Cholesterol: 54.3 mg



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collage of slice and whole Margarita Layer Cake

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  1. Marcia

    Planning on making this soon- but as an aside I am loving the cakestand. I know this was from a few years ago but wondering if you remember where you go it? Thanks!

  2. Liv Fawcett

    Can I make this cake by using a white box mix and pistachio pudding to make it green and still use tequila & lime!

    1. Lindsay

      Seems like kind of an odd combination to me, but you could try it. I also don’t know much about adding tequila and lime to a cake mix.

  3. Christina T

    I made this cake for a fundraiser and it was the number 1 cake everyone wanted!! I added a little more tequila and also I added tequila to the icing!!

  4. Denise

    Question about the ingredients for the frosting. Is it really 12 cups of powdered sugar? Also, can you make it only a 2 layer cake ?

  5. Stephanie

    Wow, this recipe was amazing. My nephew turned 21 and loves lemon/lime desserts so this was the perfectone to make. He said best one ever!

  6. Lauren

    Hi Lindsay,
    In the past I’ve made the Margarita cupcakes from your book and they were a HUGE hit. Now I’ve been requested to make a Margarita cake and found this on your blog. I’m wondering how the two recipes differ in taste. Will I miss the sour cream? (All of your cupcakes from your book are my go to! It’s by far my most used and favorite book). Will this cake be denser than the book’s recipe? Is this cake boozier? Can I/should I turn that cupcake recipe into a cake recipe or do you recommend going with this one instead?

    P.S. to anyone reading this, you absolutely need Lindsay’s book: Simply Beautiful Homemade Cakes! It’s incredible!

    1. Lauren

      I’m making the cake tomorrow, Saturday, and really hoping to get a response if possible before I start. I bought the ingredients to make either recipe and I’m just waiting to hear back from you on the difference between the two recipes. Sorry to give a nudge.

      1. Lindsay

        I’m so sorry I missed your comment somehow! I’m glad you nudged me because I saw the nudge. 🙂

        As for answering your question – it’s been a while since making either so it’s hard. This cake definitely has more tequila and a little more lime juice, so I’m guessing the flavor is a little stronger. The texture will be fairly different though. This cake has a tighter crumb that would I would say makes it a little more like a typically bakery-style cake. Whereas the book recipe I think is a little more moist and light, in a way. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with either. If you really love the recipes from the book (which is so nice to hear – THANK YOU!), then maybe go with that one. You can certainly double it for a cake and you could probably swap out some milk for a little more tequila, if you want that flavor a touch stronger. I hope that helps!

        And again, thank you for the kind words about my cookbook. 🙂

    1. Lindsay

      It bakes fine, but I find that the cupcakes liners tend to peel off for some reason. It could just be the liners I use, but I’m not sure.

  7. Karen Croy

    I made a non-alcoholic version of this cake today. I substituted margarita mix for the tequila and buttermilk instead of milk. It is very good!!!

  8. Stephanie Vargas

    Ummm sooo I’ve already mixed all the ingredients…. And I’m about to pour into the pans. I just was reading and saw it says half a cup of tequila… I’m pretty sure I measured out 3/4 cups…. Is my cake ruined???

    1. Lindsay

      Hard to say for sure since I haven’t tried adding that much. It’s possible it’ll be ok, I’m just not sure.

      1. Stephanie Vargas

        I went ahead with it since I don’t have time to make another. They’re out of the oven and cooled. They look good, I won’t know for sure until we eat it but I think it’s going to be ok.

  9. Lari

    This cake was a hit for my good friend’s birthday! The layers were absolutely delicious. I added lime curd between layers and on top, sprinkling sanding sugar around the “rim”. Used a traditional buttercream and added a little Contreau. Wonderful! Thank you for the recipe

  10. Wilma Pinedo

    I am so excited to try this recipe. In the ingredients, it says all purpose flour, is cake flour the same?
    Thank you, Wilma

    1. Lindsay

      The potential issues there are if there’s added sugar and acidity from lime juice. It could affect the outcome. You could try it though.

  11. Janice L Gendron

    It was super fun making this cake, esp while having a little shot here and there of Tequila! Big hit for my bosses birthday! I wish I could share a pic of the cake because by no means am I good with the icing and details, but I was really happy & proud with the outcome!

  12. Rebecca

    Hey Lindsey! I love your recipes! You are the only person I go to for cake recipes! Great job, as always! I graduate nursing school this week and will be having a Taco bout a nurse themed grad party this weekend. I was thinking of doing this cake but doing the strawberry version. Where would you add the strawberry puree? Frosting? and just add more powdered sugar to thicken it? Thank you so much! Congrats on the baby girl as well!

  13. Annie

    Planning to make this today and im so excited! 2 questions. 1-can I use buttermilk in place if regar milk? I usually use buttermilk in my cakes. 2-do you think the frosting would work if I subbed cream cheese for the crisco? I often find cream cheese buttercream cuts the sweetness a bit.

  14. Teresa Carrano

    I made this cake for a friend’s birthday and It was a huge hit! I added 2 Tablespoons of Triple-Sec to the measuring cup before I added the tequila, put a layer of home-made lime curd over the top of the frosting to mimic a liquid, and added two large plastic straws. I love your recipes and use them all of the time!

