No-Cook

Margarita

February 22, 2022
5 Stars
Photo by Julia Gartland Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog
Author Notes

Here's a classic margarita recipe that lets all of the natural flavors shine through: tequila, lime juice, and agave.

If there is one thing to say about a margarita, it’s that you can’t make just one; the citrusy, tequila-based drink is not designed for solitude. Many a springtime party will have margaritas made by the pitcher, alongside the requisite guacamole.

If you're curious about the origin story of one of our favorite cocktails, rumor has it that an enlightened bartender mixed up the first margarita in Rosarita Beach, Mexico, for a showgirl named Marjorie King, who was allergic to all liquor except tequila. “Margarita” is the Spanish equivalent of Marjorie. Whether or not liquor allergies like Marjorie's exist remains to be seen, but until we manage to get drinks named after ourselves, we’re drinking to her.

Know Your Tequila
• There are five types of tequila: blanco (white), joven (gold), reposado (rested), añejo (aged), and extra añejo (ultra aged). To really savor tequila’s signature flavor, choose one that is made with 100 percent agave sugars, versus Mixto versions, which only require 51 percent agave.
• We like our margaritas with a smooth, tasty reposado (lightly aged), such as Cazadores Reposado.
• Freshly concocted tequilas like blanco (white, unaged) and joven (or gold, usually a white with coloring and spices added) pack a punch but can be a bit harsh.
• Añejo (aged) and extra añejo (ultra aged) exhibit much more complexity and depth. They are best sipped neat. —Erika Kotite

Test Kitchen Notes

Ah, margaritas. You know them, you love them. The classic cocktail of tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice—with plenty of salt around the glass’s rim—is sip-able year-round, but there’s nothing like a margarita on a sticky summer evening, preferably drunk outside.

Let’s talk through the details: The International Bartenders’ Association’s Official List of Cocktails says the standard ratios for a margarita is 10:4:3 (tequila: triple sec: fresh lime juice); here, we’re following 8:4:4:1 (tequila: triple sec: fresh lime juice: agave syrup). So let’s break it down. A margarita must have tequila, specifically white, or blanco, a smooth, clear tequila; or with reposado tequila, which is aged and slightly oakier in flavor and golden in color. Next up, liqueur. Triple sec, an orange-flavored liqueur, one of the most common brands of which is Cointreau (called for in this recipe), adds sweetness and a subtle floral aroma. Next, lime: Because it’s such a central part of the drink’s ethos, the lime juice in a margarita should always be freshly squeezed as opposed to bottled (there’s really no contest when it comes to flavor). The IBA doesn’t recommend a sweetener, as triple sec is quite sweet, but you’ll find many margaritas, including this one, suggest at least half an ounce of agave or simple syrup.

Some prefer margaritas frozen, which simply means blended; this version is on the rocks, so you avoid the brain-freeze, but on absolutely sweltering days, sometimes there’s nothing like a frozen drink. Just toss everything in the blender and give your cocktail a quick blitz. The salt-rimmed glass, however, is non-negotiable. —The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Margarita
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Serves 2
Ingredients
  • Ice
  • 4 ounces tequila
  • 2 ounces Cointreau
  • 2 ounces fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce agave syrup
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Lime peel, for the glasses
  • Lime wedges, for garnish
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Fill a shaker or large measuring cup partway with ice. Add the tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, and agave syrup. Stir or shake until thoroughly chilled.
  2. Spread the salt on a plate. Rub the rims of 2 rocks glasses with the lime peel. Dip the rims into the salt.
  3. Fill the glasses with ice and pour in the margarita. Garnish each margarita with a lime wedge.
  4. To make a frozen margarita: Fill a blender with a few handfuls of ice, then add the tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, and agave syrup. Blend until the mixture is slushy (add more ice if you want it more slushy!). Pour into the salt-rimmed glasses and garnish with a lime wedge.
  5. To make a fruity frozen margarita: Place ½ cup of your favorite frozen fruit (we like strawberry, mango, pineapple, and watermelon) and a handful of ice in a blender. Add the tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, and agave syrup. Blend until the mixture is slushy (add more fruit if you want to amp up the flavor or make the drink colder!). Pour into the salt-rimmed glasses and garnish with a lime wedge.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Dubyel
    Dubyel
  • Yasmeidy Gomez Linares
    Yasmeidy Gomez Linares
  • Savoury Chef
    Savoury Chef
  • Squeege
    Squeege
  • Sandra Kerr
    Sandra Kerr
I spend about an equal amount of time behind the laptop and behind the stove. In between preparing and writing about food, I love to hang out with my husband, three children, big shaggy dog and two cats. History is also my thing, especially the Regency period, U.S. Westward expansion and World War II. Favorite drinks: good pinot noirs and classic martinis. Favorite book: Pride & Prejudice. Favorite obsessions: Laura Ingalls Wilder and South Dakota

