A step-by-step guide to the perfect frozen marg.

By Corey Williams
March 16, 2020
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Lee Harrelson Productions LLC; Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Jan Gautro, Laura Zapalowski

Have you ever wondered how to make a restaurant-quality frozen margarita in the comfort of your own kitchen? You’ve come to the right place. Here’s what you need to know:

What Is a Margarita?

Meredith Food Studios 

A margarita is a cocktail made with tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice. It’s usually served in a margarita glass that has been rimmed with salt. 

Margaritas can be served frozen, shaken with ice, or straight up. 

Traditional margaritas are lime-flavored, but other flavors—like strawberry, peach, and jalapeno—have become popular in recent years. 

There are plenty of fun, potential origin stories for the cocktail, but only one thing’s for certain: No matter when or by whom the drink was created, the margarita is a staple of Mexican and American cuisines.

Frozen vs. On the Rocks 

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The difference between a frozen and on the rocks margarita is how ice is incorporated into the mixture. In a frozen marg, the ice is blended with the ingredients until the drink is smooth and thick, like a slushie. On the rocks margs, on the other hand, are shaken with ice. The result—a thin, liquid concoction poured over ice—is more similar to a traditional cocktail.

How to Make a Frozen Margarita  

1. Gather your supplies. 

Lee Harrelson Productions LLC; Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Jan Gautro, Laura Zapalowski

For a standard frozen margarita (here’s our favorite recipe), you’ll need: 

  • Blender: Choose a blender that’s powerful enough to blend ice. If it’s too weak, you’ll end up with A.) a chunky, unpleasant marg and/or B.) broken blender blades. If you regularly use your blender to make smoothies with ice or frozen fruit, you’re good to go. 
  • Ice: Use whatever you have on hand. Ice from your freezer, an ice tray, or the grocery store will work just fine for our purposes. It is worth noting, however, that pre-crushed ice will likely get you to your desired consistency quicker and will be easier on your blender blades. 
  • Tequila: Again, dealer’s choice. We recommend a balance between quality and budget consciousness (like this $24 Tres Agave Blanco), but there’s no rule against using the bottom shelf stuff. Whether the tequila sets you back $100 or $10, it's your margarita—your margarita, your rules.
  • Orange liqueur: Triple sec, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, and curaçao are all perfectly acceptable options. 
  • Lime juice: Fresh is definitely best. But, if you must use bottled lime juice, that’ll get the job done too. 
  • Simple syrup (optional): If the orange liqueur adds enough sweetness for you, great. But if you want an extra sugary kick (and, if you love the frozen margs straight off your local Mexican restaurant’s menu, you probably do), mix up a quick simple syrup
  • Margarita glass: A variant of the classic coupe, a margarita glass has a long stem and a curved bowl. 
  • Lime wedge: The lime wedge serves two purposes—rimming and garnishing.  
  • Salt: The flavor and grain size of Kosher salt works best, but sea salt is fine. Steer clear of table salt. 
  • Small plate: You’ll need this when it’s time to rim the glass.  

For the full recipe: Classic Frozen Margarita

2. Blend your ingredients until smooth. 

Lee Harrelson Productions LLC; Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Jan Gautro, Laura Zapalowski

Throw the ice, tequila, liqueur, lime juice, and (maybe) simple syrup into the blender. Blend until the drink is smooth, yet still icy. For a thicker marg, add more ice and blend again. 

3. Rim with salt. 

Lee Harrelson Productions LLC; Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Jan Gautro, Laura Zapalowski
Lee Harrelson Productions LLC; Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Jan Gautro, Laura Zapalowski

Pour an even layer of salt onto your plate. Wet the rim of the glass with the lime wedge (the sticky juice will act as an adhesive), then dip the rim into the salt. If you want to ensure that the salt stays on the outside of the glass, roll—don’t dip—the rim until the whole thing is salted.   

4. Pour drink into rimmed glass. 

Lee Harrelson Productions LLC; Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Jan Gautro, Laura Zapalowski

Explanation not necessary. If desired, garnish with the lime wedge you used to wet the glass’s rim. 

Variations

Lee Harrelson Productions LLC; Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling: Jan Gautro, Laura Zapalowski

  1. Margarita mix: We’re partial to from-scratch margaritas (we are MyRecipes, after all), but, if you’re in a hurry, a margarita mix is your friend. Just follow the instructions on the back of the bottle (make sure the instructions are for a frozen, not on the rocks, drink). 
  2. Flavored: There are plenty of ways to add flavors other than lime to your margarita. For this Frosty Raspberry-Lime Margarita, we just blended 2 cups of frozen raspberries with the rest of our ingredients. 
  3. Skinny: Typically, the skinny margarita forgoes the liqueur in favor of orange juice. Most recipes call for low-calorie sweeteners like Stevia instead of sugar. 
  4. Virgin: To make a non-alcoholic frozen margarita, simply use water instead of tequila and orange juice instead of orange liqueur. 

Complete Your Menu

Time Inc. Food Studio 

Don’t get us wrong: We’d never turn down a solo margarita. But the classic Mexican cocktail is best paired with other Mexican (and Mexican-inspired) favorites—especially chips and salsa. Make the most of your marg experience with these easy and delicious recipes: