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Can you stir a margarita?

A margarita is a classic cocktail that is usually made with tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice. It is often served shaken or blended with ice and garnished with a salt rim. So can you actually stir a margarita instead of shaking or blending it? Let’s take a closer look at the possibilities and best practices for stirring margaritas.

Quick Answer

Yes, you can stir a margarita instead of shaking or blending it. However, shaking or blending is still the preferred method for a few reasons. Shaking helps properly dilute the drink, chill it down, and emulsify the ingredients together. Blending creates a frozen margarita with a smooth, creamy texture. Simply stirring won’t achieve the same level of dilution, chilling, or texture.

Why Do People Shake or Blend Margaritas?

There are a few key reasons why recipes call for shaking or blending margaritas:

  • Dilution – Shaking with ice dilutes the cocktail slightly with water, lowering the alcohol content to a pleasant level.
  • Chilling – Shaking chills the margarita down close to freezing for a refreshing, ice-cold drink.
  • Emulsification – Shaking vigorously emulsifies the ingredients, blending the flavors together smoothly.
  • Texture – Blending creates a frozen, slushy margarita with a creamy, smooth texture.

Simply stirring a margarita does not achieve enough dilution, chilling, emulsification, or textural change. So while it is possible to stir a margarita, shaking or blending is preferred to achieve the intended flavor and mouthfeel.

How to Stir a Margarita

If you do want to stir a margarita rather than shake or blend it, here is one way to go about it:

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice.
  2. Add tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice in your desired proportions (such as 2 oz tequila, 1 oz orange liqueur, 1 oz lime juice).
  3. Add a pinch of salt and 2-3 dashes of agave syrup if desired.
  4. Gently stir for 30-60 seconds until well chilled.
  5. Strain into a chilled margarita glass with fresh ice.
  6. Garnish with a lime wedge or wheel.

The key is to stir gently and for an extended time to chill and slightly dilute the drink without too much agitation. You can also add a small splash of water while stirring to help dilution.

Pros and Cons of Stirring vs. Shaking/Blending

Here is a comparison of the pros and cons of stirring a margarita vs. shaking or blending it:

Method Pros Cons
  • Easier, less physical effort
  • Retains more of the base spirit flavor
  • Less dilution and chilling
  • Ingredients not as integrated
  • Less refreshing mouthfeel
  • Dilutes and chills optimally
  • Emulsifies ingredients together
  • Refreshing, ice-cold drink
  • More physical effort required
  • Can overdilute if shaken too hard/long
  • Frozen, slushy texture
  • Smooth, creamy mouthfeel
  • Needs specific equipment (blender)
  • Not as strong in alcohol flavor

Best Practices for Shaking a Margarita

While you can stir a margarita, for best results it is still best to shake it. Here are some tips for properly shaking margaritas:

  • Use fresh ice and fill shaker at least halfway.
  • Shake vigorously up and down for at least 15-20 seconds.
  • Taste test to check dilution and chilling – shake 5-10 seconds more if needed.
  • Avoid over-shaking more than 30 seconds which can over-dilute the drink.
  • Make sure to use a cocktail shaker with a built-in strainer for clean pouring.
  • Shake hard enough to fully emulsify and blend ingredients.
  • Freshly shake each margarita for best texture – do not batch shake multiples.

How Long Does a Shaken Margarita Last?

A properly shaken margarita that is then strained into a glass filled with fresh ice should taste best within the first 5 minutes. Here is how a shaken margarita tends to deteriorate after shaking:

  • 0-5 minutes: Optimally chilled, diluted, and blended.
  • 5-15 minutes: Still very good, but ice begins melting making it slightly more diluted.
  • 15-30 minutes: Drinkable, but warm and overly diluted as ice melts.
  • 30+ minutes: Warm, watery, and unpalatable as ice fully melts.

For best results, shaken margaritas are ideally consumed immediately after straining. But you likely have a 5-15 minute window where it is still enjoyable, assuming you used enough fresh ice in the serving glass.

How Do You Make a Frozen Margarita Without a Blender?

If you want to make a slushy, frozen margarita texture but don’t have a blender, here are a few possible methods:

Aggressively Shake with Crushed Ice

Use crushed ice instead of cubes in the shaker. Shake as hard as possible for 45-60 seconds. The crushed ice will blend into the drink creating a slushy consistency.

Pre-freeze Ingredients and Shake

Freeze lime juice, orange liqueur, and tequila for at least 24 hours before making the drink. Then shake with ice to blend into a frozen drink.

Mix with Snow Cones

Make snow cones by shaving ice in a food processor or with a snow cone machine. Mix margarita ingredients with the freshly shaved ice like a snow cone to achieve a slushy texture.

Freeze and Blend with a Hand Mixer

Freeze margarita ingredients in ice cube trays or popsicle molds. Place in a bowl and whip up with a hand mixer as they thaw to create a blended, frozen drink.


While it is possible to stir a margarita, doing so does not properly dilute, chill, emulsify, or texture the cocktail like shaking or blending. For best results, margaritas should be shaken vigorously with ice or blended for a frozen version. But in a pinch, you can stir a margarita and still get an enjoyable drink. Shake for optimal flavor and mouthfeel or blend for a creamy, frozen margarita when possible.