A citrus dessert is the best kind of dessert when it’s hot outside. Who wants to eat a heavy or warm dessert that weighs you down?  These cupcakes are fluffy, light and very enjoyable.

Key limes are smaller than regular limes and they are also slightly sweeter which brings amazing flavor to these cupcakes. Key lime juice and zest is in the cupcakes and the cream cheese frosting.  Yes, I used cream cheese frosting for extra flavor.

Being smaller than regular limes, it does take longer to juice key limes and it takes more limes to get the juice, but the results are worth it because there is nothing better than freshly squeezed juice. Only 3 tablespoons are needed for the whole recipe, so it’s not that bad of a task.

Zesting the limes tip: Be sure to zest the limes BEFORE you juice them because it is next to impossible to get zest from a deflated lime, and a mini one at that!

Your eyes are not deceiving you, there is a slight green tinge to the frosting. I wanted to give the frosting a hint of lime green and I achieved this by adding a little green and yellow natural food coloring to get a vibrant lime green to a little of the frosting. I then pasted it onto the inside of the piping bag, then filled with the white so as you pipe, it mixes in a little of the green to get this two-tone effect.

  • For the cupcakes:
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
  • 6 ounces (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup milk, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons key lime zest
  • 2 teaspoons key lime juice
  • 1 3/4 cups (8 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • For the frosting:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon key lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon key lime juice
  • Green and yellow food coloring (optional)


For the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-muffin tin with liners.
  2. To a bowl add the butter and sugar and beat until light and pale using an electric mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until mixed. Add the milk, key lime, zest and juice, beat until well mixed.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder and salt a little at a time and beat on low until well mixed and smooth. Don’t overmix once you add the flour.
  4. Use an ice cream scoop to add divide the batter between all the cups, a little over halfway filled.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes until golden. When a toothpick inserted in the center it should come out clean.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool the cupcakes on a wire rack.

For the frosting:

  1. Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer. Slowly add powdered sugar while beating. Add lime juice zest. Don’t overmix or it will be too soft to pipe.
  2. To get the two-tone piping, transfer 2 tablespoons of the frosting to a separate bowl and mix with the green and yellow coloring until it is lime green.
  3. Refrigerate the frosting for 30 minutes to make it firm for piping
  4. Add the piping tip of choice to a piping bag (I used a start tip). Hold the tip and turn the bag inside out over your hand, paste the green frosting to the side of the bag, close to the tip. Use a separate spoon to add the white frosting to the other side of the bag. Whatever ratio you use, you want more white than green. Pipe onto the cupcakes.

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