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This non alcoholic virgin margarita recipe tastes as good as the real thing! It’s bursting with citrus flavor and perfect for anyone who wants a fun and flavorful mocktail.

Virgin Margarita with lime garnishes and salt rim.
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Craving a margarita but don’t want the alcohol? Enter our favorite non alcoholic virgin margarita recipe! This one is a fan favorite: tangy and refreshing, punctuated by that classic salt rim.

A surprise ingredient brings a funky flavor that’s reminiscent of tequila: we can’t wait to hear what you think! The drink is balanced just right with sweet and tart: truly the non alcoholic mocktail spin on our favorite classic margarita recipe! Alex and I make this often when we’re craving a refreshing citrusy drink without the booze.

This zero proof margarita is also great for guests who don’t drink alcohol, as a mocktail for pregnant women, or a baby shower drink (make one for mom, then a classic margarita for guests).

“My sis-in-law made this yesterday and it was FANTASTIC! We were all shocked at how much it did taste like a margarita.” -Alex

Ingredients in a virgin margarita

Here’s how to make everyone’s favorite cocktail into a margarita mocktail! The classic definition of a margarita is tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice. Often a zero-proof margarita tastes just like lime juice and soda water, and we wanted to create something more interesting. Alex had the perfect idea: pickle juice! That secret ingredient adds a funky edge that is reminiscent of tequila. Here are the ingredients you’ll need.

  • Lime juice: Fresh lime juice should be squeezed from a lime; avoid bottled juice since it has compromised flavor.
  • Lemon juice: Using lemon juice along with the fresh lime adds nuance to the citrus, which is helpful in a mocktail since there is no alcohol.
  • Tonic water: Tonic water has a slight sweet and bitter flavor, which also adds complexity. We recommend using tonic water instead of club soda, because of those subtle flavors.
  • Maple syrup or simple syrup: Just a bit of sweetener to balances the tartness of the citrus.
  • Pickle juice: Using the juice from a pickle jar adds to add the tequila “funk” to the flavors in this zero proof cocktail! It really works. A good substitution is olive juice.
virgin margarita with lime garnishes and salt rim.

The secret? Pickle juice.

Pickle juice adds intrigue to the flavor in this non alcoholic virgin margarita recipe, making it taste like more than just fruit juice! In our recipe testing, we found it tastes even better than a non-alcoholic tequila. If you don’t have it on hand, olive juice works too!

It adds a briny funk that makes you feel like there’s a little alcohol in it, but it’s not so much that it’s noticeable! Of course, you can omit if it weirds you out. But after multiple taste tests, pickle juice in a non alcoholic margarita was the clear winner!

Less sugar than the standard virgin margarita recipe

We like cocktails recipes that are sweet tart around here, so this drink stands out from the standard mocktail that is intensely sweet. The sugar in this mocktail comes from two sources:

  • Maple syrup or simple syrup. You can use whichever you’d like: maple syrup is a great natural sweetener with no refined sugar.
  • A hint of sugar in the tonic water. Tonic water is essential to the flavor here, so we recommend finding it for this virgin margarita. We buy a brand that comes in small cans, which is nice since you’ll only use a small amount for one drink.

Tip: Tonic water is a carbonated water that contains quinine and is lightly sweetened. It originally was used against malaria, but these days the quinine levels are much lower. Quinine adds a slightly bitter flavor, but it’s not as detectable with today’s lower levels.

Zero proof margarita in glass.

A few more margarita variations

If you also drink alcohol (or have friends who do), there are lots of fun variations on this classic drink! Here are some of the best margarita recipes:

More non alcoholic mocktails

Non alcoholic mocktails are becoming increasingly popular as people seek out refreshing alternatives to alcoholic drinks. A variety of fresh juices, herbs, spices, and sparkling waters can create complex and satisfying virgin drinks. To be honest, we love both cocktails and mocktails equally!

