Forget the Mixer, Make Fresh From-Scratch Margaritas Instead

Let’s just go on down to Mexico for our happy hour, shall we?

Vertical image with a closeup closely cropped shot of whole limes on a brown wood background at the top, two lowball glasses filled with a homemade margarita cocktail with a salt rim on a white cloth with scattered citrus fruit at the bottom, and printed with green and white text in the middle and at the very bottom of the frame.

Right now, I am missing a tropical vacation something fierce.

The Colorado weather is constantly teasing us, with a warm day here and then a slew of chilly days and snow immediately following.

All I have been able to think about is running away to the tropical shores of Mexico to lounge poolside…

Vertical oblique overhead shot of two margaritas in lowball glasses, with salt and citrus zest rims and lime wedge garnish, with a stainless steel cocktail shaker, a small glass dish of rimming salt, and fruit, on a striped white cloth.

It has been a very long time since I’ve been on a tropical vacation – well over a year, in fact. And that’s too long!

There’s nothing like being in a tropical place, with the palm trees swaying in the breeze, and being served strong fruity cocktails with chips and guacamole by the pool.

That’s literally my happy place. Right there.

Overhead vertical shot of two rocks glasses filled with a mixture of citrus juice, orange liqueur, and silver tequila, with salt rims and lime wedge garnishes, with a stainless steel cocktail shaker and strainer, a small bowl of flavored coarse rimming salt, and whole and sliced limes, on a white cloth with orange, pink, and purple stripes.

Whenever I go on a vacation that’s tropical, whether it’s on the beach or on a cruise ship, I have a tradition:

The first cocktail that I order is a fresh margarita. There’s just something about tequila and fresh lime juice that screams “vacation” to me.

Vertical image of two margaritas with salt rims and lime wedges for garnish in rocks glasses in the foreground, on a white striped cloth with sliced and whole green fruit and a stainless steel cocktail shaker and strainer, against a mottled blue and white background.

Now, notice that I said fresh. Just to clarify, I’m not talking about the less-than-desirable version of this cocktail that’s made with margarita mix.

I will always make sure that the bartender doesn’t use that overly sweet mixer to make my drink before I order.

What I mean when I talk about a fresh margarita is something made with simple, straightforward ingredients. You know, the ones that come from directly from fresh citrus fruit instead of a bottle.

There’s a huge difference between the two. When a mixer is used, you get a fake margarita flavor, in my opinion.

It just doesn’t taste good, and often it’s way too sweet, so it gives me a stomachache after drinking just one.

Slightly oblique overhead vertical shot of two margaritas with lime wedges for garnish, on a white cloth with fresh citrus fruit, a stainless steel cocktail shaker, and a small glass bowl of rimming salt.

That’s why this recipe is so fantastic. There’s no bottled day-glo mixer, and it’s made with ingredients that you probably already have on hand.

To be more specific, there are only four ingredients in this recipe. There’s tequila, fresh lime juice, orange liqueur, and simple syrup. That’s it.

You get to taste all of the flavors in each ingredient in every single sip you take. It’s fresh and citrusy, with the best kick of booze at the end.

Altogether, it’s quite refreshing. This homemade adult beverage will take your weekly Taco Tuesday meal up to a whole new level of enjoyment.

Oh, and in case you didn’t know, margaritas and tacos are the ideal pairing. Just a little pro tip from me to you there.

Overhead horizontal shot of two margaritas with lime wedge garnishes, with more of the citrus fruit and a stainless steel cocktail shaker and strainer on a white cloth with purple, pink, and orange stripes, on top of a brown wood surface.

The recipe below includes the measurements for a cocktail for one, but hopefully you won’t be enjoying these delicious margaritas alone. Don’t worry, just check out the Cooking by the Numbers section of this article below the recipe card for more details on how to make a big batch pitcher version instead.

Whether it’s Cinco de Mayo or you’re in the mood to celebrate a random Tuesday, invite your friends over and make a few of these!

I won’t judge you if you choose to simply whip one up for yourself, crank the music, and lounge on the couch, pretending that you are on a beach somewhere. If anyone needs me, that’s where I’ll be until the weather takes a turn for the better over here…

Print
Horizontal image of two rocks glasses filled with a mixture of tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, and ice, with citrus garnishes and more of the fruit cut and whole arranged around the base of the glassware, on a white cloth with pink and white stripes, with a stainless steel cocktail shaker in the background against a blue backdrop.

The Best Fresh From-Scratch Margarita


  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cocktail 1x

Description

There’s no need to run out to buy mixer for your tequila fix when you can make this fresh margarita recipe. It’s vibrant, bright, and tasty.


Scale

Ingredients

For the Salt Rim:

  • 1 Tablespoon coarse salt, or kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh lime zest

For the Cocktail:

  • 1 1/2 fl oz silver tequila
  • 1 fl oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 fl oz orange liqueur
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp simple syrup
  • 1 lime wedge, for garnish

Instructions

The Best Fresh From-Scratch Margarita

There’s no need to run out to buy mixer for your tequila fix when you can make this fresh margarita recipe. It’s vibrant, bright, and tasty.

