Italian Margarita

A lemony Italian margarita is the perfect summer cocktail! Cool off with this bright and citrusy beverage that is super easy to make. You’ll love this fun twist on the classic margarita.

An italian margarita on a white surface.

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Italian Margarita Recipe

Italian margaritas may just be the most perfect drink for summer! Loaded with bright limoncello and fresh basil, it’s such a refreshing cocktail to sip on a warm day. You’ll think you stepped right into Italy!

A lot of Italian margarita recipes, like the one at Olive Garden, have about a shot of amaretto in each cocktail. But I decided to leave out the almond liqueur and use limoncello instead. And WOW did it revolutionize this beverage! The flavors are so bright and citrusy and meld together perfectly.

This easy recipe is a delicious Italian twist on the classic margarita. With just a slightly different flavor profile, it creates a totally different cocktail experience! It’d be a fabulous beverage to serve on pasta night with penne rosa or taco night with some chips & guac, but it’s also lovely to sip on during cocktail hour.

You may have heard of this cocktail from restaurants, but now you can make it all on your own! Made with fresh citrus juices, this tangy cocktail is irresistibly delicious.

More Italian cocktails: Peach BelliniClassic NegroniAperol Spritz

Three margarita cocktails in stemmed glasses, garnished with lime slices and mint leaves, on a white background.

Why you’ll love this recipe

This yummy cocktail is so easy to love! There’s just so much good in this quick and simple recipe:

  • This Italian flair on the classic margarita is really easy to make. You don’t need to be a pro bartender to make delicious cocktails!
  • An Italian margarita is perfect for parties and other celebrations. It’s the perfect balance of elegant and fun!
  • Easily adapt and change this recipe to add other fun ingredients. It’s really easy to change up so that you can make it exactly how you want it.
A close-up view of a refreshing drink with lemon and lime slices, ice cubes, and a basil leaf in a glass, against a white background.

Ingredients

Check out this list of simple ingredients so that you can have everything you need to make Italian margaritas:

Italian Margarita Ingredients

  • tequila: Blanco, or silver tequila, is best for these shots because it is clear and colorless. Gold tequila has added caramel color to make it appear aged, and it will alter the color of this yellow cocktail. I don’t recommend it for these, but it will taste just fine if you use it.
  • limoncello: Did you know you can make your own limoncello?! It’s so good and so easy, but you can usually buy it at the liquor store.
  • lime juice: Making your own lime juice with fresh limes makes a big difference if you have the time!
  • agave nectar: Agave goes well in margaritas because it’s made from the same plant as tequila. However, plain simple syrup will also work.
  • triple sec: You can use any orange liqueur here. Triple sec is very affordable, while a top shelf option like Cointreau would take these up a notch.
  • basil: Shaking these drinks with fresh basil adds the most delicious Italian flavor. Lemon and basil are delicious together! You can also use basil simple syrup here instead of the basil and the agave nectar.

Garnishes

There are so many ways you can garnish this cocktail. I used fresh basil, lemon slices and a homemade Italian salt made with sea salt and a pinch of Italian seasoning. Here are some more ideas:

Substitutions & variations

Feel free to go classic with this recipe and add in some amaretto liqueur in place of the limoncello.

This cocktail is most often made with lime juice, but you can use lemon juice if you want a stronger lemon flavor. Feel free to swap the lemon slices for lime slices too.

You can sweeten this classic cocktail with simple syrup instead of agave nectar if you prefer. Some flavored simple syrup could be fun too!

Make this a sparkling cocktail recipe by topping it with some prosecco or club soda! Or save a bit of time and make this margarita with sour mix instead.

How to Make an Italian Margarita

Follow these simple step by step instructions to make this amazing cocktail:

Glass bowl containing coarse salt mixed with dried herbs on a white background.
An upside-down cocktail glass rimmed with salt on a blue plate, next to a slice of lime, against a white background.

In a small bowl, combine sea salt and Italian seasoning. Then pour some of the mixture onto a plate or shallow bowl.

Rub a lime wedge around the rim of the glass and then roll the margarita glass in the salt to coat the rim. Add ice to the glasses and set it to the side.

A person pours a clear liquid from a small metallic jug into a textured glass on a white surface.
A hand pouring a clear liquid from a metal jigger into a tall glass with ice cubes, on a white surface with a blurred background.
A hand pours syrup from a small metallic jug into a glass filled with ice cubes, set against a white background.
A hand pouring a creamy liquid from a small golden jug into a glass filled with ice, set on a white surface with a lime half visible.
Pouring a golden brown liquid from a jigger into a glass filled with ice cubes, on a white surface with a lime half visible.
A hand garnishing a glass of amber-colored beverage with a basil leaf, set on a white surface with a lime wedge nearby.

Grab your cocktail shaker and fill it with ice, tequila, limoncello, lime juice, agave nectar, triple sec and fresh basil.

