Easy Lime Chelada (Mexican Beer Cocktail)
You know the old adage: when life gives you limes, make yourself a Chelada! Okay, that might not be *exactly* the saying we grew up with, but as adults, just trust me: it’s far better.
This refreshing Mexican beer cocktail is particularly welcome on a warm and sunny day. Just be warned: it’s impossible to drink just one!
The first time I had one of these tasty drinks I thought, “Wow, this is like a limonada and beer all in one! How come I didn’t think of this combination?” My next thought was, “I need to have another one.”
If you are yet unfamiliar with cheladas, I invite you to make one with me. I can almost guarantee you’ll love it.
What does “Chelada” mean?
There are competing claims to where the name chelada came from, and they both make a lot of sense to me!
The first etymological claim asks that we break the word down into component parts. In Mexican slang, chela is slang for “beer,” and helado is the Spanish word for “ice.” So chelada is a fun play on words that combines the two and refers to a beer cocktail. (Remember that in Spanish, the “h” in helado is silent.)
If we combine ice and beer, we are well on our way to making a chelada! I like to keep mine very simple — just light beer, fresh lime juice, and ice with a simple salted rim. Think of it like a lime margarita, except a bit lighter on calories and sugar!
What is the difference between Chelada and Michelada?
The other origin story for the name chelada has to do with a man in a bar (don’t so many fun stories start that way?). It is rumored that a member of Club Deportivo Potosino, named Michel Ésper, used to order his beer on the rocks with a splash of lime. The drink become known as “Michel’s limonda,” which was then shortened to michelada.
While the original michelada was simply made with lime, nowadays they refer to a more specific type of beer cocktail (cerveza preparada) that combines beer with bloody mary style ingredients like tomato juice, Worcestershire and hot sauce — try my Easy Spicy Michelada.
How to Make a Lime Chelada
If you’re looking for a simple cocktail, things don’t get much easier than making a chelada. Grab your favorite light Mexican beer, a fresh lime, and some ice.
Moisten the rim of a glass by running a wedge of lime around it. Dip in your favorite glass rimmer – coarse salt, Sal Limón, or Tajín.
Add ice and lime juice to the glass, then top with beer. Salud!
Frequently Asked Questions
Since this lime chelada is a light and refreshing cocktail, I like to choose a beer that will match. I generally reach for Dos XX, Tecate, or Modelo Especial, but any light, crisp, pilsner-style Mexican beer will do.
Feel free to play with your rim toppers! While I tend to go for simple flavors like plain salt, Sal Limón (salt with citric acid for a bit of pucker), or Tajín (spicy lime salt), you can get as elaborate as you like. Check out this fun article on how one Chicago restaurant likes to rim their glasses!
Want more beer cocktails?
Check out these other yummy recipes:
If you made my easy recipe for Lime Cheladas, let me know what you thought! I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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Easy Chelada With Mexican Beer
- Fresh lime juice is going to produce a better tasting Chelada. Do not be tempted to use bottled lime juice.
Originally published: January 2011. This recipe is also published in the Muy Bueno cookbook.
Photography by Raemi Vermiglio
24 Comments on “Easy Lime Chelada (Mexican Beer Cocktail)”
My wife and I have been enjoying your recipes and posts for over a year now.
(And we bought the book)
I wanted to tell you of my variation on the Lime Chelada. I started making Margaritas with lime juice, water, (if I’m making a lot) and a splash of agave nectar instead of the triple sec/simple syrup thing. So that kind of became limonada and when I saw your post started pouring it in my beer. Then if I’m in the mood, I pour a shot of Tequila in there too. So Lime Chelada con Tequila?
(My Spanish isn’t so good, yet)
As I always say, Keep up the good work !
Steve and Sunshine Madison, WI
What happens if I use bottled lime juice? Lol. Reminds me of Ina. “Store bought is fine.”
LOL! So funny. Yes, if you can’t find limes from the tallest trees in the Himalayas, “Store bought is fine.”
These are the beer drinks I remember from over 40 years ago when traveling in Mexico! Now I will know what to call them when I just want the lime, ice cube and beer and not the bloody Mary mix! I also really enjoyed the article on how to rim your cocktail glasses, some really creative ideas!
THIS is a michelada!
Everything else is a bloody beer!
1st one in was in Del Rio ‘96
Thanks for sharing this nice recipe! I would recommend using Lava bloody mary and Tecate. No fuss, just pour and enjoy. The Lava has a nice little kick and is very yummy. www.lavabmm.com. Cheers!
When I was in Costa Rica a michelada is made exactly like your recipe. When in Mexico a michelada is of the tomato and spicy variety. The drink is different in every region and it always annoys me when someone tells me I am wrong when referencing the name to the lime juice version.
I’ve never heard of a michelada without tomato juice. I use Sol, Dos X, or Bud Light or whichever is on hand; clamato picante, lots of tapatio, sal en grano, pepper, and LOTS of lime. Yummmmmmm!
Our version is more of a “Chelada”! Mmmm! Now I’m craving one 😉
I’m with you. Getting thirsty just looking at the pictures. No tomato in mine please.
I fell in love with these in the Yucatan a few years ago, but I’ve learned to ask questions before actually ordering a michelada around here (Michigan). The first time one showed up looking like, well someone had poured tomato juice in it, I was like what’s going on here?! When I explained what I wanted, my waiter told me that (beer+lime+ice+salt) was called a preparada…I’ve tried that name with other waiters and they’ve given me blank looks. LOL I was also told once that a michelada had tomato or clamato juice and spices in it, while a chelada did not. Like most things, it depends on where you live or learned the recipe from.
So while I love it, it’s much easier to make it myself than try to order it. 🙂
This one is called a rusa. To be called michelada it needs maggi seasoning sauce and clamato juice, at least.
Sandy: I have never heard it called a “rusa”? I learned something new today 😉
We are from El Paso and if you are ever in Juarez or El Paso and you order a Michelada you will get the ice+beer+lime juice+salt rim = absolute heaven on a hot day!
Yeah, even in some parts of Mexico, rusa = michelada. I live in Guadalajara (where michelada was invented) and thats how we drink it really spicy.
No Clamato? 🙁
I think I’ll have to post a “Bloody Mary Beer” recipe soon for all you Clamato lovers 😉
I love this drink! I often will add a dash or two of hot sauce as well.
Salud Spicy Greg!
I had to move to Mexico to discover Micheladas. Now, it’s a favorite way to drink a cold beer on a hot day.
Even on a FREEZING day in Colorado a Michelada still sounds great!!! YUM!
Yum. One of my favorite things to order at my favorite Mexican restaurant here in Chicago.
I won’t drink beer any other way now.
the first time i tried a michelada was at DMK Burger Bar in Chicago. they make theirs with tomato juice, lime and Pabst Blue Ribbon. I usually don’t go for savory drinks but it was surprisingly refreshing!
Pabst Blue Ribbon … I guess that’s a good way to disguise the taste of that beer. LOL