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Lime Cupcakes

I loved my lime macarons so much that I wanted to make lime cupcakes!

They’re made with tender lime cupcakes, filled with creamy lime curd, and topped with fluffy lime buttercream.

image of a lime cupcake that's been decorated with delicious lime buttercream and filled with homemade lime curd

They are just as good as they sound and are perfect for summer!

Let’s Make These Lime Cupcakes Together

Let’s walk through each step of these lime cupcakes to make sure they turn out as amazing as possible! I’ve also shared a video tutorial below.

Step #1: Bake the Lime Cupcakes

Bake the lime cupcakes first! Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C and place 12 cupcake liners in a cupcake pan.

As you start to make the batter, use your fingertips to massage 1 cup of granulated sugar with the zest of 1 lime in a large bowl.

image of lime zest being massaged into sugar to make lime sugar for a batch of lime cupcakes

This helps release the oil from the lime zest. It sounds weird but really packs these cupcakes with lime flavor!

Once you’ve finished making the batter, divide it evenly between the cupcake liners and fill them about 2/3 full.

image of lime cupcake batter being scooped into cupcake liners

Bake for about 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Let the cupcakes cool for 5 minutes in the pan before moving them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

image of lime cupcakes that have been baked and are cooling on a wire rack

Step #2: Make the Lime Curd Filling

Make the lime curd next! It needs time to cool to room temperature.

This can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in the fridge.

Fill a sauce pan with 2 inches of water and heat over medium-low heat. Combine the yolks, sugar, lime juice, lime zest, and salt in a medium-sized, heat proof bowl.

image of ingredients in a mixing bowl that are about about to be mixed together and cooked to make lime curd

Whisk until combined and smooth. Once the water begins to simmer, place the bowl on top of the sauce pan to make a double boiler.

Leave the heat on medium-low heat and make sure the water isn’t touching the bottom of the bowl.

image of lime curd being cooked in a double boiler and whisked

Continuously whisk the mixture until it thickens. This usually takes me about 3-5 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the pan and turn off the stove. Add 2 Tbsp of butter and stir until incorporated. The mixture should be thick and smooth at this point.

Scoop the lime curd into a small piping bag and seal the top. Place in the fridge to cool. It should have thickened and be fully chilled in 15-30 minutes.

image of homemade lime curd being scooped out of a glass jar

Step #3: Make the Lime Buttercream

While the cupcakes bake and cool, make the lime buttercream.

image of lime buttercream being mixed in a glass bowl with a hand mixer

I like to stir the buttercream by hand with a rubber spatula once it’s fully made. This makes the frosting silky smooth and easier pipe on each cupcake.

This frosting can also be made in advance if needed and kept in the fridge for up to a month.

Place the frosting into a large piping bag fit with a Wilton 1M frosting tip.

Step #4: Fill and Frost These Lime Cupcakes

The last step is to fill and decorate these cupcakes! Remove the center of each cupcake and fill it with lime curd.

image of lime curd being piped into the center of a lime cupcake

Pipe a generous swirl of lime buttercream frosting on top of each cupcake. Garnish with a lime slice and a dusting of lime zest, then enjoy!

image of lime cupcakes that've been decorated with delicious lime buttercream and filled with homemade lime curd

Substitutions and Swaps – Lime Cupcakes

Now that we’ve covered how to make these lime cupcakes, let’s talk about the ingredients!!

This recipe use quite a few ingredients and I know you might not have them all on hand.

Or if you have food allergies or restrictions, I’ve got you covered. Below are some swaps and substitutions that you can make.

