How to Make the Perfect Margarita

As Cinco de Mayo approaches, what could be a more fun way to celebrate than with a batch of homemade margaritas? While a premade margarita mix might seem like an easy way to streamline your drink-mixing during a party, margaritas made from scratch will blow the bottled stuff away — and each recipe only requires a few ingredients.

Whether you like your margaritas on the rocks or blended, you’ll love these fresh recipes!

On the Rocks or Blended? How to Make a Perfect Margarita


Margarita fundamentals

Both styles of margarita are prepared with the same basic ingredients: tequila, lime, agave and Cointreau or triple sec. There are several different types of tequila that you can choose from when stocking up your bar:

  • Blanco tequilas are unaged and have the mildest flavor.
  • Reposado tequilas, or gold tequilas, are lightly aged and are the most commonly used tequilas in bars and restaurants.
  • Anjeo tequilas are aged the longest and tend to be smoother than other tequilas, with notes of oak and vanilla to them.

I used a reposado tequila in these recipes. That said, the type of tequila doesn’t matter much when you are making margaritas because they can all be used and can all make excellent drinks. The quality of the tequila that you are using is what is going to determine the quality and flavor of your margarita.

Better tequila doesn’t need to be expensive, it might only cost a couple of dollars more, but it will be smoother and more complex, blending seamlessly with the other ingredients in the cocktail.

Margarita Ingredients


Tequila is made from the agave plant, as is agave syrup, and that is one of the reasons that this natural sweetener works so well in tequila drinks. It has a mellow honeyed flavor that compliments tequila extremely well.

Agave syrup is also very easy to blend into a drink, as it dissolves easily in both hot and cold liquids. Fresh limes are essential for margaritas and an orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or triple sec, is added to counter the bright acidity of the lime juice with a sweeter citrus.

On the rocks vs. blended

Margaritas prepared “on the rocks” are margaritas that are shaken and served over ice, not blended into a creamy, slushy smoothie-like drink. Margaritas prepared in this style tend to be a little bit less sweet than their blended counterparts, and you’ll be able to taste the flavor of the tequila more strongly, even though there is slightly less tequila in this cocktail than in the blended margarita recipe below.

Mixing Up a Margarita on the Rocks

Classic Margarita, On The Rocks

Serves 1


  • 1 3/4 oz tequila
  • 3/4 oz Cointreau or triple sec
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz agave syrup

Step 1:

Combine all of the ingredients into a shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously until cold, for about 20 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass – with a salted or unsalted rim – filled with ice and serve immediately.

Margarita On the Rocks Margarita Ingredients in the Blender

Blended margaritas have a reputation for being cheap, sweet and not particularly delicious. This is a shame because blended margaritas can be excellent!

Blended margaritas do require more agave syrup than margaritas served on the rocks because sugar is what helps give the drink a creamy, smooth texture. A drink made with less agave will be blander and slightly icier than ideal — and if you’re going to make a batch of margaritas, they should be worth drinking!

This recipe makes just one cocktail, but it can easily be doubled or quadrupled to serve a crowd.

Classic Blended Margarita

Serves 1


  • 2 oz tequila
  • 1 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1 1/2 oz agave syrup
  • 1 oz Cointreau or triple sec
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups ice
Creamy Blended Margarita

Step 1:

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend at low speed until the ice is crushed, then turn the speed up to high and blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Pour into large margarita glasses – rimmed with salt or without – and serve immediately.

Perfect Blended Margarita

How to salt a glass

Apart from choosing the style of your margarita, you can also choose to have it served in a glass with or without a salted rim. For some people, the salt brings out the vegetal agave flavor of the tequila and contrasts with the zesty lime juice, so they can’t drink a margarita without it.

For others, the salt overpowers the drink and they can’t drink a margarita with it. If you’re a salt fan, rimming a glass with salt is very easy.

Preparing to Salt a Glass

Step 1:

Run a lime wedge around the rim of a glass.

Salting a Glass for a Margarita

Step 2:

Pour salt into a shallow bowl or plate. Place the glass lime-side-down into the bowl of salt, then remove the glass and let the salt set up for a few seconds before filling the glass.

Spicy Salt for Margaritas

If you’re feeling adventurous, I am a fan of rimming my glasses with a mixture of salt and spice. I am particularly fond of Tajin, a Mexican seasoning that is quite easy to find at most large supermarkets and always in stock at Mexican markets, which adds a bit of heat and a pop of color to a margarita.

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