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Versatile machine with capacity to make three blended drinks at one time. Ideal for parties and large gatherings. Easy to operate and clean.
The unit is large and takes up a lot of space. It is also costlier than some of the other models tested.
Its 550-watt motor is powerful enough for a restaurant or bar. Wave-action system pulls ingredients down and away from sides for perfect blending. Break-resistant polycarbonate pitcher can hold 44 ounces. Two toggle switches make for extremely user-friendly operation.
Can take several minutes of blending to get the right consistency. Only offers two speeds.
Features a large 25-serving capacity and solid construction. Easy to use and disassemble for cleaning.
Has the highest price tag of all the models on our short list.
Portable model that offers convenient features including auto shave and blend settings and easy-pour opening.
Our testers found that it is somewhat challenging to take apart for cleaning.
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For festive summer parties, nothing quite sets the mood like delicious frozen margaritas and other frosty beverages. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to make restaurant-quality frozen cocktails at home — unless you have a margarita machine to take all the guesswork out of mixing up your drinks.
A margarita machine is a countertop appliance that’s similar to a blender. However, unlike most blenders, which usually chop ice, a margarita machine is powerful enough to shave the ice to create the perfect frozen cocktail. Many margarita machines have a separate ice reservoir, which automatically releases the ideal amount of ice into the pitcher with the cocktail ingredients to get the consistency just right.
Choosing a margarita machine can be difficult, though, because of all the options. You have to decide what drink capacity you need, how large a machine you have room for, what motor power you prefer, and what other features will make it easiest to blend up your favorite margaritas and other frozen concoctions.
Our comprehensive shopping guide has all the tips you need to find the perfect margarita machine for your next party. Still feeling confused? We offer up some specific product recommendations to take all the stress out of shopping.
When you’re choosing a margarita machine, the first question to ask yourself is how many people you’ll usually be serving frozen cocktails. Most margarita machines have drink capacities between 36 and 132 ounces. However, some commercial-grade machines have a drink capacity of up to 12 liters. The average serving size for a frozen cocktail is approximately 8 ounces, so smaller machines can usually make about four drinks per batch, while larger machines can produce up to 16 drinks per batch. Commercial-grade machines are obviously the best option if you frequently throw large parties, because they can often make more than 50 servings in a single batch.
In addition to the drink capacity, it’s important to consider the overall size of a margarita machine to make sure you can fit it on your countertop or bar without any difficulty. Margarita machines that allow you to make multiple types of cocktails at the same time are usually fairly bulky, though commercial-grade models typically take up the most space on a table or countertop.
To be sure that a margarita machine can effectively shave ice to create the ideal texture for frozen cocktails, pay attention to its motor power. Motor power is measured in watts and, in general, the higher a motor’s wattage, the more effectively it will be able to crush, shave, and blend ice for margaritas and other frozen drinks.
Avoid any margarita machines with less than a 450-watt motor; they aren’t powerful enough to handle the ice properly.
Preprogrammed drink settings
The main benefit of a margarita machine is that it can take all the guesswork out of blending up the perfect frozen cocktail. For the most user-friendly machine, choose a model with preprogrammed drink settings, so you only have to press a button to create a pitcher of frozen margaritas with the ideal consistency.
In addition to a margarita option, some models have programmed settings for other common frozen beverages, such as daiquiris, piña coladas, mudslides, mojitos, smoothies, and shakes. Margarita machines can have anywhere from three to eight preprogrammed drink settings, so select a model that can quickly and efficiently make your favorite frozen drinks with the press of a button.
When you’re just preparing frozen drinks for yourself or a small group, a margarita machine with a single pitcher that only allows you to make one type of beverage at a time usually works well. However, if you’re using your margarita machine for parties and other large gatherings, you may want to serve margaritas in multiple flavors or a few different types of frozen cocktails to satisfy all of your guests.
Some margarita machines have multiple pitchers or compartments, which allow you to mix up more than one frozen cocktail recipe at a time. You can usually choose from models that let you make two different drinks at a time or those that can make up to three different beverages at once.
Speed and settings
Because margarita machines are designed specifically to make frozen drinks, most models only have a single preset speed. However, some machines do offer two or three speeds like a traditional blender, so you can choose from low, medium, and high depending on your recipe.
Some margarita machines may also have “shave only” and “blend only” settings, which allow you to add more ice or blend a recipe a little longer without affecting the drink’s consistency.
Most margarita machines have pitchers like traditional blenders, so you must pour from the container when you’re serving your frozen beverages. Some models have a built-in dispenser, though, so you just place your margarita glass beneath the spout and pull a lever to fill your glass. This feature can be especially handy if you want your guests to serve themselves.
Ease of cleaning
To make sure that it’s easy to clean your margarita machine after a party, opt for a model that’s easy to take apart so you can get to every nook and cranny. A machine with dishwasher-safe components is your best bet.
Inexpensive: The most affordable margarita machines are similar to traditional blenders and typically have a motor with between 400 and 500 watts. They can typically hold 36 to 48 ounces, but can only make one type of drink at a time. Most models cost between $25 to $275.
Mid-range: Margarita machines that cost between $275 and $600 usually have a motor with between 500 and 700 watts. They can typically hold between 36 and 72 ounces, but they can sometimes make up to three different drinks at a time.
Expensive: The priciest margarita machines, which range from $600 to $1,470, are usually commercial-grade and have a motor with 700-plus watts. They can often hold up to 12 liters and may allow you to make more than one type of drink at a time.
When you’re getting ready to use your margarita machine, let the ice sit out for about 10 to 15 minutes. It’ll be easier for the machine to shave the ice if it’s softened slightly.
You can make homemade frozen margaritas with tequila, triple sec, lime juice, and simple syrup. If you want to save time, though, grab a bottle of margarita mix instead and just add the alcohol.
Margarita machines aren’t only for making frozen cocktails. You can use them to make frozen lemonade and other slushies for the kids, too.
After you clean your margarita machine, make sure to dry all of the components thoroughly before storing it.
Q. What type of electrical setup does a margarita machine require?
A. Most margarita machines operate just like heavy-duty blenders, so they can be plugged into any standard 120-volt/15-amp outlet. Some of the larger, commercial-grade models that allow you to make more than one type of drink at a time may require a 20-amp circuit, though, so check the product specifications carefully to make sure you’ll be able to use the machine you’re considering in your home.
Q. Can I use a margarita machine outdoors?
A. Margaritas and other frozen drinks are the perfect beverages for outdoor parties and, fortunately, most models can be used outside as long as you have a convenient outlet to plug the machine into. You should always check the owner’s manual to be certain, though — and you may want to place your margarita machine under some type of overhead covering if the weather is iffy.
Q. Do margarita machines usually include warranty protection?
A. Most margarita machines provide some type of warranty coverage. In most cases, though, you’ll only have one to two years of warranty protection for problems that result from manufacturing or workmanship defects.
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