Vanilla Lime Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream (Small Batch!)

A light and fluffy lime cupcakes recipe full of key lime flavor and topped with a tangy lime buttercream frosting! These Lime Cupcakes are made with fresh lime juice and zest making them perfect for a summer party, picnic, or bbq. Best of all, they are easy to make!

Fresh citrus desserts have always been a favorite of mine and I have come to find that lime desserts seem to be vastly underrated! This cupcake recipe was inspired by my partnership with Yankee Candle and their delicious Vanilla Lime candle. I love taking inspiration from their scent combinations, as evidenced by these Lemon Lavender Cookies, this Easy Lemon Tart, and this citrus Honey Cake!

I knew I had to give you all this recipe when Michael kept telling me how amazing they were. He won't break his no sugar rule for just any dessert, so I knew this was a winner! He said he loves the key lime tang of these lime cupcakes and I must say that I do too. Especially the lime buttercream frosting!

Let's make some lime cupcakes!

Vanilla Lime Yankee Candle on white marble counter top.

Lime Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream Details

  • How they compare to regular vanilla cupcakes: You could honestly take the lime juice and zest out of this recipe and have a perfect vanilla cupcake. The lime just adds a bright punch of tang and fresh citrus flavor to an already delicious cupcake.
  • Flavor: The flavor in these lime cupcakes is so summery and delicious. With the lime buttercream on top, I would definitely compare the flavor to a key lime pie!
  • Ease: This recipe is for baking beginners. It is an easy and simple lime cupcake recipe that even the baking challenged could perfect!
  • Time: Allot for about 30-40 minutes to make these lime cupcakes start to finish. They don't take more than 20 minutes to bake, but don't forget that pesky cooling time.

Lime Cupcakes Frequently Asked Questions

What are some tips to making the best cupcake?

The short and sweet of it... Use room temperature ingredients, don't over-mix or under-mix, only fill your cupcake liner ⅔ of the way full, if your cupcake fully bounces back when you touch the top it is ready to come out of the oven, and allow your cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

What is the difference between a lime and key lime?

You can usually spot a key lime because they are smaller and rounder in size than regular limes. Flavor wise they are more aromatic, with a tarter and more floral juice.

Can you substitute lime for key lime?

If you can't get your hands on key limes, regular limes will work just fine! Also, I highly prefer fresh lime juice no matter the kind of lime over the bottled key lime juice.

What is the easiest way to frost cupcakes?

The absolute easiest way to frost cupcakes is by using a cookie dough or ice cream scoop. Simply put a scoop of frosting in the middle of the cupcake and smooth out with a spatula or the back of a spoon.

Lime cupcakes with lime buttercream topped with fresh lime and lime zest on white marble counter top with fresh key limes.

What You Will Need For These Lime Cupcakes & Lime Buttercream

To make these cupcakes, you will need the following ingredients. See the full recipe card below for detailed amounts and instructions! 

  • Flour - All purpose will do for this recipe
  • Sugar - Granulated sugar
  • Limes - Just a couple for both their juice & zest. I always use key limes, but regular work too! I do highly suggest using fresh limes versus the bottled lime juice though.
  • Baking soda, baking powder, and salt - Cupcake necessities!
  • Butter - Unsalted and melted
  • Egg - Only one for this small batch!
  • Vanilla extract
  • Sour cream - You read that right. Sour cream makes for the best fluffy cupcakes!
  • Whole milk
  • Butter - Unsalted butter is what you want for these cupcakes.
  • Powdered sugar
Lime cupcakes with lime buttercream topped with fresh lime and lime zest on white marble counter top.

How To Make Vanilla Lime Cupcakes & Lime Buttercream

To make these Vanilla Lime Cupcakes, simply:

  1. Make the lime cupcakes.

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line cupcake tin with papers. Add the sugar and lime zest to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk together on low/medium speed until lime zest is evenly disbursed throughout the sugar. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large bowl then whisk together and set aside. Add the egg, milk, melted butter, lime juice, vanilla extract, and sour cream in the mixing bowl with the sugar and whisk together. Add the dry mixture to the wet in the mixing bowl and mix on a low speed until just combined. Fill cupcake papers about ¾ full and bake at 375F for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

  2. Make the lime buttercream frosting.

    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add the lime zest and half of the lime juice and mix until combined. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add additional lime juice as needed to reach desired consistency. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes using a large round pastry tip and top with lime wedge and leftover zest. 

Lime cupcakes with lime buttercream topped with fresh lime and lime zest on white marble counter top.

Variations of this cupcake recipe

If you don't have limes on hand, you can change up your citrus in this recipe. Try switching out the lime measurements to lemons, oranges, or even grapefruits! 

Freezing Lime Cupcakes

You can freeze these frosted or unfrosted lime cupcakes in the freezer for up to three months. Be sure to wrap them securely in plastic wrap and place in a then a freezer safe glass or plastic container to keep them protected in the freezer. When the craving for one strikes, simply remove the cupcakes from the freezer, remove any plastic wrap and let thaw at room temperature. This usually takes a few hours.

Yankee Candle Vanilla Lime candle in wicker gift basket with lime cupcake.

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Lime cupcakes with lime buttercream topped with fresh lime and lime zest on white marble counter top.

Vanilla Lime Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream (Small Batch!)


  • Author: Lauren
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 cupcakes 1x

Description

A light and fluffy lime cupcakes recipe full of key lime flavor and topped with a tangy lime buttercream frosting! These Lime Cupcakes are made with fresh lime juice and zest making them perfect for a summer party, picnic, or bbq. Best of all, they are easy to make!


Ingredients

Units Scale

CUPCAKES:

  • ½ cup and cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp lime zest
  • ⅛ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg room temperature
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • cup whole milk
  • cup lime juice

LIME BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:

  • ¾ cup butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon lime zest

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line cupcake tin with papers.
  2. Add the sugar and lime zest to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk together on low/medium speed until lime zest is evenly disbursed throughout the sugar.
  3. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large bowl then whisk together and set aside.
  4. Add the egg, milk, melted butter, lime juice, vanilla extract, and sour cream in the mixing bowl with the sugar and whisk together.
  5. Add the dry mixture to the wet in the mixing bowl and mix on a low speed until just combined.
  6. Fill cupcake papers about ¾ full and bake at 375F for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter on medium speed until smooth.
  8. Add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  9. Add the lime zest and half of the lime juice and mix until combined.
  10. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  11. Add additional lime juice as needed to reach desired consistency.
  12. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes using a large round pastry tip and top with lime wedge and leftover zest.

Notes

  • Simply double recipe for batch of 12 cupcakes.
  • Switch out the limes for lemons, grapefruit, or oranges!
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Cakes & Cupcakes

Keywords: vanilla lime cupcakes

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Welcome!

I'm Lauren, creator here at by Lauren Cermak! My husband Michael and I live in Knoxville, Tennessee. I'm into classic style, British baking shows, TBR piles, and pretty finds. My motto is dress like Kate, work like Reese, and entertain like Martha. If you get that, consider us quick friends!

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