Ultimate Margarita

Ultimate Margarita Recipe

What’s our go-to tequila for this margarita? Tequila blanco. It has a peppery kick that doesn’t get lost in the mix.

This margarita recipe is a swell base for all kinds of variations (see below).–Adam Rapoport

LC Controversial Cointreau Note

Nothing against Cointreau, but some of us don’t care for it in our margarita. Just don’t need that sweetly tart citrus zing cloying things up. If you like it, that’s fine. We’re not saying one way or the other is right or wrong. Just kindly don’t tell us how to make or shake our margs. This recipe is for those like-minded folks.

Ultimate Margarita Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 10 M
  • Makes 8


  • 2 cups tequila blanco
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice (from about 10 limes, plus 1 more lime, cut into 8 wedges, for garnish)
  • 1 cup agave nectar (the paler one, not the dark amber one) or Simple Syrup
  • Kosher salt (optional)
  • Ice


  • 1. Combine the tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar or Simple Syrup in a pitcher. Refrigerate until chilled through, about 4 hours.
  • 2. If using salt to coat the rims of the glasses, pour some into a small dish. Rub 1 lime slice or wedge over half the rim of a coupe glass (if you prefer your margarita straight up) or an old-fashioned glass (if you prefer it on the rocks) or a margarita glass or even a plain old pint glass. Dip the rim of the glass into the salt. Repeat with the remaining glasses.
  • 3. Fill the pitcher with ice and stir well. Pour the margarita into the prepared glasses, straining out the ice if desired, and garnish each with a lime wedge. (Hosts and hostesses, be certain to toss that lime wedge that you used to rim the glasses in your own cocktail.)

Margarita Variations

  • Fruity Margaritas
  • Muddle 24 blackberries with the agave nectar in a pitcher until the berries are lightly crushed and the juices are released. Continue with the recipe.
  • Spicy Margaritas
  • Muddle 16 thin jalapeno slices with the agave nectar in a pitcher until the peppers begin to fall apart. (For a less spicy version, remove the seeds first.) Continue with the recipe.
  • Bright Margaritas
  • Steep 2 hibiscus tea bags or 1 teaspoon dried hibiscus flowers with 8 ounces (1 cup) hot water for 10 minutes. Discard the tea bags or strain the flowers and let the tea cool. Gently spoon some of the tea over the margarita, creating a brilliant red hue on top.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Recipe Testers Reviews
Testers Choice
Mackenzie Campbell

Jul 26, 2013

Not sure what to do when a sweltering heatwave hits early summer in the Northeast? Make margaritas, that’s what! I prefer a simple recipe for my margs, with 3 or 4 ingredients max, a blanco tequila, but no triple sec. The three simple ingredients in this recipe make for a well-balanced—and easily memorized—cocktail. This is not the crazy, sugary mess you might get at your neighborhood family dining establishment. This is a classic and delicious cocktail. I chose to omit the salt simply because it’s not to my taste, but I’m sure it would add a nice layer of flavor to the beverage. I think the agave is key to the balance of flavors here as well, considering both the spirit and sweetener come from the same plant. What I like about this recipe is that you have the proportions (2 tequila: 1 lime: 1 agave), so you can easily downsize the recipe or make an even larger batch. This will be my only recipe for a classic margarita in the future, and I recommend others to convert as well. Cheers!

Testers Choice
Suzanne Fortier

Jul 26, 2013

This is truly the perfect margarita. It’s pretty much the way I’ve been making mine for years, I just never had an actual recipe. I don’t care for triple sec or Cointreau in my margaritas. This recipe makes a simple, clean-tasting drink with easily adjustable proportions. For two drinks, I used 1/2 cup Espolon Tequila Blanco (very smooth and sporting a nicely designed label to boot), 1/4 cup lime juice, and 1/4 cup agave nectar. You should plan on about 1 lime per drink, but keep in mind that limes vary pretty widely in size and juiciness. Can I just say, however, that I do not plan 4 HOURS in advance for my evening cocktail, so the idea of making the mixture then chilling it and waiting…and waiting…did not appeal to me so much. Luckily, the tequila was already in the freezer, and the limes and agave nectar in the fridge, so the ingredients were pre-chilled. Do chill the mixture on ice right before serving, even if you are serving the drinks on the rocks, as I did. It’s so much nicer in these hot and humid times. I’m glad I sprung for the 750-ml bottle of tequila, because now I can have my chilled Ultimate Margarita whenever I wish. No waiting!

Testers Choice
Mike S.

Jul 26, 2013

I found this to be less tart than other margaritas, and much more so than those cheap bar margaritas that use sweet and sour mix. The agave nectar had a pronounced agave flavor, and did an excellent job of smoothing the tequila out. Because the tequila comprises half the volume, it’s probably a good idea to go with a quality tequila. I chose Cuervo’s 1800 Silver. Also, because the tequila makes up half the volume, some caution is necessary, as it tastes fairly harmless, but really packs a punch.