Not only are zero proof mocktails perfect for dry January or people wanting to cut back on alcohol, but they’re ideal for pregnant women, designated drivers, and anyone wo enjoys a good drink without the buzz! Here are a few of our top mocktail recipes:

Frequently asked questions

Can I make this virgin margarita recipe ahead of time?

Absolutely! Just prepare the mix without ice and tonic water and store it in the fridge for up to 2 days. When ready to serve, add ice and fresh lime wedges.

Can I make this recipe spicy?

Yes! Muddle a few jalapeno slices in the shaker with your other ingredients for a kick. Start with 1 or 2 slices and adjust to your spice preference.

What are some fun garnishes for a virgin margarita?

Classic options include lime wedges or a sprinkle of coarse salt or margarita salt on the rim. Get creative with herbs like basil or mint leaves, or even a sprinkle of Tajin seasoning!

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Virgin margarita

Virgin Margarita (Non Alcoholic!)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.8 from 12 reviews

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


This virgin margarita recipe tastes as good as the real thing! Try the secret ingredient that makes this non-alcoholic mocktail so satisfying.


  • 1 ounce* fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon maple syrup or simple syrup
  • ⅛ teaspoon pickle juice (or more to taste)*
  • 3 ounces tonic water
  • For the garnish: Lime wheel


  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 flaky sea salt (or for a festive look, use Margarita Salt).
  2. In the serving glass, stir together the lime juice, lemon juice, maple syrup, and pickle juice. Add the tonic water and ice. Garnish with a lime wheel and serve.


*Pickle juice is the liquid from a pickle jar, and recommended for using in this recipe: it adds just the right funky flavor to mimic tequila. Olive juice also works in a pinch!

To convert to tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons.

  • Category: Mocktail
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Diet: Vegan

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. Desarae says:

    Wondering if these could be made ahead of time and recommendations for how best to do that? TIA!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      You could mix everything but the tonic water up to an hour ahead, but any more than that and it would start to lose flavor.

  2. Karl says:

    I’m trying to find a way to make a non alcoholic tequila (not margarita). I’m thinking Tabasco, lemon, lime. What else. Any suggestions?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      We haven’t really played with that! I think the tabasco is a good idea as that nasal burn is so important to the flavor.

  3. Lisa says:

    I like this! A few questions

    1. If you strain the juice from your refrigerator pickles, will that work for pickle juice?

    2 I like jalapeño margaritas. If I add jalapeños to the refrigerator pickles, do I need to modify the amount of jalapeños?

    3. I like the pineapple sweet and spicy with jalapeño margaritas. If I add pineapple juice, can I substitute club soda for tonic water? And do I skip the simple syrup?


    1. Alex Overhiser says:


      1) It might work, but it would probably be a little less good that storebought dill pickles.
      2) That should work if you go this way! It’s easier to just stir in one slice of jalapeno to the drink.
      3) Yes! I like that idea. You may need to adjust sweetness slightly.

  4. Maggie says:

    This recipe is the best. I chopped a piece of zest from the squizzed lime and put it in the glass as well. And I also found a nice substitute for a pickle juice (equally as weird) that works great and is bitter and salty at the same time – water from green olives in a jar (olive juice?). Worked great! Thanks for the guilty-free alternative for the summer!

  5. Jill F says:

    Loved it! Followed instructions exactly. Amazing mock marg! I read comments on more pickle juice and may try a bit more but not necessary to get that “real” flavor. I did use really good tonic…may try diet version next time. For someone trying to avoid alcohol for any reason but wanting to have a great summer drink with friends…this is it!

  6. Andrew says:

    Wow I’m impressed. Actually tastes close to a real margarita! I agree with the other comments and would slightly increase the sweetener and pickle juice (try with pickled jalapeño brine for a little spice)

  7. Diane dowding says:

    What kind of pickle juice??

    1. Alex Overhiser says:


  8. David Dunn says:

    Very close but my partner though it was too tart. I added a tablespoon of Triple Sec syrup and it was a winner!!! Other recipes add O.J. but that adds an orange color that is not true to a margarita. So, the Triple Sec syrup is the perfect sweetener to balance the flavor and the color of an original margarita.

