clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Three margaritas on a counter covered with salt.

How to Make a Margarita

Here's how to make a margarita for an authentic cocktail on the rocks. Or straight up, if you drink like a boss. In the absence of a cocktail shaker, you can simply stir the ingredients in the glasses with ice. 

Agave nectar is a great substitute for simple syrup if you don't have or don't want to make your own. For a truly classic margarita, rim the glasses with salt, and use the first list of ingredients.

  • Total Time: 6 Minutes
  • Yield: Two Margaritas




  • 4 ounces/½ cup blanco tequila
  • 3 ounces/¼ cup + 2 tablespoons of Cointreau
  • 2 ounces/¼ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • coarse salt, for rimming the glasses

Edible Times-Style (slightly sweet, and not as strong)

  • 4 ounces/½ cup of blanco tequila
  • 2 ounces/¼ cup Cointreau (or Triple Sec or Grand Marnier)
  • 2 ounces/¼ cup of fresh-squeezed lime juice, about the juice of two limes
  • ½ ounce/1 tablespoon of simple syrup or agave, optional
  • ice, for shaking and serving
  • course salt or sugar
  • lime wedges, for rimming glass

Homemade Lime Simple Syrup

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • several strips of lime peel, optional


Simple Syrup

  1. In a small pot, bring water and sugar just to a boil.
  2. Turn off the heat, and for lime syrup, add several strips of lime peel.
  3. Let cool to room temperature, then store chilled for up to three weeks.


  1. Rim the glasses. Sprinkle a layer of salt or sugar on a small plate. Run the inside of a lime wedge (or a damp cloth) around the rims of the two glasses. Press the top of each glass into the salt or sugar, turning and pressing a few times to get a nice coating.
  2. Shake the ingredients. In a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, and simple syrup if using. 
  3. Shake. Add a couple of handfuls of ice, place the shaker lid on securely, and shake until it frosts over. 
  4. Strain the cocktail into the prepared glasses, dividing it evenly (wink, wink). For a margarita that mellows as you sip, serve them on the rocks. Otherwise, serve the drinks straight up (without ice). 
  5. Garnish with a small lime wedge, if you like.


Measure Cheat Sheet

Two ounces = double shot = ¼ cup. For a less potent cocktail, stick with one shot of tequila per cocktail.

Buying Tequila

I love Teramana tequila and find it to be a sinful steal at its regular price. Espolòn, El Jimador, or Lunazul are all pretty smooth and refined for affordable bottles. Corazón Blanco and Pueblo Viejo Blanco win the seal of approval from professional bartenders. And cost less than $17 for a 750-milliliter bottle.

Fruity Margaritas

You certainly can blend fresh whole fruit with the basic ingredients for a lovely drink. But I prefer to muddle a small number of berries, instead. Or shake in an ounce or two of a second fruit juice like pineapple or blood orange.

Whole Fruit. To infuse a classic margarita with fresh fruit in a subtle, classy fashion, first muddle the fruit. Then mix the drink. You can muddle fresh berries or the like in the cocktail shaker before adding the lime juice and alcohol. Or you can muddle the fruit directly in your glass and pour the shaken cocktail over it. It all depends on the color and fruit level you're after. Muddling in the cocktail shaker will give the drink a more pronounced fruit flavor and color. Muddling in the glass will give you speckles of fruit in the bottom of the glass, and a more reserved fruity essence that increases as you sip.

Fruit Juice. For fruit juices and nectars such as pineapple, orange, mango, passion fruit, or blood orange when the season is right, add an ounce or two of juice to the recipe. If you like a stronger drink, you may want to increase the tequila by a shot or two. Since adding fruit juice will alter the classic margarita formula.

Dietary Accommodations

Paleo. Orange liqueur is not quite prehistoric and contains processed sugar. So if you are a paleo stickler, swap in fresh-squeezed orange juice for the orange liqueur. Replace simple syrup with agave nectar. Or make a homemade honey syrup by bringing a quarter of a cup of honey and half of a cup of water just to a boil. Cool, and store chilled. 

GAPS Diet. Like with paleo, replace the orange liqueur with fresh-squeezed orange juice. And for a sweeter GAPS-legal margarita, make the honey syrup above to replace the simple syrup.

Keto or Low-Carb Margarita. A majority of the carbohydrate count in a classic margarita comes from the orange liqueur. So the easy way to eliminate it is to mix in less Triple Sec or Cointreau. If you'd like to eliminate it entirely, a small splash of fresh-squeezed orange juice or a few dashes of orange cocktail bitters are great substitutes.

Nutrition Information

The Nutrition Information below is based on an authentic margarita made following the recipe above. If you add simple syrup to your cocktails, the sugar content will be significantly higher. 

  • Author: Christina
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes (shake time!)
  • Category: Drinks
  • Method: Shaken, Not Stirred
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Diet: Gluten Free


  • Serving Size: 1 Margarita
  • Calories: 303
  • Sugar: 19.2 g
  • Sodium: 148.7 mg
  • Fat: 0.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 21.1 g
  • Protein: 0.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: how to make a margarita, simple margarita recipe, margarita recipe on the rocks, classic margarita recipe