This cranberry margarita recipe is a festive addition to your Thanksgiving or Christmas menu, but is 100% delicious all year round!
Why you’ll love it: This cocktail is easy to make and not too sweet.
How long it takes: 10 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: juicer, small pitcher
Servings: 5 cocktails, and it’s easy to double or triple the recipe.
We do a small-ish Thanksgiving; my parents, Ben’s parents, my sister and her family, and us of course. That comes out to 8 adults and 4 kids and it’s always a really relaxed and fun day.
Usually my mom comes over early and helps me cook a little (no surprise there, right?) and then everyone else comes and we snack on cheeseboards and appetizers, and sip on wine until the dinner is ready.
This year, I’m thinking we need to make these margaritas instead of having wine for our appetizer hour. They’re fun, festive, and so delicious (maybe too delicious, actually…these are a little dangerous).
About this Margarita
We’re not totally reinventing the wheel here. A cranberry margarita still boasts the flavors you’d expect in a classic margarita: lime, orange, and tequila.
The twist is the pretty red cranberry juice. It’s festive, tangy, and oh-so-pretty. I love cranberry juice in this cranberry gin and tonic with rosemary or a refreshing Bay Breeze cocktail, too. It’s nice and tart so your drinks aren’t sugary sweet. Cranberry juice cocktails really complement appetizers, or cheese and crackers.
For a little fancier soirée, serve them with this fancy looking but easy to make baked brie topped with cranberries and bourbon pecans. For more informal gatherings, make homemade cranberry salsa (with only two ingredients!) and serve it with chips or crackers. Homemade crostini topped with various goodies are always a hit, too.
Look for the printable recipe with measurements and complete instructions at the end of the post.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Cranberry Juice: Look for brands that are 100% cranberry juice. Many popular brands are cranberry beverages, with lots of sugar and not much cranberry.
- Tequila: Choose your favorite brand of plata, silver, or white tequila.
- Orange Liqueur (Triple Sec): Cointreau and Grand Marnier are a couple of well-known brands but there are lots more.
- Orange Juice: Buy a few oranges and squeeze them for the freshest, best flavor.
- Lime Juice: Same with the lime juice. Don’t use concentrates or bottled juice — it’s just not as good.
- Garnishes: Lime wedges, orange wedges, fresh cranberries, sugar for the rim…choose one or use them all. Personally, I really like to top the cocktail with a few fresh cranberries; the pops of dark red make this margarita extra pretty especially around the holidays. It’s also fun to serve these with sugared cranberries.
Triple sec (or curaçao) is a dry orange liqueur, that has fruity flavors along with notes of bitter and sweet. There are lots of varieties of triple sec. Margaritas almost always include some type of this orange liqueur.
The recipe below has 205 calories per margarita. The calorie count could vary depending on how much tequila is added, what type of cranberry juice you use, and how much you pour into each glass.
Use a blanco, plata, or silver tequila. There are many brands. Look for one that is made in Mexico from 100% agave.
Make It Your Own
This margarita is great just like the recipe is written, but you can make a few minor changes:
- Double or triple the recipe if you’re expecting a crowd. It’s easy to do and the mixture keeps well in the fridge.
- Substitutions: Try this with pomegranate juice instead for a pomegranate margarita. Another option is a pineapple margarita with pineapple juice.
- Make it sweeter: Add just a touch of simple syrup.
- This margarita is heavy on the orange because I love the way it complements the flavor of the cranberry juice, but you could do more even ratios of lime and orange if you want. If you go this route, you might want to also add a little agave since lime juice is more tart.
- Frozen margaritas: I haven’t tried it that way, but there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work to throw this in a blender with some ice and serve it that way.
- Like some bubbles? Try topping the cocktail with club soda.
- Looking for a punch recipe? Try Strawberry Margarita Punch, it’s one of our favorites!
Make it in advance: Juice the oranges and limes, measure everything out, and keep the mixture in your fridge. You can prepare this the day before you plan to serve the margaritas, perfect if you know you’ll be busy cooking a big meal. All that’s left to do when it’s “margarita time” is rim your glasses in kosher salt and pour the margarita over ice.
- Pomegranate Mojito
- Apple Cider Mocktail
- Bay Breeze Recipe
- Aperol Spritz (how to make the best Aperol spritz!)
- Classic Gin and Tonic Recipe, plus tips to make the best G & T!
- Cherry Martini with Elderflower and Lime
- Hot White Russian
- Red Wine and Cherry Spritzer
- kosher salt for rimming glasses
- 1 ½ cups cranberry juice (look for one that is 100% juice)
- ¾ cup tequila
- ½ cup orange liqueur
- ½ cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
- ¼ cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
- fresh cranberries and orange or lime wedges for garnish, optional
- If desired, rim glasses by dipping the top of the glass into juice and then kosher salt.
- Stir cranberry juice, tequila, orange liqueur, orange juice, and lime juice together; serve over ice. Garnish with fresh cranberries or orange and lime wedges.
- Want it a little sweeter? Try adding just a touch of simple syrup.
- Make a pitcher. This recipe is easily doubled or tripled and you can make it up to a day ahead. Store in the refrigerator.
- Pomegranate juice can be substituted for the cranberry juice for a pomegranate margarita. Or try my pineapple margarita.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.