It’s spring break time for lots of people around the country, and for many, that means vacation time.  Yes, lots of people will enjoy cool beverages, possibly with a wedge of lime stuck into them or as a garnish on something frozen and fabulous.  Color me extremely jealous.  But, I’d prefer to make the best of the (bad?) situation and look on the bright side.  The weather, at least in our area, has been positively gorgeous.  We’ve been able to spend lots of time outside every single evening.  And, we can always ease the pain a little by making some bright and springy key lime pie cupcakes.  They have a graham cracker crust, fluffy vanilla cake with a touch of lime, lime curd filling, and rim of freshly whipped cream.  See?  I feel better already.

Now, before I had tasted the lime curd, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like these cupcakes due to my (apparently unfounded) bias against citrus curds.  However, after tasting the delicious key lime curd, I was intrigued.  Finally, the following day I was able to taste one of these cupcakes and I was very impressed.  They received great reviews from the coworkers as well, so I’d call them a hit for sure.  The curd is not as thick as most cupcake fillings so this is almost a plate-and-fork kind of cupcake…or you could just use my preferred method, and shove it in your mouth before you make a mess.  Whatever works.


For the crust:

  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

For the cupcakes:

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 16 tbsp. (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Zest of 1 lime (or 2-3 key limes)
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1¾ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. coconut extract

For filling:
Key lime curd

For topping:

  • 1¼ cups heavy cream
  • 6 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
  • Dash vanilla extract


  • 01

    Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter; mix well with a fork.  Drop about 1 tablespoon of the graham cracker mixture in the bottom of each cupcake liner and press down to line the bottom. (Note: the bottom of a squeeze bottle or shot glass works very well.)  Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, and maintain the oven temperature.

  • 02

    To make the cupcakes, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Whisk together and set aside.  Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.  Beat in the lime zest.  Add the sugar to the butter mixture, ¼ cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition.  Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla and coconut extracts in a liquid measuring cup.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.

  • 03

    Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full.  Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

  • 04

    To assemble the cupcakes, use the cone method to make a well in the center of each cupcake.  (I prefer the paring knife method for these cupcakes).  Discard the cones.  Fill each well with about 1½ tablespoons of the lime curd.  To make the whipped cream, combine the heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.  Blend in the vanilla.  Transfer the whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip.  Pipe a rim of whipped cream around the top of each cupcake, leaving the lime curd filling exposed.  Garnish with key lime slices if desired.

  • Amazing cupcakes! They are so sunny and the filling sounds really yummy!

  • Sara{wherethecookiesare}

    These look fantastic! I have lots of key lime lovers in my life!

  • Oh, these sound delightful, Annie! And with this fabulous weather, it’s felt like spring break at home :)

  • You are right, these cupcakes scream spring time! I love your creativity in pipping the whipped cream around the topic to mimic a traditional key lime pie – adorable!

  • These look fantastic! I tried a key lime cupcake recipe once that had the graham cracker actually mixed into the cake batter but I think the actual crust sounds much better. I love the baking cups for these, too.

  • Beki Cook

    These look AMAZING! And I love the “citrus curds,” as you call them. ;-)

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    Awesome! These are so pretty!

  • We are loving the beautiful weather, too. And, I am pretty sure that we will love it even more with some of these cupcakes. Happy Friday!

  • I love this! I made key lime pie cupcakes last week and i love how drastically different ours is. You used curd for yours and it looks SO good!! Really pretty too :)

  • Natasha Ylana

    These look amazing!

  • Natasha Ylana

    How do you suggest halving this recipe?

  • TheMrsatSuccessAlongtheWeigh

    How cute are those! Makes me want to go to the Keys!

  • These look so pretty and perfect for Spring! You are always so creative with your cupcake creations!

  • The perfect cupcake for these warmer temps!! Looks great :D

  • Fernanda

    Annie, I absolutely adore your blog! I’m a citrus person so can’t wait to try these. Is there any reason in particular why you didn’t use a regular cupcake liner ? Thanks.

  • Key Lime Pie is one of my top 3 desserts, I can’t wait to make these!! Only, one question – what does “discard the cones” mean? That does not compute. Surely you meant “eat the cones”, right?? :)

  • Meghan

    Dear Annie,
    I’m trying to come up with Easter desserts for the fam. Do you think this could be made as a cake? (Lime curd in-between the layers and on top + whipped cream) Would it be too soggy maybe?

  • Jessamyn Peace

    Wow! Such gorgeous cupcakes! I love the liners you chose!

  • annieseats

    Sure! Please see the FAQ page for more info. Thanks!

  • annieseats

    Well, you should always eat at least a couple of the cones :)

  • annieseats

    I chose these because of their fun pattern, that matches the concept of key lime cupcakes. That’s why I pick any liner I use :)

  • annieseats

    Cut all ingredients in half, make half as many cupcakes.

  • annieseats

    I’ll have to check those out!

