Classic Margarita

5 from 1 vote
Jump to Recipe

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Out of margarita mix? Consider this your lucky day because this recipe is a real margarita recipe from scratch. A fresh margarita is just as easy to make as those artificial margaritas using margarita mix—and it’s even better!

Why I Love This Recipe

Store-bought margarita mix is a modern-day shortcut, the classic margarita recipe (created nearly 100 years back) called for freshly squeezed limes and sometimes agave (simple sugar will do).

Fresh citrus enhances tequila’s natural flavors. It’s not sickly sweet or full of artificial sweeteners like store-bought margarita mix. It’s real sugar and fresh lime juice, minus a killer headache the next morning. Add a little salt and everything POPS!

These margaritas pair nicely with my fresh homemade guacamole or chicken enchiladas, carne asada tacos, and flank steak fajitas!

Ingredients

Classic margarita ingredients laid out on a cutting board.
  • Tequila: look for Milagro, Espolòn, Altos, Teremana, Hornitos, and Corralejo.
  • Fresh lime juice: fresh limes are essential for the perfect margarita. Always use a citrus squeezer to extract as much lime juice as possible from each lime. I will occasionally mix in some fresh lemon for different flavors. Use up to 1.5 ounces of citrus!
  • Simple syrup or agave: I prefer 50-50 simple syrup because it’s less sweet than agave. Start with less than half an ounce and add more as needed. You want enough to round out the cocktail without it tasting overly sweet.
  • Orange liqueur: you can use triple sec or Cointreau. If you prefer a drier margarita, Skip the simple syrup and only sweeten it with orange liqueur.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities below.

How to Make a Margarita

Step 1.

For the salted rim, take a lime wedge and wipe the rim of a double old-fashioned glass. I usually only salt half of the rim. Dip in margarita salt (image 1a), rotating until coated as desired (image 1b).

Dipping the rim of a chilled double old fashioned glass in margarita salt.
A hand holding a chilled double old fashioned glass demonstrating a salted rim for a margarita.

Step 2.

Combine tequila, lime, sugar, and orange liqueur in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice.

Using a citrus squeezer to squeeze fresh lime juice into a cocktail shaker.

Quick Tip

Skip the salt rim and add a tiny pinch of salt directly to the margarita. This brings out the flavors and adds a little saltiness that plays beautifully in every sip without being overwhelming.

Step 3.

Shake vigorously and pour straight into the glass with the (now crushed) ice from the shaker. Garnish with a lime wheel. Class this recipe up further by serving it over a large clear ice cube.

Pouring a shaken margarita into a chilled glass from a cocktail shaker.

Expert Tips

  • Use “dirty” ice from the shaker, fresh ice cubes, or pour over a large ice cube for the ultimate presentation/experience.
  • Keep your glasses in the freezer so your drink stays cooler for longer. This is another benefit of using a highball glass over traditional bulky margarita glass.
  • It’s important to use freshly squeezed citrus when making margaritas from scratch. invest in a handheld lemon/lime squeezer.

Margarita Variations

  • looking for a spicy kick? learn how to make easy spicy margaritas using homemade infused jalapeño or habañero tequila. It only takes 24 hours to infuse delicious heat.
  • If you like mezcal, you can easily make a mezcal margarita with egg whites or my spicy mezcal cocktail.
  • My mango margaritas are one of the most popular drinks on this site. They can be served frozen or up on the rocks. It’s one of my favorite cocktails for the summer.
  • If you love watermelon, you have to try my blended watermelon margaritas. The watermelon flavor is refreshing and goes perfectly with salt and tequila.
  • If you are looking for a winter-inspired margarita, try my Grand Marnier margarita made with reposado tequila, honey syrup, and fresh lemon juice.
  • If you like Palomas, look no further than my simple grapefruit margarita, which has very similar Paloma vibes.
  • If you have Aperol sitting in your cabinet and don’t know what else to do with it, try my El Chipilo cocktail, which is almost a margarita made with Aperol.
  • Lastly, you can always make the tried and true Tequila Sunrise if you’re short on ingredients—a highly underrated cocktail when made with freshly squeezed orange juice.
Two classic margaritas garnished with  salted rim and lime wedge on a dark wooden table.

Frequently Asked Questions

What tequila do you recommend for margaritas?

There are several mid-range budget tequilas that are great for margaritas without breaking the bank. Look for Milagro, Cazadores, Espolòn, Altos, Teremana, Hornitos, and Corralejo.

How do you make simple syrup?

I usually make a 50-50 mix of water and sugar (by weight). If you don’t have a scale, just heat 1 cup of water with 1 cup of granulated sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved. You can make it on the stove or quickly in the microwave by heating/stirring in intervals. Store in the fridge for up to 1 month.

How do I make this a skinny margarita?

A skinny margarita omits any additional sugar and relies on the subtle sweetness of Cointreau or Triple Sec as the only sweetener. You can make this recipe skinny by leaving out the simple syrup or using very minimal.

More Margarita Recipes

Enjoy this recipe? If you made this cocktail, please leave a ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ star rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments!
5 from 1 vote

Classic Margarita Recipe

Servings: 1 cocktail
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
My favorite margarita recipe made with tequila, fresh lime juice, triple sec, and simple syrup.

Ingredients 

  • 2 ounces blanco or reposado tequila
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup, or agave
  • 1/2 ounce orange liqueur, triple sec or Cointreau

Margarita pitcher (serves 10)

  • 2 1/2 cups blanco or reposado tequila
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh lime juice
  • 2/3 cup simple syrup
  • 2/3 cup triple sec or Cointreau

Instructions 

  • For the salted rim, take a lime wedge and wipe the rim of a margarita glass or double old-fashioned glass. I like to only do half of the rim. Dip in margarita salt, rotating until coated.
  • Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake vigorously and pour straight into the glass with the (now crushed) ice from the shaker. Garnish with a lime wheel. Class this recipe up further by serving it over a giant ice cube.

Notes

If making a pitcher, mix without ice and pour over ice as served. This prevents dilution or ice from melting in the pitcher. Store in the fridge to keep chilled. If too strong, add 1-2 ounces of water to the pitcher.
I prefer simple syrup because it’s less sweet than agave. Start with less than half an ounce and add more as needed. You want enough to round out the cocktail without it tasting overly sweet.
You can use triple sec or Cointreau. If you prefer a drier margarita, Skip the simple syrup and only sweeten it with orange liqueur.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 215kcalCarbohydrates: 19.7gProtein: 0.1gSodium: 11mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 6.4g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Cocktail
Cuisine: Mexican
Tried this recipe?Mention @kitchenswagger or tag #kitchenswagger!

About Shawn Williams

My name is Shawn, author behind Kitchen Swagger. I'm a food & drink enthusiast bringing you my own simple and delicious restaurant-inspired recipes.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating