All you need are 3 ingredients to make my favorite margarita recipe! Instructions included for how to make a single serving margarita or pitcher margaritas for a crowd.
Raise your hand if you love a good margarita! ♡
This famously sweet, sour and salty drink will forever and always be my all-time favorite cocktail. But while I adore just about any kind of margarita — frozen or on the rocks, tequila or mezcal, fruity or spicy or fizzy or creamy, you name it — a classic margarita cocktail in my book simply cannot be beat.
By contrast to many of the diluted, super-sweet, and sometimes fizzy huge mugs of margaritas that are often served in restaurants around the world nowadays, a traditional margarita is actually a strong, tart cocktail made with three simple ingredients — good-quality tequila, orange liqueur, and freshly-squeezed lime juice. This simple margarita mix is incredibly quick and easy to make, either for a single serving or a larger batch for a crowd. And it is downright delicious served on the rocks, with or without a salted rim.
I have become quite partial over the years to making margaritas with mezcal instead of tequila, which I highly recommend if you love a good smoky cocktail. And if you feel like spicing your drink up a bit, I’ve also included tips below for how to make a spicy salted rim or muddle a few chile peppers into your drink — so good!
Bottom line, if you love margaritas as much as I do, take a moment to read through my tips below and memorize this simple recipe. Then let’s make a round of margaritas together. Cheers!
Margarita Recipe | 1-Minute Video
What does margarita mean? Margarita means “daisy” in Spanish. ♡
Where did margaritas originate? We have the rich food and drink culture of Mexico to thank for this famously sweet, sour and salty cocktail. Historians debate the exact origins of the drink (you can read some of the most famous possible origin stories here and here). But it rose to popularity in the United States around Prohibition, during which time many Americans traveled to Mexico to drink and fell in love with their local tequila. And today, the margarita ranks as one of the most popular cocktails in the entire world.
How are margaritas traditionally served? By contrast to the large mugs of diluted margaritas that are popularly served nowadays in many restaurants around the world, margaritas are traditionally served as a strong cocktail in a margarita glass rimmed with salt. (Please note that the recipe below is the strong cocktail version!)
When is national margarita day? February 22, so mark your calendars is you’d like to celebrate!
To make the best margarita mix, all you really need are three basic margarita ingredients:
Tequila: Silver or reposado is traditionally considered to be the best tequila for margaritas, but any type of tequila (or smoky mezcal or sotol) will work.
Freshly-squeezed lime juice: For the best fresh flavor, I highly recommend juicing your own limes versus using store-bought lime juice. I swear by this citrus juicer, which makes juicing a breeze and comes in especially handy if you are making a large batch.
Orange liqueur: Cointreau is my go-to, but Grand Marnier is also delicious or you can use a good-quality Triple Sec.
You are also welcome to add:
Agave: If you would like to sweeten your margarita, I recommend adding agave syrup (or simple syrup, or any other sweetener you prefer) to taste.
Kosher salt: If you would like to salt the rims of your glasses, run a lime wedge around the rims and then dip them in coarse Kosher salt or margarita salt. (I also like to mix some Tajín into my salt to give it an extra chili-lime kick.)
Additional lime slices/wedges: Save a few extra lime slices or wedges if you would like to add them to the glass as garnish.
How To Make A Margarita (Single-Serving):
Detailed instructions are included in the recipe below, but here is a brief overview of how to make a single-serving homemade margarita:
Prep your glasses: If you would like to salt the rim of your glass, simply run a juicy lime wedge around the rim and then dip the rim in coarse Kosher salt. Set the glass aside until ready to use.
Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker: Combine the tequila, lime juice, orange liqueur, and a few ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. (Or alternately if you do not have a cocktail shaker, you can stir the ingredients together in a measuring cup or shake them together in a mason jar.)
Shake shake shake: Give the mixture a good shake (or a good stir!) for about 10 seconds or until chilled.
Taste and add sweetener, if desired: Give the margarita mix a taste and if you think it needs extra sweetener, add in a teaspoon or two of agave (or simple syrup) at a time until the mix reaches your desired level of sweetness.
Strain and serve on the rocks. Place a few ice cubes (or I often use one large ice cube so that it will melt more slowly) in the serving glass, then strain the margarita mix over the ice and garnish with a slice of lime.
How To Make A Pitcher Of Margaritas:
Detailed instructions are included in the recipe below, but here is a brief overview of how to make pitcher margaritas:
Prep your glasses: If you would like to salt the rims of your glasses, simply run a juicy lime wedge around the rims and then dip the rims in coarse Kosher salt. Set the glasses aside until ready to use.
Stir the ingredients together in a large pitcher: Combine the tequila, lime juice, orange liqueur and a handful of ice in a large pitcher and stir to combine.
Taste and add sweetener, if desired: Give the margarita mix a taste, and if you think it needs extra sweetener, add in a tablespoon or two of agave (or simple syrup) at a time, until the drink reaches your desired level of sweetness.
Serve on the rocks. Place a few ice cubes (or I often use one large ice cube so that it will melt more slowly) in each serving glass, then pour the margarita mix over the ice and garnish each glass with a slice of lime.
Possible Recipe Variations:
The sky’s the limit when it comes to different types of margaritas that you can make, but here are a few of my favorite simple tweaks that you can make to this classic margarita recipe:
Make mezcal margaritas: We are especially partial in our house to making margaritas with mezcal (or sotol) instead of tequila, which adds the most delicious, smoky, complex flavor to this cocktail. That said, if you would just like a subtly smoky margarita, try using a 50/50 blend of tequila and mezcal.
Make spicy margaritas: If you like your margarita to have a kick, try muddling a few slices of fresh jalapeño or serrano chiles into the margarita mix. Please note, however, that a few chile slices go a long way with a single serving. So I recommend starting with one or two slices, and then you can always add more if you’d like to your spicy margarita recipe.
Make “skinny” margaritas: If you would like to shave off some calories (and alcoholic content), try substituting freshly-squeezed orange juice in place of the orange liqueur to make a skinny margarita. They still taste great!
Customize the salted rim: I also love mixing Tajín with coarse salt to make a spicier chili-lime salted rim. Or if you want to go sweet and spicy, you can mix some turbinado sugar (or any type of sugar) with the salt too.
More Classic Cocktail Recipes:
Looking for more classic cocktail recipes to try? Here are a few of my faves:
Salt the rim (optional). Run a lime wedge (the juicy part) around the top rim of your serving glass. Fill a shallow bowl or plate with salt, then dip the rim until it is covered with your desired amount of salt. Set aside.
Make the margarita mix. Add tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice and a few ice cubes to a cocktail shaker. Cover and shake vigorously for about 10 seconds. Give the mix a taste and stir in a teaspoon or two of sweetener if desired.
Serve. Fill the prepared serving glass with ice. Strain in the margarita mix, garnish with a lime slice, serve and enjoy. Cheers!
To Make A Pitcher Of Margaritas (16 servings): Stir tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice and a handful of ice together in a large pitcher until combined. Add sweetener to taste, if desired, until the margaritas reach your preferred level of sweetness. Serve over ice, garnishing each glass with an extra lime slice if desired.
A Note On Serving Sizes: Please note that one serving is 3.5 ounces (a little less than 1/2 cup) and it is quite strong, making this traditional margarita cocktail different than the large mugs of diluted margaritas that are served in many restaurants.