This simple 321 margarita recipe is one everyone should have in their repertoire - it's almost as easy to make as it is to memorize! You'll only need three ingredients to make this classic Mexican cocktail; together they make the perfect ratio for a drink that's strong, pleasantly tart, and extremely refreshing. Like your margaritas spicy? Add jalapeño for an extra kick!
When it comes to recipes, the word "perfect" isn't one I throw out lightly. But this, my friends, is the perfect margarita: smooth, cool and crisp; more tart than sweet; and oh-so-fresh (since it's made from scratch). It's served on the rocks with salt - as a proper margarita should be - and you can easily add jalapeño to give it a spicy twist. In short, it's a classic done right.
321: The perfect margarita recipe ratio
Now, I'll let you in on a little secret: you only need 3 ingredients to make the ultimate margarita.
- 3 ounces of tequila
- 2 ounces of lime juice
- 1 ounce of simple syrup
...Hence the name, "321 margarita". It's strong, it's refreshing, it's easy to mix up, and it's simple enough to memorize by heart.
What you'll need
We've covered the basics, but let's get into them in a little more depth:
- The liquor - Tequila: A great margarita is made with a great tequila (or at least a pretty good one), and that's especially true when it makes up 50% of your drink. I prefer blanco, since it tends to have a cleaner flavor that plays nicely with the other ingredients in this cocktail, but reposado will work too. Whichever you use, look for one made with 100% agave, or "puro agave", so you know you're getting the real deal.
- The citrus - Fresh lime juice: Don't buy it bottled, and don't even think about using a mix. Remember, there are only 3 ingredients in a 321 margarita, so you want the freshest, juiciest limes you can get.
- The sweetener - Simple syrup: You can make this or buy it, but in any case it should be made with water, cane sugar, and nothing else. You can also use light agave nectar instead; this will change the cocktail's flavor profile slightly, but it's an easy swap that works well for both margaritas and mojitos. You'll notice that I don't use Cointreau (or any other triple sec) in these margaritas. I personally feel that the orange flavor ruins the purity of the drink, so although they're commonly included, my version of a perfect marg omits them.
- The kick of heat. - Jalapeño slices: If you like your margaritas spicy, add this!
- The extras - Kosher salt (for the rim) and ice.
One of the best things about this recipe is it doesn't require any fancy bar tools. But if you consider yourself something of a home bartender, a few gadgets will always come in handy.
- Double jigger - For easy measurements
- Cocktail shaker - For mixing. You can even get a shaker with a built-in strainer and jigger.
- Citrus juicer - It may seem frivolous, but in the long run it'll save you money by making your citrus stretch further!
- Cocktail strainer - Very useful for straining out muddled jalapeño slices if you decide to make your marg a spicy one.
- Cocktail muddler - Another must-have if adding jalapeño. Muddling brings out the heat of the peppers in a way that throwing fresh slices into your drink will never do!
- Salt rimmer - This one's absolutely not necessary, but it does make exceptionally quick work of salting your glass rims.
How to mix homemade margaritas
We've got what we need; now it's time to DIY some margs! Note: Below are instructions for a basic 321 margarita, but we'll cover a spicy version shortly.
Step one - Mix. Combine the tequila, lime juice, and simple syrup in a glass or cocktail shaker. Add ice and stir - or shake - until the mixture is well-chilled.
Tip! Mixing vs Shaking
Shaking your margarita will chill it more rapidly than stirring, which is why I prefer this method. But if you don't have a shaker, feel free to mix yours in a glass instead.
Step two - Prep serving glass(es): Use a squeezed lime wedge to wet the rim of your glass. Tilt the glass horizontally and sprinkle salt along the outer edge while rotating, until the entire rim is sufficiently salted. (Or use the aforementioned salt rimmer).
Step three - Pour: Pour (and optionally strain) the mixture into your serving glass. (In the case of a shaken cocktail, I prefer to strain it and start with fresh ice in my glass.) Garnish it with a lime wedge if you're feeling fancy!
For spicy jalapeño margaritas
To turn this recipe into THE BEST spicy margarita, just muddle fresh jalapeño slices with your lime juice before mixing the rest of the ingredients. For more heat, aim to use about ¼ of a jalapeño per margarita. For less heat, start with about an ⅛th. Remember - when you muddle, the goal is to crush the jalapeño (and particularly the seeds) to release flavor and heat into your drink.
I usually add just a tad more simple syrup to my jalapeño margaritas to nail that spicy-sweet balance (about 1 ⅛ ounces per cocktail), and I always strain them before serving. You can even switch things up with a Tajin or chili salt rim for an extra kick.
Tip! Choosing a spicy jalapeño
Here's a little trick you can use when buying jalapeños. The spicier the pepper, the more striations it will tend to have. These look like little cracks in the pepper's skin, otherwise known as "corking".
Margarita for one
This recipe as written will make just enough for a single-serving, and it's easy to remember the amounts you'll need for each ingredient using the 3-2-1 trick. But of course, you can always double the recipe (or triple, or quadruple!) for those times when one margarita just won't cut it.
Make it a pitcher!
To make an entire pitcher of margaritas, just scale this recipe as needed. Example: For a basic 60-ounce pitcher, you'll need 30 ounces of tequila, 20 ounces of lime juice, and 10 ounces of simple syrup. For the sake of efficiency, keep things simple by mixing it straight in the pitcher.
