Fresh Cherry Limeade Cupcakes

by jenna on July 1, 2013

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I am in love with these cupcakes.

You see, the other day I was having a major moment of Sonic nostalgia. Memories of going through the drive-through with my girlfriends and slurping on a deliciously fizzy cherry limeade with the crunchy ice. Remember the crunchy ice?! You know what I’m talking about. Well, out here in San Francisco there are unfortunately no Sonics to be found. It’s a sad fact but true. There’s also no Cracker Barrels here. Don’t even get me started on that one. I don’t even know how to take a proper road trip without Cracker Barrel brunch and cherry limeade from Sonic. Ahhhh the memories of my youth.

So what’s a girl to do when a cherry limeade craving strikes? Bake up a batch of these zesty lime cupcakes topped with fluffy fresh cherry frosting! You’re going to love them — I promise!

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When I was working on this recipe, it was important to me to make them “all natural”. This means I used real butter, sugar, limes and fresh cherries instead of maraschino. No artificial colors or flavors. I wanted the natural flavors of the fruit to really pop so I used really fresh ingredients! Just look how gorgeous this fluffy pink cherry frosting is! It has big chunks of sweet cherries in it.

I love baking by myself at home because no one {but Dexter} can see just how much frosting I “sample”. You know, for recipe development purposed…of course.

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Mmmmmm just seeing these photos makes me want to bake another batch. I took these to our community group last Thursday night and everyone went crazy over them. I might need to bake another batch to take with us to Tahoe later this week. They go fast, people, watch out!

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My favorite part is the cherry on top. It reminds me of an old fashioned ice cream sundae.

Hope you guys love these as much as we did! They definitely quelled my Sonic craving for at least another few weeks. Happy Monday, friends!

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Fresh Cherry Limeade Cupcakes

makes 1 dozen cupcakes

Print this Recipe!


for the cupcakes –

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

zest of 1 lime

juice of 1.5 limes {about 2 tbsp juice}

1/2 cup buttermilk

for the frosting –

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup pitted sweet cherries

1 lb powdered sugar

additional cherries for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners and lightly spray the liners with nonstick cooking spray.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and continue beating until well combined. Add the lime juice and mix well.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and lime zest. Add the butter and sugar, then drizzle in the buttermilk. Keep beating until batter is smooth.

Scoop out batter into prepared cupcake tins. Fill each tin 3/4″ of the way full then bake for 30 minutes until cupcakes are golden. Remove cupcakes from the oven and let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat the butter in a stand mixer until it softens. Add the pitted cherries (these can be roughly chopped or just halved) and the powdered sugar and keep beating for another 6-8 minutes until very fluffy. The cherries will naturally break up during this process.

Frost cupcakes and top each with a whole cherry.


total time: 2 hours

active time: 30 minutes

*cupcakes can be made a day ahead of time and stored, covered, at room temperature


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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Averie @ Averie Cooks July 1, 2013 at 1:12 am

Ohmygosh. Cherry-infused buttercream and limejuice infused cake batter. LOVE these!

No need for Sonic when you can re-create something like this that’s about 100x more fabulous!


Sonal July 1, 2013 at 1:51 am

To be honest i’m not quite sure what Sonic is but I am loving how cute these cupcakes look! The cherry on top is a must! 🙂


rajibydesign July 1, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Sonic is just a drive-in fast food place. 😛


LB July 1, 2013 at 4:07 am

After living in Texas for a few years, (and being from the Bay Area) I investigated the sonic situation in CA. There’s one in Tracy, which would be a tiny bit out of your way when heading to Tahoe, but probably well worth it. It’s just a small detour south towards Stockton first 🙂


Kristin @ Iowa Girl Eats July 1, 2013 at 4:12 am

Oh yum, oh yum, oh yum. Pure summer, right there. Love this recipe!


Liz @ Tip Top Shape July 1, 2013 at 4:15 am

I just had my first Sonic experience this year, and it was so delicious!!! I’d wanted to go for years after seeing their hilarious commercials, and then ended up moving to a place with one practically down the street. Best. Move. Ever.

Anyhoo, these cupcakes look amazing!! But I’d expect nothing less from you!