Serves 1

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

For the Salt Rim:

1 Tablespoon coarse salt, or kosher salt

1 tsp fresh lime zest

For the Cocktail:

1 1/2 fl oz tequila

1 fl oz fresh lime juice

1/2 fl oz orange liqueur

1 1/2 Tbsp simple syrup

1 lime wedge, for garnish

Directions:

To make the salt rim, combine salt and lime zest in a shallow bowl. Stir to combine.

Use a lime wedge to moisten the rim of a margarita glass. Rim the glass in the lime salt mixture, twisting to coat well.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add tequila, lime juice, orange liqueur, and simple syrup. Shake to combine.

Fill rimmed glass with ice. Strain margarita into the glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and serve.


  • Category: Margarita
  • Method: No-Cook
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: margarita, tequila, cocktail, adult beverage, lime, happy hour

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Juice and Zest Citrus and Measure Remaining Ingredients

Zest a medium lime to get about 1 teaspoon of lime zest.

Now cut that lime in half, and squeeze enough fresh lime juice so that you have 1 fluid ounce total.

If you’re planning to have another one of these, prep more juice and zest ahead of time, so they’ll be ready to go! They’ll keep in the fridge for a couple of days if you have any leftovers.

Overhead horizontal shot of four green limes and three glass measuring beakers in shades of blue and green, on a wood surface with vertical stripes.

Grab another lime, and slice a few wedges.

Measure out all of remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list.

For the tequila, I like to use the silver type for this particular recipe. You can also use gold, but silver tends to have a better flavor when combined with fresh citrus. For the orange liqueur, I prefer Cointreau.

If you don’t have simple syrup, you can easily make it by combining 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir to combine, and cook until the sugar is dissolved. You can even flavor it up if you like, and end up with a margarita like this pumpkin spice version.

Step 2 – Make Rimming Mixture

In a shallow bowl, stir together the salt and lime zest for the rim.

A small glass dish of coarse salt and lime zest, with three of the whole citrus fruits in the background beside green and blue measuring beakers of tequila and orange liqueur, on a brown wood surface.

Use a lime wedge to moisten the rim of your cocktail glass. A lowball or rocks glass will work perfectly.

A small glass dish of coarse cocktail rimming salt mixed with finely grated lime zest, with three more of the citrus fruits on a striped brown wood surface beside three measuring beakers of tequila and orange liqueur.

If you have margarita glasses, now’s the time to pull them out! But trust me when I say that rocks glass is going to be tougher to spill, a definite benefit at parties…

Slightly oblique head-on horizontal shot of a rocks glass with a salt and citrus zest rim, a small glass dish of the rimming mixture, three limes, and two measuring beakers of liquor, on a brown wood surface with vertical stripes.

Rim the glass in the lime and salt mix, turning the glass to coat it well. Set it aside. Save any extra salt mixture in case you want to make another drink later.

Step 3 – Make Cocktail

Add the tequila, lime juice, orange liqueur, and simple syrup to a shaker filled with ice. Shake well to chill and combine.

Overhead vertical image of a stainless steel cocktail shaker filled with ice, three limes, a small glass bowl of citrus zest and coarse salt, and a rocks glass, on a brown striped wood table.

Fill the rimmed glass with ice. Strain the margarita into the glass and garnish with a lime wedge. Serve immediately.

A hand with manicured and polished nails holds a strainer onto the top of a stainless steel cocktail shaker and pours a freshly made margarita into two lowball glasses filled with ice, with three limes, a citrus zest and coarse salt rimming mixture in a small glass bowl, and the top of the shaker, on a striped brown wood surface.

To serve multiple people, simply multiply the ingredients for the recipe by the number of people you plan to serve.

If you’re prepping beverages for a large group, you can prepare this drink in a big batch in a glass pitcher, without ice added so it won’t get watered down. Rim all of your serving glasses with the flavored salt in advance, and be sure to set out plenty of ice and lime wedges for guests to use.

Vertical oblique overhead shot of two margaritas in lowball glasses, with salt and citrus zest rims and lime wedge garnish, with a stainless steel cocktail shaker, a small glass dish of rimming salt, and fruit, on a striped white cloth.

Prefer a blended version? Nobody’s stopping you from getting out your high-speed blender and getting the party started! But keep in mind that the proportions here have been designed and tested specifically for the best on-the-rocks experience.

What’s This About the Salt Rim?

Ah, the salt rim. It’s kind of a must for a classic margarita, and you’ll see that our version includes a more fun and flavorful take on usual rim coating.

This particular rimming mixture has both coarse salt and fresh lime zest. It makes for a tangy and tart rim that has a burst of extra lime flavor.

You’ll never rim your margarita any other way again!

Horizontal image of two rocks glasses filled with a mixture of tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, and ice, with citrus garnishes and more of the fruit cut and whole arranged around the base of the glassware, on a white cloth with pink and white stripes, with a stainless steel cocktail shaker in the background against a blue backdrop.

If you need even more bright and tasty cocktails to whip up for happy hour, here are a few favorites to choose from:

When will you bust out this fresh margarita recipe? Tell us in the comments, below and be sure to rate the recipe as well!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

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