Learn how to make this delicious and refreshing Classic Margarita Recipe right at home with just a few simple ingredients! No need for premade mixes or artificial ingredients, all it takes to make the very best margarita is fresh lime juice, agave, tequila, and orange liqueur.
Slightly sweet, somewhat sour, and always refreshing, the margarita never disappoints.
One of the easiest cocktails to make (right up there with the gin and tonic), the classic margarita is actually pretty easy to make. Unfortunately, however, given the countless variations (on-the-rocks, blended, pre-mixed) and varieties, the simplicity of this cocktail has been lost.
Fortunately, I’m going to make it super easy for you guys today. Cool?
If you already know how to make a classic margarita, you may want to check out these other margarita recipes I’ve made including this Sparkling Passion Fruit and Pineapple Margarita, Raspberry Rhubarb Margarita, Frozen Pineapple Dragon Fruit Margaritas, and Spicy Orange Margaritas.
Not ready for that or just feeling like something super classic then this is definitely the right recipe for you. I’m also going to answer loads of questions. If you only want to know how to make this recipe, I suggest jumping to the recipe card at the bottom of the page. If you want to learn about the ingredients, some alternatives or options, how to make it skinny/blended, and tips and tricks, I’ll cover all of that awesome information below.
Awesome! Let’s learn all about the margarita!
There is much debate over the origin of the margarita. From the date to location, it appears no one really knows.
With that said, the margarita is a popular Mexican and American cocktail with references dating as far back as 1930. Some speculate that The Margarita was derived from the Brandy Daisy (“margarita” is Spanish for “daisy”), a cocktail made with Brandy, lemon juice, Yellow Chartreuse, and club soda, and served on the rocks. As people started drifting over the border during the Prohibition, they would replace the brandy in the “Brandy Daisy” with tequila.
What alcohol is in a margarita?
Fortunately, when it comes to the margarita, you have options. If you’re wondering what the most popular option is then that’s easy- tequila! You can’t go wrong with tequila when you’re making margaritas. However, if you want to try something a little different (but equally delicious), mezcal is also delicious.
But let’s not forget about the second alcohol that you need to make a delicious tasting margarita- Orange Liqueur!
1 | Tequila
Tequila is a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant. Tequila comes in a range of colors from clear to dark amber and a variety of flavors and aromas. There are two main categories of tequila sold- mixtos and 100% agave. Mixtos use no less than 51% agave with other sugars (such as glucose and fructose) making up the remainder.
When shopping for tequila, you want to buy 100% Blue Weber Agave Tequila. Trust me. It’s right there on the bottle so there shouldn’t be any confusion.
Unless you want a nasty hangover?
- White tequila (Silver/Blanco/Plata Tequila) – produced without, or with a very little, aging process. White tequila must contain 38-55% alcohol and is considered the purest form as little to no aging has occurred.
- Gold Tequila (Joven/Oro Tequila) – typically gold tequila is a white tequila with the addition of grain alcohols and caramel colors. Higher quality tequila brands, however, may offer a gold tequila that is a mix of white and Reposado tequila.
- Reposado Tequila (“Rested” Tequila) – aged for a minimum of two months in wooden containers typically making the color darker.
- Añejo to Extra Añejo Tequila (“aged” to “ultra aged”) – tequila that has been aged between 1 to 3 years in small oak barrels.
So what are some of the best brands tequila brands for margaritas?
- Patrón (silver retailing for approximately $40 and the añejo for $60).
- Dos Lunas Tequila (añejo retailing for approximately $50 and the blanco for $30).
- Tequila Corazón (approximately $30 for tequila blanco).
- Sauza Silver (the best budget-friendy pick at $15).
2 | Mezcal
Mezcal is a distilled beverage made from any type of agave plant. Mezcal is typically enjoyed straight as it has a strong smoky flavor but is also enjoyed in cocktails such as the margarita.
Like tequila, there are two main types of mezcal- Type I and Type II. Type I simply indicates that it is a Mezcal made with 100% agave. If you can’t find anything that says “type I” looks for “100% agave” on the label instead. Type II, on the other hand, is made with at least 80% agave with some other fermenting ingredient making up the rest. As you may imagine, Type I is of higher quality and will taste better.
- White Mezcal – produced with little to no aging process, white Mezcal is, well, white. Or clear.
- Dorado Mezcal – similar to tequila gold, Dorado Mezcal is a white Mezcal with some color added.
- Reposado Mezcal – aged between 2-9 months.
- Añejo Mezcal – aged between 1-3 years.
- Espadín. The most common of all the agave, this accounts for approximately 90% of all mezcal production. Versatile and distinct between brands, you may recognize similar notes and flavors as it is the genetic grandfather agave plant to the blue agave (aka the plant used to make tequila).
- Tobalá. Also known as the “king of mezcals”, tobalaá is rare as it is mostly harvested in the wild. Fruity and complex, this variety can be somewhat pricy.
- Tobaziche. While this species of agave grows in different parts all over Mexico, the taste and names vary completely based on where it is grown. In general, however, it has a savory, herbal flavor.
- Tepeztate. Hugely popular, yet hard to find due to its 30-year mature process.
