Best Tequila for Margaritas: Top Blancos Under $35 For Budget-Friendly Cocktails

Mireille Olivo02/26/23

Quality tequilas don’t need to cost a fortune, especially when used for cocktails. There is a tequila at an approachable price point for everyone, but you just have to know what you’re looking for. 

So, what is the right tequila for a margarita? Blancos and sometimes, reposados, are the best tequilas for citrus-based cocktails like margaritas and palomas. The vibrancy of agave is able to match and stand up to the lime juice in a margarita.  Blancos, also known as silver or plata, are typically unaged (though can be aged up to 2 months in oak barrels.) Reposados are aged 2 months up to 364 days in oak barrels giving these tequilas a pale yellow or golden hue. 

We’ve tried a variety of tequilas, but these are the few that had the right combination of value and authenticity:

  1. Tapatio Blanco
  2. Arette Blanco
  3. Tres Agaves Blanco
  4. Cimarron Blanco
  5. El Tequileno Blanco

Tapatio Blanco

Rating: 93 
NOM: 1139
MSRP: $35

This tequila has no relation to the hot sauce, but it will absolutely blow your mind. Located in the highlands of the tequila region, La Alteña distillery produces a traditional and compelling line-up of their tequila. At a reasonable price, Tapatio is the hidden secret of the tequila industry. The flavor profiles include strong roasted agave, spicy black pepper, and grapefruit. Fun fact: Tapatio is the name commonly given to someone from Guadalajara. 

Arette Blanco

Rating: 91 
NOM: 1109
MSRP: $22

Arette Blanco is made by a master distiller and a family that prioritizes quality over quantity. You can taste it in the raw agave, cinnamon, citric, and briney notes. This is one you could sip neat as well, but it sings the brightest in a cocktail.  Arette is made at El Llano distillery in the city center of Tequila, Jalisco, MX. The brand is 5th generation Mexican-owned and produced by the Orendain family.

Tres Agaves Blanco

Rating: 85
NOM: 1614
MSRP: $27

This is a tequila that is everywhere and almost always carried at stores, even in liquor-regulated states like Virginia and North Carolina.  Though Tres Agaves is not the most complex to sip on its own, it is a great value for an organic brand.  The most notable flavor profiles include roasted agave, mint, citrus rind, and lots of black pepper. Their pre-made margarita mix is pretty good too!

Cimarron Blanco

Rating: 82
NOM: 1146
MSRP: $25

This tequila is one of the best bangs for your buck. The owner of this distillery produces and owns both the luxury brand Fuenteseca as well as Cimarron. The notes from this tequila proves that this master distiller knows how to make an interesting tequila at an affordable price. Cimarron is a lowland tequila with notes of spicy black pepper, roasted agave, butter, and minerals. I would pick up a few if you come across it!

El Tequileno Blanco

Rating: 88
NOM: 1108
MSRP: $26

Starting in 1959, El Tequileno was named after the birthplace of Tequila.  El Tequileno’s distillery is located in the heart of Tequila, Jalisco, MX, but the agaves are picked from the highlands. Their blanco tequila, which is most well-known to be used in the Batanga cocktail, has flavors of lemon, roasted agave, orange, and black pepper. This has been my personal go-to lately for any kind of cocktail.

The value of these five tequilas is unmatchable when considering the cost and their flavor. If you have more flexibility in your budget and want a more powerful agave punch, look to a high proof tequila. If you decide to get a high-proof tequila, I’d recommend Tapatio 110 Blanco. Whichever tequila you choose, keep these in mind while you shop. They will change the way you think about a margarita.