Classic Margarita Recipe | Downshiftology (2024)

Home Recipes Diet Gluten-Free Classic Margarita

by Lisa Bryan


Dec 01, 2023

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Margarita! The classicmargaritais 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!

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Margaritas are the ultimate party co*cktail. 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.

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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 saltonline 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.

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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.

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

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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. Whileañejo 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.
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More Margarita Flavors

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

  • Strawberry Margarita – One of the most popular blended margaritas.
  • Mango Margarita – The fresh mango takes this over the top!
  • Pomegranate Margarita – A festive holiday margarita.

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!

Classic Margarita Recipe | Downshiftology (8)

Classic Margarita Recipe

4.88 from 24 votes

Prep: 5 minutes mins

Total: 5 minutes mins

Servings: 1 serving

Author: Lisa Bryan



The classicmargarita 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!





  • 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.

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  • Mix it together. To make the margarita, add the tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice to a co*cktail shaker with ice. Give it a few shakes.Alternatively, you can stir all of the ingredients together in a glass.

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  • Serve. Add ice to your glass, then pour the margarita into the glass. Garnish with lime wedges.

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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!).


Calories: 245kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 68mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 0.4mg

Course: co*cktails

Cuisine: Mexican

Keyword: How to Make a Margarita, Margarita, Margarita Recipe

©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.

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.

Read More About Me

Classic Margarita Recipe | Downshiftology (2024)


What is a classic margarita made of? ›

Classic margaritas have just three ingredients—fresh lime juice, orange liqueur, and tequila. You can add agave syrup for sweetness, if you want, but the orange liqueur provides a good bit of sweetness.

What is the secret ingredient in margaritas? ›

We'll just tell you upfront: The secret to a tasty margarita is freshly squeezed lime juice (not the bottled stuff) and—here's the real secret—a splash of fresh OJ. That's right. Fresh-squeezed juice from an actual orange (not an orange-flavored liqueur) will produce a cleaner-tasting, more refreshing margarita.

What makes restaurant margaritas so good? ›

Just as important as the style of tequila is the use of a high-quality orange liqueur. Part of the Daisy category of co*cktails, the Margarita calls for triple sec such as Cointreau for sweetness and balance. Though some may opt for agave nectar instead, the addition of the liqueur is what makes a true Margarita.

What is a classic margarita? ›

Part of the 'sour' co*cktail family, the Margarita traditionally consists of three ingredients; tequila, triple sec orange liqueur and lime juice, often served in a glass with salt on the rim.

How was the original margarita made? ›

He supposedly named it after the Spanish version of her name, Margarita. The first known publication of a margarita recipe was in the December 1953 issue of Esquire, with a recipe calling for an ounce of Sierra tequila, a dash of triple sec, and the juice of half a lime or lemon.

Why do people add triple sec to margaritas? ›

Triple sec, a term used interchangeably with curaçao, is a type of orange liqueur that provides fruity flavors as well as sweet and bitter notes — all of which are essential for a well-made Margarita. Popular labels include Cointreau, Combier, Pierre Ferrand Curaçao, and Grand Marnier.

What makes a margarita too sweet? ›

Problem: You're Using Too Much Sweetener

There are two classic ways of making a Margarita: with triple sec or with agave syrup (the Tommy's Margarita). If you use both agave and triple sec in your Margarita—rather than one in place of the other—your co*cktail is going to be an overly sweet mess.

What margarita mix do most restaurants use? ›

The two most popular mixes that restaurants use for margaritas are Zing Zang Margarita Mix and Jose Cuervo Classic Lime Original Margarita Mix. If you enjoyed the article, please share it with others. Thank you!

Is Grand Marnier or triple sec better for a margarita? ›

Can they replace Triple Sec? Both Grand Marnier and Cointreau are excellent replacements for Triple Sec when making a Margarita. In fact, both of these are significantly more expensive and are considered to be better than inexpensive Triple Sec both in quality and taste.

How to make a margarita mix better? ›

Adding fruit like mango can add a lot more flavor to your margaritas. While a classic margarita with lime is certainly tasty, adding other fruits can kick your drinks up a notch. Simply blend diced mango chunks along with the rest of your margarita ingredients, then pour into a glass of ice.

Do real Mexicans drink margaritas? ›

Pay a visit to Mexico, away from all the tourist traps, and you'll have to search long and hard for a Mexican drinking a margarita. The margarita was largely popularized here in the United States, not in Mexico. (In fact, the margarita may have actually been created here in the United States.

Is triple sec or Cointreau better for margaritas? ›

The classic margarita calls for Cointreau (plus good silver tequila and fresh lime juice). Because its flavor is uncomplicated by spice notes, Cointreau is very adaptable in blending, and shakes up beautifully with clear spirits as well as with brandies, and darker, aged liquors.

What is the ratio of tequila to margarita mix? ›

The traditional margarita recipe is made with a ratio of 2:1:1, which means: 2 parts tequila or 2 oz. 1 part triple sec or 1 oz. 1 part lime juice or 1 oz.

Is triple sec and Cointreau the same thing? ›

While Grand Marnier and Cointreau are brand names of specific products, Triple Sec is actually a category in and of itself. Many brands make Triple Sec — in fact, Cointreau itself is a triple sec. The alcohol content in different types of Triple Sec vary quite a bit – from about 15 percent to as much as 40 percent.

What is the main alcohol in a margarita? ›

Image of What is the main alcohol in a margarita?
Tequila is a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant, primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila 65 km northwest of Guadalajara, and in the Jaliscan Highlands of the central western Mexican state of Jalisco.

Do margaritas use triple sec or Cointreau? ›

Triple sec is the more approachable version when it comes to price point, so it's good to use if you want to keep costs low,” he said. “But Cointreau is worth the investment as it has a roundness that helps in building co*cktails and stands up to more flavors for great Margaritas and more.”

What is triple sec in a margarita? ›

Triple sec is an orange-flavored liqueur that is commonly used in margaritas. If you don't have triple sec handy, you can substitute with another good-quality orange liqueur like Grand Marnier or Cointreau.

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