- Arroqueño. The mezcal made from this agave is known for being floral, spicy, and even chocolatey.
3 | Orange Liqueur
Orange liqueur is basically sweetened alcohol with orange flavoring. The alcohol part may be a neutral spirit (something like vodka) or pot-distilled (such as a grape brandy). There’s loads of opinion and thought when it comes to picking orange liqueur. For the sake of simplicity, simply remember that Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, and Cointreau are all orange liqueurs. Yes, it is somewhat more complicated than this, but when it comes to purchasing one or the other (at least for a margarita) any will work (although Cointreau is my personal fav out of the three).
Ingredients in a Margarita
- Tequila (or Mezcal). White (blanco) or Reposado tequila is pretty standard for most margarita recipes. Of course, any tequila will work, however, darker tequila is typically more for drinking straight with a side of limes or oranges. Mezcal is also a fantastic alternative if you want something a little smokier.
- Freshly-squeezed lime juice. I can’t stress enough here how important it is to use fresh limes here. If you can get your hands on key limes, even better, but standard limes will work just as well. If you plan on making a big batch of margaritas, I highly recommend a citrus juicer as they really help extract all the juice and save loads of time.
- Orange Liqueur. First, what is orange liqueur? It’s basically sweetened alcohol with orange flavoring. The alcohol part may be a neutral spirit (something like vodka) or pot-distilled (such as a grape brandy). Just remember that Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, and Cointreau are all orange liqueurs. Yes, it is somewhat more complicated than this, but when it comes to purchasing one or the other (at least for a margarita) any will work (although Cointreau is my personal fav out of the three).
- Sweetener (optional). Do you have to add a sweetener? Absolutely not (in fact, that’s what makes a “skinny” margarita). However, a little added sweetness always helps round-out the flavors. Some people mix in simple syrup or agave; personally, I prefer agave.
- Salt. Completely optional, but for anyone who likes to salt the rim of their margarita glasses.
- Additional lime wedges/wheels to garnish.
How to make a margarita
It’s super simple! Are you ready for this?
Prep your glasses. This step is optional as not everyone loves to add salt to their margaritas. However, if you do, here’s how you do it- run a lime wedge around the rim of your cocktail or margarita glass. Carefully dip into a shallow dish filled with coarse kosher salt and set aside.
Combine and shake. Add the tequila, lime juice, orange liqueur, and agave syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Seal and shake well until chilled.
Pour and serve on the rocks. Fill a margarita glass (or rocks glass) with ice and pour directly over the ice. Garnish with additional lime, if desired.
How to make a skinny margarita
Good news, my friends! This is basically a “skinny” margarita.
What exactly defines a margarita as being “skinny” versus “non-skinny”? The sugar content. Because many cheap happy hour margaritas really love adding loads of added sugar to mask the crappy tasting tequila you’re about to pay $2 for.
It’s ok. We’ve all been there…probably more than once.
But, we’re at home now. Maybe even entertaining for friends or family. Unless you actually love super sweet cocktails (totally cool too), you won’t need all that added sugar.
I sweetened this particular margarita recipe with agave, but feel free to sweeten with simple syrup if you prefer (just don’t add too much! or it won’t be “skinny”!)
Tips & Tricks
- Although the margarita is traditionally served in margarita glasses, feel free to serve in whatever suits your personality (like these rocks glasses).
- With such a limited ingredient list, the quality of ingredients is pretty important. This does not mean that you need to buy top-shelf tequila, but 100% blue agave tequila is an absolute must.
- Speaking of an absolute must- fresh lime juice (aka juice that was just squeezed out of limes).
- Shake everything together in a cocktail shaker or ever a mason jar with a lid. It’s the best way to get your margarita nice and chilly.
What to serve with margaritas
Margaritas are happy to be served with just about everything. That said, they’re particularly fond of all things Mexican or Tex-Mex related.
If you’re looking for something a bit more substantial, you may enjoy a marg or two with Instant Pot Shredded Salsa Chicken Tacos and Chicken Mole with Homemade Mole Sauce with a side of Homemade Refried Beans and Cilantro Lime Rice.
You may also enjoy these other Mexican-inspired recipes,
- Drunken Beans with Poblanos
- Chopped Shrimp Salad Recipe with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
- Salsa Verde Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos
- Albondigas Soup Recipe
- Spicy Mexican Stewed Shrimp
If you try making this Margarita Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
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- 2 ounces Blanco tequila (or preferred spirit)
- 1 ounce fresh lime juice
- 1/2 ounce Orange liqueur
- 1/2 ounce Agave syrup (optional)
- Lime wedges (to garnish)
- Kosher salt (to rim each glass (optional))
- Prep your glasses (this step is optional)- to salt the rim of your glass, run a lime wedge around the rim of your cocktail or margarita glass. Carefully dip into a shallow dis filled with coarse kosher salt and set aside.
- Combine and shake. Add the tequila, lime juice, orange liqueur, and agave syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Seal and shake well until chilled.
- Pour and serve on the rocks. Fill a margarita glass (or rocks glass) with ice and pour directly over the ice. Garnish with additional lime, if desired.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)