Classic Margarita

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Margarita! The classic margarita is a delicious party staple that everyone should know how to whip up. My recipe is easy to make (and easy to remember the ratios), and doesn’t have any added sugar. Enjoy this classic margarita on the rocks or frozen.

Want some healthy munchies while you’re sipping your margarita? I highly recommend my guacamole, ceviche, and pico de gallo recipes. So yum!

Glasses of margarita.
Photo: Gayle McLeod

Margaritas are the ultimate party cocktail. But they’re especially popular when Cinco de Mayo hits. The beautiful spring weather in May is a good reminder that it’s time to sit outside, drink a margarita, and relax.

Then when summer arrives, it’s time to grill up some carne asada (or make a large batch of carnitas) and whip up a pitcher of margaritas for the family. That’s how we roll in Southern California in the summer.

Ingredients for margarita.

Margarita Ingredients

To make this classic margarita you’ll need tequila, lime juice, and orange liqueur (also known as triple sec). While a classic margarita is quite easy on its own, I wanted to simplify the recipe even further with an easy to remember 2-1-1 ratio.

  • 2 oz of tequila
  • 1 oz of lime juice
  • 1 oz of orange liqueur

How to Make a Classic Margarita

Salt the rim of your margarita (if you’d like). You can purchase a coarser salt online or at the grocery or liquor store. Generously spread the salt on a plate large enough for the rim of the glass. Run a slice of lime around the rim of your glass. Then place the rim in the plate of salt.

Adding salt rim on a glass.

Mix the ingredients together. Shake or stir the tequila, lime juice, and orange liqueur together. Alternatively, you can triple or quadruple the recipe in a blender along with ice to make a slushy, frozen margarita.

Mixing margarita in a cup.

Pour and enjoy! Pour your classic margarita into your glass over some ice (on the rocks), and you’re all set!

Pouring margarita into a glass.

Common Questions

What type of tequila to use?

I use a reposado tequila which is aged in a barrel two months to just under a year. Reposado is often considered the perfect tequila for margaritas. Two other types of tequila are joven and añejo. Joven is lighter, aged less than reposado, and cheaper. While añejo is darker, aged over a year, and is more expensive.

Which orange liqueur is best?

Orange liqueur is essentially vodka sweetened with sugar and orange peels. There are many brands of this liqueur on the market, but the most common brands are Cointreau, Curaçao and Grand Marnier.

For this margarita recipe I used Cointreau. It’s the most commonly used, and best orange liqueur for margaritas.

The other two brands are a little different despite their orange liqueur label. Cointreau is considered a triple sec liqueur due to its French origins and mix of sweet and bitter oranges. Curaçao comes from the Dutch Caribbean island of the same name and is considered both a brand and type of orange liqueur. Due to its tropical origins, the oranges for this liqueur are sweeter which is why its not considered a triple sec. Also, from France, Grand Marnier is considered a triple sec and Curaçao hybrid. Unlike the previous brands mentioned, its orange flavor is mixed with cognac.

Delicious Recipes to Enjoy with Margaritas

  • Shrimp Tacos – Pan seared shrimp is topped with the tastiest cilantro lime bacon slaw.
  • Barbacoa – This slow cooker recipe delivers tender shreds of juicy, spicy beef.
  • Carne Asada Tacos – Diced carne asada is topped with guacamole, cilantro, onions, and cotija cheese.
  • Steak Fajitas – Sizzling steak and veggies is always a one pan winner.
  • Grilled Fish Tacos – Grilled white fish is topped with a light and fresh citrus carrot slaw.
Margarita with ice in a glass.

More Margarita Flavors

Looking to switch up your margarita recipe? Give these flavor variations a try. They’re perfect for every season!

I hope you enjoyed this margarita recipe! If you give it a try, let us know in the comment bow below how it turned out. Your review will help other readers!

Two glasses of margarita with limes.

Classic Margarita Recipe

4.88 from 24 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 serving
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

The classic margarita is easy to make with tequila, triple sec and lime juice. It's also easy to remember with a 2:1:1 ratio. Watch the video below to see how I make it in my kitchen!

Video

Equipment

Ingredients 
 

Instructions 

  • Salt the glass. If you'd like a salt-rimmed glass, slice a lime into quarters and rub one of the quarters along the rim of a glass. Spread margarita salt onto a small plate and turn the glass upside down into the salt. The salt should stick to the rim.
    Salt rim on a cocktail glass.
  • Mix it together. To make the margarita, add the tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice to a cocktail shaker with ice. Give it a few shakes. Alternatively, you can stir all of the ingredients together in a glass.  
    Margarita in a cup.
  • Serve. Add ice to your glass, then pour the margarita into the glass. Garnish with lime wedges. 
    A margarita with lime.

Lisa’s Tips

  • Make sure to use fresh limes for the lime juice and not bottled lime juice. The flavor difference is huge. 
  • If you’re making a large batch and serving margaritas outdoors, I recommend this break resistant pitcher (and it’s big!).

