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Best Margarita Ice Cream Recipe

This recipe makes the best margarita ice cream – a smooth and decadent tequila ice cream with ribbons of lime and sprinkled with salt. And it’s a quick and easy method.


margarita Ice cream recipe

CELEBRATION IN MEXICO

We created the best margarita ice cream recipe to celebrate Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe this year. This is a smooth and decadent ice cream made with tequila and triple sec, like a margarita drink, ribbons of lime and sprinkled with salt, like the salt on the rim of the glass.

We were in Mexico city on December 12 for Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe. It is a day to honor Our Lady of Guadelupe, also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe (Spanish: Virgen de Guadalupe), and a day of celebration. We visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe where thousands of pilgrims were gathering.

Celebrations also included plenty of food. Fruits and Ice cream from the street venders, flowers from the markets, and candy from the specialty shops.


THE BEST MARGARITA ICE CREAM RECIPE

This year we are celebrating by creating a Mexican inspired ice cream with the flavors of a margarita. A margarita is a drink made with lime juice, orange liqueur (triple sec), and tequila, and is served in a glass with salt on the rim. The tequila and orange liqueur were easy to put in our ice cream recipe, since we usually put alcohol in to lower the freezing temperature of the mix. However, getting enough lime flavoring in the ice cream was difficult. It was impossible to get enough lime flavor without the ice cream becoming icy. We found the answer was to add a ribbon of lime preserves. This is like marmalade, but made with lime instead of oranges. A vendor at our local farmers’ market, Midway, makes some incredible lime marmalade, so this part was easy.

The ice cream stayed creamy, the preserves did not freeze solid, and the flavor was a big hit of lime. Surprisingly, the tequila and orange liqueur flavor did not get lost, but rather added just enough flavor to taste like a margarita. The final touch was serving it with a few salt crystals on top. Perfect dessert for a celebration, an ending to a Mexican dinner, or just a summer treat. And my new favorite flavor.

Best Margarita Ice Cream Recipe
Best Margarita Ice Cream Recipe to celebrate Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe

FOR THE BEST MARGARITA ICE CREAM RECIPE, USE THE BEST INGREDIENTS

We started with the best ingredients, and that’s what makes this the best margarita ice cream recipe. Brands vary in quality, so we have listed what we used.

HORIZON ORGANIC CREAM 

We think Horizon products taste better than any other dairy products we have tried. This is probably because the products are organic and from family farming partners. Just as important, Horizon is a certified B corporation that has committed to becoming carbon positive across their entire supply chain by 2025. We save money by buying this by the half gallon at a big box store.

HOMEMADE CRÈME FRAÎCHE FROM HORIZON CREAM

We save money by making our own, but it’s also better, and it’s a real crème fraîche, made with a culture.  It’s easy because we make it in the Instant Pot.

WHOLESOME ORGANIC CANE SUGAR 

Produced from organic sugar cane fields that are green cut and are not burned or treated with herbicides or synthetic fertilizers. Burning sugar cane fields contributes to air pollution and climate change, and is a major cause of the destruction of the rain forest. Buying sugar from fields that are green cut helps prevent this destruction. The sugar also has a better taste. We save money by buying this in bulk direct from the company.

LIME MARMALADE

We realized that we could not get enough flavor using fresh fruit without the ice cream becoming icy and grainy. Cooking the fruit into a jam with sugar and pectin prevents this. We could have made the jam ourselves, but we found some at the local farmers’ market, made by a local chef sold by her company The Midway.

Midway Bearss Lime Marmalade for the best Margarita Ice Cream Recipe
Midway Bearss Lime Marmalade for the best Margarita Ice Cream Recipe

TEQUILA

Alcohol lowers the freezing point, keeping the ice cream smooth as it hardens. Too much, and the ice cream won’t freeze. One tablespoon of an 80 proof alcohol is needed, but we used a little more in this recipe. The alcohol was one tablespoon of tequila (we used Don Julio), and also a teaspoon of orange liqueur (we used Grand Marnier, a triple orange liqueur that is from France), since margaritas usually have some orange liqueur in them. The alcohols were top shelf because they are there to add flavor and even this small amount makes a difference. And we were going for the best margarita ice cream recipe.


No Affiliates Statement

We call this our “no affiliates” statement because we accept no advertising, have no affiliates and accept no payment. We are not paid to mention brands – we just love buying the best, sharing that information and saving the planet at the same time. The effort put into writing and photographing the blog is solely based on our dedication to the cause.


