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This Vodka Margarita is tangy and delicious: a smooth spin on the classic cocktail! It’s a fun variation that’s oddly satisfying.

Vodka margarita
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Can you make margaritas with vodka? Turns out you can, and they taste great, too! Try the Vodka Margarita, a smoother spin on the classic cocktail. I must admit: when Alex first mentioned this idea to me, I thought it was a little crazy. A margarita without tequila is like…pizza without cheese! (OK, that’s a thing and it’s good too. Point taken.) It wasn’t until I took the first sip that I was sold. It’s tart, citrusy and so smooth, without the traditional bite on the finish from the tequila. Yes, this one’s worth making! Even if you’re a tequila fan, which we are.

What’s a vodka margarita?

The vodka margarita is a spin on the classic cocktail with vodka instead of tequila. It runs in a long history of alcohol swaps, like the vodka martini or the endless variations of Moscow mules. As you likely know, the margarita is one of the most popular cocktails of all time, invented in the 1930’s in Mexico. The classic way to make it has just three ingredients: tequila, lime and Triple Sec. Here you’ll swap in vodka for tequila, then add orange juice to add back a little complexity in flavor. The ingredients you’ll need are:

  • Vodka
  • Triple sec or Cointreau
  • Lime juice
  • Orange juice

Astute mixologists will notice that the vodka margarita is very similar to a Kamikaze: it’s made with vodka, triple sec and lime. But of course for the margarita, you’ll want to have that classic salt rim.

Vodka margarita recipe

Best triple sec to use

Let’s be honest: you can use any quality vodka you’d like here. Because vodka is so neutral in flavor, it’s mostly overpowered by the citrus flavors in this drink (by design!). But how about the orange liqueur? Here’s the best triple sec to use in margaritas:

  • Triple Sec. Yes, triple sec is a family of orange liqueurs and a product itself! It has a straightforward orange flavor. Look for a quality brand: we like Drillauds.
  • Cointreau. Cointreau is usually our default for margaritas. It has a sophisticated flavor, with warm spices and a nuance of oak and vanilla. It’s actually great in a vodka margarita because it adds a little more glamour. Feel free to pick either!

The salt rim is required for a vodka margarita

Because a vodka margarita is not really a margarita, the salt rim is key to making it feel like one. It’s not optional! Here are a few tips on how to make a salt rim:

  1. Use kosher salt or flaky sea salt (not table salt!). These types of salt are chunky and make for just the right texture on the rim. Or, you can make festive Margarita Salt to step it up.
  2. Take a lime wedge and cut a notch in the middle. Then slide it around the rim of the glass. This moistens the rim without having to use your fingers.
  3. Rim the outside edge only. Spread the salt on a plate in an even layer. Tilt the glass into the salt so that it sticks to the outside edge. Shake off any loose salt into the sink.
Vodka margarita

Make a vodka margarita pitcher

It’s easy to make a vodka margarita, but if you’re entertaining: spending 5 minutes per drink can make you busy! The solution? A vodka margarita pitcher! Simply place the following ingredients in a pitcher:

  • 2 cups vodka
  • 1 cup Triple Sec
  • ¾ cup lime juice
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 3 handfuls ice

Stir it together, and you’ve got 8 drinks in 5 minutes! Make sure to add the exact amount of ice: it dilutes the drinks just enough.

When to serve a vodka margarita

The vodka margarita is a smooth spin on the classic! Use it if you run out of tequila, or if you’re mixing drinks for people who don’t love the stuff. It works as a:

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Vodka margarita

The Vodka Margarita

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


This Vodka Margarita is tangy and delicious: a smooth spin on the classic cocktail! It’s a fun variation that’s oddly satisfying.


  • 2 ounces* vodka
  • 1 ounce triple sec (or Cointreau)
  • ¾ ounce lime juice
  • ½ ounce orange juice
  • For serving: Ice (try clear ice), lime wedges


  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. Single drink: Place the vodka, Triple Sec, lime juice, and orange juice 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 and serve.
  3. Pitcher (8 servings): Place 2 cups vodka, 1 cup Triple Sec, ¾ cup lime juice, and ½ cup orange juice in a pitcher. Add 3 handfuls ice and stir until cold. 


*To convert to tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • 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 for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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