Nutrition

Calories: 245kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 68mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 0.4mg
Course: Cocktails
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: How to Make a Margarita, Margarita, Margarita Recipe
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Recipe originally posted May 2019, but updated to include new photos and information for your benefit!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




42 Comments

  1. The recipe sounds amazing and I can’t wait to make these in the spring. It’s winter here in Montreal so we’re not drinking anything outside ( maybe mulled wine). What glasses did you use to make your margaritas, they’re perfect. Can I get them on Amazon?

    1. Hi Laura – Hope you enjoy this margarita recipe! As for the glasses, they are not available anymore, so I’ll try to find a replacement :)

  2. So refreshing! I made a large batch and as a non-drinker, I made this a mocktail, and substituted the tequila and orange liqueur with frozen limeade, pulp-free orange juice, freshly squeezed lemon juice, (plus a couple of tsps of orange bitters). Margarita salt on the rim is a must for me!5 stars

  3. WOW, this truly was one of the best margaritas I’ve ever had. We did add about 2 ounces of blue agave to each margarita to cut the tartness of the lime along with a lot of ice.  I agree with others that letting it sit with the ice a little bit so it gets cold, makes it even better. Will never go back to bottled mixes after making these! 5 stars

  4. The SI (metric) conversions are incorrect. If you’re using volume, such as fluid ounces, though labeled incorrectly here as just ounces, a unit of force, i.e. weight, the conversion should be volume to volume, not volumes to mass. Therefore, a volume of 2 fl. ounces is 59.15 mL, not 56.7 g. For recipes many use 30 mL= 1 fl. ounce as an easy and close enough conversion. Likewise, another easy and close enough conversion is 1 tbsp = 15 mL, and 1 tsp = 5 mL. An ounce (force, aka weight) is 28.350 g, usually rounded to 30 g for small amounts where the slight difference is not critical.

    Hope this helps!

  5. Fabulous recipe…foolproof!!
    I always make 3 at a time just like the other reviewer does, with 1 part water…I usually add a use tons of ice, and let it sit for a moment….I find the colder it gets the better it tastes!
    I always use Cointreau…
    Thanks…5 stars

  6. Good base recipe but needed a little sweetness,  I added agave this time.  I might try adding orange juice for sweetness instead.  The ratios seemed to be pretty good.3 stars

  7. Was craving a margarita on a hot day and this delivered! I had a classic one to start with, absolutely delicious. For the second one I muddled a strawberry at the bottom of the cocktail shaker and did a sugar rim instead of salt. So refreshing, thanks for a foolproof recipe from a cocktail making novice. 5 stars

    1. Ok but I find the best ratio to be 3-2-1-1.. 3 parts Tequila 2 parts lime juice 1 part agave 1 part orange liqueur.4 stars

  8. Is there a way to convert this to a big batch pitcher for a party? Would appreciate any measurements you recommend.
    Thanks!

  9. This recipe is PERFECT!!! I would only suggest making it in a larger portion versus 1 at a time due to the flavor/alcohol profile. I’ve made 3 at a time and 1 at a time and the best resulted from the larger portion. I also add 1 part/oz water to mine. I’ve tried a few recipes to include agave, OJ, margarita mix and this one exceeds with flying colors. 5 stars

    1. Hi Jason – Thrilled to hear you’ve found a winning margarita recipe :) And yes! You can’t go wrong with a pitcher of this, so thanks for the measurements!

  10. Made these with tacos last night – absolutely perfect! They were better than any margarita I’ve had at a bar before, I think it’s the fresh lime juice that really makes it. The 2-1-1 ratio makes it easy to remember how to make when you’ve had a few too 😉 thank you!5 stars

    1. Hi Rosie – That’s amazing! Homemade cocktails are always the best, especially with home cooked meals :)

  11. These recipes look soooo delicious. We generally don’t eat Mexican but I’m going to try these recipes. It makes it easier after watching a video. Do you have recipes for non alcoholic driinks that can be served up to company? Love your posts,Lisa.❤️5 stars

    1. I don’t have any non-alcholic drinks on my site (yet), but you could easily convert this margarita. Just use sparkling water (for the vodka), fresh lime juice (or limeaid) and orange juice (for the triple sec). It’s a great mocktail! Hope you enjoy some of my other Mexican recipes as well Julia! :) x

  12. The perfect margarita! Love how you broke down the different orange liqueurs, that really helped me because I had no idea what to buy to make it. But using the Cointreau was a great choice, it came out so good!5 stars

    1. Wonderful! I’m happy you loved the recipe Eden and found the post helpful. It does get confusing with all the different orange liqueurs sometimes. :)

  13. Great styling of your photos! In honor of Game of Thrones, we made a “Blue Dragon” which is essentially a margarita with blue curaçao. I made it from memory and so glad I see from your recipe that I got it right. Thanks for the help!5 stars

    1. I’m glad you loved the video Jill (and yes, it can definitely be enticing!). Haha. ;)

    1. Agree! There’s no need for extra sugar with this recipe. It’s fresh, citrusy and crisp! :) Thanks Courtney.

  14. These photos are so beautifully done, and I cannot wait to make this ASAP! Thanks for sharing!5 stars