We Tried 19 Margarita Mixes — And the Winner Tasted Like Freshly Squeezed Limes

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No cocktail is more prevalent or popular than the margarita. It’s the most-ordered and most-searched cocktail in the United States, according to a 2023 survey by Nielsen, which means for many of us, it’s our go-to drink whether we’re out and about or hanging at home. And sure, it’s pretty easy to make a good margarita from scratch. But you know what’s even easier — especially when you’re having a big group over? Reaching for a store-bought mix. 

Pre-made cocktail mixes in general have a reputation for tasting artificial or overly sweet (this was the biggest concern for our tasters prior to this test), so we were curious to see if any could compare to homemade. A tall order! Margarita mixes haven’t taken over the shelves like canned cocktails, but a quick trip (or three) to our local grocers and nearby liquor stores revealed over a dozen different kinds of margarita mixes and even more available online.

We tested 19 margarita mixes across three categories — Classic (aka lime), Fruity, and Spicy — focusing on ones that are widely available throughout the country and reasonably priced. (No one here is spending $20+ on a mix, and we don’t expect you to either.) We also looked at recent sales data and new launches to round out the selection. After two days of tasting and tallying, these are the margarita mixes we’d definitely buy again.

Best Classic Margarita Mix: Powell & Mahoney Craft Cocktail Mixers Classic Margarita 

Of the three categories, this was the hardest to judge. A classic margarita has just three ingredients: tequila, freshly squeezed lime juice, and agave nectar (or simple syrup). And it turns out recreating that simplicity in bottled form is challenging. Without any intentionally added flavors (more on that below), there’s nothing to hide behind, which is why Classic Margarita Mix from Powell & Mahoney Craft Cocktail Mixers really stood out. 

Several people said it was one of the most “natural looking” of the lineup. Most of the mixes we tried fell in the “too sweet” or “very artificial” buckets, or both. But the Powell & Mahoney’s flavor “tastes like it was made with actual limes,” says Maria, our senior designer. Some called it overpowering, either because of the tartness or sweetness, but said they would tinker with the mix’s recipe to balance it out. It was the one most people agreed they’d pick up when having people over on, say, a Friday night. 

Runner-Up: Filthy Margarita Mix

We only include runners-up when they’re truly worth mentioning, and Filthy Margarita Mix is that mix. It only has four ingredients — filtered water, fresh lime juice, organic blue agave nectar, ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C) — and was sooooo close, like half a point away, from taking the top spot. Similar to Powell & Mahoney, this mixed marg impressively resembled a from-scratch cocktail. 

Some tasters found the level of lime a bit too strong, while others dubbed this mix the most refreshing of the group. “It went down very easily,” says Blair, our shopping editor. Plus, and this was a nice after-the-fun fact, the pouches are just so totable.

Best Fruity Margarita Mix: Zing Zang Mango Margarita Mix

The name alone — Zing Zang — has energy. What we did notice immediately was the bright orange hue of this Mango Margarita Mix. (It was impossible not to!) That vibrant shade comes from mango purée and beta carotene, the natural pigment that gives orange sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, and more their coloring. There are no artificial dyes or preservatives in this bottle.

The smell was more muted (some people picked up notes of mango; others not so much … or at all). The flavor was another bright spot; while it lacked the distinct taste of the ripe fruit, it was still refreshing and pleasantly sweet with a creamy aftertaste.

Runner-Up: Stonewall Kitchen Pink Grapefruit Margarita Mixer 

The look. The smell. The flavor. All of it SCREAMED grapefruit, and had there not been at least two (and as many as four) people who “don’t like grapefruit,” the Stonewall Kitchen Pink Grapefruit Margarita Mixer could have easily nabbed the top spot. But everyone agreed: That pastel shade is undeniable. 

True to its muse, Stonewall Kitchen’s mixer was Tart with a capital T. It was noticeably less sweet than all other mixes in this category, even though the package instructions call for triple sec in addition to tequila (it was also the only mix that required any additional ingredients beyond tequila), with a nice citrus finish. “It’d be a solid party or potluck contribution — and not one you’d expect others to show up with,” says Mara, our senior lifestyle editor, groceries. Just don’t forget the triple sec! 

Best Spicy Margarita Mix: Hella Habanero Margarita Mix

This bottle proves looks matter, but they aren’t everything. Hella’s Habanero Margarita Mix was the lightest in color, which many people found off-putting. But the balance between the sweetness, citrus, and spice won nearly everyone over (there’s always one, right?). 

Both self-proclaimed spice-averse and spice fans awarded Hella’s mix 4s and 5s for its flavor — the lowest it received was a 3 (which we can’t say for any other contender in this category). Brenda, our SEO director, summed it up perfectly: “A solid standard margarita with a slightly spicy kick.” 

Runner-Up: Powell & Mahoney Craft Cocktail Mixers Jalapeño Margarita 

Do the people at Powell & Mahoney know margarita mixes or what? This Jalapeño Margarita mix was the spiciest of the group — by far — and received a #1 ranking three times more than all other mixes in this category. 

Tasters could clearly get a whiff of the jalapeño, which all but one person commented on for better (“wonderfully fragrant”) or worse (“don’t love it”). It had “a bit too much of a bite” for some people, but for those who wished Hella’s “spice was more in-your-face,” like Justine, our recipe production coordinator, Powell & Mahoney nailed it. “I love how it lingers.”

How We Tested the Margarita Mixes

We held a blind taste test of 19 different margarita mixes across three categories — Classic, Fruity, and Spicy — and recruited 15 margarita fans, plus one “Texas-level margarita enthusiast” (so you know they’re qualified), who work in our office to participate over two days (classic mixes on the first day, followed by fruity and spicy mixes on day two).

Unsurprisingly, everyone we spoke to said they drink their margarita mixes with alcohol, mainly tequila, which is how we sampled them too. Each mix was batched according to the package instructions by Thomas, our studio producer, who is also a veteran bartender with five years of experience working at various bars and restaurants across New York. We used Sauza Hacienda Silver Tequila across all three categories (you know, to keep things consistent and because it’s budget-friendly, 100% agave, and good for mixing — also because Thomas recommended it). Each margarita pitcher was assigned a letter to conceal the brand’s identity.

With the exception of one brand, all the mixes simply called for the addition of tequila — although ratios varied slightly. One of the mixes, in both the classic and fruity categories, also listed triple sec as an ingredient in the recipe instructions, so we included it in those specific batches. We also had water and tortilla chips on hand for palate cleansing and snacking. We love snacks.

Tasters rated each of the margarita mixes on a scale of one to five (1 = No, thanks; 2 = Meh; 3 = Pretty good; 4 = Really like; 5 = Yes, Please!) across three criteria — look, smell, and flavor — and included any specific observations, tasting notes, and general opinions worth mentioning. They were asked to rank their top three favorites across each category and to answer, arguably, the most important question of all: Would you buy this mix?

This was a blind taste test, which means tasters had no knowledge of the brands being evaluated prior to, or at the time of, the tasting. It was held over two days and tasters were instructed to sample the margarita mixes in random order (to stave off palate fatigue and give any one mix an unfair advantage). The group of tasters included a mix of food professionals and margarita enthusiasts who work at The Kitchn and/or Apartment Therapy Media (The Kitchn’s parent company). All participated in the taste test voluntarily, and we thank them for being so generous with their time and feedback. 

Speaking of, each taster filled out a score sheet (without discussion or influence) ranking mixes across several criteria (listed above). The results were also tabulated without any visibility into the brands. Only after the numbers were finalized did we reveal which brands corresponded to the winners.

Did your favorite margarita mix make the list? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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