I’m going to let you in on a little secret: You don’t need to use fresh lime juice when you make frozen margaritas.
If you’ve always heard that you should only ever use freshly squeezed juice in cocktails, this probably sounds like blasphemy. But frozen drinks, especially margaritas, are one of two key exceptions to this rule. (The other is gimlets, which should always be made with Rose’s lime juice.)
It’s not just that fresh lime juice is wasted in a frozen margarita. It’s actively harmful. Frozen drinks contain far more ice than those that are shaken or stirred, and all that ice presents two problems: It dilutes the drink, and it chills the drink so much that the flavor is dampened, largely because the aromatic molecules that constitute that flavor can’t go airborne and travel into your nose at low temperatures.
To overcome these barriers, you have to use ingredients with powerful flavors when making frozen drinks. Fresh lime juice tastes lovely, which is why it’s great in margaritas served on the rocks. But it’s mostly water, so it’s also quite subtle. If you use it in a frozen margarita, you won’t really be able to taste it, so you’ll end up with something wan and unbalanced, like a tequila-flavored Slurpee.
Some people recommend using a combination of margarita mix and fresh lime juice for frozen margaritas. But most margarita mixes have historically scored low in HuffPost taste tests, and are designed as a substitute for both the lime juice and the orange liqueur in a margarita.
So instead, the next time you’re making frozen margaritas, which should probably be very soon, you should use a trick my mom taught me, the merits of which I have confirmed with ample experience. Use frozen limeade concentrate. You should be able to find it in the freezer aisle of your local supermarket; the brand doesn’t matter too much, though I usually go for Minute Maid. Because it’s designed to be mixed with several parts water for a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage, it has just the type of strong flavor you need to counteract the ice in your margarita. It’s cold and icy enough that it will help create the smooth, homogenous texture that makes a frozen margarita so great. And opening up a can of frozen limeade is way easier than cutting and squeezing enough lemons to make a blenderful of drinks.
The frozen limeade method does have one drawback: That stuff is pretty high in calories. But so are tequila and orange liqueur! And anyway, you’re not drinking frozen margaritas for the health benefits.
The only other ingredients you’ll need are tequila, orange liqueur and plenty of ice.
Here’s a step-by-step process for frozen margaritas that are as easy to make, and as delicious, as any you’ll ever try.
1. Fill your blender to the top with ice, making sure none of the chunks of ice are too big.
2. Pour in tequila up to a third of the way up the ice. No need to get out a measuring tape or anything, though — just eyeball it. Exact measurements are NOT important in this recipe.
3. Add triple sec or another orange liqueur until the liquid reaches about the halfway point on the blender.
4. Add half a can of frozen limeade concentrate. If the tequila and orange liqueur made the ice melt significantly, add a little more. You really want to cram as much ice as possible in there.
5. Put the top on the blender and blend until smooth.
6. When you take the top off, it should look something like this:
If it’s too thick, add a little more of each liquid and blend again. If it’s too thin, add some more ice again.