Spicy Margarita

spicy margaritas in 2 glasses

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A tart yet well-balanced margarita with an added spicy kick from muddled jalapeño peppers! This spicy drink has a slow-building heat that will have you feeling the burn (in a good way!).


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 2 - 3 quarter-inch slices of jalapeño, plus more for garnish
  • 1 ounce freshly-squeezed lime juice (from about 1 - 1 1/2 limes), plus extra limes for garnish
  • ice
  • 2 ounces blanco (silver) tequila
  • 1 ounce Cointreau (or other orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Triple Sec)
  • 1/4 ounce (1 1/2 teaspoons) agave syrup, or to taste (optional)


  1. Mix together the kosher salt and chipotle chili powder in a small plate. Rub the juicy part of a cut lime along the edge of your glass of choice, making sure there is ample moisture on the rim so the salt mixture adheres well. Then, roll the wet outside edge of the glass in the chipotle salt mixture. For a thicker layer, gently tap the glass into the mixture rather than rolling. Set the glass aside. (See notes 1 - 2.)
  2. Add the jalapeño pepper slices to a cocktail shaker. Muddle the pepper slices very well; making sure they are very broken down and that juice has began to come out of the peppers. (This step is very important to do thoroughly, this is what gives the drink its heat!)
  3. Leaving the jalapeño peppers in the bottom, fill the cocktail shaker up with ice. Pour in the lime juice, tequila, Cointreau (or other orange liqueur), and optional agave syrup. Seal the cocktail shaker with the lid and shake vigorously for 30 seconds, or until an even layer of condensation appears on the outside of the shaker.
  4. Add fresh ice to the prepared glass. Then, strain the margarita into the glass and garnish with additional jalapeño slices and lime wedges. Serve immediately.


  1.   You can use any type of glass you have on hand; good options are a margarita glass (of course!), an old fashioned glass (aka "rocks" glass), coupe glass, or cocktail glass. 
  2.   When salting the rim, I like to use this tip I learned from Serious Eats, to salt only the outside top edge of the glass, rather than the top rim itself. This helps keep excess salt from entering the drink. Also, there will be some salt mixture left over, since it's hard to get a good adhesion of salt with a very tiny amount. You can use the leftovers to make another drink!
  3.   If you don't have agave syrup, you can substitute simple syrup.
  4.   You can customize the heat level of the drink by adding more or less jalapeño. To really reduce the heat level, you can even remove the seeds and ribs of the jalapeño. To amp up the spice level, you could even try adding a small slice of serrano pepper, which is 3 - 9 times hotter than jalapeño!

Hot pepper safety tips:

If you have sensitive skin or are working with very hot peppers (or, just want to be cautious), wear disposable gloves when handling the peppers.

If you choose not to wear gloves, wash your hands well immediately after handling the peppers (no one wants hot pepper in their eyes!).

Don't look down into the glass while muddling the peppers! You don't want to get splashed in the eye with a drop of pepper juice.

Keywords: margarita, spicy margarita, jalapeño margarita