Spicy Margarita with Jalapeño Simple Syrup
This spicy margarita recipe is made with jalapeño simple syrup and a chipotle salt rim. The end result is a tantalizingly tangy and thirst-quenching cocktail that packs a fiery punch, perfect for those who like a little sizzle in their sips!
A spicy margarita is a great cocktail for Taco Tuesday or to accompany any spicy meal. Or serve those spicy margaritas with chips and guacamole at your next game night.
What’s in a margarita
The margarita is a sour style cocktail 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 cocktail that’s 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 recipe.
The margarita is also a really versatile cocktail. Serve it straight up without ice, on the rocks, or blended with ice for a frozen margarita. Salt the full rim or just half the rim, and garnish with a lime wedge or wheel or a dehydrated slice of orange or other dried citrus.
About 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. It’s a linear scale, so the average habanero is 100 times spicer than a poblano.
Tip from the wise quacker: each type of chili pepper has a range of spiciness. You might bite into a jalapeño and find it mild. Bite into another, and it might be spicier. You can always vary the spiciness in your recipe by picking a pepper with a different Scoville range. Or know that the seeds and ribs are typically the hottest parts.
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
Chili pepper injuries
Always be careful when you slice a jalapeño not to touch your sensitive bits including your eyes! 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.
Variations and substitutions
- As a substitute for jalapeño: if you want only a mildly spicy margarita, substitute a serrano or Fresno. If you want a really spicy margarita, try one of the hotter peppers!
- Reduce the calories with a skinny spicy margarita.
- Add the jalapeño to this blackberry simple syrup recipe to make a spicy blackberry margarita.
Recipe tips and tricks
Making a margarita spicy
There are several ways to infuse your margarita with some heat. The easiest is to buy a bottle of chili-infused tequila!
If you aren’t running a bar or don’t want a full bottle of spicy tequila, it’s easy to make your own chili-infused tequila. Just take your choice of chili peppers, slice them up and put them into a clean jar, add tequila, and wait 24 hours. It’s the waiting that’s the hard part.
The second quickest way to make a spicy margarita is to muddle jalapeño in your cocktail shaker and garnish with some more. This makes an intensely spicy margarita experience, and your cocktail will continue to get spicier and spicier!
The compromise is to add jalapeño to your simple syrup like in this raspberry jalapeño bramble. Combine equal amounts of sugar and water in a small pot over low heat and add your chopped chili pepper. When the sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat, let cool, and strain out the jalapeño as you pour the simple syrup into a clean jar.
If you want to make this spicy margarita spicier, you can make your simple syrup with a spicier pepper. You can read more about simple syrups for cocktails here.
The spicy salt rim
To add a spicy salt rim, rub a lime wedge along the outside rim of your glass. Put your chipotle salt on a small plate and rotate the glass at about a 45 degree angle to get salt only on the outside of the rim. Try to avoid getting salt on the inside rim or it will fall into the cocktail and change the taste.
The spicy rim salt is another place where you can make your margarita more or less spicy. Use a higher proportion of chile powder to make a spicy. Or rim only half the glass with the chipotle salt if you want to be cautious about the spicy margarita rim.
Putting it all together
Cocktails with citrus juices should be shaken. Shake this spicy margarita with ice and double strain into your prepared glass.
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.
What to serve with spicy margaritas
- Tacos or taco meatloaf with sour cream and spicy pickled onions.
- Chips and this 4-ingredient guacamole or mango pico de gallo.
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.
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.
A one to one simple jalapeño simple syrup made with equal amounts of sugar and water will keep for a week or two in the refrigerator. And if you have extra whole chili peppers, they freeze quite well. Who knew?
Related cocktail recipes
Check out other cocktails from the Ugly Duckling Bakery beverage archives like:
Love cocktails and want to explore more? Read all about classic cocktails and bartender basics or join this year’s 52 weeks of cocktails challenge!
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.
- 1 Cocktail shaker
Jalapeño simple syrup
- ½ cup (100 grams) sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 jalapeño, sliced
Spicy rim salt
- 2 tablespoons kosher or table salt
- ⅛ teaspoon chipotle powder
- ½ lime for rimming the glass and as garnish
- 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
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.
Spicy rim salt
- Combine the salt and chipotle powder on a small plate.2 tablespoons kosher or table salt, ⅛ teaspoon chipotle powder
- Rub the cut edge of a lime around the top quarter inch of the outside rim of your glass.½ lime
- Gently roll the outside rim at about a 45 degree angle into the spicy salt.
- Add the tequila, lime juice, Cointreau, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and double 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!
- Make it spicier by using a hotter pepper.
- Make it sweeter by using ¾ ounce triple sec and ¾ ounce simple syrup.
- Serve it neat, over rock ice, or crushed ice.
This spicy margarita with jalapeño simple syrup was first posted May 2, 2022. It was last updated April 21, 2023.
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