Key Lime Cupcakes

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These fluffy Key Lime Cupcakes are bursting with key lime flavor! Perfectly balanced with key lime and cream cheese frosting, making them the ultimate citrusy treat.

bite out of key lime cupcake

Key Lime Pie Cupcake Recipe

This recipe perfectly captures the essence of a classic key lime pie in a cupcake! I love citrus curd — especially lime and these cupcakes have just the right amount of tanginess from the lime without curd. Which I think is very impressive. These cupcakes are spongy and moist while the frosting is delectable and creamy. It’s the perfect combination.

If you are someone who loves key lime pie, there is no doubt that you will adore this cupcake recipe. They are a labor of love but still manage to be ready to enjoy in 45 minutes. My kids love to help in the kitchen and I was a little bit skeptical about whether or not they would be fans of these key lime cupcakes. After sneaking samples of the frosting, I think it’s safe to say that they’re hooked!

Interested in more key lime desserts? No problem! Some more of my favorites include Key Lime Truffles and Key Lime Pie Cookies.

key lime cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Why You’ll Love These Key Lime Cupcakes

  • Bursting with key lime flavor. Key lime zest and juice are used in the cupcake batter and the frosting to really drive the flavor home.
  • Homemade recipe. These moist cupcakes are made completely from scratch.
  • Perfect for parties. Since these key lime cupcakes are a crowd favorite, it’s a no-brainer when you are deciding on shareable treats for a get-together or party.

Recipe Ingredients You’ll Need

These are all of the ingredients needed to achieve successful key lime pie cupcakes! The measurements are down below on the recipe card.

For the Key Lime Cupcakes

  • Butter: I recommend unsalted for these cupcakes. Ensure it is softened to room temperature before making the batter.
  • Sugar: A combination of white granulated sugar and brown sugar is used in this recipe.
  • Key limes: For plenty of lime flavor both key lime juice and zest are used. You can even use a little lime extract if you like but that is optional.
  • Eggs
  • Baking powder and soda
  • Salt: Most baked goods require a little bit of salt to help enhance the other flavors.
  • Flour: I use all-purpose flour but you can use your favorite gluten-free blend as well.

For the Key Lime Cream Cheese frosting

  • Butter: I use unsalted butter because I add a pinch of salt to the frosting. Ensure the butter for this is softened as well.
  • Cream cheese: The richness of the cream cheese pairs so well with the key lime flavor.
  • Salt
  • Key lime: Both key lime zest and juice are used in the frosting as well.
  • Powdered sugar
ingredients to make key lime cupcakes

How to Make Key Lime Cupcakes

Here is how to make these amazing key lime cupcakes. For additional info, scroll down to the recipe card.

  • Prepare the oven and muffin tin. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and add liners to your prepared muffin cups.
  • Prepare the oven and muffin tin. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and add liners to your prepared muffin cups.
  • Cream butter and sugars. Add the butter and sugars to a bowl of a stand mixer. Beat at medium speed until smooth.
  • Add remaining wet ingredients. Add eggs and lime juice/zest. Mix until well combined.
  • Add dry ingredients. Gradually add all of the dry ingredients to the mixer. Scrape down the sides and continue to mix until combined.
  • Portion batter. Scoop the batter into the lined tin and fill each cavity ⅔.
  • Bake and cool. Bake for 16-18 minutes. The edges will be slightly browned and the middle set when they’re ready. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Make the frosting. Combine all of the ingredients except for the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Beat on low until combined, then on medium until fluffy.
  • Transfer to a piping bag. Scoop the key lime buttercream frosting into a piping bag with a star tip.
  • Frost the cupcakes. Decorate the cupcakes and garnish with lime zest and key lime slices.
key lime cupcakes on wire rack

Key Limes vs. Regular Limes

When you look at a key lime compared to a regular lime, you will first notice that they look different. Key limes are smaller and more round while traditional limes are larger and more oval shaped. The flavor is different, too. Key limes are more tart and acidic while regular limes are milder. Limes are more versatile than key limes as well. They are juicier so they are used more often in cooking while key limes are typically used in key lime desserts and cocktails.

key lime cupcakes in pan

Tips and Tricks

  • Don’t skip the salt. Adding salt will not make these cupcakes taste salty. It is a crucial ingredient to balance the sweetness and tang.
  • Check the butter. Do not try to use cold butter in this recipe as it will make the batter very lumpy. Leave it on the counter for 30-60 minutes or until it feels soft.
  • Roll the key limes. If you find you’re having trouble getting juice from the limes, gently roll them on the counter. It makes squeezing them easier.
key lime cupcake with cream cheese frosting with lime

Storage Directions

These key lime cupcakes will stay fresh in an airtight container for up to 2 days. If making ahead, wait to garnish until serving. They can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

More Cupcake Recipes to Try

key lime cupcakes featured
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Key Lime Cupcakes

These fluffy Key Lime Cupcakes are bursting with key lime flavor! The rich frosting is perfectly balanced with key lime and cream cheese, making them the ultimate citrusy treat.
Servings: 18
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 16 minutes
Total: 46 minutes



  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon key lime extract optional
  • 2 tablespoons key lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons key lime zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 3/4 cup flour


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 8 ounce cream cheese softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons key lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon key lime zest
  • 4 cups powdered sugar



  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prep your muffin tin(s) with liners.  Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, sugar and brown sugar.  Mix until combined.
  • Add in the key lime extract (if using), key lime juice, zest and eggs.  Mix well.
  • Add in the remaining dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Mix thoroughly.  Stop the machine, scrape down the sides and mix again. 
  • Measure out the cake batter so that the cupcake liners are about ⅔ full.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for about 16-18 minutes or until golden brown and the centers are set.  Allow to cool completely before decorating.


  • Combine the butter, cream cheese, juice, salt and zest.  Cream together until smooth.
  • Add in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time.  Mix on low speed until combined.  Add in another cup of powdered sugar and mix well.  Scrape down the sides often.  Once all combined, bump up the speed on the mixer to medium and mix for an additional minute until the frosting is fluffy and smooth. 
  • Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.
  • Once the cupcakes are cool, pipe a large mound of frosting on each cupcake.  Top with additional key lime zest and a slice of key lime to garnish.

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Calories: 325kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 146mg | Potassium: 72mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 516IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1mg


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