The best Margarita Ice Cream Recipe
The best Margarita Ice Cream


THE SECRET TO MAKING THIS MARGARITA ICE CREAM RECIPE SMOOTH AND CREAMY


THE SCIENCE OF ICE CREAM

We fell in love with European ice cream – dense and creamy, with elegant flavors. It was like nothing we could get back home. So, we researched the science and technique for making ice cream and learned how to make it ourselves. The key to the best flavor was to use the best quality, most flavorful ingredients. But the secret to keeping it smooth and creamy was a combination of ingredients and technique.

There is more to ice cream than just freezing quality ingredients. The key is making it smooth and creamy. This is actually more difficult than it seems. Ice cream stays smooth while it is being churned, but then it is put in the freezer in order to harden, and that’s when ice crystals form, ruining the smoothness.

There is a lot of science to keeping it smooth. Making ice cream requires a method and ingredients that prevent large ice crystals from forming. The method is accomplished with a properly designed ice cream maker that keeps all of the mixture moving, and freezes it quickly. The other key is using certain ingredients that keep the ice crystals small. Cultured cream, eggs, invert sugar and alcohol are the keys to keeping the ice crystals small and the mixture creamy.


INGREDIENTS

Crème fraîche is cultured cream, like sour cream, but with a much milder taste. The culture in it prevents ice crystals from forming once the ice cream has been churned and is hardening. We make crème fraîche in an Instant Pot from Horizon cream, which makes this an eco-friendly swap as well, since Horizon is taking action on climate change.

Crème Fraîche
This is the easiest crème fraîche recipe imaginable. Authentic French crème fraîche. Made by adding a starter culture to cream, and then controlling the temperature while it cultures. 
Check out this recipe

Eggs increase the fat and protein in the mixture. The eggs are raw when whipped with the sugar, but are cooked when the hot cream is slowly added. It is important to bring the mixture to a safe temperature (160 degrees F., according to the USDA). This method will do that without having to go through the added steps of making a custard and risking over cooking the eggs. French ice cream is made with a custard, which requires cooking and tempering, so this method is much easier. Heating the eggs will also denature the protein in the eggs and prohibit ice growth.

Invert sugar, like corn syrup lowers the freezing point of water, making the ice crystals smaller and the ice cream smoother. Corn syrup is NOT the same as high-fructose corn syrup. Honey, and some syrups are partially invert sugars and will do the same thing, to some extent, so we use these for certain flavors. However, honey and syrup will add a lot of flavor.

Sugar lowers the freezing point. The sugar molecules interfere with the water molecules becoming organized into a solid as it freezes.

Alcohol lowers the freezing point, making the ice crystals small. It also keeps ice crystals from forming as the ice cream hardens. Too much, however, and the ice cream won’t freeze. Use one tablespoon of an 80 proof alcohol, and adjust the amount for liqueur that contain more or less alcohol.

Air softens the ice cream and provides insulation allowing the flavors to be tasted even though the ice cream is cold. The air is added continuously as the ice cream is churned.


THE ICE CREAM MAKER

Making ice cream also requires a method that prevents the cream from freezing solid. The mixture must be constantly churned in an ice cream maker to add air and to keep the ice crystals small, so the ice cream stays creamy. When selecting an ice cream maker, the important thing is that it keeps all of the mixture moving, and freezes it quickly. There should be very little space between the paddle and the walls of the container, and the paddle should be designed to turn over the mixture as it rotates. If there is a gap allowing too much ice cream to build up on the container walls it will cause ice formation. The temperature must be cold enough to freeze the mixture quickly, before ice forms.

We use a Whynter Ice Cream maker (model ICM-200LS) which does an excellent job of freezing it quickly. It doesn’t require ice and rock salt or freezing the insert, so it is really easy and convenient. It has a capacity of 2 Quarts, but we found the ice cream is better when we make 1 Quart, so our recipe makes 1 Quart.

Whynter ice cream maker
Whynter ice cream maker

TIPS: It also helps if everything is cold. Make the mixture and thoroughly chill it down to 45 degrees F. Before putting it in the ice cream maker. Making it the day before will ensure that it is thoroughly chilled and it also improves the flavor. Let the ice cream maker run for five minutes before putting the mixture in, so it freezes as fast as possible. Freeze a glass container to store the ice cream. And work quickly when the ice cream has finished churning. Allow it to harden overnight.