The basic formula is equal parts sugar and water (e.g. 1 cup of sugar + 1 cup of water); that's all you need to know. Combine them in a microwave-safe measuring glass and microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. You can also do this in a saucepan on the stove, using medium-low heat.
You can of course use the eponymous margarita glass, but I personally prefer a lowball or rocks glass. The former is more festive; the latter is easier to drink from!
Serve this with...
- Chips and spicy-sweet corn salsa
- Chips and homemade guac
- These EASIEST creamy chicken tacos
More cocktail recipes
Have you made this recipe?
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Simple 321 Margarita (with a spicy option!)
A margarita recipe that's as easy to make (and remember) as counting to 3. This drink packs a punch and plenty of tart lime flavor. Add jalapeño to make it a spicy margarita!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 1 margarita 1x
- Category: beverages
- Method: stir/shake
- Cuisine: Mexican
- 3 ounces 100% agave tequila, such as blanco or reposado
- 2 ounces freshly-squeezed lime juice
- 1 - 1 ⅛ ounces simple syrup, to taste*
- jalapeno slices (optional, for spicy variation**)
- kosher salt (optional, for glass rims )
- lime wedge (optional, for garnish)
- Mix: Combine tequila, lime juice, and simple syrup in a glass or cocktail shaker filled with ice. Stir or shake for about 30 seconds, or until well mixed and chilled.
- Prep glass: Use a juiced lime wedge to coat the rim of a clean serving glass with lime juice. Holding glass horizontally, sprinkle with salt while rotating to coat the outer rim. Add ice to glass.
- Pour: Pour (or preferably strain) margarita into glass and garnish with a wedge of lime if desired. Serve immediately.
*To make simple syrup: Stir together 1 cup of water with 1 cup of granulated sugar in a microwave-safe measuring glass and microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. You can also do this in a saucepan on the stove, using medium-low heat.
**To make a spicy margarita: Muddle jalapeño slices with lime juice before adding tequila and simple syrup. Use about ⅛th of a jalapeño for a mild margarita, or ¼ for a spicier margarita. Add a Tajín or chili salt rim for an extra kick of heat!
For pitcher margaritas: Scale this recipe to accommodate the size of your pitcher. A basic 60-ounce pitcher will use 30 ounces of tequila, 20 ounces of lime juice, and 10 ounces of simple syrup.
Keywords: 321 margarita, 3-ingredient margarita, spicy margarita, jalapeno margarita, simple margarita
This 321 margarita recipe first appeared on Bright-Eyed Baker in 2014. Updates include new images and text, as well as some slight modifications to the original recipe, including a new spicy variation.Copyright protected by Digiprove © 2014
Joyce Osburn says
This has been a version of my favorite Margarita for years but as 3211 because I like the addition of orange. As a former teacher it pains me when people after hearing 3211 then say but I want to make a pitcher how do I do that? I also buy big bag of limes, juice them all and freeze in muffin pans and bag when frozen. Fresh lime juice at a minutes notice.
Love that trick for juicing and freezing the limes! That's be perfect for making a big pitcher. :)
Now I can say I did it!
I am so glad. Awesome recipe, Alexandra, and 5 stars for you! I even made the very simple syrup which for some reason I had a mental block on making in the past.
Like many others, I'm not a big fan of hard alcohol but margaritas make the cut somehow. Your recipe is so simple, especially so with a citrus juicer. My opinion is that Cointreau is wonderful but then the drink is that much MORE expensive and perhaps stronger than need be. As you said, the better Agave Tequilas alone can make all the difference in the world. Your simple syrup replacing the Cointreau is OMG, so simple! Thank you for sharing how easy this is! My next one will be made as you suggested. :)
I have been making these Margaritas and many of your cocktails for a long, and have totally forgotten to thank you! Your cocktails are not only wonderful but practical, like this 3-2-1... that's how I don't forget how to make one now! thanks!
Patty at Spoonabilities says
Now this does sound like the perfect spicy margarita! And just in time for Friday's happy hour. Yay!
Seema Sriram says
I am saving this for the weekend. This week certainly needs a good wash down and I loved your images here!!
This Margarita is going on the menu for my next girls night!
So simple and refreshing! Love it!
Awesome Recipe! We loved it!
I am not a usual Margarita drinker but I really liked this one. It's super delicious and I'll definitely be making it again. Simply put, it's better than any other one I've tried in the past, even comparing it to those I had in Mexico!
Greg Garrison says
Any other way to make a margarita is a waste. This is a simple drink, not an AMF. What I like about this recipe is it really exemplifies the simplicity of a great cocktail. All of the bartenders that I’ve known to add other ridiculous ingredients to their margs tend to over complicate things and in the end I pay $9 for a crappy drink. I’ve used this specific recipe many times and NOTHING can compare. Especially when you muddle a jalapeño slice or two into the drink. 10/10 would recommend to anyone that enjoys margaritas.
**one final note- using a good tequila is MANDATORY. Don’t ever forget, nothing good is ever cheap and nothing cheap is ever good, so don’t short change yourself by not investing in a good quality tequila.
mmmmm! I love Margaritas on the rocks, too!! This is something I am totally going to make. Not a big fan of alcohol but margaritas make the cut. LOL
I hope you try it anyway Evie! SO good! :)