blood orange margaritas

Is everyone on vacation without you? Are your social media feeds one big blur of the freckled faces of people you once thought you loved basking in the Caribbean sun, showing unintentional contempt for you, back here, shivering and damp? Do your so-called friends in warmer climes gush about pea tendrils and new artichokes while your local market has shriveled roots that last saw the unfrozen earth in October? Of last year? Maybe, just this one time, an exception should be made and a tidy, brief pity party would be acceptable. I have just the elixir.

blood oranges
freshly squeezed blood orange juice

You may not be in the tropics, but glass-for-glass, we can fake it. You may not have fresh coconuts overhead and sweet mango and papaya slices on your breakfast plate, but if we hurry, we can grab onto the tail end of blood orange season and squeeze it into something better.

the prettiest thing

putting the 3 year-old to work

Things might get awkward, however, if you have a three year-old. “What that, mommy?” he might ask as he sleepily wanders in from his rare (but wildly applauded) nap and you’ll explain that you’re making orange juice from special red oranges and you’ll realize by the look on his face that your child — you, a person that turns flour into bread, potatoes into pasta, sugar into caramel — hadn’t realized that orange juice didn’t come in a carton and to fend off the feelings of failure, put him to work and pour him a glass of something he found so outstandingly delicious, you all but forgot about that Pity Party you were planning.

lime juice
fancy fixings because we ran outta the cheap stuff

No need to. Stow what’s left of the orange juice in the fridge until after he goes to bed, and then pull down the (admittedly dusty) Triple Sec and tequila, and see if you can dig up some passable limes from the fridge. Get some ice cubes and a tall glass. If you’ve been hanging onto any tacky drink umbrellas, this is the time to bust them out. Measure, pour, mix and sit back, close your eyes, imagine yourself on a deserted beach where you are completely unable to remember what you were feeling grumpy about. Happy weekend!

blood orange margaritas
blood orange margaritas

Book Tour I’m in Pittsboro, North Carolina as we speak, but I might be heading your way in the next two weeks. Wouldn’t that be grand? See more here.

Blood Orange Margaritas

It’s been over seven months since the last SK drink recipe. Let’s fix that.

Note: If you don’t have triple sec or cointreau, simple syrup will make for an equally sweet but less boozy result.

Serves 2, but only if you share.

1/2 cup blood orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tablespoons triple sec or cointreau, or more to taste
7 tablespoons white or “silver” tequila
Lime or blood orange slices for garnish, plus some of those drink umbrellas

Mix. Fill two glasses with ice and divide between them. Garnish. Drink and daydream.

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204 comments on blood orange margaritas

  1. Oh, man! What good timing. I’ve just gotten into margaritas and happen to be crazy about blood oranges. They are so delicious right now. What beautiful colors for a drink. The red and green really pop against one another.

  2. You can also sub in Orange Curacao instead of triple sec or cointreau if you have that on hand. It tastes just as delicious, and even better if you boil it down to reduce it a bit to make it more syrupy. Happy Margarita Day!

  3. Hi Deb, I cannot wait for your cookbook to be released in the UK – my pre-order has been pushed back a few times now that I just sit here looking jealously at everyone in the US. Luckily, these wonderful recipes still come up on the blog and I love them. We just got a fresh batch of blood oranges at home…so guess what I’m making tonight!

  4. What a perfect thing to end a very busy week with. :). I couldn’t ask better, well maybe, as you said, basking in the Caribbean sun would be good… LOL. Happy Friday and have a great week-end.

  5. Deanna

    The receptionist at my office keeps bringing in blood oranges from her apparently massive tree. This is going to be the drink that keeps me going while I’m making food for 2 parties (of 30 people each) this weekend. Your How to Host brunch and sleep in has been a life saver.

  6. Jennifer

    Blood orange February is my favorite month for cocktails every year! Beware, your kitchen may look like someone got murdered the next morning…..


  7. Yummy! I want a margarita so bad! Unfortunately I’m pregnant right now so I’ll have to wait a few short weeks before I can indulge myself. Thanks for the recipe!!!

