Margarita Mocktail Recipe

Margarita fans tend to fall into two general categories. The first is all about the classic "3-2-1" margarita recipe (three parts tequila, two parts fresh lime juice, and one part the orange liqueur of your choice), sweetened by a splash of simple syrup. The other type is all about treating the 3-2-1 recipe as a blank slate from which to create novel variations using other citrus flavors such as grapefruit, as well as other non-citrus flavors like strawberry, pomegranate, and jalapeno. But one thing we've often wondered about is how to make an alcohol-free version of a margarita when so much of our love for the margarita is based on our appreciation of tequila's complex yet smoothly layered notes of blue agave, vanilla, caramel, and spices, not to mention the assertive orange flavor that has always struck us as synonymous with orange liquor.                                                                  

"There's nothing quite like the tang and sharpness of a margarita," recipe developer Ting Dalton of Cook Simply remarked to Mashed when she brought us this recipe for margarita mocktails, "but I love this recipe, as you get all the flavor without the liquor. It's just like drinking the real thing, and you won't get a headache." Given how much we do, in fact, adore actual tequila and orange liqueur, our first question was, "but how?" You might even be wondering the same thing. But you're about to find out, and once you do, you're going to marvel at this recipe's guilt-free goodness. 

Gather your ingredients for this margarita mocktail recipe

As you are about to discover, Dalton's secret to non-alcoholic margarita flavor is combining freshly squeezed lime juice with limeade or lime cordial (a lime-flavored non-alcoholic essence) for a more audacious lime flavor that helps mimic some of the citrusy notes found in tequila. This drink also includes orange extract, grapefruit juice, and honey, which together supply the pleasantly sweet-and-slightly-bitter flavors that the combination of tequila, orange liqueur, and simple syrup would deliver in an alcoholic margarita. 

Specifically, to make one mocktail using Dalton's recipe, you'll need a tablespoon of limeade or cordial, the juice of one lime (which is about an ounce of lime juice), a teaspoon of orange extract, a third of a cup of grapefruit juice, three tablespoons of honey, and a cup of ice. Since Dalton tells Mashed that she prefers her margaritas frozen, we'd like to suggest using a high-speed blender to combine all of the ingredients. However, you can also use a shaker if you're not a fan of frozen drinks.

In addition, you'll want to have at least another lime on hand for slicing into wheels for garnishing your drink. And even if you aren't a fan of salting the rim of your margarita glass, you might want to consider having some kosher salt on hand, if not your favorite spice blend such as Tajin, because Dalton will be walking us through how to salt only half your glass's rim.

Make like a bartender, and start with your garnish and your glass

Timing is everything, they say, especially when it comes to making these margarita mocktails. That's because the proper presentation of a margarita, with or without alcohol, demands a glass with at least half of the rim salted, as well as a lime wheel garnish. Since you will be working with ice, which will begin melting the moment it hits room temperature, you'll want to have as much of the presentation prep done as possible before you take the ice out of the freezer. So, start by slicing up a lime into slender wheels and setting them aside.

Now, take out a small dish, and pour a shallow layer of your kosher salt or Tajin onto the dish. Take one of your lime wheels, and run it over half of the entire rim of your glass or half the rim of your glass. Immediately, touch the glass, rim-side down, to the dish, and voila, you've got a salted or spiced margarita glass rim.

Time to squeeze the time

You don't have to use fresh lime juice to make a margarita, but the simple fact of the matter is that margaritas taste better when made with fresh lime juice. They just do, so if you've got fresh limes, then by all means, use them. Now, scoop the ice into your blender or shaker. Then slice your remaining lime in half, and squeeze the halves over your blender or shaker to release all the juice. If you're having trouble extracting the juice, you can use a fork to slightly macerate the lime's flesh before squeezing. Once you've squeezed your lime, move directly onto the next step.

Mix up your margarita mocktail and serve

The rest of this is going to go super-fast because all that is left now is to add the honey, limeade or lime cordial, lime juice, orange extract, and grapefruit juice to the ice and lime and either blend at high speed until smooth or shake vigorously until slightly frothy. Once that's done, pour your mock margarita into your prepped glass. Slice halfway through a lime wheel, and slot it onto your glass as garnish. And while, ordinarily, we might be inclined to suggest enjoying responsibly, with this recipe, you're already doing just that.

Margarita Mocktail Recipe
5 from 43 ratings
Love margaritas but not a fan of the hangovers? We have the perfect solution for you. Give this margarita mocktail recipe a try.
Prep Time
Cook Time
margarita mocktail
Total time: 5 minutes
  • 2 limes, one for juicing, and one for slicing into wheels for garnish
  • 1 cup ice
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon limeade or lime cordial
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • ⅓ cup grapefruit juice
Optional Ingredients
  • Salt or Tajin, for glass rim
  1. Slice one lime into slender wheels.
  2. Salt the rim, or half of the rim, of your glass, if desired.
  3. Scoop the ice into your blender or shaker.
  4. Squeeze one lime over the ice, and then add the honey, limeade/lime cordial, lime juice, orange extract, and grapefruit juice.
  5. Blend or shake as applicable.
  6. Serve in your salt or Tajin-rimmed glass, garnished with a wheel of lime.
Calories per Serving 319
Total Fat 0.4 g
Saturated Fat 0.1 g
Trans Fat 0.0
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 79.7 g
Dietary Fiber 4.1 g
Total Sugars 67.4 g
Sodium 16.9 mg
Protein 1.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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