Spicy Skinny Margarita

This spicy skinny margarita is for folks looking for all the flavor and balance of a classic cocktail. You just want it in fewer calories.

This skinny margarita is made with a chili-infused spicy tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar. Garnish it with a dried orange slice, and you won’t miss anything but the calories.

a spicy skinny margarita on a tray with dried orange slices, chili peppers, and limes.

What is a skinny margarita?

A skinny cocktail is one that simply has fewer calories than the original. It may or may not have less alcohol.

The classic margarita is a mixed drink made with tequila, Cointreau or other triple sec liqueur, and lime juice in a sour formula. To make a skinny margarita, recipes often call for replacing the Cointreau with orange juice, which has slightly fewer calories.

Purists might argue that this makes this spicy skinny margarita not an actual margarita. But I’m here to say that the skinny margarita is at least more closely related to a margarita than the espresso martini or pornstar martini is to a martini.

Inspiration and adaptation

The starting point for this skinny spicy margarita recipe was my best spicy margarita with jalapeño simple syrup, which clocks in at 218 calories. In developing this recipe, I played around with various ratios of tequila, lime, juice, and sweeteners.

I found that using fresh orange juice didn’t taste right unless I added sweetener. Ultimately, I adapted the Tommy’s margarita for this spicy skinny margarita, because Tommy’s was the clear winner of lower-calorie margaritas.

Tips and tricks

Making spicy tequila

The heat in my spicy margarita recipe comes from jalapeño simple sugar syrup, which I wanted to avoid in making this skinny spicy margarita. That left two options for bringing the heat.

The quickest way to make a spicy margarita is to muddle a jalapeño or other chili pepper in a cocktail shaker and garnish with jalapeño. This makes a raw and intensely spicy jalapeño margarita experience with a cocktail that continues to get spicier!

A more nuanced way to create a spicy margarita is to infuse tequila with chili peppers. Chop jalapeño peppers or pick a different pepper with your desired heat level. (You can check out the Scoville heat units of different chili peppers in my spicy margarita recipe.) Use a combination of peppers to get greater depth of flavor.

Leave the chili peppers to infuse into your tequila for 24 hours or so. You can infuse a shorter time with hotter peppers. Or go longer, depending on the desired heat level.

The hotter the pepper, the hotter the tequila. Remember the goal is not to blow your palate on a spicy tequila.

thai chili pepper and red chili pepper in tequila in a small glass jar.

Agave nectar

Agave nectar is the perfect sweetener to complement the agave-based tequila in a skinny margarita. If you can, pick an amber agave, which has a darker color and richer taste than light agave in the same number of calories.

Spicy margarita salt

The spicy salt rim on this skinny margarita is made with salt and a bit of chipotle powder. Mix them together, and then rim half the glass.

You can serve a margarita neat or on the rocks, so you’ve got a choice of coupe, lowball, or highball glass. Even a mason jar works just fine, if that’s what you have.

How to rim a glass with salt:

  1. Rub a lime wedge or use a small kitchen paintbrush to create a thin, light line of liquid around the outside rim of your glass. If using a spicy salt rim, consider rimming only half the glass.
  2. Put your salt on a small plate and rotate the glass into the salt at 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 can change the flavor of your cocktail.
  3. Tap off any excess and prepare your cocktail. Cheers!

chipotle salt on a plate.

Making the spicy skinny margarita

Add all of your ingredients and ice into a cocktail shaker and shake for about 10 seconds. Shake a bit longer if you’re serving your margarita neat.

Garnish your skinny margarita with your orange slice or lime wheel, and enjoy! I’d really encourage you to make and use dehydrated orange slices for this skinny margarita recipe, because they add a strong perfume of orange that would typically be provided by Cointreau.


Who created the Tommy’s margarita?

Julio Bermejo made the Tommy’s margarita at Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco in the 1980s. The margarita and the restaurant are named for Julio’s father. You can read more about Julio Bermejo and all about tequila here.

What is agave?

Agave is a genus of succulents native to hot and dry regions of North, Central, and South America. The stalk, leaves, flowers, and sap (agave nectar) are all edible. Tequila is produced by the fermentation and distillation of agave nectar.

What’s the difference between mezcal vs tequila?

Tequila must be made from A. tequiliana or “blue agave”, whereas mezcal can be made from other agave species. Therefore, in the Venn diagram of liquors, tequila is a subset of mezcal, and all tequilas are technically mezcals.

Do mezcal and tequila only come from Mexico?

Yes, similar to the labeling of Champagne, bottles labeled mezcal or tequila must come from certain regions of Mexico. However, distilleries in other regions of the world are working hard to create other agave-based spirits.

a spicy skinny margarita garnished with dried orange on a white tray with another dried orange, chili pepper, and limes.


Once you’ve made and strained your chili pepper-infused tequila, you can store it with your other spirits. That is to say, store your spicy tequila in a cool, dark place.

Related recipes

Check out the uglyducklingbakery beverage archives for other delicious under 200 calorie cocktails like the dry martini, Aperol Negroni, Negroni spritz, blueberry gin and tonic, rose syrup French 75, lavender gimlet, or gin espresso martini.

Enjoy your spicy skinny margarita with this amazing taco meatloaf and spicy pickled onions. Or serve margaritas as a pre-dinner cocktail with chips and this easy four ingredient guacamole recipe.

Spicy Skinny Margarita

5 from 1 vote
Category: Drinks
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Infused tequila: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 10 minutes
Servings: 1
Calories: 182kcal
This spicy skinny margarita is for folks looking for all the flavor and balance of a classic margarita but want it all in fewer calories. It's made with a chili-infused spicy tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar. Garnish your skinny margarita with a dried orange slice, and you won't miss anything but the calories.
Print Recipe


  • 1 Cocktail shaker


Chili-infused spicy tequila

  • 2 ounces silver (blanco) tequila ideally 100% agave and not mixto
  • 1 jalapeño or other chili pepper

Spicy margarita salt

  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • teaspoon chipotle powder
  • ½ lime for wetting the outer rim of the glass

Spicy skinny margarita

  • 2 ounces spicy tequila
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • ½ ounce amber agave nectar
  • dried orange slice or lime wheel for garnish


Chili-infused spicy tequila

  • Slice your chili pepper and put it into a clean glass jar with 2 ounces of tequila per cocktail. Leave the jar in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
    2 ounces silver (blanco) tequila, 1 jalapeño or other chili pepper
  • Strain out the pepper and seeds.
  • If not using right away, store the spicy tequila in a cool, dark place.

Spicy margarita salt

  • Combine the salt and chipotle powder on a small plate.
    2 tablespoons coarse salt, ⅛ teaspoon chipotle powder
  • Rub the lime wedge around the outside of half of the glass.
    ½ lime
  • Hold the glass at a 45 degree angle and rotate the outside edge of the glass into the spicy salt. Tap off any excess.

Spicy skinny margarita

  • Combine the spicy tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar in your cocktail shaker with a handful of ice. Shake for 10 seconds if serving your margarita over ice. Shake for 15 seconds if you are serving it neat.
    2 ounces spicy tequila, 1 ounce lime juice, ½ ounce amber agave nectar
  • Double strain into your prepared glass, garnish with the dehydrated orange slice or lime wheel, and enjoy!
    dried orange slice or lime wheel


Use a jalapeño for a spicy skinny margarita that’s just a little spicy.  Or make this spicy skinny margarita even spicier by using hotter peppers.


Calories: 182kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 35mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 14IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.1mg
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What’s next

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