Low Carb Margaritas for Cinco De Mayo


Low carb, sugar-free margaritas just in time for Cinco de Mayo. Fresh lime juice, tequila and a touch of orange extract for real margarita flavour without the extra carbs.

Low Carb Margarita Recipe

I have very strong opinions about many things, but none more strong than what it takes to make a really good margarita. It actually doesn’t take much at all, because the best margaritas are very simple with no fancy frills or added ingredients. If you choose to take yours blended instead of on the rocks, or without a salted rim, I can forgive you and look past it. But if you tell me that you like sour mix instead of fresh lime juice or you want some added agave for sweetness, I might just punch you in the eye. Yes, that is how strongly I feel about my margaritas. I am a purist and I will accept nothing less.

Just ask my husband. Thankfully, I’ve never had to punch him in the eye as he likes his margaritas the same way I do. Tequila, fresh lime juice, a tiny splash of Triple Sec, over the rocks with a salted rim. But he has seen my frustration at trying to find a bar or a restaurant that can make a REAL MARGARITA like this. Even when I grill the poor server to death and get all of their assurances that it’s just fresh lime juice, and that they won’t add any agave, I still end up with something that contains sour mix or is horribly sweetened in some manner or other. I take about two sips, and then send it back. At one restaurant in Newton, the server looked confused and said “well, but it will just be a shot of tequila and some lime juice then”. To which I joyfully replied “Yes, that is EXACTLY what I want!”.

Low Carb Margarita Recipe


Sugar Free Margarita Recipe

Now, I am aware that Triple Sec is made with sugar, so there is a touch of sweetness from the orange liqueur. When I make a margarita at home, I put in less than half an ounce for two servings, so it really amounts to very little. But I do understand that many of my readers try to follow a zero-added sugar policy. So I got mulling it over and decided I could get the same touch of orange in my margaritas with a little orange extract. A half ounce of vodka makes up the for the liquor in the Triple Sec and although I didn’t sweeten mine at all, you could also add just a bit of Swerve or your favourite low carb sweetener to make up for the sweetness too.

It may not be a “real margarita” in the strictest sense, or in my admittedly very narrow definition of a margarita, but it certainly tastes like one. And it sure beats the wretched overly-sweet creations most restaurants pass off as margaritas! Just in time for Cinco de Mayo.

Low Carb Margaritas

Low Carb Margaritas for Cinco De Mayo

Yield: 2 margaritas

Serving Size: 1 margarita


  • 3 ounces good tequila (white)
  • 2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 1 tbsp powdered Swerve Sweetener (optional)
  • Crushed ice
  • Kosher salt for rimming (optional)


  1. In a cocktail shaker or a measuring cup, combine tequila, lime juice, vodka, orange extract and sweetener, if using.
  2. Fill two margarita glasses or old-fashioned glasses halfway with crushed ice.
  3. Divide mixture evenly between glasses.
  4. If you like a salted rim, run a wedge of lime around the outside of the glass before filling with ice and dip in a plate of kosher salt.


Serves 2. Each serving has 3 g of carbs.

140 Calories; trace Fat (2.3% calories from fat); trace Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 1mg Sodium.


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  1. Patty G. says

    You are AWESOME! I crave a Margarita every now and again but I just cannot justify the sugar! Tried to order a “skinny” Margarita recently, but asked the server to not put in the Splenda. He said, “but that’s going to be kind of sour”, to which I replied, “Yup, that’s ok!”

    • Carolyn says

      A woman after my own heart. Why, oh WHY does everyone want to sweeten margaritas. They taste so great on their own.

  2. Tammy says

    Sounds yummy! Just bought limes recently and they were a $1 for each tiny one they called “large”. I guess that’s what happens when there’s a lime shortage! It will not deter me from drinking my margaritas, though! :) Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Jan says

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Carolyn, at the lack of real margarita’s sold in restaurants – the margarita mix tastes like candy. I’m also appalled by the cost of limes right now, but I’ll buy one to make your low carb margarita. Thanks!

  4. says

    I am on your side. I have this problem not specifically with margaritas, but with cocktails in general. Wayyy too much sweet and sugary ingredients going in these days. My favourite is actually a dirty vodka martini, I like the bitterness of the olive brine. I think your version of the margarita here sounds very appealing, I will be sure to give it a go! P x

  5. Lin says

    Oh, yum! Is it May 5 yet??
    I have found,after going low-carb for a few years, that many things in restaurants and on the store shelves taste too sweet now. The other day I bought a well known brand of dried Italian seasoning and dressing mix that I needed for a recipe. I did not care for the taste of the baked shrimp with that topping on it because I could taste sugar in it. Sure enough,when I looked at the ingredients, sugar was the second ingredient!

    • Carolyn says

      I am sure there is and it would be easy. However, I didn’t want to bother and I got just the right flavour from a little orange extract.

  6. Christiana says

    Mmmmm! Sounds so good! My husband makes me another diet, ie low carb drink – just some vodka and a splash of extra dry white vermouth with lots of ice. I must get some limes and give this a whirl – I have everything else in the cupboard!

    I have a question for you Carolyn, font of wisdom for all things low carb! There is a lovely Ottolenghi recipe for almond florentines, but it uses sugar. I tried substituting the powdered sugar with powdered Swerve but the result was disappointing – they just weren’t crispy. Do you have any advice? Here is a website with the recipe https://sites.google.com/site/blueeyedbakersrecipes/ottolenghi-s-almond-orange-florentines

  7. Malainie says

    I came up with a low carb margarita years ago, also a low carb strawberry margarita. I don’t like the triple sec and am a purist about using fresh squeezed lime juice…or in a pinch…like last night…True Lime. For those who like the orange flavor, I wonder if a bit of orange zest would also do the trick? Love your recipes and website!

  8. Cindi says

    I use MONIN Sugar-Free Triple Sec Syrup in my SF margaritas. Gotta buy a new bottle for the summer season!

  9. Jan says

    1/4 cup Tequilla
    1/4 cup Fresh Lime Juice
    1/8 cup Monin Sugar-Free Triple Sec

    Will get slushy given a couple hours in the freezer

  10. Barbara says

    While not pure like yours, I tossed some in a can of diet Squirt one day and fell in love. Then, for Christmas, my son bought me a soda stream. I love that the diet drinks are Splenda sweetened. The pink grapefruit is my fave. Beware if you add tequila to it, you seriously can’t really taste it and I can falling when standing if you had two of them. Granted, I use two ounces per 12 ounces of soda. Must try your recipe.

  11. Rachel says

    This sounds great, I will be making it this week, most likely by Friday. I’ve followed a lcl for about a year and a half now. I have a hard time drinking alcohol. I was always a tee-totaler, but now a couple of sips of a drink and it’s like I’ve partied all night. I enjoy a drink now and then, but I really have to have just a little one….with food. Maybe I’m just getting old.

    With that said, can you offer a recipe for a pitcher? Not for me, but you know, for guests.

  12. says

    I’ve just tried this recipe and have made 2 rookie mistakes, which I will share to warn others of!!

    First, I bought the Sainsbury’s orange extract that was only £1.50 instead of the posh looking one that was £4. The one I bought has rapeseed oil in it. Oil, so it floats on top of my drink!! The other one had alcohol instead of oil, which would have mixed properly.

    Secondly, I used ‘Total Sweet’ sweetener, which hasn’t dissolved properly and has merely sunk to the bottom of the glass.

    So there you go, two things not to do!!!

    Still tastes ok, so I shall finish my glass… x

  13. Chelsea says

    Thinking of trying this out this weekend, I have been craving Mexican food and margaritas! Just curious, why the vodka?

    • Carolyn says

      Simply to add a little of the alcohol that you’d get with an orange liqueur like triple sec. You could leave it out, if you want.


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