  • Unsalted Butter – If you don’t have unsalted butter, use salted butter, and omit the salt in this recipe. You can also use vegan butter in its place.
  • Granulated Sugar – I do not recommend reducing the amount of sugar or changing the type of sugar as it will change the texture of these cupcakes.
  • Large Egg – If you have an egg allergy you can try using 1 flaxseed eggs or a vegan egg replacer like this one made by Bob’s Red Mill.
  • Lime Juice and Zest– Fresh lime juice is a must in this recipe. Make sure you use freshly squeezed lime juice or really good, bottled lime juice, like this key lime juice.
  • All Purpose Flour – This recipe turns out best with AP flour, but you can use a gluten free flour blend if needed.
  • Lime Curd – I love to make the filling for these cupcakes from scratch, and it only takes about 10 minutes. However, if you’re short on time, feel free to use store bough lime curd.
  • Gel Food Coloring – I like to use equal parts yellow and green gel food coloring (small squirt of both) to give these cupcakes a delicate green color. This can be omitted if you don’t want to use food coloring though!
image of a lime cupcake that's been cut in half to show it's lime curd filling

Lime Curd Ingredients and Substitutions:

  • Egg Yolks – I always have leftover egg yolks from making macarons, so I like to use egg yolks in this recipe! If you don’t have any on hand, you can use 1 whole egg. The mixture will turn out slightly thicker, but it will still taste great.
  • Granulated Sugar – This recipe turns out best with granulated sugar. You can use less processed sugar if you want, but the consistency might not be as smooth.
  • Lime Juice – Good lime juice is a must in this recipe. Make sure you use freshly squeezed lime juice or really good, bottled lime juice, like this key lime juice.
  • Lime Zest – Fresh lime zest totally makes this recipe. I usually use the zest from 1 large lime or 2 small limes.
  • Unsalted Butter – Unsalted butter adds richness and helps balance the tartness lime. If you don’t have unsalted butter, use salted butter, and omit the salt in this recipe.
image of a bottle of key lime juice in a bottle

Tips for Making the Best Lime Cupcakes

  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better. Set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Mix your cupcake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This will ensure your cupcakes are tender and fluffy.
  • Use a large cookie scoop to easily fill your cupcake liners. It also makes sure your cupcakes end up being the same height.
  • Seal off the top the piping bag with a rubber band to prevent any frosting from coming out the top of the bag and make the piping bags easier to use.
image of a lime cupcake that's been unwrapped

Making These Lime Cupcakes in Advance & Storing Them

You can make these cupcakes in advance! Frosted cupcakes can sit at room temperature for a few hours or be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days if stored in an airtight container.

However, they taste best when they’re freshly baked!

These cupcakes can also last up to a month in the freezer. If you plan to freeze them, I suggest waiting to fill and frost them until they’re thawed.

You can also make your buttercream ahead of time or save any leftovers. The buttercream frosting will last in the fridge for up to a month.

Be sure to give the frosting a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

You can also store buttercream in piping bags in the fridge. I find they keep their consistency well in piping bags and don’t require any mixing after they’ve thawed.

image of lime cupcakes that've been decorated with delicious lime buttercream and filled with homemade lime curd

Let Me Know What You Think

If you make this lime cupcake recipe, I’d love to hear what you think! Please leave a rating and comment below.

Don’t forget to tag me @chelsweets and #chelsweets so that I can see your amazing creations on social media.

Yield: 12

Lime Cupcakes

image of a lime cupcake that's been decorated with delicious lime buttercream and filled with homemade lime curd

These lime cupcakes taste just like summer! They're filled with lime curd and topped with perfectly tart and sweet lime frosting!!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 19 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 59 minutes

Ingredients

Lime Cupcakes

  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
  • zest of 1 small lime - about 2 tsp (4g)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (56g)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature (125g)
  • 1/2 cup water, room temperature (120g)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature (56g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)
  • green and yellow gel food coloring - optional
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour or gluten free flour blend (150g)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (6g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt (3g)

Lime Curd Filling

Lime Buttercream

  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (283g)
  • zest of 1 small lime - about 2 tsp (4g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt (1g)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (250g)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice (15g)

Tools & Decorations

Instructions

Lime Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C, and place 12 cupcake liners in a muffin pan.
  2. Use your fingertips to massage 1 cup of granulated sugar with the zest of 1 lime in a large bowl. This helps release the oil from the lime zest. The mixture should become aromatic.
  3. Add 1/4 cup of room temperature butter. Mix on a medium high speed with a hand mixer for a minute to cream together the butter and sugar.
  4. Add 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup water, 1 large egg, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and a small squirt of yellow and green gel food coloring (optional) into the butter / sugar mixture. Mix on a medium speed until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
  5. Sift 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt into the wet ingredients.
  6. Mix the batter together until the ingredients are just combined and you can’t see any streaks of flour.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let the cupcakes cool for 5 minutes before moving them onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Lime Curd Cupcake Filling:

