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How to Make a Texas-Style Margarita With Key Limes

Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" and "Taste of Home". She belongs to Cook's Recipe Testers for "Cook's Illustrated".

The Best Margarita!

The Best Margarita!

Joshua's Best Margaritas

Joshua and Gloria, our Tex-Mex neighbors, have a powerful connection with Mexico. Perhaps you’ve tried Gloria’s wildly popular family recipe for Mexican salsa. If not, we highly recommend you do.

Joshua knows more about Texas, Mexico and tequila than anyone else we know. His margaritas are unforgettable, especially his famous cherry-limeade margaritas. On one of our frequent visits to their home, where we consumed heaping helpings of homemade Mexican food and Joshua’s perfect margaritas, I decided to hit him up for the recipe.

Joshua is a goldmine of information. First, he regurgitated a wealth of facts about tequila. In the interview with Joshua following the recipe, he expertly answers the following questions:

  • Why does tequila have such a bad rap?
  • Are manufacturers doing anything to improve tequila's reputation?
  • Is expensive tequila necessarily better tasting?
  • What complements tequila and lime juice better than triple sec?
  • How can I quickly and easily salt the rims of the margarita glasses?

For now, let's dig into how to make his best-ever margaritas!

Slice limes in half

Slice limes in half

Squeeze 1 cup of juice

Squeeze 1 cup of juice

The Best Key-Lime Margaritas in Texas

Prep timeReady inYields

15 min

15 min

Serves 6–8

Ingredients

  • 1 cup freshly-squeezed Key lime juice
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup amaretto liqueur, preferably Disaronno or homemade
  • 2 cups 100% blue agave tequila
  • 4 cups small ice cubes

Instructions

  1. Pour first three ingredients into a blender container. If you prefer frozen margaritas add the ice cubes, too.
  2. For frozen margaritas, blend for 1–2 minutes or until blender container is frosty.
  3. Salt margarita glass rims, if desired. (See tips section below.)
  4. Pour margarita into glasses and garnish with lime slices.

Joshua's Tips for the Best Margaritas

  • Choose 100% blue agave tequila for the best flavor and no headaches.
  • Disaronno is the best tasting amaretto liqueur, but it's also expensive. For a more economical option, try the "Homemade Amaretto Liqueur" recipe below.
  • Fresh-squeezed Key lime juice is important to the flavor of this recipe. You can also substitute the larger limes common in U.S. grocery stores, but the flavor won't be quite the same.
  • Grate lime peel into kosher salt with a microplaner for homemade lime salt.
  • Rub glass rims with used lime halves and dip in lime salt.
  • For frozen margaritas, blend the be-Jesus out of it! Don't be afraid to blend for 1–2 minutes.
  • Pour margarita into salted glasses.
  • Garnish margarita glasses with lime slices.
  • Try Frosty Pisco Sour Cocktails for Peru's version of the margarita.

Quick-and-Easy Margaritas

Don't have Key lime juice? Try this quick, easy and sweet margarita.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces limeade concentrate
  • 12 ounces tequila
  • 1/4 cup Disaronno, or to taste
  • 3 cups of small ice cubes

Instructions

  1. Pour all 4 ingredients into a blender container.
  2. Blend for 1–2 minutes, until thick and frosty.
  3. Pour into prepared glasses.
  4. Garnish with lime slices.
  5. Sip to the tune of Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville".

Homemade Amaretto Liqueur Recipe

This recipe, courtesy of allrecipes, is a dead ringer for Disaronno liqueur.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups vodka
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons almond extract

Instructions

  1. Combine water and sugars in a saucepan over medium heat. Allow the mixture to come to a boil. Stir and simmer until sugars dissolve.
  2. Remove pan from heat and allow mixture to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Add vodka and extracts. Store homemade amaretto liqueur in a sealed glass container.
Margaritas are a natural pairing for Mexican dishes

Margaritas are a natural pairing for Mexican dishes

What to Serve With Margaritas

Serve margaritas at your next party with plenty of guacamole and fresh salsa. Click below for the recipes:

Or serve margaritas with a piping hot bowl of The Best Chicken Tortilla Soup!