Lauren @ The Highlands Life July 1, 2013 at 4:58 am

Yes to Sonic and Cracker Barrel! Sonic was totally our hang out after youth group on Wednesday nights. Such a tragedy that California has neither.


Molly @ RDexposed July 1, 2013 at 5:18 am

Mmm love lime juice and zest on nearly anything.


Jen A July 1, 2013 at 5:43 am

I think these are a must for my July 4th BBQ!


Tieghan July 1, 2013 at 5:55 am

Jenna! These are stunning! I love everything about these and the way you piped them is gorgeous! Even your liners are adorable!
So fun!


Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health July 1, 2013 at 6:47 am

What a unique idea for a cupcake! They remind me of cherry limeades from Sonic!
Ugh, I wish I could try one right now, they look so good. I love that you used real cherries too.


Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health July 1, 2013 at 6:49 am

Woops, I missed the Sonic part before nostalgia. 🙂


Zainab| Blahnik Baker July 1, 2013 at 7:07 am

Mmmmm lime and cherries!! I love baking by myself at home too…no one can see how much frosting I consume 🙂


Caroline H July 1, 2013 at 8:00 am

My husband is going to be so excited about these! That’s his favorite drink at sonic 🙂


erin @hooleywithaz July 1, 2013 at 8:02 am

yum! fresh cherry (not the fake cherry flavor) is my absolute favorite!


Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat July 1, 2013 at 8:04 am

Jenna, this could not have come at a better time! I’ve been Pinteresting for cupcake ideas for a bake sale I’m helping out with on Friday, and I think these are going to be what I make! I love the cherry on top. Thanks so much for this recipe!


sarah July 1, 2013 at 8:06 am

Yum! my favorite combo…I think i will have to try and make these vegan…ill let you know how they turn out;) Yours look beautiful!


Caroline L. July 1, 2013 at 8:22 am

Sonic brings back high school memories for me too 🙂 I go to college in Palo Alto and I miss it so much – every time we roadtrip down to LA, we make sure to stop by the Sonic in Gilroy ha! My drink of choice is the cranberry limeade – sooo yum! These cupcakes look bomb!


Estela @ Weekly Bite July 1, 2013 at 8:22 am

Being from Texas (where there’s a Sonic on every corner), and now living in San Diego, makes me miss those Cherry Limeades! Can’t wait to make these cupcakes & recreate those yummy flavors!


Ashley L July 1, 2013 at 10:11 am

Take a trip to Santee, we have a sonic!!!


joelle (on a pink typewriter) July 1, 2013 at 9:10 am

I love putting the cherry on top – it’s even fun to say. 😉


Sara July 1, 2013 at 9:27 am

Girl, there is a Sonic in American Canyon! Okay, not entirely close to Marin/San Francisco… but a great excuse for a shopping trip at the Napa outlets!


Nicole @ Young, Broke and Hungry July 1, 2013 at 9:33 am

These cupcakes scream summer! And that cherry frosting looks divine.


Leslie Means July 1, 2013 at 9:34 am

wait – what? Doesn’t everyone have a Sonic? I mean our small Nebraska town of 30,000 people has one! 🙂 Ha! Who knew? Not me! P.S. – this looks better than anything from Sonic! P.S.S (I LOVE their ice too! We buy bags of it!)


Becky @ So Very Blessed July 1, 2013 at 10:29 am

Wow. I love cherry limeades, but putting them in cupcake form is pure genius! What a refreshing summer treat! Can’t wait to try!


Lisa July 1, 2013 at 12:06 pm

These are too cute to eat!! We have three Sonics in town; living in Georgia.


rajibydesign July 1, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Looks yummy!! 🙂


jan July 1, 2013 at 1:12 pm

PERFECT timing as I have cherries ready to be picked right now! Thanks!


Stephanie @ Macaroni and Cheesecake July 1, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Love cherry limeades and this frosting looks heavenly!!


Julia {The Roasted Root} July 2, 2013 at 1:02 am

I’ll be in Tahoe too this week! Wednesday through Sunday!


