Shirley Temple Cupcakes

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Shirley Temple cupcakes are perfect celebration cupcakes for kids when you need something classier than funfetti cupcakes! Shirley Temple cupcakes are inspired by the Shirley Temple cocktail and contain grenadine, lemon, and lime.

Shirley Temple Cupcakes
I remember that, as a kid, it felt so grown-up to be able to go up to the bar at a wedding and order a cocktail. The drink of choice for all the kids was always a Shirley Temple. The cocktail is made with lemon-lime soda and grenadine, and always topped with a maraschino cherry.

These Shirley Temple cupcakes are moist and light (they use a similar base recipe to my perfect vanilla cupcakes). They are flavored with fresh lemon and lime zest. And, of course, there is grenadine in both the cupcakes and the frosting.

Special Ingredients for Shirley Temple Cupcakes

Myles adding a cherry to a cupcake

You can’t make a Shirley Temple cupcake without grenadine and maraschino cherries.

You should be able to find both of these items at a grocery store or wherever you buy your alcohol.

However, if you have the time, I highly recommend making both grenadine and the maraschino cherries from scratch. The store-bought versions of both typically contain lots of red dye and high-fructose corn syrup. When you make them from scratch, you can make them naturally using pomegranate juice.

How to Make Shirley Temple Cupcakes

These cupcakes use the same basic techniques as all of my cupcake recipes. If you are new to baking cupcakes, check out my post on how to make cupcakes before jumping into this recipe.

The recipe starts by mixing all of your dry ingredients. This includes the lemon and lime zest. The easiest way to zest is with a microplane zester [paid link]. However, to get the best flavor out of your zest, follow my guide on how to zest a lemon.

Zesting a lemon with a microplane

This recipe uses two kinds of fat – butter and oil. The butter gives the cupcakes that important buttery flavor and the oil keeps them moist.

First, mix the room temperature butter into your dry ingredients. Then, add the oil in along with the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla.

Cracking eggs to add to batter

Grenadine and water get added last. The batter ends up being liquidy – this is normal.

Bake the cupcakes for about 14 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Shirley Temple Frosting

Shirley Temple Cupcakes

I make this Shirley Temple frosting the same way that I make my vanilla buttercream. Instead of flavoring the frosting with vanilla, I flavor it with grenadine. It makes it such a nice pretty color, too!

For the best success with this frosting:

  • Make sure the butter is at room temperature.
  • Beat the butter for three minutes at high speed with an electric mixer. This will make sure that it is light and fluffy.


If you are an adult who likes Shirley Temples and drinks alcohol, you can make this recipe a little more adult by topping the Shirley Temple cupcakes with homemade Luxardo cherries instead of maraschino cherries. The Luxardo cherries are made with cherry liquor. Or, if you’d prefer, you can use the grenadine to make Tequila Sunrise cupcakes.

Some people make Shirley Temple cocktails using Ginger Ale in addition to the lemon-lime soda. If you fit that description, you can add two teaspoons of ground ginger to the recipe to give it a little ginger flavor.

If you prefer fresh cherries to syrup-soaked cherries, consider making my fresh cherry cupcakes instead.

Did you make this recipe? Leave a review!
Shirley Temple Cupcakes
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4.41 from 5 votes

Shirley Temple Cupcakes

Shirley Temple cupcakes are perfect celebration cupcakes for kids! Inspired by the Shirley temple cocktail, they contain grenadine, lemon, and lime. 
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Total Time 29 minutes
Servings 16 cupcakes
Calories 435kcal
Author Stefani


Cake Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • zest of 1 small lime
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup grenadine
  • 1/3 cup water

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grenadine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 maraschino cherries


Shirley Temple Cupcakes Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, lemon zest, and lime zest.
  • Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes. Because there is so little butter, you'll end up with a very fine crumb texture.
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  • Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
  • Slowly add grenadine and water and mix on low speed until just combined. The batter will be liquid. (Don't worry, you didn't do anything wrong. It's supposed to be that way.)
  • Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.
  • Bake for 14 minutes and then test to see if they are done. They are done when a toothpick comes out without wet batter stuck to it. If they are not done, test again in two minute increments.
  • When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and leave them on a cooling rack (or just on your counter if you don't own a cooling rack) to cool.

Shirley Temple Frosting Instructions

  • Beat butter on high speed in the bowl of a stand mixer for about three minutes, until light and fluffy.
  • Mix in powdered sugar a little bit at a time.
  • Mix in grenadine and salt.
  • Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.
  • Top with cherries and decorate with paper straws.


I highly recommend making both grenadine and the maraschino cherries from scratch. The store-bought versions of both typically contain lots of red dye and high-fructose corn syrup. When you make them from scratch, you can make them naturally using pomegranate juice.  


Calories: 435kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 199mg | Potassium: 76mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 48g | Vitamin A: 503IU | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating


  1. Ali Hightsays:

    5 stars
    I love the handwriting!And there so cute!

  2. Lauren W.says:

    Hi Stef! I really liked this recipe. I agree with the other posts. It’s a weird batter. I thought I did something wrong but they came out average. However, mine actually rose in the oven. I filled them up to the top and they overflowed! My family isn’t as picky as I am about cupcakes, so I hope they like them!

  3. Kelly Josays:

    Sadly, these didn’t work at all for me with store bought grenadine. I agree with the poster above, this was a very bizarre batter. It didn’t seem to want to combine very well and was super liquidy. The cakes themselves were way too sweet and greasy, probably from the store bought grenadine. They were edible but not good– I ended up tossing them. So sad!

    I do like the concept though! I’m going to have to retry with homemade grenadine. I think that is very likely the difference maker!

  4. Stefsays:

    Anon – Unless I say otherwise, it’s all-purpose.

  5. Anonymoussays:

    What kind of flour do you use in your recipes?

  6. Stefsays:

    Katie – I’m so sorry to hear that!

    Victoria – How did yours turn out?

    I’m wondering if the fact that I used homemade grenadine made the difference. The sugar content might be too different from store-bought. If anyone else had tried these, please let me know how they turned out for you.

  7. Katiesays:

    I just made these and they were awful :( the cakes looked like they had leprosy and then sank as they cooled. I can’t get the glaze/frosting to stay on them either :/ They also had a weird texture.

  8. Victoriasays:

    Has anyone actually made these cupcakes? I just put them in the oven(about 23 cupcakes) and it’s the weirdest batter I’ve ever worked with… I’ll let you know how they turn out. Delicious batter though. :)

  9. tootiesays:

    How fun!! And this is my favorite drink, so I’m sure it’s an awesome cupcake. Can’t wait to try it!

  10. Dinasays:

    what a great idea!

  11. CupcakeShopsays:

    I like this alternate version of the cupcakes that you made earlier! Thanks for sharing the recipe, I might try this soon; I think they’re really nice to sell in a cupcake shop :)

  12. Ivysays:

    Love your rule-never make something you don’t like.

    And that quote from the groom-to-be is so, so funny!If I had a quote hall of fame, that one would make it in for sure. :)

  13. Meaghan Lubysays:

    my cousin and i are obsessed with shirley temples! thanks for sharing :)

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