  8. Shivering, not sure if it’s the chill outdoors or in delight over this recipe! So wonderful. =0) You’re amazing! And yes, now I’m going to go make orange juice with my children, too…..x

  9. Rocket Scientista

    So, story: my friend and I got together last night to bake your giant chocolate butter cake with brandied ganache last night, and additionally made some tacos and margaritas. Between not halving the cake recipe (SO MUCH BATTER) and margaritas, it turned into our own version of drunk kitchen. When covered in chocolate, I started cursing about the LATE note in the SUPER BATTER recipe, but would have rather been cursing you for THESE. These, right here, seem like just the thing to make everything messier, but better. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Cate

    You know what? I hit a bar last night (and tacos afterward) to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

    …. Birthdays last all week, right?!?!


  11. I love that brilliant color! Glad you posted this recipe today–I’m having a old-timey bar/show at my house this weekend and this is the perfect thing to add to the menu.

    And have fun in Pittsboro! I used to live nearby. If you get out towards Durham, make sure to go to Scratch. You won’t be sorry.

  12. Heidi

    Ah. Maybe my husband will forgive my evenings at work and with the girls if I make him these tomorrow for our token hang-out evening.

  13. Sebastian

    Sadly, this fruit is an almost impossible one to get here in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
    In the other hand, we expect a beautiful warm and sunny weekend. Also we are in the huge-and-cheap-and-tasty-watermelon season. :)
    So, I’ll save this nice recipe for our winter (replacing oranges with red pomelos) and in the meantime I’ll keep drinking caipirinhas (they don’t have any relation with watermelons, but… who cares?)

  14. ads

    I love to make blood orange (or really any mixed-citrus) caipirinhas
    Juice a couple of blood oranges, add in a lemon and a lime for variety and tang (juiced or muddled)
    Then mix 2 parts juice, 1 part cachaca, sugar to taste – shake furiously with ice and paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrtay

  15. This is a great idea — I love faking the seasons, having summery things when it’s cold and even sometimes hearty winter things when it’s hot. I like a gin cocktail with blood orange, but have never thought of using it in margaritas.

  16. Val

    Brilliant! I just finished a project at work and started daydreaming about what I am having tonight for dinner. I’m so glad I saw this before my trip to the grocery store. Happy Friday!

  17. Speaking as a bartender, I’d highly recommend a resposado (aged) tequila here. Grand Marnier as suggested in another comment is a very fine idea too.

    I’ll add that there are few brunch cocktails that can trump a Blood Orange Mimosa, just in case it’s too early for one of these.

  18. Erin

    What kind of juicer do you have? I’m looking for a good one, my 21st birthday is next week and I want to make freshly juiced mimosas for the birthday brunch I am throwing!

  19. These are THE MOST BEAUTIFUL COLOR!! I’m in the middle of a detox right now, no alcohol :( But these might have to be on my list when I’m done! I’ll hope for some good weather too, so I can sip them outside!!

  20. Stoich91

    Haha just wait until he finds out where tuna comes from…took me through middle school to find that out, myself, and my grandparents are chefs!

  21. Remember how hopeful you were that grapefruit would turn Ina’s lovely pound cake pink? But then they didn’t? Well, these will do the trick. The cake will be plain colored, but once soused in bright pink syrup, your cake will be marbled with fabulousity.

  22. I’m on the caribbean, weather here it’s really great these days, sorry that you guys are freezing. Must say these sure look tropical, and delicious. I’ll have to get e some of those oranges!

  23. Jennifer

    Just made these and they’re super delicious! The smoothest most refreshing cocktail. One thing I will add, if you don’t have a very sophisticated juicing apparatus (handheld manual juicer type situation here) I recommend straining through a fine mesh strainer before serving. I had a lot of pulp in the bottom of my measuring glass!

  24. Chia cat

    Yum! Just tried this recipe! Very good! I think a tablespoon of agave could go a long way for those who would like a little sweetness!

  25. Sahar

    Hi Deb, really love your book and love these drinks and love that adorable picture of your son juicing away. Thank you for sharing these amazing recipes and good luck on the book tour! :)

  26. Kristen

    Hey Deb! I was in attendance today at Fearrington – great meeting you and the food was AWESOME (of course, they were your recipes!) Thanks for making my day and remembering a comment I left you on a photo of bare bellied Alex sifting! It made my day when a celebrity remembered me, and then getting to meet you in person??? Wow! Had a great time, looking forward to cooking lots from the cookbook, and the blood orange margaritas? I was eying some at the store the other day, now I have a reason to purchase them! Cheers and enjoy the rest of your stay in NC!

  27. Judy

    First time I had these was at Rick Bayless’s Frontera in Chicago! They were amazing. Thanks for bringing back some lovely memories.

  28. kw

    Funny how people on your side of the world dream of tropical climate while we in tropical countries dream of snowmen. Anyway, the drink looks delicious!

  29. I don’t mess around with my margaritas and for me they have always been a summer only cocktail…until last year when I had to try my hand with makibf a blood orange marg. Beautiful and delicious and now my cure for beating the winter doldrums.

    I don’t recommend triple sec in margaritas but I’ve also not seen what you’ve used by Luxardo; maybe it’s not just artificially flavored sugar water like most?

  30. Kate

    It’s still snowing in Montreal! This drink looks magical and would definitely bring a little warmth to a bitter February evening in Quebec. Hope you had fun in our fair city! Did you get to Liverpool House?

  31. It’s embarrassing – once again, the NYC blogger reminds the LA native how to make the most of local citrus. I’ve been making and eating your Citrus, Mint and Feta salad as fast as I can for the last three weeks. It really brightens up my work day. Blood Orange Margaritas (with a salted rim) could take the edge off in the evening.
    I like Pomegranate Margaritas in the Fall but never thought about trading for Blood Oranges.

  32. Instead of seeing you last night, I was in Pittsboro coordinating an alcohol-free event. Since I’ve been sad about that since, oh, the day I found out we’d be in the same town and I’d be unable to meet you, I’m going to make these to drown my sorrows. Safe travels — and thanks! :)

  33. Brenda

    Hi Deb,
    Looks delicious and perfect for my husband’s birthday dinner that I am hosting tonight. One detail that would be helpful – How many oranges to yield 1/2 cup juice. i am on my to the grocery store and will have to guess for now. Oh well! As I look out my window to 4 feet of snow, it’s nice to imagine warmer days. Sigh. Thanks!

  34. Sarah O

    From my 37C outside, not much cooler inside abode in sunny south australia i wish i could be cold and that winter would hurry up! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  35. This is fantastic! I wrote my own blog post yesterday about my adventure with turning blood oranges into what I call “booze cubes” so they’d last longer. I saw your recipe and it seemed like blood orange kismet, so this afternoon I did some mixing! I subbed in regular orange juice since my fresh fruit supply is already juiced and frozen, and admittedly *could* have gone lighter on the tequila since my cubes are already alcoholic – but didn’t. Oh man, was it tasty!

  36. Nicole S.

    Ugh, I found blood oranges, juiced them, and then realized we only had about an ounce of tequila. Might have to make a ‘booze run’ tonight, as my husband called it.

  37. Yep…I remember when I was living in NYC I would crave fruity drinks, preferably with an umbrella, by the end of February! These look amazing and I will have to try! Safe travels on your tour & congrats on all the success with the FABULOUS book!

  38. Hi Deb! I’ve never posted a comment before, but this drink was so pretty I had to make it, and report back that it is just as good as it looks. P.S. When I told my husband I wanted to write a cookbook, he suggested I follow in your footsteps and start with a cooking blog… Coming soon!

  39. I can not wait to try your Margarita recipe. Friday night I made your harvest chicken with the grapes and olives. It is amazing. I also have recommended smitten kitchen as one of the blogs to follow in 2013. Looking forward to your next post.

  40. Tammy

    Just had a couple friends come back from Cancun talking about the great drinks they had. Since I couldn’t go with, this will be a nice alternative for me.

  41. Cat

    Deb, it was so great to meet you at your Raleigh booksigning! You are just as adorable and modest and sweet as you sound in your blog. :)

  42. Susan

    Dear Deb! Congratulations to you on making the Amazon Best Books of the Year 2012 List …second in the cookbook category. Yay! Your recipes never fail me. Thank you for your blog and book!

  43. Seamus

    Deb! You need a spinach category! All of your recipes amaze, and the only thing that would make this blog better would be an infinite amount of recipes with spinach :)

    1. deb

      Seamus — I put spinach recipes under Greens ( not to be confusing, but because in so many recipes, you can use another green in the place of spinach or vice-versa, I thought it would be easier to group them.

      Brenda — Whoops! Meant to add that. I got about 2 cups from 6 oranges. I have a juicer, however, which extracts more juice per orange than hand-squeezing will.

      Maggey, Erin — It’s from Tribest but my parents have this one and it costs less and works almost as well.

      Trevor — No, he was juicing oranges for orange juice for his snack. We simply used the leftovers more… creatively. I hardly think that this is something that will turn the child into a deviant.