Karen July 2, 2013 at 5:15 am

Well, if you don’t sample the frosting, how’s a girl supposed to know if it’s cupcake-worthy?

Definitely trying these out – stunning! And I totally agree that nothing beats the real deal. Maraschino cherries…brr.


Paige Phillips July 2, 2013 at 5:23 am

I have a cherry limeade recipe too! 16 oz glass, fill it 1/3 vodka, 2/3 Diet Sprite, a splash of Maraschino cherry juice, squeeze of lime, and two cherries on top! Few calories, and hits the spot every time! 🙂


Ksenija @ Health Ninja July 2, 2013 at 5:41 am

How pretty those fresh cherries on top of the cupcakes look – I really don’t like those syrup cherries with their artificial flavor. All in all your recipe sounds like the perfect summertime cupcake, light and fresh – though I would probably change the frosting into a cream cheese one.


Beverly Aragon July 2, 2013 at 8:24 am

Gosh, I wish I could send you one of the three Sonic locations from my little itty bitty town! I love Sonic as much as the rest of the world, but seriously…a town with 35,000 people and we have THREE of them. I’m dying for some dining variety. And, a Target 🙂


Anneli July 2, 2013 at 8:54 am

Hi Jenna!

Firstly, love your blog, love your book, You are awesome!

Secondly, how do you keep your cupcake liners looking so cute? Every time I bake with liners they end up looking greasy and opaque.

Any tips?


Amy Winkeljohn July 2, 2013 at 11:23 am

I am going to make these for my kids! The love cherries. Cute little liners! I will eat at Cracker Barrel and drink a Sonic Slushy for ya, girl!


Dana @ Conscious Kitchen Blog July 2, 2013 at 11:31 am

These sound delicious! I love that you chose to incorporate all natural ingredients. Kudos!

p.s. – No Cracker Barrel?!? So sad.


Kim July 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Yum! My coworker brought in strawberry filled cupcakes from Whole Foods to work today. Your photos look exactly like what is sitting on my desk right now… well minus the cherry on top. Although the cherry-lime combination does sound tasty!


Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie July 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm

I am also in love with these cupcakes and I have not even made them yet!


Monica Capozzo July 2, 2013 at 5:24 pm

These look delicious. I love that you use all natural and no artificial ingredients. I’m sure it really adds to the fresh taste. Can’t wait to try them. Thanks for another great recipe.


Amy July 2, 2013 at 10:42 pm

I live about an hour north of San Francisco, and there’s a Sonic in the town next to me! I haven’t been, but plenty of my friends from college made late-night trips out there. If you’re ever in the Sacramento area, it might be worth stopping by for nostalgia’s sake! 😉


Kari Routledge July 4, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Quick question- I made these today and they are waiting to be frosted. The cupcakes seem kind of heavy and dense. I wondered if they are supposed to be like that? I have a fresh strawberry cupcake recipe that is heavy too but I wondered if I did something wrong?


Nadine July 5, 2013 at 6:06 pm

I made these today too, and they are very, very dense. Part muffin, part pound cake???? Not what I was expecting.


Kari Routledge July 9, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Glad I wasn’t the only one. I thought I did something wrong. They were good and I did love the frosting. I do prefer a lighter cake though.


Melissa July 4, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Thank you, Jenna! I made these today to rave reviews! What says “Happy 4th” better than cherries?


Mary July 11, 2013 at 2:08 pm

I love this recipe! What a great combination of two great flavors!


Chava July 12, 2013 at 12:40 pm

First, I love the cake part of this recipe, it is a really nice pound cake like cupcake although it had zero lime flavor (or maybe it was overpowered.) The frosting was super sweet and who does not like super sweet butter cream icing, but it seriously lacked cherry flavor. I am guessing overripe cherries would have been better or extract or both. These are such a great idea I am going to tweak until I get the flavor burst you describe. They really did look fabulous with the cherry on top!


Vera Zecevic – Cupcakes Garden August 14, 2013 at 5:18 am

These are great cupcakes and I especially like that you use fresh ingredients and no artificial colors. I’ve featured this recipe on my blog, hoping that you don’t mind, but if you do, please contact me and I’ll remove it. All the best.


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