  15. Kim Bright

    Excellent! I am making it again tomorrow. I made a sheet cake two weeks ago for a 21st birthday, there was nothing left but unused icing, she ate that! I added 1/2 cup of tequila to the icing. It is a family favorite now.

  16. Samantha

    Can I use buttermilk instead of milk for this recipe? How much would I put in it and what else would I have to change?

  17. Niki

    We made cupcake versions of this cake for our wedding last May and it was delicious!! Looking forward to making this again for our first anniversary in a couple weeks. This recipe was perfect as is for us!

  18. Sonja Allen

    I want to make this cake using three 6 inch cake pans.  I’ll probably use the entire recipe as written.  So, my question is, how far up the sides of the pans, should the batter come?

    1. Lindsay

      I really don’t bake any 6 inch cakes, so I’m not sure. I’m thinking it could be too much batter, unless you have 3 inch tall pans. Keep in mind though that if your layers are quite thick, the cake layers will end up more dense.

  19. Chris

    Do you cream the butter and the sugar until the sugar is dissolved or does that not matter? Also, how long do you whisk in the egg whites before adding the other ingredients?

    1. Lindsay

      The sugar won’t necessarily be dissolved, you would still be able to feel the grittiness between your fingers. But you’re looking for a very distinct change in the color and texture of the mixture. It will lighten quite a bit and get fluffy. As for the egg whites, you want to stir them in until things are well combined. You don’t need to stir it for an extremely long time or try to whip them.

  20. Nicole

    Made this for a friend’s bday. Everyone enjoyed it and the cake cooked well. It smelled of tequila but I couldn’t taste it (which is a good thing). One issue I had was that the recipe made far too much frosting- I probably threw 1/3 of it in the trash. Also, I added more zest and lime juice to the frosting to up the lime flavor, as well as salt. Would recommend if you are looking for a margarita cake

  21. John

    I want to try this recipe for an occasion. I was wondering which tequila you used…was it silver or gold and does it make a difference? Thanks!

      1. John

        Thanks for the reply. Just to update, I made this cake for a friend’s party yesterday and it was a huge hit! The cake turned out beautiful. The only thing I changed was that I used about 2/3 of the powdered sugar for the icing – the consistency was perfect and I didn’t want to make it any sweeter. I also added an upturned plastic margarita glass wedged into the top of the cake with green coloured white chocolate ganache drip as the “spilt” margarita. Thanks for the recipe!

  22. Relle

    Just made this today for a friend’s birthday and it was a hit. The cake did not rise well and was dense, though. I think the oven temp was not hot enough or the baking soda I used was old.😞

  23. Deez Sweetz

    made this tonight. This cake came out super moist. I did 2 8 in pans and put them in freezer to firm up a bit. I then sliced both cakes in half so I had 4 layers.
    I did add maybe a splash or 2 extra of tequila (lol) and I did add 2 tsp of tequila in the frosting.
    I did this recipe in cupcakes as well. it yielded 24.

    Great recipe!!! love it

  24. Lexi

    This cake came out amazing and was a huge hit at my company anniversary party. I did use only butter instead of crisco (i hate the mouthfeel of crisco) so the frosting was less stable than it probably would have been otherwise; but still very easy to work with and held it’s structure.

    The cake layers were tender (they did sink slightly in the center while they cooled but didn’t get dense). The flavor was on point with just the right amount of tequila and lime. Thanks for the great recipe.

    1. Lindsay

      I really think that’s a personal call. I’ve heard mixed things about whether or not the alcohol bakes out.

  25. Tiffany

    Was so disappointed.  Followed the recipe exactly as written.  Cake turned out very flat, dense, and was like a tequila flavored bread.  Not moist or cakelike at all.

    1. Lindsay

      It sounds like something didn’t work as far as the rise. Are you sure you creamed the butter and sugar correctly, used baking powder/baking soda that isn’t too old and didn’t over mix the batter at the end? All those things can leave you with a cake that is more dense than it should be. This should be a very tender, soft cake.

  26. Lisa

    I usually use cake flour for my cake recipe. Do you think the structure would be too soft using that instead or should I keep it AP flour. Thanks!

    1. Lindsay

      You’d just need to increase the baking time, if you keep it at an 8 inch cake. I might consider making it a 9 inch though, if you’re doing two layers. The baking time might change a bit, but should be relatively similar.

    1. Lindsay

      Cream cheese instead of the butter and shortening? You possibly could, but it will change the flavor and consistency of the frosting (it’d be much thinner).

  27. Heather

    I made this cake yesterday and it is delicious! I made a few changes: reduced vanilla extract and added some orange extract (1/2 tsp) to the cake.

    For the frosting I reduced the lime juice and added 2 tsp tequila & 1tsp orange extract. The frosting is sweet but fabulous. I also sprinkled sanding sugar & flaked sea salt on top layer – yum!

    The cake was very moist and tender. Can’t wait to make for a party.

  28. Deldrick

    Great recipe, but I would cut back on the sugar in the icing, it cake out really sweet.   The cake came out really good.  

  29. Cindy S.

    I rated it 5 stars cause I am a tequila fan also, so I just know it is gonna be wonderful!! Can’t wait to try it! I also think a strawberry version would be great. Or any fruit probably would work.

  30. Tzivia

    When you say shortening you don’t mean Crisco do you??? If so is there anything else I could use instead.

About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29