Margarita Cake

"Because we've all been eating cake and thought, 'you know what this needs? Booze.' " - Jim Gaffigan

Pretty sure I've put that exact quote in another post - but basically the same inspiration was involved here! ;)  If it's good in a drink it's gotta be good in a cake, right? 

Margarita Cake: 

Note - this is a slightly-simplified layer cake recipe from - I highly recommend checking out her site if you haven't before; it's amazing!! 

3 1/4 c.  all purpose flour
3 c.  granulated sugar
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t.  salt
1 cup unsalted butter (or 2 sticks) room temperature
2 t. vanilla extract
5 eggs 
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 T lime juice 
2 T Tequila (I used Jose Cuervo)
1/4 c Triple Sec
1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7 inch pans (for taller layers) or 8 inch round pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix the tequila, Triple Sec, and lime juice into the buttermilk and pour the mixture into the dry ingredients  in two installments, on a low speed. Add in oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.

Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part). This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height. 

Bake for 35-37 minutes if using 8 inch pans, or 37-38 minutes for 7 inch cake pans (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers into the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process.

Once the layers have fully cooled, the caramelized bits can be trimmed from the sides / top of the cake using a serrated knife if desired. Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart.

Margarita Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
6-7 c powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon tequila
1 Tablespoon Triple Sec
1/4 t. salt
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with tequila and Triple Sec until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add salt and beat until well combined.

Additional Supplies/Equipment:
- 1 8- or 9-inch cardboard cake circle
- 2-3 Limes, 1 zested and 2 sliced 
- Margarita glass
- 1 T corn syrup or water 
- 2-4 T coarse salt (to rim margarita glass)
- 1 8- or 9-inch cardboard cake circle
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, offset spatula, and bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! 
- Immersion blender and a candy thermometer (if using mirror glaze for the topping) 


Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler. Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. Spread the layer with frosting, and sprinkle with a bit of lime zest. You can add a bit of coarse-ground salt between the layers if you like as well. Repeat the process with your remaining cake layers. 

Crumb coat:
Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like - a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer ;) 
Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting. 

Margarita glass: 
I found it the easiest to get a consistent-looking salt rim on my glass with a bit of corn syrup - I spread corn syrup around the glass rim and then dipped it into a few tablespoons of salt on a small plate.  

Mirror glaze: (or you can use white chocolate ganache
One .25-ounce packet unflavored powdered gelatin
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 cup good-quality white chocolate discs or chopped white chocolate (at least 30 percent cocoa butter)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
Yellow food coloring 

To make the mirror glaze: 
Whisk together the gelatin and 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl and set aside to bloom.

Combine the sugar, corn syrup and 1/3 cup water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the bloomed gelatin to dissolve. Add the white chocolate and allow to sit 1 minute to melt. Add the condensed milk and combine with an immersion blender until emulsified and smooth.

This recipe will make much more glaze than you need for the cake, but the rest can be saved in the refrigerator and re-melted for other projects! Color about 3/4 c of the glaze a light yellow color (or light green if you prefer).  Let cool to 95 degrees F, checking with a candy or instant-read thermometer.
(Mirror glaze recipe from


Now that all your decorations are ready, you're all set to decorate the cake! My cake was fairly well frozen after 15 minutes in the freezer, so I cut a small slit in the top of the cake to allow me to press the glass into top. Press the glass into the cake at an angle, and drizzle your mirror glaze underneath the glass with a bottle, piping bag, or a spoon. Allow the glaze to run away from the glass and down the side of the cake. It should set fairly quickly if your cake is frozen. I decorated the top/lower edge of the cake with small frosting swirls, lime slices, and a bit of lime zest - decorate the rest of the cake as you see fit! Refrigerate until ready to eat - and enjoy! ;) 

Make this recipe? Let me know  how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo! :) 

1 thought on “Margarita Cake

  1. This is a great cake. I have friends and family with allergies and its great to know there is a cake I can make that we can all celebrate with. Thanks for a brilliant recipe.

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