Recipes / Sips & Syrups

Jalapeño-Grapefruit Margarita

Jalapeño-grapefruit margaritas

It’s Saturday. And tomorrow is Sunday — Cinco de Mayo, to be exact. That means you still have all day to collect the ingredients for this fiery cocktail that’s sure to light up your weekend fiesta!

First, we have agave: 100% agave tequila (I prefer the bold, biting flavor of blanco for this recipe) and agave nectar, which adds a touch of sweetness. (If you don’t have agave nectar, you can substitute simple syrup by boiling equal parts sugar and water on the stove until the sugar is dissolved.)

Then we add a jalapeño for kick. And for an even bigger kick, we salt the rims with spice rub. That’s right, it’s getting hot up in here! I like to use a smoked spice rub to complement the punchy-ness and tartness of the grapefruit, the same kind of spice that I rub on my meat. Think ancho chiles, chipotle chiles, paprika, cumin, garlic… something along the lines of smoky, spicy, and slightly sweet. Use a pre-made rub or freestyle your own, but if this is all too weird for you, an old-fashioned salt rim works too.

Then head out to your garden (or the store) and pick a couple of grapefruits and limes to top off what I like to call a gartending concoction — garden bartending, that is.

I guarantee you will be the most popular peep at that party tomorrow. Better stock up.

Jalapeño-Grapefruit Margarita

Makes 2 servings


1/2 jalapeño pepper, sliced
4 ounces 100% agave tequila
1 lime wedge
Smoked spice rub (or coarse salt)
2 ounces agave nectar (or simple syrup)
6 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (I like mine with pulp)
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
Grapefruit slices (optional, for garnish)


Steep the jalapeño slices in tequila for three to four hours, or until the the infusion has enough heat to your liking. (I realize there are more than 4 ounces of tequila in this picture, but I decided to go wild and make a little more… and you’ll probably want to, too.) Strain the tequila of any peppers and seeds (you can save them to re-steep a second time for a longer period).

Jalapeño infusion in tequila

Fresh limes

Run a lime wedge around the rim of your glasses and dip the rims in spice rub. Set aside.

Combine the tequila, agave nectar, grapefruit juice, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, and shake vigorously. Strain into glasses (on the rocks, if you wish) and garnish with a slice of grapefruit each. (A little slice of jalapeño would also look fabulous on the rim.)

Jalapeño-grapefruit margaritas from the garden

Happy Drinko de Mayo, friends!

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »


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