FOOD SAFETY

Ice cream is made from dairy products and eggs, so it is very important to take steps to ensure food safety. Follow the instructions in the recipe carefully.

  • Start with everything washed in hot soap water, including knives and cutting boards.
  • Use pasteurized cream.
  • Simmer the cream and fruit mixture for two minutes to bring it to a safe temperature.
  • Add the hot cream mixture to the egg mixture, which will bring the eggs up to 160 degrees F., the safe temperature for eggs.
  • Fresh fruit can not be added after this, because it is not cooked and could contaminate the ice cream.
  • Some recipes call for adding things after the ice cream is churned, such as nuts, preserves or chocolate. These should all be fresh, clean, and handled in a manner to keep them clean. Nuts should be toasted and cooled just prior to adding. Anything chopped should be done on a clean cutting board with a clean knife. Preserves should be a newly opened jar.
  • The ice cream should be consumed within a week.

Best Margarita Ice Cream Recipe

Best Margarita Ice Cream Recipe

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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Freezing time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 10
Calories: 269kcal
Author: Lisa LeCoump
A smooth and decadent tequila ice cream with ribbons of lime and sprinkled with salt.

CHOOSING BRANDS:

For certain products, the choice of brand will make a big difference in the outcome of the recipe and in your carbon footprint. So, for those products, we have listed the brand. We are not paid to mention a brand and have no affiliates.

Ingredients

Instructions

PREPARE THE STORAGE CONTAINER

  • Put a glass storage container in the freezer.

MEASURE THE INGREDIENTS

  • Use a scale to measure the ingredients – zeroing the scale between measurements.
    Into a small saucepan, measure the cream and corn syrup.
    Into the mixing bowl of the stand mixer, measure the egg, egg yolk, sugar and salt.
    Into a small bowl, measure the crème fraiche, tequila, orange liqueur and zest.
    Into a small bowl, measure the marmalade and place it in the freezer.
    French Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

MIX THE INGREDIENTS

  • In the stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, sugar and salt for at least 2 minutes on medium speed.
  • While the stand mixer is whisking the eggs and sugar, put the saucepan on the stove and bring the cream and corn syrup to a simmer, and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring to combine and keep from scalding.
  • Switch the mixer to low speed and very slowly add the cream and corn syrup mixture. This should take about a minute to add.
    French Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe
  • Continue whisking on low and add the crème fraiche, tequila, orange liqueur and zest. Continue whisking just until combined.
    French Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe
  • Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight, or you can use an ice bath to bring it down to 45° F, if you are in a hurry.

FREEZE THE MIXTURE

  • Pre-chill the ice cream maker by letting it run for 5 minutes before adding the mixture.
  • Pour into the ice cream maker and freeze according to the directions.
    Whynter ice cream maker
  • When the ice cream maker is finished, quickly transfer the ice cream into the glass container that has been in the freezer, cover, and put the container back in the freezer for ten minutes.
  • Remove the ice cream and the marmalade from the freezer. Working quickly, spread the marmalade in two stripes down the center of the ice cream. Fold the ice cream over the marmalade and spread back and forth in just a couple of motions to mix together. Quickly put the ice cream back in the freezer over night to harden.
  • Serve with a few crystals of salt sprinkled on top.
  • Can be stored in the freezer for up to a week

Nutrition

Calories: 269kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.003g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 93mg | Potassium: 71mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 783IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 0.3mg

WHY THIS RECIPE IS SUSTAINABLE:

Check out the chart on the blog post to see how food choices affect climate change. This recipe uses responsible brands and items that are lower on the chart and the production creates less greenhouse gas.

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Nutrition Facts
Best Margarita Ice Cream Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
269
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
19
g
29
%
Saturated Fat
 
12
g
75
%
Trans Fat
 
0.003
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
5
g
Cholesterol
 
89
mg
30
%
Sodium
 
93
mg
4
%
Potassium
 
71
mg
2
%
Carbohydrates
 
22
g
7
%
Fiber
 
0.1
g
0
%
Sugar
 
20
g
22
%
Protein
 
3
g
6
%
Vitamin A
 
783
IU
16
%
Vitamin C
 
1
mg
1
%
Calcium
 
41
mg
4
%
Iron
 
0.3
mg
2
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.