Vespa Woolf Interviews Joshua

Vespa: Joshua, why does tequila have such a bad reputation?

Joshua: It’s a shame, really. Tequila isn’t frat parties, Pee Wee Herman and Tijuana. Do you remember the bottles of tequila with a worm floating in the bottom? Bad marketing ploy. The worm was never an original element of tequila. Sure, it worked in the short-term. (“Gross…look at this…try it!”) But then the bad reputation stuck. No self-respecting tequila manufacturer puts a worm in their tequila.

Vespa: What are tequila manufacturers doing to overcome this stigma?

Joshua: There’s a lot of money in Texas. Tequila is an exploding industry and it’s now marketed for the elegant, the refined, the hoity-toity. There are as many brands of tequila in Texas as wineries in Napa Valley. It appeals to ritzy Texas subculture. You know, Texas country music, Paul Bond cowboy boots and expensive tequila. Descriptions read like wine labels: aroma of green apple with toasted caramel nuances. These guys know their tequila.

Vespa: So which tequila is the best? Is expensive necessarily better?

Joshua: Price isn’t the determining factor in good quality tequila. Gold label means wine is added….cheap wine. It’ll give you a headache. Some people recommend silver tequila, but silver tequilas have no character. Tequila is all about where it’s made: Texas and Northern Mexico. That’s a very harsh environment. Drinking tequila is drinking Texas. Cactus, scorpions and rattlesnakes. The land is trying to kill you! Tequila, like Texas, is harsh, raw, earthy.

Tequila made with 40% blue agave is made with 60% trash. That’s why tequila has a bad rep for a horrible hangover. If you want good tequila follow one simple rule. Buy 100% blue agave in a glass bottle. Never buy tequila sold in a plastic bottle. You should be able to find 100% blue agave starting at $25/bottle. This is just a launching point. Try different labels and judge the flavor for yourself. Never, ever buy Jose Cuervo. Jose Cuervo is ruining the tequila market.

Vespa: I get it now. 100% blue agave tequila makes your margaritas so special.

Joshua: (a glint in his eye) Have you ever had a margarita that tasted like chemicals? That’s the triple sec. Have you ever sipped triple sec? I didn’t think so. Yuck! Lime juice complements tequila. But orange liqueur? It just obscures tequila, makes it mediocre. I’ve found the perfect complement to tequila and lime juice. Are you ready for the secret ingredient? (Joshua leaned forward, hands clenched between the knees of his worn jeans.)

Vespa: The suspense is killing me. (laughs)

Joshua: The secret is amaretto liqueur, preferably Disaronno. That’s what gives it the cherry limeade flavor, not cherries. Disaronno amps up the lime flavor. That’s all it is: fresh squeezed Key lime juice, 100% blue agave tequila and Disaronno. Add simple syrup if you like them sweeter. I don’t. The amaretto liqueur is enough for me. And you can’t beat the flavor.

Vespa: I can testify to that!

Joshua: Someday a Texan will invent an amaretto liqueur just for mixing with tequila: perfectly Tex-Mex. Until then, we’ll have to settle for Disaronno. Add a touch of Grenadine for pretty color, although it doesn’t add much flavor.

Vespa: You salt the margarita rims so expertly. What’s your secret?

Joshua: Don’t bother with margarita salt. Buy kosher salt. Pour it onto a plate. For extra pizzazz, use a microplaner to grate a little lime rind into it. Then wet the rims with lime juice and dip them in the lime salt. That’s all there is to it.

Vespa: Your on-the-rocks margaritas are awesome. But how can I make frozen margaritas?

Joshua: Add 4 cups of small ice cubes and blend the be-Jesus out of it. I can’t emphasize this enough. I read once that you shouldn’t over blend. That’s just ridiculous. You can’t blend a frozen margarita enough. Blend until you’re bored of blending. Blend for a minute or two. The blender won’t get too hot. Instead, moisture will condense and freeze on the container. Now you have the perfect frozen margarita.

Vespa: That’s great Joshua! Thanks so much for sharing your secret recipe with us. Do you have any closing advice?