  1. Make the lime curd next! It needs time to cool to room temperature.
  2. Fill a saucepan with 2 inches of water and heat over medium-low heat.
  3. Combine 2 large egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, 3 Tbsp of lime juice, 2 tsp lime zest, and a 1/4 tsp of fine salt in a medium-sized, heat proof bowl. Whisk until combined and smooth.
  4. Once the water begins to simmer, place the bowl on top of the sauce pan to make a double boiler. Leave the heat on medium-low heat and make sure the water isn't touching the bottom of the bowl. Continuously whisk the mixture until it thickens. This usually takes me about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Remove the bowl from the pan and turn off the stove. Add 2 Tbsp of butter and whisk until incorporated. The mixture should be thick and smooth at this point.
  6. Scoop the lime curd into a small piping bag and seal the top. Place in the fridge to cool. It should thicken and be chilled in 15-30 minutes.
  7. Leftover lime curd can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Lime Buttercream:

  1. While the cupcakes bake and cool, make the lime buttercream.
  2. Beat 1 1/4 cups of unsalted butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a hand mixer until smooth.
  3. Add in the zest of 1 small lime, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/4 tsp salt. Mix on a low speed until the ingredients are incorporated. 
  4. Mix in 2 cups of powdered sugar and 1 Tbsp of fresh lime juice on a low speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  5. Once fully mixed, if the frosting seems too thick, add in additional lime juice (1 tsp at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
  6. If your frosting looks broken before adding it into the piping bag, add in more room-temperature butter, 1 Tbsp at a time until it comes back together.
  7. Stir the frosting by hand with a rubber spatula once it's made for a minute or two to make the frosting super smooth.
  8. Cut off the tip of the bag and fit it with an open star piping tip (like a Wilton 1M).
  9. Place the buttercream in the piping bag and seal the top with a rubber band.

Decorating these Lime Cupcakes:

  1. Once the cupcakes have fully cooled, remove the centers with a small sharp knife or a 3/4-inch circle cutter.
  2. Fill the center of each cupcake with lime curd.
  3. Pipe a generous swirl of lime buttercream frosting on top of each cupcake, and garnish with a lime slice and a dusting of lime zest.

Notes

Yield:

One batch of this recipe makes 12 standard sized cupcakes. It can also be used to make about 30 mini cupcakes (bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 F/175 C).

This recipe can also be double or halved if needed.

Variations:

  • To make eggless, dairy free lime cupcakes, use dairy free yogurt (almond, oat, or soy) in place of the sour cream and vegan butter in place of the unsalted butter (and omit the salt in this recipe).
  • To make gluten free lime cupcakes, swap in your favorite gluten free flour blend for the AP flour this recipe calls for and be sure to over-mix your batter and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before baking for best results.

Making these Lime Cupcakes in Advance & Storage Tips:

Make your cupcakes in advance! If stored unfrosted and unfilled in an airtight container, they can last for a few hours at room temp, up to 5 days in the fridge, or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Make your frosting ahead of time too or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

Frosted cupcakes can sit out at room temperature overnight in an airtight container, but I find frosting and filling them right before serving is best.

Nutrition Information

Yield

12

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 484Total Fat 25gSaturated Fat 15gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 139mgSodium 287mgCarbohydrates 61gFiber 1gSugar 41gProtein 5g

Stephanie

Tuesday 6th of September 2022

How do I turn this into a cake instead of cupcakes!?

Chelsweets

Sunday 11th of September 2022

Hi Stephanie,

I'd actually recommend just turning my vanilla layer cake recipe into a lime layer cake! Here's the link: https://chelsweets.com/best-vanilla-layer-cake-recipe/

I think that might be easier and would turn out better. To do that, you can add the zest of a 3 limes in the cake batter along with 1-2 tsp of lime extract. For the frosting, you can swap out the heavy cream for lime juice and also add the zest of 2 limes. Hope that helps, happy baking!

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