The BEST margarita recipes to impress everyone! The classic recipe has just 3 ingredients, then try all the variations: frozen, jalapeno, mango, & more.
The margarita is at the top of our list of great cocktail recipes you should know. Crisp, cool, tart and refreshing, they’re one of the most popular and versatile drinks of all time. From late night drinks to a dinner party to brunch, there’s no time that’s not better with a margarita in hand. Here we’re sharing how to make a margarita: the classic way, and then our very favorite variations! Frozen, skinny, pitcher, beer, jalapeno margaritas…even margarita mix! There are countless ways to change up this incredible drink.
And now…the best margarita recipes!
How to make a margarita
There’s nothing better than a classic margarita! It’s tart, with just the right bite from the tequila and scent of orange from the Cointreau. Did you know the classic margarita has no added sugar? Many bars and mixes load it down with sugar. But that strays far from an authentic margarita.
The margarita is a classic alcoholic drink on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. This means that there’s an “official” definition of this drink: the ingredients and approximate quantities are always the same. Here’s what’s we’ve found is the perfect formula:
- 1 1/2 ounces tequila
- 1 ounce Cointreau
- 3/4 ounce lime juice
3 steps to make a margarita
Once you’ve got the ingredients, here are the steps:
- Rim the glass with salt. A classic margarita has salt on the rim. Why? The salt enhances the sweet and sour flavors in the drink!
- Shake in a cocktail shaker. Take that tequila, Cointreau and lime juice and shake it together in a cocktail shaker with 4 ice cubes.
- Strain into a glass. Add ice if serving on the rocks. The margarita is often served in a lowball or Old Fashioned glass, though of course you can use the classic margarita glass too. If you’d like to serve it on the rocks, throw in a few ice cubes (use Clear Ice for a stunning look).
Best tequila for a margarita
Here’s the key to how to make a good margarita: buy a good tequila! A cocktail is only as good as the alcohol you use. Instead of recommending a specific brand, look for a mid-price range tequila (or a high end one, if your budget allows). The price is typically an indicator of quality. The other tip: use tequila reposado instead of blanco! Because it’s aged, it has a more interesting flavor. Here’s the difference between these types of tequila:
- 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.
How to make a salt rim
The salt rim is essential to how to make a margarita. The salt enhances the flavors in the drink, and gives it that classic look. Try our Margarita Salt for a colorful flair: lime zest and orange zest add beautiful orange and green. Here’s how to make a salt rim:
- Spread on a plate: Spread the kosher salt, flaky sea salt, or margarita salt on a plate in an even layer.
- Wet the glass with a lime: Take a lime wedge and cut a notch in the middle: then slide it around the rim of the glass. This perfectly moistens the glass rim without having to use your fingers!
- Rim the outside edge only: Tilt the glass so that only the outside edge goes into the salt. You don’t want it on the inside where it can fall into the drink. Shake off any loose salt into the sink.
Try clear ice to look like a pro!
Want a professional look to your margarita? Add clear ice! It will make your drink look like it came from a trendy bar, but you can easily make it in your own home. All you need is a small cooler and 24 hours. Go to How to Make Clear Ice.
This margarita recipe is…
Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.Print
The best margarita recipe! Here’s how to make a classic margarita on the rocks with 3 simple ingredients: lime, Cointreau and tequila (no added sugar!).
- 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) tequila blanco or reposado
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) Cointreau
- 3/4 ounce (1 1/2 tablespoons) fresh lime juice
- Kosher salt or flaky sea salt, for the rim
- For the garnish: Lime wedge
- 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 flaky sea salt (or for a festive look, use our Margarita Salt).
- Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with 4 ice cubes and shake until cold.
- Strain the margarita into the glass with the salted rim. Fill the glass with ice and serve.
- Category: Cocktails
- Method: Shaken
- Cuisine: Mexican
Keywords: Margarita recipes
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.