What’s the difference between frozen and shaken margarita?

Margaritas are one of the most popular cocktails globally, with endless variations and flavors. The two main types are frozen margaritas and shaken margaritas. While both are tasty cocktails, there are some notable differences between the two.


Both frozen and shaken margaritas contain the same core ingredients – tequila, orange liqueur (like Cointreau or Triple Sec), and lime juice. However, the proportions differ slightly:

Ingredient Frozen Margarita Shaken Margarita
Tequila 1 1/2 oz 2 oz
Orange Liqueur 1 oz 1 oz
Lime Juice 1 oz 1 oz

Frozen margaritas tend to use less tequila and be a bit sweeter than shaken margaritas. They also include ice to blend the drink into a slushy texture.


The most noticeable difference between frozen and shaken margaritas is the texture and taste:

  • Frozen: Thick, slushy texture. Icy cold. Sweeter taste.
  • Shaken: Liquid texture. Chilled, not as cold as frozen. More tart and tequila flavor.

Frozen margaritas almost drink like a dessert, whereas shaken margaritas have a cleaner, sharper flavor profile. The bold tequila and lime flavors stand out more in a shaken margarita.


Preparing each type of margarita requires different techniques:

Frozen Margarita

  • In a blender, combine ice, tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice and simple syrup (or other sweetener). Blend until smooth.
  • Rim glass with salt or sugar if desired. Pour margarita into glass.
  • Garnish with a lime wedge.

Shaken Margarita

  • In a shaker filled with ice, combine tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice. Shake vigorously until well chilled.
  • Strain into a glass filled with fresh ice. Optional to rim glass.
  • Garnish with a lime wedge.

Shaking produces a frothy texture while blending makes it icy and thick. Shaken margaritas tend to dilute slightly from the ice, while frozen ones maintain concentration.

Serving Style

Frozen and shaken margaritas are served differently:

  • Frozen: Served in a wide-rimmed glass, coupe or large brandy glass. Added garnishes like fruit are common.
  • Shaken: Typically served in a narrow rocks or coup glass. Garnish is usually just a lime wedge.

The wide glass helps accommodate the slushy frozen blend. Shaken margaritas are usually poured over ice into a smaller glass.


In general, frozen and shaken margaritas match different occasions:

  • Frozen: Perfect for beach days, pool parties, summer BBQs. The slushy texture makes them a fun casual drink.
  • Shaken: More appropriate for cocktails bars and nice dinners out. The elegant glass and clean flavors make it feel sophisticated.

Frozen margaritas are highly associated with summer, relaxation and fun. Shaken margaritas work well year-round for a classic cocktail.


Both styles offer flexibility in customization:


  • Flavored syrups or purees – strawberry, peach, mango, etc.
  • Swapping liqueurs – blue curacao, melon, or cherry instead of orange
  • Using different sweeteners – agave, honey, or fruit puree instead of simple syrup
  • Adding extra fruits/berries to the blender


  • Flavored tequilas – jalapeño, citrus, vanilla, etc.
  • Switching citrus juice – grapefruit, Meyer lemon, etc.
  • Upgrading orange liqueur – Grand Marnier, Cointreau
  • Floating a dark rum or mezcal on top

Endless variations can be created with each base recipe depending on preferences and creativity.

Alcohol Content

In general, shaken margaritas contain more alcohol than frozen ones. This is because:

  • Shaken uses more tequila (2 oz vs 1 1/2 oz)
  • Frozen includes ice/water which dilutes it slightly
  • Frozen has additional sweetener which balances the booze

However, the slushy texture of frozen margaritas often causes people to drink them faster. So the alcohol effect can catch up quickly. It’s smart to pace yourself with either type of margarita.


Expect to pay slightly more for frozen margaritas at restaurants and bars, usually $1-3 higher. Reasons for the upcharge include:

  • Higher cost of ingredients – fresh fruit or premium liqueurs
  • More tedious to make in bulk
  • Special equipment needed – blenders, glassware
  • More demand compared to shaken

But many places offer promotions on frozen margaritas during happy hour or summer months to offset the price. Well-made shaken margaritas take skill, so they may warrant the equal or higher price at craft cocktail bars.


Frozen margaritas tend to be higher in calories than shaken. Here is an estimated comparison:

Margarita Type Calories (8 oz)
Frozen (with simple syrup) ~300-400
Shaken (no simple syrup) ~150-250

Factors like sweeteners, portion size, and additions impact calories for each. But in general, frozen has a thicker, more dessert-like consistency which translates to more calories. The sweetener balances the alcohol rather than accentuating it like in shaken margaritas.

Hangover Potential

Given the differences between frozen and shaken margaritas, they can impact hangovers differently:

  • Frozen: The sweetness and icy texture lead people to drink them fast. This rapid alcohol intake means intoxication and next-day effects hit hard. The brain freeze doesn’t help either.
  • Shaken: Higher alcohol content and lack of sugar means it impacts blood sugar less. Sipping slowly avoids quick intoxication. But not hydrating enough can still cause headaches.

Pacing consumption and hydrating well with water helps minimize hangovers with either type of margarita. Eating food alongside absorbs some alcohol too. But frozen margaritas seem to provoke worse hangovers due to the sugar and speed of drinking.

Shelf Life

Freshness and shelf life differ between the two margarita types:

  • Frozen: Lasts 2-3 days maximum in the freezer before iciness declines. Lime juice may also lose brightness.
  • Shaken: Shelf life is over a week. Lime juice holds up longer without freezing and diluting.

For the best quality, it’s ideal to consume frozen margaritas promptly. Shaken margaritas can be batched and stored in the fridge without sacrificing too much flavor.


While frozen and shaken margaritas both offer a delicious, iconic tequila cocktail, they provide different experiences. Frozen margaritas are dominantly sweet and fruity with a fun slushy texture. Shaken margaritas let the tequila and citrus shine through cleanly. Considering the occasion, preferred taste, and drinkware helps determine which style fits the bill.

Ultimately, the versatility of the classic margarita allows enjoyment whether blended frozen or shaken over ice. Both quench thirst and provide a flavorful alcoholic drink. It comes down to the balance of sweet vs. tart, dessert-like richness vs. cocktail brightness. With endless ways to riff on the recipe, there’s a margarita for every palate. The next time the craving for tequila strikes, you can shake, blend or sip this classic with confidence.

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