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This amazing cranberry margarita is packed with sweet tart flavor and a brilliant bright red color! A delicious spin on the classic.

Cranberry margarita
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The margarita is one of our top favorite drinks over here, so we love making up spins on it. Meet our favorite new variation: the Cranberry Margarita! This bright red drink is absolutely stunning to look at, and the sweet tart flavor is crisp and refreshing. It’s got all the character of the classic margarita, but a beautiful new look and nuance to the flavor! In fact, Alex and I love these almost as much as the original. Serve it for any occasion that calls for a red cocktail (Christmas? Valentine’s Day?), or a creative way to use up cranberry juice. Whatever the case, it’s a total showstopper!

What’s in a cranberry margarita?

The margarita is one of the most famous classic cocktails there is! It was invented in the 1930’s and has stood the test of time. In fact, it’s on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails, meaning there’s an “official” definition. The classic margarita uses just lime juice, Cointreau, and tequila.

This cranberry margarita recipe is a spin on the classic using unsweetened cranberry juice. Because it’s rather tart, we’ve added in just a bit of simple syrup to balance it out. The flavor is perfection: almost like cranberry was originally intended to be in this drink! Here are the cranberry margarita ingredients:

  • Cranberry juice
  • Tequila (use blanco or reposado)
  • Cointreau
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Simple syrup or maple syrup
How to make a cranberry margarita

Use unsweetened cranberry juice!

This cranberry martini uses 100% cranberry juice, which is unsweetened. But there’s also another option when you shop: sweetened cranberry juice! Here’s the difference and what to keep in mind:

  • Sweetened cranberry juice aka cranberry juice cocktail, has added sugars and sometimes high-fructose corn syrup as sweetener. It is the type used for classic cranberry cocktails of the past, like the Vodka Cranberry.
  • 100% cranberry juice is easy to find at your local grocery store. The benefit? The color is brighter, and you can sweeten your drink to taste.

What if all you can find is sweetened? Use half of the simple syrup in the recipe below — or even add it to taste.

What’s the best tequila for cranberry margaritas?

This cranberry margarita tastes great with any type of tequila. What’s the best tequila for margaritas? Our rule of thumb is: the better the liquor, the better the drink! We like to try to find a bottle that is mid-priced: usually that correlates to the quality. As far as type of tequila, you can use either blanco or reposado tequila here. What’s the difference?

  • Tequila blanco (or “new” tequila) has been aged less than 2 months and has a strong, straightforward flavor.
  • Tequila reposado (“rested” in Spanish) is aged longer, from 2 to 12 months. It has a more nuanced flavor, with notes of oak and vanilla. For that reason, we tend to prefer tequila reposado in a drink: it tastes more nuanced and intriguing. It makes for a much more sophisticated drink!
Cranberry margarita recipe

How to make a cranberry margarita: single drink

There’s not much to a cranberry margarita: just mix up the ingredients and shake! If you’d like, you can garnish with fresh cranberries: but it’s totally optional. (Or go to our Christmas Margarita for a more holiday drink look.) Here’s what to do:

  1. Rim the glass with salt. Salt enhances the sweet and sour flavors in the drink! It’s easiest to cut a notch in a lime wedge and slide that around the edge of the drink. Then dip the outside rim in salt!
  2. Shake in a cocktail shaker. Shake the ingredients together with ice in a cocktail shaker (or use a mason jar with a lid).
  3. Strain into a glass and add ice. Strain it into a glass and serve with ice! Or you can step it up with clear ice…artisan-style crystal clear ice that’s easy to make at home (it takes just 24 hours).

Serving a crowd? Make a cranberry margarita pitcher

Want to mix up a batch of cranberry margaritas for a crowd? You can make a pitcher and then pour it into individual glasses. It’s much easier! To make a pitcher that serves 8 drinks, mix together in a pitcher:

  • 1 ½ cups tequila
  • 1 ½ cups 100% cranberry juice
  • 1 cup Cointreau
  • ½ cup lime juice
  • ½ cup simple syrup or maple syrup (omit if using sweetened cranberry juice and add to taste)

Add 3 handfuls of ice and stir until cold. Pour into individual glasses and serve!

Cranberry margarita

More cranberry cocktails

There are lots more cranberry cocktails where this comes from! Cranberry cocktails have been around since the 1940’s, when cranberry juice started being marketed as a mixer for drinks. Here are a few classics and newer spins!

When to serve a cranberry margarita

The cranberry margarita is a bright red drink that’s festive and fun! It works as a:

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Cranberry margarita

Perfect Cranberry Margarita

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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


This amazing cranberry margarita is packed with sweet tart flavor and a brilliant bright red color! A delicious spin on the classic. 


  • 1 ½ ounces (3 tablespoons) 100% cranberry juice (not sweetened)*
  • 1 ½ ounces (3 tablespoons) tequila blanco or reposado**
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) Cointreau
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) simple syrup or maple syrup*
  • Kosher salt or flaky sea salt, for the rim (optional)
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice)
  • For the garnish: cranberries, rosemary sprig


  1. Cut a notch in a lime wedge, then run the lime around the rim of a glass. Dip the edge of the rim into a plate of salt (or for a festive look, use Margarita Salt).
  2. Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill it with ice. Shake until cold. Strain the margarita into the glass with the salted rim. Fill the glass with ice, garnish with cranberries and a rosemary sprig, and serve.


*If all you can find is sweetened cranberry juice, use half the simple syrup quantity (or add to taste). 

**To make a pitcher of 8 servings, mix together in a pitcher: 1 ½ cups tequila, 1 ½ cups 100% unsweetened cranberry juice, 1 cup Cointreau, ½ cup lime juice, and ½ cup simple syrup or maple syrup. Add three handfuls of ice and stir until cold. Pour into individual glasses. 

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

Margarita variations!

Looking for more margaritas? We’ve got lots of options. Here are all the best margarita recipes to try:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Pickard says:

    Sooooo good I use Grand Marnier instead of cointreau and rim with Chile line Classico sea salt

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      Sounds incredibly delicious! Love those tweaks.

  2. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!

    1. Megan says:

      What is the best way to make this a non-alcoholic margarita?