- I made margaritas using recipes from Paula Deen, Ina Garten, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Tyler Florence.
- Deen and Florence’s recipes weren’t my favorite, but with a few tweaks, I think I’d enjoy them more.
- Zakarian’s recipe was my favorite, and it’s closest to the margarita I usually make at home.
Margaritas became popular around the 1930s when they were simply made with tequila, lime juice, and orange liqueur.
As a fan of the cocktail, I decided to give recipes by Paula Deen, Ina Garten, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Tyler Florence a whirl to see which celebrity-chef version would win over my taste buds.
Read on to see how the margaritas turned out.
Deen’s recipe was the simplest of them all
The first thing I noticed was that Deen’s recipe had a short ingredient list: tequila, Grand Marnier orange liqueur, fresh lime juice, and plenty of ice. I was a bit disappointed by the lack of simple syrup or agave, but I figured this blended beverage would still be delicious.
Deen’s recipe also recommends customizing the margarita with ingredients like fresh fruit or mint, but I kept mine traditional to better compare it to the other recipes.
It took a couple of tries to get the correct amount of ice
According to the recipe, the margarita should turn out “smooth and slushy.” I put a generous amount of ice in the blender along with the other three ingredients, but the consistency seemed too thin.
I tried adding more ice, and the consistency did get thicker. But in the end, I made it a tad too thick — it was hard to pour into the glass without making a mess.
The margarita ended up pretty watery
The icy beverage melted quickly, and because the ice was the most prominent ingredient, the taste was quite diluted. It mostly tasted like water with a hint of lime.
I think the addition of strawberries or even a little bit of simple syrup paired with less ice would make this a better margarita.
Garten’s recipe calls for an extra citrus burst
For the most part, Garten’s recipe uses classic ingredients: lime juice, Triple Sec, and tequila. It also includes a splash of lemon juice, but there’s no sweetener in this recipe.
Like many margaritas, this one also calls for salt around the rim of the glass.
There were more steps than I expected
When I first glanced at the recipe, I assumed this was a simple, blended margarita. But Garten prefers her margarita to first be blended, then added to a shaker with ice.
This seemed like an annoyance at first — why not just stick with either blended or shaken? But it turns out this extra step of shaking the blended margarita with ice and straining it into a glass made all the difference.
The margarita was incredibly cold and refreshing
This drink came out ice-cold, and the consistency was like a very thin slushy, without the watery taste. The extra-cold temperature made it refreshing, and the citrus flavor came through on top — I could barely taste the alcohol.
Even without added sweetness, this tangy drink was delicious.
Zakarian’s recipe is similar to my preferred margarita
This margarita came together in no time
Zakarian’s margarita couldn’t be easier to make. After adding salt to the rim of my glass, I added all of the ingredients into a separate measuring cup and stirred.
I typically shake my margaritas, and I would’ve preferred to do that with this margarita because it looked like the agave was settling to the bottom rather than incorporating into the drink.
Still, I was glad it took so little time to throw this cocktail together.
The flavors of citrus, agave, and salt were perfectly balanced
This cocktail was really good. I thought the tartness from the lime juice, the sweetness from the agave, and the saltiness of the rim came together well without any single ingredient overwhelming the drink.
There was a slight bite from the alcohol, but it wasn’t overpowering.
Florence’s recipe makes an ultra-boozy margarita
Florence’s margarita recipe lists multiple alcohols: gold tequila, Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, and a lager-style beer. I wasn’t sure how this margarita would turn out, especially with the addition of beer.
Florence’s recipe also calls for sugar, rather than simple syrup or agave, so I worried it would have a grainy mouth-feel.
You can make this recipe blended or shaken, so I went with shaken
I decided to use my shaker, but this recipe is simple regardless of which way you choose to make it.
I simply added everything but the beer to a shaker with ice, shook it for 20 to 30 seconds, and added a splash of beer. Then I strained the entire concoction into a margarita glass filled with ice.
The drink was unsurprisingly strong
With tequila, two types of orange liqueur, and a splash of beer, this margarita tasted strongly of alcohol.
Even though the amount of beer added was minimal, I could really taste it in every sip, and it wasn’t my favorite.
I could see that the sugar had settled to the bottom of my glass, so the drink didn’t benefit from that sweetness like it would if it were made with a liquid sweetener.
Overall, Zakarian’s recipe won me over
Of the four cocktails, I preferred Zakarian’s recipe. It beautifully balanced the flavors of the lime, salt, alcohol, and agave.
If I were to make it again, I’d add a bit more agave and shake it or blend it instead of stirring it, since I think it’d better incorporate the syrup throughout the drink.
Garten’s recipe was a close second. Although it took a bit longer to blend and shake this margarita, it came out ice-cold. Even without a sweetening agent, it was refreshing and delicious.
For Florence’s margarita, I’d likely leave out the beer and swap out the granulated sugar for simple syrup if I made it again.
Deen’s basic recipe didn’t quite do it for me, but I think it would be delicious with some frozen strawberries mixed in for natural sweetness.