      Suzanne — No, and you are absolutely correct if you’re thinking I’m nuts for owning something so specialized and of limited use when my kitchen is so small. I stash it in the hall closet. There are other one-off items I rarely used in there (waffle irons, toaster oven very specific cookie cutters, panini pan, vintage Dutch oven — not embarrassing, but I really only need one –… I could go on and on).

  44. Deanna

    Congratulations on making it to the finals of the Piglet! I know A Girl and Her Pig took the crown but you beat Bouchon! If I were you, whenever anyone questioned me for the rest of my life, my answer would be “Did you beat Bouchon?”

  45. Eliott

    How about taking the book tour to Shanghai? At least one copy of your book has made it all the way to this (currently wet and rainy) city!

  46. I think this would surely help me get out of my vacation week pity party funk. I think I could definitely look forward to one of these at the end of the day.

  47. Laura

    Oh I’m so sad – I didn’t realize you were on a second tour – I just missed you by 12 hours…. I hope the people of Salt Lake City gave you a warm welcome!

  48. Heidi

    Wonderful to meet you in Denver at the Tattered Cover. You are so pretty, smart, authentic, funny, uncompromising, and you have great hair. Have enjoyed following the blog and your thinking since “the beginning.” Will let you know of any Gluten Free successes of your recipes.

  49. Esther

    My copy of your book arrived in the post today! Complete with words of praise from Yoram Ottolenghi and Rachel Khoo wrapped around it. My hubby took our toddler out for a bit, and I’ve already marked a few breakfasts options, and know I need to go and buy figs for challah as soon as my little person is in bed… Can’t wait to start!

  50. Sarah

    I returned home from long day at work to find the UK release date has arrived and your cookbook Is in my hands. I feel like a proud aunt seeing her niece for the first time!!! Stylish, elegant, heavy! Well done Deb! Damn it if today wasn’t supposed to be the first day of my new diet! Thank you for sticking with your blog and writing this book!

  51. I love blood oranges. They are so beautiful to look and taste great. This is a great idea for a margarita. It is the middle of winter but here in cali it is going to get up near 80 degrees this month so definitely will be margarita weather.

  52. Your margarita recipe definitely took the sting out of hearing about my friends’ upcoming trip to Hawaii and missing National Margarita Day. Now, when our son asks what we are making/mixing/drinking, I can simply hand him one too, because he’s 22. Thanks for the beautiful and delicious recipe.

  53. Nicole I

    I don’t have a juicer and I am short of a decent blender right now so I will unfortunately not be making this recipe. But I just had to share my epiphany I had about why I’m obsessed with this site + bought everyone I know the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for Hannukah/Christmas: a) I also live in a regular sized apartment with the tiniest kitchen you’ve ever seen, so one-pot meals are a dream come true; b) I’m Jewish so appreciate the inclusion of special Jewish recipes and c) I was also a vegetarian for a long time, so my vegetable to meat ratio runs along the same lines. Sorry to rave about my self interests for a minute, but I’ve made over 50 of your recipes now, and I just had to figure out and tell my husband why I spend every waking hour on this site! Thank you so much for everything!

  54. Well if you can hang out in Pittsboro NC, SURELY they will let you come on down to B’ham Alabama! I wish!!!

    That boy has the makins’ of a fine bartender. Keep up the training. He’ll be a good son to have around when you’re my age.

  55. HZ in DF

    I’m well on my way to making something from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook every day this week…today it was the muddle puddle battle (no blood oranges here in Mexico City for those gorgeous margs) and I’m ready to come to that party in your tiny kitchen as long as I can drink one of these with you.

  56. Erin

    This recipe and these pictures are making my 8 months pregnant mouth water…will definately be trying these sometime this summer, once my little one is here!

  57. Rachel

    It was so lovely to meet you in Atlanta last night! I hope you will forgive us for the uncharacteristically cold weather and the characteristically horrendous traffic.

  58. Mmmmmm. A perfect antidote to clouds and rain. One of my favorite cocktails follows the zeitgeist of this one: vanilla sugar simple syrup (equal parts vanilla sugar and water, simmered til the sugar dissolves), lime juice, blood orange or Rio Star grapefruit juice, and vodka. That perfume of the citrus and vanilla bean is enough to bring a little spring into anyone’s life. And the little ones and non-drinkers loooove it without the vodka.