Joshua: Don’t bother to ask a Texan where he’s from. If he’s from Texas, he would have told you already. God Bless Texas. (with a final tip of his cowboy hat)

Margaritaville

© 2013 Vespa Woolf

Comments

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on January 10, 2014:

PeggyW, thanks for adding these margaritas to your drink board! I just love Pinterest. : )

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 10, 2014:

I created a board for drinks on Pinterest and am adding this one about making margaritas to it. Thanks again for writing this!

loveofnight from Baltimore, Maryland on December 04, 2013:

i really want to try a Margarita even more now.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on October 08, 2013:

Margaritas are very refreshing. Of course, limeade is also refreshing and it doesn't contain alcohol! Thanks for dropping by.

Mackenzie Sage Wright on October 08, 2013:

I love margaritas so much; I just can't drink anymore due to medication, but here where it's hot in Florida it was so refreshing on my day off to just sit out on the porch or by the pool with a margarita. I barely use my blender anymore, lol.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on September 28, 2013:

JustAskSusan, thank you so much for thinking of me!!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on September 26, 2013:

Just stopped back in to wish you a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on August 28, 2013:

DDE, I hope you can try this special margarita sometime. Thanks for your comment!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on August 28, 2013:

Awesome choice for on How Do You Make Margaritas such lovely photos

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on August 05, 2013:

moonlake, sometimes we mix ginger ale, lime juice and Disaronno for a lighter alcoholic drink. Thanks for coming by!

moonlake from America on August 04, 2013:

Sounds very good. I can leave out the tequila I think. Voted up and shared.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on July 12, 2013:

My Cook Book, thanks for coming by. I hope you can try margaritas someday.

Dil Vil from India on July 12, 2013:

Absolutely informative and a well written hub. Thank for the same. Voted UP

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on July 03, 2013:

GlimmerTwinFan, I hope you can give this high-quality Tex-Mex Margarita a try! It is the perfect treat for a hot summer day. Thank you for coming by and have a good week.

Claudia Mitchell on July 03, 2013:

Wow - that looks refreshing on these hot summer days. I enjoy a good margarita, unfortunately I have had some really bad ones over the years so it is not on my list of favorites. May have to give one of these recipes a try!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 26, 2013:

Cardisa, I hope you get a chance to use these recipes sometime. I'm sure the mock margaritas were still delicious...anything with lime juice is good in my book. : ) Thank you for coming by! It's always nice to see you.

Carolee Samuda from Jamaica on June 26, 2013:

Thanks for the Amaretto recipe. On my birthday last month I could not find that liquor anywhere. I had to make mock Margaritas and try to figure out what went in them on my own. They didn't taste quite as good as the real thing but they passed anyway...lol

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 25, 2013:

alocsin, I'm sure you can swing making this special margarita. Enjoy and thanks for your support and votes!

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on June 25, 2013:

I always thought margaritas were far more complicated to make. But it sounds like something that even I can do. Voting this Up and Useful.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 24, 2013:

anglnwu, I'm glad you learned something from the interview and hope you won't be drinking anymore cheap tequila! I appreciate your support and the stars. : )

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 24, 2013:

Om Paramapoonya, I'm glad this margarita recipe put you in a party mood! Have fun with it and thanks for your comment.

anglnwu on June 24, 2013:

This is amazing. Love the picture and the interview--learn so much from it. Now, I know why I get headaches from margaritas--they use cheap tequila. Thanks for this fantastic-awesome-margaritastic hub. Rated up, of course.

Om Paramapoonya on June 24, 2013:

What a delightful hub! I appreciate the recipes, tips, interview and everything. Thanks a lot. This hub has put me in a party mood. I love me some margarita!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 24, 2013:

Vickiw, I'm glad you enjoyed this information and the recipes. The amaretto is so easy and inexpensive. I always enjoy hearing from you! Have a great week.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 24, 2013:

Toytasting, I'm glad you enjoy Margaritas and hope you can try this recipe someday. Thank you for coming by!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 24, 2013:

AliciaC, I'm glad you enjoyed this information on margaritas and tequila. The homemade amaretto is delicious and inexpensive to make, too. Thanks for your nice comment!