  9. Terri says:

    I tried this mostly out of curiosity and because my body does not metabolize alcohol well anymore. This was realllly good! The second time I tried it, I put a twist on the recipe. Instead of pickle juice, I used pickled jalapeno juice – for a spicy margarita. It was amazing! Can’t wait to make the base mix in a big pitcher for boating season. Just add the tonic! Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Great idea! We’ll have to try that.

  10. Juliette Gilbert says:

    I really enjoyed this drink, it does seem like you are drinking a margarita and agree the pickle juice does make a difference.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed!

  11. Michelle Baldwin says:

    I was a bit sceptical at first. But this is a fantastic recipe, just like the real thing.
    I did add extra dill and pickle juice for me. Thank you, I have enjoyed the other mocktail recipes as well 🍸

  12. Lindsay says:

    I’m not sure what magic you did here but this mocktail is amazing. I stopped drinking and I LOVE margaritas. This recipe, with the pickle juice is so clever and really is tasty. You don’t know how much it means to me to have humans like you making amazing recipes for humans like me. Thank you.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Haha! So glad to hear that! Thank you for making :)

  13. Shana says:

    Amazing!! I’m pregnant and was planning on margaritas for New Years, this was the perfect substitute, thank you so much.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      You’re welcome!

  14. Eric says:

    Just made these with caper juice. That’s what we had. Quite tasty!

  15. June statmore says:

    What kind of pickles are used for their liquid in marguerites?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      We use dill

  16. Carolyn Cooney says:

    Can you say which pickle juice you use–sour or sweet? Thanks

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      We usually use dill pickle juice!

  17. Natalie Allen says:

    I truly enjoyed the recipe!! I followed the exact recipe and wished I would have made enough for two servings. So good. I think I will make another mocktail to close out my night.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  18. Crystal says:

    So delicious! Went with the recommendations of going with a little more pickle juice and it did the trick! Just lovely for a sunny afternoon on the deck! Much appreciated!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  19. Alex says:

    My sis-in-law made this yesterday and it was FANTASTIC. She made it as a batch for 6 of us and eyeballed the measurements bc we were in a hurry. We were all shocked at how much it did taste like a Marg. I bought half sour pickles (for the milder juice and cuz I love ‘em) and diet tonic water btw. We also did the whole salt on the glass rim too. Will definitely being using this recipe again. Thank you!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad to hear that! Thanks for making.

  20. Anonymous says:

    We loved it! Didn’t miss the tequila at all in this margarita and went a tad heavier on the pickle juice with Agave syrup.

  21. Anne says:

    P.S. In my “refill,” I went heavier with the pickle juice (dill) and it was even better! :)

  22. Anne says:

    I didn’t have lemons or tonic water on hand, so I tried this: fresh lime juice, lemon LaCroix, fresh orange juice, a bit of pickle juice, a bit of maple syrup and lots of ice. Worked pretty well and I can see the value of the pickle juice – it slightly evokes the taste of Tequila! I will keep experimenting, but will stick with the maple syrup and pickle juice (great way to use the juice when the pickles are gone)!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed!

  23. Kendall says:

    Hi! Love your recipe! Just tried with just a little juice from dill relish. Didn’t like it. Found tonic water without sugar and didn’t add the sweetner (I will try the maple syrup next try since I always have it). Maybe that will be more to my taste. Had olives, so I tried previously with olive juice (dirty!). Tastes more like a dirty martini, but I like it better.

  24. Sae says:

    Debbie, Id say use what you’ve got. Maybe use half and taste then add more if you think the flavors work. All I have are hamburger slices so that’s what I used. I’m serving them tomorrow so I haven’t mixed in the tonic yet otherwise I’d give you my feedback.

  25. Debbie says:

    Do you recommend that I use the pickle juice from a jar of DILL pickles or another type of pickles?
    P.S. I’ve made so many of your recipes during quarantine for COVID-19. What a bright spot during these dark days! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me become a vegetarian!

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