Testers Choice
Kara Vitek

Jul 26, 2013

I agree. This is the ultimate margarita! So, so, so delicious. I made half a recipe. My store only had the amber colored agave nectar; and, while the color of this cocktail wasn’t exactly the prettiest, the taste was divine! Everything came together quickly, and after 4 hours in the refrigerator, it was plenty cold. I served these on the rocks with salt. This margarita is better than what the Mexican restaurants nearby serve, primarily due to the agave. Most margaritas have a tartness from a triple sec or orange liqueur that this margarita doesn’t. This will definitely be served again, and very soon. Love this ultimate margarita!

Testers Choice
Shannon Parrish

Jul 26, 2013

I’m typically not a fan of alcoholic drinks besides the occasional glass of wine or beer, so when I came across this recipe for margaritas, initially I didn’t give it much thought. Thankfully, our neighbors are big margarita fans and always on the search for the perfect margarita. Devoted neighbor that I am, I felt compelled to make these for them, and surprisingly, I absolutely loved them, too. Most margaritas that I’ve tried in the past are either way too sweet or so incredibly strong that I have a hard time trudging through them. This cocktail is so refreshing and simple to make. What I love most about it is it doesn’t evoke a powerful taste of tequila. The lime juice and agave syrup balance the flavor of the alcohol so well that I almost forgot there was alcohol even in it…almost. Don’t let the refreshing flavor of this beverage fool you. Just one glass had a pretty good effect on me! I opted for salt on my glass, which further aids in balancing the sweetness of the cocktail. I’m thrilled to have a new offering for our guests!

Testers Choice
Erin W.

Jul 26, 2013

We made these for a weekend at the lake with friends and they were a hit. We only needed 7 limes to get the 1 cup of juice needed for the recipe. We couldn’t find variations in colors of agave nectar, so we used the only one available. I don’t think the taste was affected, but the margaritas did take on a brownish color.

  1. Love the idea of chilling in the fridge. In fact, happy hour is just 8 hours away. Best get these started. Calling hubby now. He is the drink maker…I am the cook.

    • Beth Price says:

      Yep, you’d better get that drink maker busy, Abbe. Cocktail hour will be here before you know it.

  2. Frances says:

    Well, mine has many fans. I’m just saying…
    Frances’ Margaritas
    8 large limes, juiced
    4 large lemons, juiced
    6 key limes, juiced, keep the juiced fruit
    Simple syrup = ½ cup sugar + ½ cup water, heat to dissolve, cool to room temp
    3 jiggers (1 ½ oz each) Silver Patron tequila
    3 jiggers (1 ½ oz each) Grand Marnier
    1 cup fresh orange juice

    Combine all and serve over ice. Too sweet add more lime. Too sour add more simple syrup. And salted glass a must. Makes about 6 servings.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Heh. Thanks for sharing, Frances. Seems you like orange quite a lot. I’m with you on the silver Patron…

  3. ruthie says:

    Okay, I’m pretty much booze challenged. I bought some Citronge thinking it was an infused vodka or something. Heh. (I didn’t notice the Patron brand until I got it home.) So, could I just use that here in place of the tequila? I know it will give it an orange flavor, but can I? Can I, please?

    I’ve had this for a year and haven’t known what to do with it. ;)

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Well, ruthie, I just don’t know what you’ll end up with. I hate to say no, but just know that it won’t be quite the same as the margarita that makes our knees go wobbly. If you decide to try it, kindly let us know how it worked! And if you decide not to try it, perhaps you have a booze-loving friend you could gift that to?

  4. Wendy says:

    So we all know there’s as many margarita recipes as there are bartenders. However, for those of you with a dislike for Cointreau, Triple Sec, Grand Mariner etc. (hence the “coin style”), I encourage you to seek out a liqueur by Pierre Ferrand distillery in France, called “Dry Curaçao”. It’s a blend of brandy, Ferrand Cognac and bitter orange peels. It is truly a remarkable add-in for your margarita, without adding any cloying sweetness, and is wonderful on its own ( just taking a big ‘ol slug out the bottle). Oops.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Swell insight and advice, Wendy. Thanks!

    • James says:

      I’m definitely in the group that likes the hint of orange but I too find Cointreau a little too sweet. A great alternative that I was recommended recently at a speciality store is Combier Original, a triple sec that is much dryer and somehow more ‘orangey’ than Cointreau, if a little more expensive. Definitely worth a try if you want something a bit more sophisticated.

  5. James says:

    One thing to note for anyone trying this in the UK is that agave nectar sold in the UK is usually thicker and more viscous than in the US. Using the quantities here would result in something far too sweet. You’re aiming for the consistency of simple sugar syrup so make sure you dilute if it’s too thick!

  6. ATNell says:

    I prefer Triple Sec in my ‘Rita. It really brightens the flavor.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      You’re allowed, ATNell. That’s the beauty inherent in eating and drinking—to each his or her own.

  7. Bianca says:

    Oh my. These are way.too.good. I made a batch yesterday for my husband and I and had to make a half batch more! Using simple syrup that I had whipped up the other night, I plopped it all into a quart-sized mason jar, then placed in the freezer until we were ready for it. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      You’re quite welcome, Bianca. I’m actually quite relieved to hear I’m not the only one who has self-control issues around these….

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