Vickiw on June 24, 2013:

Loved your method of presenting this, Vespa, with the interview! Great job. The margaritas sound delicious, and your information was so comprehensive. I can hardly believe that amaretto liqueur can be made o easily! Thanks for this.

Toy Tasting from Mumbai on June 23, 2013:

I am a big fan of Margaritas. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe. The pictures are beautiful, makes me want to taste it right away. Cheers :)

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 23, 2013:

This is a very interesting hub, vespawoolf! I don't know much tequila or margaritas, but the information in your article is entertaining and useful. I love the photos, too - especially the first one!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on June 23, 2013:

Wow buddy, I kept following this, and the comments are awesome. Be proud of a great hub. Boozing it up has such a bad rap, like Tequila. But you show us it is all in the love baby. I sure the heck am glad I follow you.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 23, 2013:

Deborah-Diane, thank you for sharing that sweet memory of your Dallas afternoons. What a great way to enjoy margaritas! I really appreciate the vote.

Deborah-Diane from Orange County, California on June 23, 2013:

These recipes for Margaritas sound wonderful. We used to live in Texas in a suburban neighborhood of Dallas. Every Friday afternoon the wives took turns whipping up a pitcher of Margaritas. Then we would relax on the front porch of someone's house, watch our children play on the front lawns, and wait for our husbands to get home. I have pleasant memories of Margaritas! Voted UP ... Awesome!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 23, 2013:

rajan jolly, thanks for the comment, vote and share!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 23, 2013:

Lindacee, what a well-thought-out and meaningful comment! I'm glad you learned a lot about tequila and margaritas. Interviewing Joshua was a fun way to research this topic. Thanks so much for your votes and support!

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 23, 2013:

Very interesting read. The margarita looks very tempting. Voted up and shared.

Linda Chechar from Arizona on June 23, 2013:

What a fun-filled, information-packed Hub, vespa! I learned so much about tequila and margaritas. I'm not much of a tequila drinker, but this definitely makes me crave an ice cold margarita on a hot Vegas afternoon! No triple sec or cointreau though. From now on, I'll ask for one made with amaretto! Voted up, useful and awesome! :)

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 22, 2013:

Peggy W, I'm glad you enjoyed the interview with Joshua and the recipes. I find the homemade amaretto so simple and inexpensive! I hope you can try one soon. : ) As always, thank you for your support.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2013:

I loved the interview with Joshua. He seems to know his tequila! Seeing that icy glass of margarita at the top made me think that it is about time that I have one sometime soon. Thanks also for the recipe for making homemade Amaretto. Love the flavor of that liquor but have never made it from scratch. It certainly sounds simple enough and would be economical. UUI votes and definitely sharing. :)

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 21, 2013:

rebeccamealey, I'm glad you appreciated this information on tequila. I appreciate your support! Have a great weekend.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 21, 2013:

truthfornow, thanks for coming by.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on June 21, 2013:

Yum. Makes me want to waste away in Margaritaville. This is a really interesting look at the quality of fine liquors mixed into wonderful recipes.

Marie Hurt from New Orleans, LA on June 21, 2013:

Cherry limeade without cherries, sounds interesting. Good tips.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 21, 2013:

ladydeonne, I'm glad you're going to try Joshua's margarita! Please let us know what you think if you have a chance. I appreciate your meaningful comment and the vote and share! Thanks for coming by.

Deonne Anderson from Florence, SC on June 21, 2013:

Wow! Your photo of a margarita at the beginning of your hub is beautiful!