22 Reviews

Dubyel February 21, 2022
Excellent recipe. I use bottled 100% lime juice to save time and substitute 4 packets of Truvia for the agave syrup. Add Truvia to liquid ingredients and stir or shake to dissolve. Fill margarita glass with crushed ice from the fridge. (I use a 16 oz. Tervis tumbler full per glass to avoid knocking the salt off the margarita glass rim.) Pour in the liquid and enjoy.
 
Rick June 7, 2021
I enjoyed the Heck out of this one. Not sure what mcuho is (prior comments) but I sure liked it alot. Just the right amount of sweet and tart with the proper kick and flavor.
 
Burna October 24, 2020
It tastes wonderful.
 
Christina G. May 5, 2020
DELICIOUS! Today is Cinco De Mayo. I had to sample this last night to try it out. yummy. Having a couple friends over later to 'Distance on the Deck'. I'm usually too lazy to make simple syrup. (I know it's easy). I add maple syrup to my drinks that call for it. They are still delicious and I don't notice anything different..
 
Burna October 24, 2020
Yeah right
 
Christina G. May 5, 2020
DELICIOUS! Today is Cinco De Mayo. I had to sample this last night to try it out. yummy. Having a couple friends over later to 'Distance on the Deck'. I'm usually too lazy to make simple syrup. (I know it's easy). I add maple syrup to my drinks that call for it. They are still delicious and I don't notice anything different.
 
Doctor_Captain October 2, 2019
This is a little bit on the sweet side for my tastes, I dialed back the sweetening agents (agave syrup and Cointreau) to a an ounce total 1/4 agave and 3/4 oz of Cointreau, sublime.
 
Frankie September 11, 2018
Just the right balance of tequila, Cointreau & sweet & tangy. It’s also a very easy recipe to remember and to multiply. Thank you!!!
 
Yasmeidy G. March 14, 2016
EXCELLENT
 
Savoury C. November 16, 2014
I'll take one of these please :)
 
Squeege February 23, 2014
I have tried this margarita and all I can say is YUM! You can adjust the agave to your taste, if you want it a little sweeter, just add until it's the way you want it.
 
Muse December 30, 2013
Always love a good margarita...thank you for sharing your recipe and Happy New Year to you and your family!
 
Kafigoo June 19, 2013
LOL I meant debating the nutritional value in a Margarita. ;)
 
Squeege February 21, 2014
I agree. Debating the nutritional value of a Margarita seems a bit ridiculous. All I know is it's Friday night, it's not as ridiculously cold as it has been for weeks, and I'm trying this recipe!
 
Sandra K. June 19, 2013
Well , I had to read but what funny is they are sooo old!
 
Kafigoo June 19, 2013
Am I the only one that finds this debate funny? LOL
 
Linda S. June 19, 2013
Agave nectar is a solution while sugar is a solid form. Comparing agave nectar and sugar in the glycemic index is done by weight not actual sugar load therefore the agave nectar is lower because of the dilution factor. Agave nectar is more like a mildly diliuted version of high fructose corn syrup. The glycemic index needs to be understood before using it as a reference to actual sugar content. Too many factors are involved.
 
Coffeecat May 7, 2013
Barbara, I beg to differ. Agave nectar has a low glycemic index and is healthier in that regard than most natural and processed sugars, certainly more than refined white sugar from which simple syrup is normally made. White sugar scores 60 or higher on the glycemic index; agave nectar (which is not milky white but pale amber) scores in the low 30s. The nice thing about using agave in some cocktails, especially ones with good acidity lime lime juice is that it adds a bit of texture and mouth feel.
 
newkiwi May 5, 2013
Thanks, Barbara! I will do that.
 
Barbara R. May 5, 2013
Raw agave is milky white. Agave is comparable to high fructose corn syrup-goes straight to your liver. Sugar syrup is a healthier choice.
 
DeirdreMS January 30, 2013
I would sooo love to be able to organize my saved recipes! I really enjoy your website. Thank you.
 
Muse January 27, 2013
Margaritas are my all-time favorite drink...can't wait to make these!