Spicy Margarita with Jalapeño Simple Syrup

This spicy margarita recipe is made with jalapeño simple syrup and a chipotle salt rim. It’s the perfect cocktail for Taco Tuesday or to accompany any spicy meal. Or serve it with chips and guacamole at your next game night.

The margarita is a sour and relative of the sidecar cocktail. That classic cocktail is made with brandy, triple sec (an orange-flavored liqueur), and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

The margarita subs tequila for brandy and lime juice for lemon to give you a final base of tequila, triple sec, and lime juice. You can keep it dry, or make it sweeter with simple syrup, like with the jalapeño simple syrup used in this spicy margarita.

a spicy margarita surrounded by colorful chili peppers.

Chili peppers

There are thousands of types of chili peppers, and they definitely aren’t all the same. Chili pepper spiciness is rated by Scoville scale.

Each pepper is given a range of values. You might bite into one and find it mild. Bite into another, and it might be spicier. It’s a linear scale, so the average habanero is 100 times spicer than a poblano.

The peppers shown in the photo below (from left to right starting with the top row) include:

  • Anaheim – 1,000 to 10,000 Scoville heat units
  • Poblano – 1,000 to 2,500
  • Jalapeño – 2,500 to 10,000
  • Serrano – 10,000 to 25,000
  • “Thai” Chili Peppers – 50,000 to 100,000
  • Fresno – 2,500 – 10,000
  • Habanero – 100,000 to 350,000
seven different types of chili peppers.

If you want to make this spicy margarita spicier, feel free to make your simple syrup with a spicier pepper.

Chili pepper injuries

ProTip: always be careful when you slice a jalapeño not to touch your eyes, especially if you wear contacts, or your other sensitive bits! Read more about how to treat your eyes if you get chili oil in them (and also about margarita dermatitis) in this piece about surprising hazards in the kitchen.

Tips and tricks for this spicy margarita recipe

The salt rim is another place where you can make your margarita more or less spicy. Use a higher proportion of chile powder to make it spicier. Or only rim half the glass with the chipotle salt if you want to be cautious.

a plate with speckled chipotle salt.

You can serve a margarita neat. Or serve it with a single rock cube. Or enjoy it with crushed ice if you want to dilute it a bit more. Your preference.

a spicy margarita garnished with lime and surrounded by chili peppers.

FAQs about this recipe

Is it spelled chile, chili, or chilli?

This is one spelling problem that often confuses people. Merriam-Webster says that, depending on where you are from, all of those could be correct when talking about the vegetable. Oops, no. Technically peppers are fruits.

If you’re buying spices, know that chili powder is a blend that often includes non-pepper spices and can range from mild to spicy. In contrast, a chile powder should be made from only dried peppers.

Finally, when you’re talking about a bowl of hot, spicy goodness, you’re talking about chili. We can debate somewhere else whether that bowl of chili can have beans or tomatoes or anything other than meat.

What’s the best tequila to use in this spicy margarita?

A middle shelf blanco or silver tequila is what you want when you’re making tequila cocktails. This is not the time to use your expensive reposado.

How long will my jalapeño simple syrup keep in the refrigerator?

You can read more about simple syrups here. A one to one simple syrup made with equal amounts of sugar and water will keep for a week or two in the refrigerator.

What could I substitute for jalapeño in this recipe?

If you cannot find a jalapeño pepper and want only a mildly spicy margarita, feel free to substitute a serrano or Fresno. If you want a really spicy margarita, go ahead and try one of the hotter peppers as a substitute for jalapeño!

Related recipes

Check other cocktails from the uglyducklingbakery beverage archives like the jalapeño raspberry bramble or vodka sour with blackberry syrup. Or serve this with a taco meatloaf or chips and guacamole.

Spicy Margarita

5 from 1 vote
Category: Drinks
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 1
Calories: 218kcal
This spicy margarita recipe is made with jalapeño simple syrup and a chipotle salt rim. It's the perfect cocktail for Taco Tuesday or to accompany any spicy meal. Or serve it with chips and guacamole at your next game night.
Print Recipe

Equipment

  • 1 Cocktail shaker

Ingredients

Jalapeño simple syrup

  • ½ cup (100 grams) sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 jalapeño, sliced

Chipotle salt

  • 2 tablespoons kosher or table salt
  • teaspoon chipotle powder
  • ½ lime for rimming the glass and as garnish

Spicy margarita

  • 2 ounces (60 milliliters) tequila
  • ¾ ounce (22 milliliters) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ ounce (15 milliliters) Cointreau or other triple sec
  • ½ ounce jalapeño simple syrup

Instructions

Jalapeño simple syrup

  • Combine the sugar and water in a small pot, and heat over low to medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.
    ½ cup (100 grams) sugar, ½ cup water
  • Turn off the heat, add the sliced jalapeño to the pot, and let cool.
    1 jalapeño, sliced
  • When cool, strain into a clean jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

Chipotle rim

  • Combine the salt and chipotle powder on a small plate.
    2 tablespoons kosher or table salt, 1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • Rub the cut edge of a lime around the top quarter inch of the outside edge of your glass.
  • Gently roll the top edge of the glass on the plate with the chipotle salt.

Spicy margarita

  • Add the tequila, lime juice, Cointreau, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into the rimmed glass.
    2 ounces (60 milliliters) tequila, ½ ounce (15 milliliters) Cointreau or other triple sec, ½ ounce jalapeño simple syrup, ¾ ounce (22 milliliters) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Garnish with a lime wedge or wheel. Enjoy!

Notes

Variations
  • Make it spicier by using a hotter pepper.
  • Make it sweeter by using 3/4 ounce triple sec and 3/4 ounce simple syrup.
  • Serve it neat, over rock ice, or crushed ice.

Nutrition

Calories: 218kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 10mg | Potassium: 39mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 11IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg
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