05 Jun Margarita Cake Balls

Margarita Cake Balls // butterlustblog.com

Hola mis amigos! May I offer you a margarita? Or even better, a margarita cake ball?

I’m coming back at you with another boozy recipe this week. Maybe it’s the summer heat (already in the 90s here), maybe it’s my mood as of late (slightly stressed but not complaining!), but I’ve been feeling the need to add lil’ somethin’ somethin’ (ahem, alcohol) to my treats lately.

And not the woosie (woosy? wussy?) kind that bakes out, either. We’re talking tequila-battered, tequila-brushed & tequila-spiked, folks. In fact, these cake balls may be doubly habit forming – don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Margarita Cake Balls // butterlustblog.com

Since we’re internet friends, this is where you ask — But Katie? Why so stressed?

So sweet of you to ask!

You see, I’ve been running around like a loca woman, trying to prepare for the non-wedding shower that I’m helping to throw for my best friend Taylor (a.k.a. Miss-soon-to-be-Mrs. Longbottom) this weekend.

I specify non-wedding because she had initially asked for no showers. But if you know my mother, you know there was about .0001% that was going to happen. The woman loves to throw a party — albeit a catered one.

Margarita Cake Balls // butterlustblog.com

But we also 100% understand Taylor’s aversion to traditional showers — you know, the kind where you’re forced to open gift-wrapped spatulas and questionably tasteful underwear purchased by your fiancé’s aunt (who you met once, 2 years ago at the family reunion), while oodles of people look on waiting for a thrilled reaction from the blushing bride. So instead, we’re having a couple’s ‘stock the bar’ shower-party-thingy complete with beer pong, corn hole and a put-on-your-dance-pants-cuz-it’s-party-time playlist.

Really, who can say no to college drinking games and bottles of booze forced on you and your betrothed? Light years better than the alternative, amiright?

Margarita Cake Balls // butterlustblog.com

The running around like a crazy person is all on me. I tend to procrastinate and it’s got me scrambling to get all of my little DIY projects started and finished in the week before the party. I’ve earned myself a scolding from my mother, complete with a lecture on the merits of paying somebody else to make decorations for you. Somebody else as in Party City.

What can I say? It’s a tough life being a slave to Pinterest. After spending hours upon hours of my life staring at and pinning perfectly planned parties, retail decorations are tres blasé. So wish me luck and keep your fingers crossed that I pull this off with some cute decorations to show for it. If not, I’ll see you all on Pinstrosity, failed bunting in one hand and a stiff Margarita Cake Ball in the other.

Margarita Cake Balls // butterlustblog.com

Now that we’re on the same page about the need for sugar + booze therapy, let’s talk about lime-flavored cake for a sec. Do a quick search and you’ll find long list of cake recipes that get all of their limey oomph from lime Jell-o mix. That’s perfectly right and fine and all that (no judgement), but it just didn’t feel right for these Margarita Cake Balls. I wanted to capture that sour, bitter margarita tang that only fresh limes produce.

So, I set to zesting…and zesting…and zesting some more. Yep, if you’re going to do this the natural way it’s going to take a little bit of elbow grease.

Margarita Cake Balls // butterlustblog.com

But trust me, the hard work pays off. These Margarita Cake Balls are sweet, tangy and have just a little bit of a kick. Top them off with just the tiniest peench of salt, plus a little decorating sugar (to look like more salt) and you’ve got yourself a perfectly festive treat for all those back yard fiestas you’re going to throw this summer! Or to ‘take the edge off’ on a random Thursday night. Whatever tickles your pickle.

Margarita Cake Balls // butterlustblog.com

A few notes about this recipe:

I recommend using a gold (or darker) tequila for this recipe. I used a tequila blanco (silver tequila) and, despite the generous amount added, the flavor didn’t come through as strongly as a would have liked.

I think it goes without saying, but these are NOT kid friendly. Make sure you eliminate the tequila if you’re going to be sharing with your kiddos. 

Prep is important when making cake balls. In addition to the ingredients you will need a parchment lined cookie sheet, more parchment to place your dipped cake balls on to dry, a microwave-safe bowl for heating the candy coating, and a spoon, fork and toothpick for the dipping process. 

If you’re going to dye your candy coating, you MUST use oil-based food coloring. Any type of moisture will cause the candy coating to seize up and be unusable. You can buy oil-based food coloring on the cake/candy supply aisle of your local craft store. 

Salud! XO, Katie

Margarita Cake Balls

Makes: 4 dozen cake balls


    For the cake:
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup tequila + 2 tsp separated
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1 tbsp lime zest + 1 tsp separated
  • For the frosting:
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp tequila
  • For decoration:
  • 2 packages white candy coating (sometimes called almond bark)
  • oil-based green food coloring
  • large sugar crystals
  • salt


  • Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 13x9 pan.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl w/hand mixer) combine the cake mix, eggs, oil, water 1/2 cup tequila, lime juice, and 1 tsp zest and mix on medium-high speed for 2 minutes or until batter becomes fluffy. (Remember to keep 2 tsp tequila and 1 tsp zest separate.)
  • Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Let cool for at least 15 minutes, then brush the top of the cake with 2 tsp tequila & sprinkle remaining zest over the top. Let cake cool completely, up to overnight. Just before assembly, use a fork or your hands to break up the cake into fine crumbs, removing any large crusty pieces from the cake's edges.
  • To make the frosting, combine cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or bowl w/hand mixer) and beat until smooth. Add the powdered sugar in half cup increments and blend until there are no lumps. Add the lime juice and tequila and blend until combined.
  • To assemble, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Thoroughly mix 1/2 of your frosting into the crumbled cake mixture. Test your “dough” to see if it is sticky enough to form a ball without crumbling. Add more icing if needed, until consistency is almost that of a thick cookie dough (no dry cake balls!).
  • Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (you could also do this the night before) – it will make it easier to roll into balls.
  • Using your hands, roll chilled cake mixture into 1 inch balls. Place on lined baking sheet. When done, place baking sheet in freezer and let cake balls chill for 30 minutes. This step is optional, but it helps the cake balls keep their shape and prevents crumbs from getting in the candy bark and thus, causing lumpy coating.
  • While cake balls are chilling, microwave 1/2 a package of vanilla candy bark in a small bowl, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted. If desired, add oil-based food coloring (it must be oil-based! water-based will cause your candy coating to seize up) to achieve your desired shade of margarita green. Note: You will probably run out of coating and need to make more but I prefer to dip in two shifts in case crumbs begin to get into the coating.
  • It’s time to dip! Coating cake balls is kind of an art. It takes practice so if your cake balls don’t come out looking perfectly don’t worry about it! It took me several tries to develop a successful method. Regardless of what they look like, they’ll still taste magical. Promise.
  • Place a cake ball into the bowl of melted candy coating and use a spoon to cover with coating. Lift the cake ball out of the coating with a fork and tap against the rim of the bowl to remove excess.
  • Use a toothpick to gently push the cake ball back on to a parchment or foil cookie sheet (or onto your counter, lined with parchment paper). Make sure you push the cake ball from the bottom so you don’t smudge your coating.
  • While the coating is still wet, give your cake ball a healthy sprinkling of decorating sugar and a tiny pinch of salt, if desired.
  • CakePants
    Posted at 11:45h, 05 June Reply

    Wow, what a fantastic idea! These look absolutely perfect, and I can imagine they’d be a hit at any [adult, sans kiddies] gathering! Good luck with the party 🙂
    CakePants recently posted…Apricot Rhubarb CrumbleMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 12:04h, 05 June Reply

      Thanks – I need it! 🙂

  • How to Philosophize with Cake
    Posted at 14:06h, 05 June Reply

    Mmm that looks awesome! Such a summery treat. Love your pictures, so simple and elegant! 🙂
    How to Philosophize with Cake recently posted…Vegan peanut butter and jelly sugar cookie sandwichesMy Profile

  • dina
    Posted at 11:02h, 06 June Reply

    they are so fun!

  • Annie @Maebells
    Posted at 15:17h, 06 June Reply

    These are the prettiest cake balls I have ever seen! I can tell you really took your time, they are beautiful! Now I have to make them, so fantastic!
    Annie @Maebells recently posted…Steak Lo MeinMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 15:28h, 06 June Reply

      Thanks Annie! My mom calls me the ‘cake ball nazi’ for a reason. Maybe I go a little overboard on the whole ‘perfect sphere’ thing 🙂

  • Laura (Blogging Over Thyme)
    Posted at 12:09h, 07 June Reply

    These are so much fun! And so, so pretty! Just love them.

  • miss messy
    Posted at 17:37h, 08 June Reply

    We don’t get lime Jello over here so I couldn’t make cake like that if I tried. so these look wonderful! What a fabulous idea!
    miss messy recently posted…Chipotle Sweet Potato HummusMy Profile

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    Posted at 14:09h, 30 June Reply

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  • Colleen Pastoor
    Posted at 23:32h, 14 July Reply

    These look incredible! I’ve commissioned my sister-in-law to make them for this weekend.
    Colleen Pastoor recently posted…Fiesta! Baby Shower InspirationMy Profile

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 10:43h, 16 July Reply

      awesome! I’m sure you’ll love them! and a huge thank you for the mention!

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    Posted at 10:20h, 21 July Reply

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  • Patty Hutchings
    Posted at 01:17h, 18 September Reply

    I tried these for a bridal shower. Everyone raved about them. Just a FYI in your directions you don’t mention the eggs. As I already had all the ingredients laid out I knew the eggs went in the batter. Other than that the recipe was easy to follow.

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 09:45h, 18 September Reply

      Hi Patty! I’m so glad they were well received and THANK YOU for pointing out that I left the eggs out of the recipe!! I’m such a spaz sometimes 🙂

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  • Kathryn
    Posted at 09:42h, 24 February Reply

    How far ahead of time can you make these? Would Thursday to serve Sunday be too long?

    Thanks! They look so amazing!

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 10:03h, 24 February Reply

      Hi Kathryn, Thursday to serve Sunday would be totally fine, just make sure you refrigerate them! Cake balls actually last surprisingly long since they’re all wrapped up in their shells. Let me know how they turn out!

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  • allaboutamargie
    Posted at 10:53h, 03 August Reply

    I have young teens attending my party….what to substitute for the tequila?

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 11:26h, 03 August Reply

      Hi! For the cake recipe, just use the amount of water listed on the box recipe instead of the water and tequila measurements listed in my recipe. For the frosting just eliminate the tequila completely, no need to substitute another ingredient. If you’d like to make the cake balls taste boozy without actually adding any alcohol, you could use 1 – 2 teaspoons of rum extract in the cake (depending on your preference for strong rum flavor) for “Lime Daiquiri Cake Balls”!

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