A common misconception about margaritas is that they are loaded with carbs and calories but really a standard margarita has only 16 grams of carbohydrates in it, which is less than half the amount of carbohydrates in a cup of blackberries or raisins.
Margaritas are delicious and we love to serve them at our Mexican dinner theme parties, but even at 16 grams of carbs they are a little too carb heavy for me. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up that sweet and sour goodness! You just need to make a few substitutions to lower the total carbs in a margarita.
What is a Margarita?
A margarita is a sweet and tangy cocktail made with tequila, triple sec, and lime juice. It is served either on the rocks or blened, in a salt-rimmed glass which has been dipped into salt, or salted to taste.
Margaritas are one of the most popular cocktails in the world; it is consumed in different styles around the world – from straight up with salt to frozen, on the rocks and blended with fruit juices for a slushie-like texture.
How Many Carbs are in a Margarita?
The answer to this question depends on exactly what goes into your margarita. The classic margarita recipe calls for 2 ounces of tequila, 1 ounce of Cointreau or Triple Sec, and 1 ounce of lime juice.
- Tequila = 0 grams
- Cointreau = 7 grams
- Lime juice = 2.6 grams
So as you can see, if you were to make the margarita according to the classic recipe, it would be 9.6 grams of carbs.
That’s quite a bit less than the 16 grams of carbs we quoted above, right? Well that’s because it’s very unlikely that a bar or restaurant will stick to the classic recipe. In fact, the classic is generally too strong and no sugary enough for the typical drinker. Thus, sugar is added or the Cointreau is doubled.
Generally 1/2 ounce of agave syrup or simple syrup is also added to a margarita to sweeten it. There are 11 grams of carbs in 1/2 ounce of agave syrup.
All of a sudden, your 10 carb margarita is 21 carbs.
Why Are Carbs in a Margarita Bad For You?
Carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet, but the carbs in alcohol are different from the carbs in food. Your body treats them differently, and as a result, calorie counts for drinks and traditional meals can be very different.
It’s not just the calories you have to worry about when you order a margarita; it’s also the sugar content. Margaritas often come with sugar-laden mixes, and if you’re not careful, you can end up taking in more than your daily recommended amount of sugar by drinking one cocktail.
If you’re on a low-carb diet, you’re likely only eating between 20-70 grams of carbs a day. It’s important that those carbs are meaningful and not just empty carbs from sugar, so wasting your carb count on a margarita isn’t the healthiest choice.
How to Limit the Carbs in a Margarita?
In this article, we’ll explore how you can limit the carbs in a margarita.
The first thing you want to do is look at the ingredients. In most cases, tequila has no carbohydrates, so you’re good there. But margarita mixers do contain carbs. For example, some mixes have simple syrups that have sugar in them. So skip the mixer and use fresh squeezed lime juice instead.
Secondly, if you use lemon juice instead of lime juice, that will also lower the carb count. There are 2.1 grams of carbs in lemon juice, to 2.6 grams of carbs in lime juice.
Next, you have to look at what kind of alcohol you are using. Some brands of tequila have more carbohydrates than others. Cointreau has quite a bit of carbs. If you replace it with your own homemade sugar-free Cointreau, it will significantly lower the carbs in this cocktail.
Finally, if the cocktail isn’t sweet enough for you, add a sugar free substitute, like Allulose syrup or Stevia drops instead. Or you can make your own simple syrup with a sugar substitute.
Sugar Substitutes to Use for a Margarita
Sugar substitutes are an excellent way to cut out excess calories from your diet. If you’re watching your weight and want to add something sweet to your margarita, here are some excellent options for you.
- Keto Simple Syrup – This simple syrup is pretty much the easiest thing you can buy to add to cocktails and drinks to give them some sweetness without sugar. It’s made with monk fruit and allulose.
- Stevia drops are one of the easiest sugar substitutes to add to drinks because it doesn’t need to dissolve like granulated sugar would.
- Allulose syrup is one of my favorite alternatives to simple syrup. It’s almost as sweet as sugar and mixes right in.
- Erythritol or Swerve – you can use a granulated sugar but you’d want to dissolve it in water first, by making a simple syrup that you will add to the cocktail.
How to Make a Low-Carb Margarita
Low carb margaritas are a delicious alternative to the classic version. Here I’ll show you how to make one by using simple ingredients that can be found in your local grocery store. This recipe will also work for those on a keto diet.
This version contains just 3 net grams of carbs per cocktail. We accomplish this by not using the Cointreau and sweetening the cocktail with sugar-free simple syrup instead. We use an orange peel to give the orange flavor.
The low carb margarita is a long-standing favorite of mine. I’ve posted this recipe on our site before, but I’ll also share it with you here.
This is a simple recipe that, with a little practice, can be whipped up in no time. Once you’ve got this recipe down, you can start experimenting with all sorts of variations.
- 1/2 tablespoon coarse rim salt
- 1 1/2 ounces tequila
- 1 ounce fresh lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar-free simple syrup add more, if desired
- 1″ piece of orange peel
- 1 lime wedge
To make the simple syrup, combine sugar and water in a pot in a 1:1 ratio. You don’t need a lot of syrup for this cocktail, but you’ll want to make at least 1/2 cup sugar to 1/2 cup water so it doesn’t completely evaporate in the pot.
Cool the simple syrup completely. Then mix together all of these ingredients in your glass over ice. Spritz the cocktail with the orange peel. Garnish with a lime wedge.
You can rim the glass with salt if you like. I usually skip this step unless I’m serving these to guests. It’s not necessary to add all that extra salt.
As you can see, there are quite a few carbs in a regular margarita and it’s not ideal for a low-carb or keto diet. However, with just a few changes, you can make a cocktail that tastes very much the same, but with only 3 net grams of carbs. That’s winning!
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Laura is an avid home cook and recipe creator. She shares her favorite low-carb recipes here that are both easy to make and full of flavor, so you don’t even miss the carbs.