  59. Quincy

    This has nothing to do with this recipe, but, Deb, if you see this, I would like to make a suggestion. I know you make extremely delicious food, but I happen to be extremely lazy. My favorite recipe of yours is the “Jacked up Banana Bread” (I make it into muffins and it’s the best breakfast ever!) because I don’t have to use the mixer or more than 3 bowls! I would love it if you made more ‘no mixer necessary’ baked good recipes for your lazier readers. I love your website, cookbook and blog, you’re amazing! :)

  60. How is it that I missed this post? I am a margarita fanatic… in that I have been known to go through 4 or 5 in an hour. I love the taste and how refreshing they can be… oh, and how they make me feel (amazingly, I don’t get hung over from tequila).

  61. Wendy de B

    love those little meaty paws on the oranges. I miss having my little guys in the kitchen. these margaritas sound wonderful, will be making them today!

  62. Meg

    Hi Deb,
    I was in attendance at your Atlanta book signing and just wanted you to know how delightful, down to earth, and adorable you are! The audience was asking you about what makes a successful blog and the one thing you didn’t mention, because of course you are modest, is that the readers come back because the you that is you is shining on every entry of your blog. So glad I got to witness that delightfulness in person!

    1. deb

      Kelly — Oh, you’re having a party? Can I come? :) This recipe makes 1 1/4 cups of margarita. How big is your pitcher? If 2 quarts (8 cups), you could probably quadruple this (making 5 cups) and add a bit of ice.

  63. Lizzy

    These are fabulous! I had 2 oranges, which yielded about 3/4 cup juice. I kept the alcohol amounts the same and ended up with great flavor and it’s not too boozy. I added just a little salt, too. What a great way to get your vitamin c!

  64. I was thinking about Mexican food for dinner and I came across these margaritas. I think these will be the perfect drink to go with dinner tonight!

  65. Rebekah

    I’m having a Smitten Kitchen weekend. I served these with the sugar snap pea and ricotta bow tie pasta and we had banana bread crepes for dessert. It was divine. Deb, I’m developing a crush on you.

  66. Carolyne

    I discovered a version of this last week when I needed to do something with the last blood orange from our tree. Instead of lime I used two Meyer lemons and substituted our homemade limoncello for the triple sec. Best margarita I’ve ever had!

  67. stephanie

    deb i am cracking up…the link you gave in the comments for the juicer your parents have on amazon? the first option in the listing is the juicer, or you can choose from several colors and sizes of…stripper heels! one stop shopping for sure.

    (i used to have your tribest juicer on my amazon wishlist but i must have deleted it once upon a time so i returned to this post to get the info & re-wishlist it.)

    1. deb

      stephanie — That’s hilarious. I guess this is a new kind of Amazon spam? I feel like I’ve learned so many things I never wanted to know. (Links now fixed.)

  68. Linda

    Made these Monday night for a Bachelor Finale Viewing Party (hee hee!). I swapped out one of the tablespoons of tequila for an extra tablespoon of triple sec ‘cause we liked the orangey flavor. The color of these drinks is positively GORGEOUS and the flavor sublime. Sipping on these certainly added to the silly fun of watching “the final rose.” ; )

  69. Rio

    Ironic? Coincidence? Synchronicity? Had similar realization re: blood oranges. Bought a half dozen expressly for the purpose of margaritas! Used some strawberry simple syrup I’d squirreled away for a moment such as this! Had a sunny, warm day today, imagination engaged…Great minds think alike!

  70. sparkgrrl658

    finally, finally got around to making these and they did not disappoint. i have to say, knowing i can make a delicious margarita at home is extremely dangerous, lol. we used our favorite silver tequila, milagro. i upped the simple syrup (in lieu of triple sec) and tequila to 1/4 and 1/2 cups, respectively. just made it easier to memorize.

    next time i may try making & using a habanero infused simple syrup – my favorite margarita to get when we go out is one with prickly pear and habanero syrup and it’s so good, but similar in color & flavor to this one. anyway, thanks for making the bleakest bit of boston winter a little brighter :)

  71. Molly G.

    I made these last weekend for a little girls-night cocktail party. They were divine!! The perfect mix of sweet, tart & boozy. Thanks for the excellent recipe!

  72. Elena

    Delicious! We went your simple syrup route and it worked really well. We enjoyed them as is, but then, remembering all of the pomegranate and blood orange juice we drank in Turkey, added some pomegranate molasses. Definitely recommend doing that!