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The origin of the original recipe for these make-ahead freezer margaritas is an epic tale that came by way of a resort in the Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona via the Willamette River in Portland. To say these are the best margaritas is an understatement. Jim has been perfecting the recipe over the years, refining it to this ultimate version. This twist on the classic margarita recipe doesn’t require unconventional ingredients or special equipment, but it does benefit from lots of patience…and it’s well worth it!
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
Frozen margaritas are a classic cocktail and are simple to make with just a few key ingredients so there is no reason to ever buy margarita mix again.
The full ingredient list and measurements are listed in the printable recipe below.
- Tequila. You don’t need to splurge here – just stick with something reputable. Blanco or Respado are preferred as Añejo will be too smoky – save that for sipping neat.
- Orange Liqueur. You can get obsessive and make your own, but any of the common brands like Cointreau or Grand Marnier are great. And they add far more character to your margarita than tired, old triple sec. This is an ingredient you should splurge on if you want the best margarita.
- Orange Bitters. This helps to keep the sweetness in check while still rounding out the citrus notes.
- Agave Nectar. This once was an exotic ingredient, but you should be able to easily find it next to the sugar or honey in any grocery store. Agave nectar amplifies the tequila flavor and balances the sourness of the citrus so don’t skip it.
- Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice. You might be able to find freshly squeezed at your local grocery store, but when in doubt get a dozen or so and start squeezing. The amount of lime juice you get from each lime will vary based on the size and juiciness of your limes.
- Lime Zest. This adds to the overall flavor profile and provides a confetti-like appearance in the presentation.
How to Make Freezer Margaritas
Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.
Pro-tip: This frozen margarita recipe is easy to make but does require 18 hours in the freezer so make a double batch.
1. Combine Ingredients: Combine the lime juice, lime zest, agave nectar, tequila, orange liquor, and orange bitters in a 3-quart freezer-safe jar and stir well. Add the water to the mixture and stir again.
2. Freeze: Cover with the lid and place in the freezer for at least 18 hours. Prior to serving stir margarita to get the perfect slushy consistency.
3. Serve: Stir frozen margaritas and then serve with a salted rim and a wedge of lime.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- The freezing point of tequila is about -100ºF while water freezes at 32ºF so the ratio of water to tequila is important. The margarita mix needs to get slushy but not frozen.
- Use high-quality tequila and orange liquor.
- Don’t use frozen limeade or lime juice concentrate. Fresh juice is the only way to go.
- Simple syrup can be substituted for agave nectar, but since agave nectar is about twice as sweet as simple syrup you will need to approximately double the amount. Add less than what you think you will need and then taste, as it is easy to add more syrup if it isn’t quite sweet enough.
Frequently Asked Questions
The simple answer in our opinion is no. We received one as a wedding present and used it two or three times before the novelty wore off. It was a pain to clean and its frozen margaritas seemed watery and mushy compared to our recipe for freezer margaritas.
Margaritas on the rocks can taste stronger than frozen margaritas since they are not blended with ice (or in our case water). You can add a little more tequila to your frozen mix or add a floater to the top of each glass, but be warned: these are deceptively STRONG margaritas! Start with a serving in the 4-6 ounce range rather than filling up one of those novelty giant margarita glasses…trust us!
Leftover margarita can be stored in the same freezer-safe container with its lid for up to a week. Because of the tequilas freezing point, it will never get completely frozen.
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Make-Ahead Freezer Margaritas
This recipe may contain paid affiliate sales links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see my full disclaimer policy for details.
- 3 Quart Freezer Safe Container with Lid
- 1 ¼ cup lime juice
- 1 tablespoon lime zest
- ½ cup agave nectar
- 2 ¼ cups tequila
- 1 ¼ cups orange liqueur
- 10-15 shakes orange bitters
- 5 cups water
- Combine lime juice, lime zest, agave nectar, tequila, orange liqueur, and orange bitters in a 3-quart freezer-safe container and stir well.
- Add the water to the mixture and stir.
- Cover with the lid and place in the freezer for at least 18 hours. Prior to serving stir frozen margarita to break up slush.
- Serve with a salted rim and a wedge of lime