  • Annie, I think you’ve outdone yourself. These are gorgeous!

  • These are beautiful!

  • OMG…these look absolutely sinful Annie. I’m in love with everything citrus, and this is definitely on top of my cooking bucket list to make. Plus, I’m in love with everything polka-dot so you had me at the cupcake liners, too.

  • MelanieL

    A quick question on those type of liners: How do you get the cupcake out? I assume you just rip it down the side..or will it lift out of there?

  • Hi there! Since I was a kid my favorite colors have been yellow, green and orange. Needless to say, I LOVE your photo (and recipe). Just wanted to let you know it’s beautiful!

  • Sarah

    I have been thinking about key lime cupcakes ALL week. As in, I’ve been googling them each night and looking over recipes, but I hadn’t actually chosen one to try. Once I saw your post, I knew it was a sign. These are going on the list for the weekend. Thanks!

  • Bee-autiful! Those absolutely look like summer!

  • annieseats

    I cut a small slit in each one for easy tearing and removal.

  • Those are almost too adorable to eat! Almost! I can’t wait to try them. My husband loves key lime pie, so I imagine those will be a huge hit! Thanks again for a great cupcake!

  • Coastiejune

    In my tummy right now!

  • Payalperera

    Your pictures have been really fantastic lately….I love the color contrasts, the lighting and the overhead shots! Looks like you are trying out a bit of a new style. Are you using any special lighting or just natural light? I always end up finishing my cupcakes late at night and then the lighting is awful for pictures….and the cake/cupcake is generally gone by the next day :( Cupcakes look amazing as well….can’t wait to try them!

  • Yum! I love the photo’s and the little cups!!! They look wonderful!!

  • What a beautiful polka dot container you found for them. They look like mini cheese cakes – quite delicious.

  • annieseats

    Well, thank you! I’m not necessarily trying a new style as much as I am just focusing more and more on the photography. If I am not happy with the results, I will either do whatever it takes to fix them, or reshoot a different day. I use both natural light and artificial light just depending on how busy my work schedule is that week. I prefer natural, but these were taken at night with artificial lighting.

  • They look amazingly good and I’m sure they are excellent. Thanks for sharing. Simply love your blog!

  • Jtsantacruz

    No disrespect to PW but ive been following both (yours and hers) blogs for years and you should have gotten a show! Your recipes are far better, and your personality is off the charts! She looks so uncomfortable on camera. Just my 2 cents :)

  • The hungry housewife

    I love key like pie. So I am sure I would gobble these right up!!

  • kelly@frugalfoodiefamily

    These are adorable! And what a fresh take on cupcakes!

  • Annie – Can’t wait to try these. Key Lime Pie is my brother’s favorite & his birthday is coming up…think I’m gong to have to give these a whirl.

    Also wanted to drop by and let you know I nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award. I love following your posts! If you want to check out the details, they’re on my blog:

  • You made these so pretty. Who wouldn’t want these tasty little treats on the table?

  • sweetsugarbelle

    Besides sounding great, they LOOK awesome!!!

  • lexA

    Tured out awesome and everybody loved them! Perfect for summer

  • I love citrus, and these are too cute!

  • Vanessa

    Hi Annie! This is my first time commenting and I must say your recipes and pictures are beautiful! I was wondering if the cupcakes need to be refrigerated after being frosted since the frosting is whipped cream? I’m planning on bringing these to work for coworkers and I’m worried that the frosting will start melting…

  • annieseats

    Please see the FAQ page. Thanks!

  • Hello Annie! Thanks for sharing this great recipe with us! I’ve been looking for fun, easy yet exciting cupcake recipes for my friend’s upcoming birthday and thank God I chanced upon this at the right time! :) They look amazing!!! Anyway, I have one question: I don’t have coconut extract, so how can I substitute it? Or can I just leave it out?

    Thanks! :)

  • annieseats

    You can omit it, or see the FAQ page in regards to substitutions. Thanks.

  • Ekd7801

    I don’t understand why you have a pin it button if you have marked all of the images fro this page as unable to be pinned

  • annieseats

    Not true at all. People pin my recipes daily.

  • Anissa

    Made these today for Easter. They are A-MAZ-ING. Seriously, so worth all the steps, they are delicious. I did however, have enough crust and batter to do almost 36 cupcakes. There’s no way all that batter would have fit into 24 cupcakes, but maybe my pans are just smaller.

  • Jen

    I just made it… they came out amazing!! thanks for sharing!!!

  • Erin

    Annie – I just love your blog – your photos are captivating and the personal stories enchanting!
    I made these cupcakes for brunch and they were a huge hit! My husband loved them so much he ate two ( he never eats dessert- ever !)
    thank you !

  • Kim

    Great Blog! Was wondering, can All-Purpose flour be substituted for cake flour if a girl wanted cupcakes NOW! :) Instead of running to the grocery store for cake flour? Also, what’s your source for cupcake liners, the green polka dot,,,

  • annieseats

    Please see the FAQ page. Thanks!

  • Jen

    I made these last night, and they are absolutely wonderful! However, I used the exact measurements above for each of the ingredients, and I still had batter left over after 24 cupcakes and filling them 2/3+ full. I don’t have a paddle attachment on my mixer, so do you think this could be what increased the amount of batter I had? That’s the only thing I could think of that might’ve made a difference. Anyway, I froze the batter so I can make more when I get more key limes! Love your recipes!

  • annieseats

    I don’t think you did anything wrong. The yield is approximate. Glad you enjoyed them!

  • I just finished these, and they are beyond AMAZING!! Thank you so much for this recipe. Whenever I feel like trying something different I always know I can come to your site and that anything I try here will not only work out as pictured, but will taste fantastic. This recipe was all my daughter asked for for her 18th birthday celebration and they are even better than I dreamed. I knew as soon as I saw/smelled the batter when it was finished that these were going to be dreamy. I’ve never seen such a rich and fluffy cupcake batter, I could have used an ice cream scoop to fill the cups. The cake is super moist and melt in your mouth lovely and the homemade curd is so good I am going to make a second batch to keep in the fridge for scones. I used the larger decorative Wilton paper liners and the recipe made exactly 24 perfectly. A metal mexican lime squeezer thingy makes super fast work of juicing the key limes and doesn’t waste a drop, even the really firm limes juice easily with one. They’re called an Exprimidor de Limon at the Mexican grocery stores and are really cheap to buy. Thanks again!

  • Cmc_730

    I just made these and they are AMAZING!!! Thank you so much for putting your recipes on-line, so easy to follow!!!

  • Anna42079

    I made these today…danger zone! i’m on the atkins – low carb thing and these pretty much killed it for me. delicious! i was making them for a friends birthday and hes getting shorted a few! I love these. The only thing I did differently was i had some lime curd in the freezer and i piped the whipped cream around the edge and then mixed the remaining whipped cream with the curd and put a dallop in the middle :) delicious! Thanks so much for posting this recipe!

  • Snflwrmare

    I just made them today too and had enough batter for 40! They were more than 2/3 full too.

  • Tar.a

    Ohmygosh! Annie, these are simply THE best! I’m a total foodie baker and key lime is one of my favorite flavors so when I saw these I just couldn’t resist. For those who are wondering, you should DEFINATLY make these! I thank you a billion times over for introducing me to this recipe, Annie. Five stars- no six! A must bake for anyone. ;)

  • Delicious. My favorite part was the crust at the bottom. I think if I were to change anything I might make a lime simple syrup to soak the cupcake a little to add even more citrus flavor because I love anything tangy! Thanks so much for sharing this great recipe (I found it on Pinterest). I’m looking forward to trying some of your other ones!

  • Devon

    I made these for a shower and they were a huge hit! However, the cupcake batter definitely makes about 40 cupcakes, but the graham cracker crust and the lime curd only really fill about 24 cupcakes. In the future, I’ll be adjusting the recipes to make an even amount of all components so I can have 36-40 full cupcakes!

  • AlishaT

    Made these for my dad’s 60th birthday and they were a big hit! They were super easy and absolutely gorgeous on the table. Thanks for yet another amazing cupcake recipe!

  • Deb

    Annie – I have been reading your blog since Mel from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe gave you a shout out on her blog and I am so glad she toldus about you. I have made many things from your site, but this is my favorite. They were D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S!! Really not that much effort to make but the result was SO worth it.I made them for my parents who are avid lime fans as a thank you for watching my kids and I’m hoping that I can keep my hands off a dozen so they actually make it to them! Thank you so much for the time and energy you invest in your blog, it trruly matters.

  • Jen

    Well, I’ve been waiting to make these all summer, and I finally had a reason – the bf’s birthday. Unfortunately, I bought key lime curd rather than making it and it smelled and tasted spoiled when I opened it this morning to fill my cupcakes. Lesson learned: I should have made it from scratch. But there was no time to do that now, and I had to save the delicious cupcakes! Time to improvise: I squeezed key lime juice on to the top of each cupcake before putting on the frosting. They look almost the same and are quite tasty. I wish I had the filling, but this will do in a pinch! On a sidenote, the cupcakes themselves can stand alone…rave reviews from the family when I let them taste the extras before frosting them.

  • Claudia

    I’m absolutely in love with this recipe! I’m keeping this forever! You are amazing! Thank you so much for this. My whole family were going crazy with this cupcakes.

  • I baked this recently and were a HUGE success! Thank you so much Annie! :)

  • xTina.

    baked it two days ago, and it was AMAZING! love it. thank you for the recipe! you rock!

  • Michelle

    Baked these for a birthday at work. They were a huge hit! I have been sharing the link to your page as a number of colleagues were keen to make them for social events coming up. So yummy and so many great textures. Thank you! I will be keeping this recipe at the top of my favourites