Tequila time: What to serve with the 5 most popular margarita flavors

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If you’ve ever wondered what to order to pair with the various margarita flavors, you’ve come to the right place. From quesadillas to sopapillas, there’s a marg for just about everything. 

a lime margarita in a blue striped martini glass next to a plate of nachos.
Lime margarita and nachos. Photo credit: Pexels

Whether it’s Taco Tuesday or a regular Tuesday, it’s no secret that a margarita is a delicious drink. 

Sweet, sour and a little salty, these crushable tequila cocktails are a cinch to make and drink. 

Margaritas are typically made with a base of fresh lime juice, tequila and a sweetener like simple syrup or agave. Sometimes they also include orange liqueur like triple sec or, for more top-shelf margaritas, Cointreau or Grand Marnier. (Skinny margaritas incorporate a splash of orange juice.)

A drink from Mexico, margaritas pair well with most Mexican recipes. And when you pair certain margarita flavors with the right foods, your taste buds are in for a real treat. 

Whether you like your margs spicy or mild, frozen or on the rocks, there’s a combination here just for you. 

Classic margaritas

A traditional margarita served on the rocks goes with lots of different dishes, so it’s a great choice if you don’t know what you’re going to order at a Mexican restaurant. 

“My favorite margaritas are just classic margaritas with all the regular ingredients but served on the rocks instead of blended. They’re so surprisingly refreshing,” says Laura Sampson of Little House Big Alaska.

Citrus goes well with anything salty, so a regular margarita is a great match for happy hour while you munch on chips and salsa. 

You can also pair these delicious drinks with anything that contains lime, like ceviche or fish tacos. 

“Living in Texas gave me a great appreciation for margaritas. The best are made with fresh lime and a great quality tequila, and are served in a colossal glass with a salted rim,” says Chef Jenn Allen of Cook What You Love. “My favorites are served right in the cocktail shaker so you can shake and pour until the shaker is empty. Of course, you need to pair your tequilas with sizzling fajitas, but anything off the grill or smoker is equally delish.”

Examples of classic margaritas — these all have the classic lime taste but with a twist: 

  • Mezcal margarita — made with other types of mezcal instead of tequila (tequila is technically a type of mezcal).
  • Reposado margarita — made with reposado tequila that’s been aged in oak barrels. 
  • Blue margarita — made with blue curaçao as the orange liqueur, which dyes the cocktail blue. 
  • Cadillac margarita — made with a the finest tequila (anything top-shelf, such as Patron) and Grand Marnier.

And while not technically a margarita, the Paloma is another tequila cocktail to know. It’s the official cocktail of Mexico (not the margarita!) and is full of beach vibes. Made with grapefruit juice, it can work well with similar dishes to the lime margarita. 

a frozen strawberry margarita with a sugar rim and a lime wedge.
Frozen strawberry margarita. Photo credit: Unsplash

Frozen margaritas

While not technically a flavor, frozen margaritas are a must for hot summer days or whenever you encounter a little spice on your plate. They come in lots of flavors, from classic lime to strawberry or peach.  

Classic dishes with a hint of heat, like fajitas or chicken enchiladas with homemade enchilada sauce, work really well with any frozen margarita flavor. 

“There’s something extra special about pairing a frozen margarita with enchiladas, especially when they have green chile,” says Madison Wetherill, food blogger at Joyfully Mad. “A good margarita always brings me back to our rehearsal dinner celebrating our wedding with friends and family at our favorite New Mexican restaurant.” 

Frozen versions of the classic margarita recipe include: 

  • Frozen lime margaritas 
  • Frozen peach margaritas
  • Frozen strawberry margaritas

Fruity margaritas

Refreshing margaritas can also have a base of fresh fruit purée or fruit juice, such as a strawberry, peach or prickly pear margarita. Sweet and tart, a fruity margarita pairs best with milder foods. 

Fruity margaritas also work well with sweeter foods too, so try them with a dessert like flan, sopapillas, tres leches cake or sorbet. 

Examples of fruity margaritas: 

  • Watermelon margarita
  • Mango margarita
  • Pineapple margarita 
  • Passion fruit margarita 
  • Apple cider margarita 

Floral margaritas

Margaritas with a hint of floral flavor, like hibiscus margaritas (also called jamaica margaritas) or elderflower margaritas, work well with all kinds of dishes. They can help to round out spicy dishes, but a milder dish lets the floral flavor shine. 

“There’s a restaurant near me that serves jamaica margaritas that are so good with their spicy Mexican dishes, like chorizo tacos with spicy salsa rojo,” says cookbook author Robin Donovan, who also runs the blog All Ways Delicious

Some of the best margarita recipes with floral flavor: 

  • ​Lavender margarita
  • St. Germain margarita (elderflower) 
  • Cucumber margarita 
three jalapeño margaritas on a wood table.

Spicy margaritas

Spicy margaritas usually contain a spicy tequila or simple syrup. When it comes to food pairings for cocktails with heat, you could go one of two ways.  

Because dairy helps to quell spice on your tongue, a spicy margarita marries well with a cheesy dish like queso fundido, arroz con pollo or a simple quesadilla. 

But since spice begets spice, don’t be afraid to order a spicy drink with a spicy dish like chiles rellenos —  if you like hot foods.  

A milder dish like tacos or fajitas with seared vegetables will also work nicely with spicy margs.

Some examples of different flavors of spicy margaritas: 

  • Jalapeño margarita
  • Habanero margarita
  • Ginger margarita 
  • Chili powder on the rim of any margarita flavor

Margarita rim flavors

Another way to adjust the flavor of a margarita is to utilize a flavored salt or sugar on the rim of the glass. 

Salt on the rim tends to balance out the sweetness of the lime juice and agave nectar in the cocktail, while a sugar rim makes each sip sweeter. 

 Here are a few ideas for rimmers that will transform your drinks: 

  • Sea salt
  • Orange salt
  • Granulated sugar
  • Tajín chili lime seasoning
  • Cinnamon sugar
  • Ranch seasoning
  • Crushed pop rocks candy 
  • Sprinkles 

Use lemon or lime juice to adhere salty rims and sugar rims. For sweet ones like sprinkles and candy, use honey to help them adhere to the glass better. 

A top-down shot of shrimp tacos.
Shrimp tacos. Image source: Depositphotos

Margaritas for a crowd

If you’re hosting a party, set up a margarita bar with a few pitchers of different margarita flavors, garnishes and rim salts as well as a taco bar for guests to pile on their favorite taco toppings. 

Margarita lovers should stock their bar with the ultimate cocktail mixer, margarita mix. Also called sour mix, it makes mixing up margs quick and easy, especially when making a big batch. 

Whether it’s Cinco de Mayo or not, a good margarita is a great way to pretend you’re on the beach in Cozumel. The only question is, which margarita flavor pairing will you try first? 

Based in Charlotte, N.C., Susannah Brinkley Henry is the cocktail content creator behind the blog Feast + West. Her work has been featured in Southern Living, Oprah Daily, Buzzfeed, and more. In 2019, her website was a finalist in the Saveur Blog Awards for Best Entertaining Blog. As a professional graphic designer, photographer, writer, and recipe developer, Susannah helps home bartenders and drink enthusiasts level up their cocktail skills.  

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