A hand holding a golden cocktail shaker, with a partially visible yellow drink inside, against a white background with a hint of lime and green plate.
A cocktail in a glass with a textured surface, covered by a gold shaker top, on a white background with a sliced lime nearby.

Shake well to combine. While shaking helps to chill all the ingredients as it mixes them, it matters especially here because we need the friction from the ice to help release the essential oils in the basil leaves.

Pouring a margarita into a salt-rimmed glass from a cocktail shaker, with a white background.

Strain into the previously prepared glasses and garnish with more fresh basil and some lemon or lime slices.

make it a mocktail

Want to make it non-alcoholic? Here’s what to substitute:

  • Simply swap the tequila 1:1 for a non-alcoholic spirit. I like Ritual tequila alternative and Seedlip Grove 42.
  • Substitute lemonade for the limoncello.
  • Omit the triple sec entirely. You can also use a splash of fresh orange juice or substitute a non-alcoholic orange liqueur such as Lyre’s Orange Sec.

Tips & tricks

With these few simple tips, you can have the best success with this easy and tasty recipe:

  • Always use fresh lime juice for the best flavor! It will taste much better than bottled lime juice.
  • Be sure you shake the cocktail well to evenly incorporate all of the ingredients and ensure that the drink is chilled.
  • For the best results, choose a high quality tequila. A good blanco tequila would fit well with this flavor profile.
Two margarita cocktails with lemon slices and basil leaves, served in salt-rimmed glasses on a white table, with lime halves and a blue plate nearby.

Food pairings

This yummy margarita would pair wonderfully with some fresh homemade pizza made on fluffy homemade pizza crust. It’s great with appetizers like pizza dip and pizza pinwheels too.

These open faced margherita sandwiches would be an elegant pairing. Some lemon garlic shrimp would be super tasty as well.

For quick bites during cocktail hour, these stuffed olives and caprese skewers would be perfect.

A margarita cocktail garnished with lime and mint leaves in a salt-rimmed glass, with additional lime slices and mint in the background.

FAQ

What is an Italian margarita?

This cocktail is a fun, Italian twist on the more widely known classic margarita. It is most often made with amaretto and lime juice, but you can make another version with limoncello for an extra citrusy twist!

Can I make Italian margaritas in a pitcher?

Yup! Just multiply the ingredients for however many servings you want, mix it up in a pitcher, and then add ice or chill in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. Use a basil simple syrup instead of agave nectar to make a bigger batch.

More Margarita Recipes

— Did you make this recipe? —

Please leave a ★★★★★ review or comment below.

An italian margarita on a white surface.

Italian Margarita

Yield: 1 drink
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
This Italian twist on a classic cocktail is irresistibly delicious! So citrusy and so refreshing.
5 from 1 vote
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ingredients

Italian Margarita

  • 1 ½ ounce tequila
  • 1 ounce limoncello
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • ¾ ounces agave nectar
  • ¼ ounce triple sec
  • 5-6 leaves fresh basil plus more for garnish
  • 1-2 slices lemon or lime, for garnish
  • 2 tbsp sea salt for rim
  • ¼ tsp Italian seasoning optional, for the rim

instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine sea salt and Italian seasoning until well-distributed.
  • Pour some Italian salt on a plate. Rub a lime wedge around the edge of a glass. Roll the rim of a margarita glass in the salt to coat the rim. Add ice to the glasses and set aside.
  • In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add tequila, limoncello, lime juice, agave nectar, triple sec and fresh basil. Shake well.
  • Strain into the prepared glasses. Garnish with fresh basil and lemon slices.

notes

Best tequila: Blanco, or silver tequila, is best for this cocktail because it is clear and colorless. Gold tequila has added caramel color to make it appear aged, and it will alter the color of this yellow cocktail. I don’t recommend it for these, but it will taste just fine if you use it.
Tips & tricks: 
  • Always use fresh lime juice for the best flavor! It will taste much better than bottled lime juice.
  • Be sure to shake the cocktail well to evenly incorporate all of the ingredients, get all the essential oils out of the basil and also ensure that the drink is properly chilled.
  • For the best results, choose a high-quality tequila. 
Non-alcoholic Italian margarita:
  • Simply swap the tequila 1:1 for a non-alcoholic spirit. I like Ritual tequila alternative and Seedlip Grove 42.
  • Substitute lemonade for the limoncello.
  • Omit the triple sec entirely. You can also use a splash of fresh orange juice or substitute a non-alcoholic orange liqueur such as Lyre’s Orange Sec.

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nutrition information

Yield: 1 drink

amount per serving:

Serving: 4.5ounces Calories: 297kcal Carbohydrates: 32g Protein: 0.2g Fat: 0.2g Saturated Fat: 0.01g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.03g Sodium: 3mg Potassium: 44mg Fiber: 0.2g Sugar: 28g Vitamin A: 146IU Vitamin C: 13mg Calcium: 9mg Iron: 0.2mg
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