I love and only drink margaritas. I have never purchased tequila and am not knowledgeable of the different brands. I just know a good margarita from a bad margarita and have my favorite restaurants to consume them. I plan to try Joshua's recipes. Wish he lived in my neighborhood. Great hub and very "refreshing." Voted up and shared.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 21, 2013:

epbooks, I understand what you mean. There's nothing worse than cheap tequila! But there are some excellent and not too expensive choices out there nowadays. You might not even recognize it as the same liquor. : ) Thanks for your comment!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 21, 2013:

rose-the-planner, I've never sampled the tequila worm but I have friends who say they've tasted it. Yuck! Thanks for the comment and vote!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 21, 2013:

Ralph Deeds, I'll try your tip of substituting tequila for white wine. You're the second commenter to mention it, so I believe there must be something to that formula. ; ) Thanks for taking the time to come by and enjoy the weekend!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 21, 2013:

SuzieHQ, as always I appreciate your support even when the recipe isn't your favorite! You could try substituting the tequila for ginger ale (I'm not sure what you call that in the UK) if you'd like a lighter drink. Thanks for all the votes, pin, etc. Have a wonderful weekend and take some long walks with your partner and doggie!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 21, 2013:

Gypsy48, thanks for taking the time to come by! I appreciate the comment and vote.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 21, 2013:

Ericdierker, you're right about the difference between Baja Mexican food and Tex-Mex. I love them both! Maybe it's better that my Texan and you don't meet up. : ) Thanks for coming by! Have a great weekend.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 21, 2013:

Jackie Lynnley, you could try a limeade made from Key lime juice and add a touch of almond extract for flavor. : ) with a salty or even sugary rim, you'll never miss the tequila! Thanks for your support!

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 21, 2013:

NMLady, I've never tried white wine margaritas but I'm sure they're delicious. I have a friend who can't tolerate tequila (although she hasn't yet been brave enough to try the 100% agave tequila), so I make a drink for her with just amaretto liqueur, lime juice and ginger ale. I have to admit that it tastes pretty delicious without the tequila, too. Thank you for your interesting comment.

Vespa Woolf (author) from Peru, South America on June 21, 2013:

Just Ask Susan, I'm so glad you enjoyed this information on margaritas! I'd send one to you right now if I could. : ) Thanks for all the votes, share and pin! Have a great weekend.

Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on June 21, 2013:

Good to know. I must admit- I've never been a fan of tequila for many of the reasons you listed. If I ever do seek out to try it again, I'll follow your suggestions in this hub! Very interesting!

rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on June 21, 2013:

Great article! I agree the worm in the bottle may have been a very bad marketing ploy, lol. OMG..........this looks amazing! Thanks for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose

Ralph Deeds from Birmingham, Michigan on June 21, 2013:

Interesting. Well done. I really like Margaritas. Here's a bit of heresy--Try making Margaritas with a good white wine instead of Tequila. I learned that at Juan's Place in Berkeley, California, where they sell wine Margaritas by the pitcher. They taste almost as good, and you can drink several without getting blitzed.

Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on June 21, 2013:

Hi Vespa!

What a great hub with interview from your neighbor! The facts Joshua gave of quality Margaritas was interesting, including the worm logic that No self respecting manufacturer is going to put a worm in their Tequila!!

Great tip on getting the salt rim and love the kosher salt and lime mix.

Although not a fan of the drink I LOVE Mexican food and will definitely make this for a special Tex - Mex night, thanks so much for sharing this! Up, useful, interesting, awesome, shared and pinned to drinks!

Gypsy48 on June 21, 2013:

Very helpful hub, I love Margaritas. Thanks for sharing your tips and recipes. Voted up.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on June 21, 2013:

Fantastic tie in to the Tex Mex culture. In my mind the Blue Agave is a beautiful plant. I come to different conclusions from your Texan, but hey their Mexican food is totally different from ours out here Baja California way.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on June 21, 2013:

I can't drink because of medicines but it sure looks good and the coating of the rim with lime salt I can almost taste! I might try that with my milk, hahaha.

^

NMLady from New Mexico & Arizona on June 21, 2013:

This is a great write up. I loved the recipes. When I lived in El Paso there was a restaurant that served white wine Margaritas for 99cents on Thursday nights. They also had live musica. I have never found wine margaritas since but I do make them.

Tequila upsets my stomach something fierce.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on June 21, 2013:

I can almost taste the margaritas now! Even though its only 9 a.m. here I could sure go for one now, and that first picture makes me wish I could reach through my computer screen :)

Voting up +++ , sharing and pinning.