The 7 Best Cheap Tequilas for Sips and Shots

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Best Cheap Tequilas

The Spruce Eats / Amelia Manley

Making tequila is not a quick process. Blue agave plants take seven to 12 years to reach maturity, and once harvested, they need to be roasted, distilled, and left to rest for months to years depending on the style. While many high-quality tequilas come with a steep price tag, you can certainly find bottles to fit your budget—and not all are strictly for shooting. Several brands produce excellent inexpensive tequilas suitable for sipping and making cocktails, such as margaritas, sangritas, and bloody marias. We researched top brands to find premier bottles for sipping straight, mixing drinks, and, yes, taking shots.

Best Overall

El Jimador Silver Tequila



What We Like
  • Versatile in drinks

  • Great for shooting

  • Excellent value offering

What We Don't Like
  • Not a sipping tequila

  • Very young and quite green

Made in Jalisco, this 100 percent agave tequila rests for 40 days before it's bottled and sent to thirsty drinkers. This results in a crisp tequila that works particularly well in cocktails, and the fact that it’s one of the best-selling brands in Mexico confirms that. Tasting notes of roasted agave, lemon, and honey pair particularly well in a paloma. The name El Jimador tips a hat to the farmers, the Jimadors, who lovingly grow and harvest all the agave in Jalisco, Mexico. 

“Probably the best inexpensive tequila for the money is the El Jimador Blanco,” says Gavin Humes, director of operations for the Los Angeles-based Scratch Restaurants Group. “It's smooth enough for shooting, but has enough kick to stand up well in cocktails. While I might not crave a glass of it on the rocks, the price is hard to beat.”

Price at time of publish: $23 for 750 mL

Type: Blanco | Bottle Sizes: 750 mL, 1.75 L | ABV: 40%

Best for Margaritas

Olmeca Altos Plata


What We Like
  • Sustainably minded producer

  • Excellent cocktail base

  • Distinctive bottle

What We Don't Like
  • Very herbaceous on the palate

  • Bottle is awkward to hold

This highland tequila is super solid, particularly mixed into cocktails. Though the price is approachable, Olmeca Altos makes sure to use eco-conscious production methods, which is pretty rare for tequilas at this price point. The flavor has sweet caramelized agave and pepper notes with a creamy finish, resulting in a serious bang for your buck.

“My favorite cheaper tequila is Olmeca Altos Plata,” says Josue Gonzalez, a partner in Miami-based Unfiltered Hospitality. “It's in the lower price range, plus it’s an exceptional highland tequila that's great for both cocktails and shots. I love making margaritas with this tequila, and it looks like I'm not the only one—the prestigious 50 Best Bars Awards have named Altos Plata the best tequila for a margarita.”

Price at time of publish: $30 for 750 mL

Type: Blanco | Bottle Sizes: 375 mL, 750 mL | ABV: 40%

Best White

Arette Blanco Tequila



What We Like
  • Still family run

  • Great higher-end expressions

  • Versatile for sipping and cocktails

What We Don't Like
  • Not as commonly found

  • Lower proof

  • Pricier than most cheap tequilas

“I like tequilas that have a strong family history and [companies who] choose to do the right thing for the land and the people,” says Dean Hurst, owner of R&D Hospitality in Tampa, Florida. Each bottle is made with care in the town of Tequila, right outside Guadalajara. The brand is still run by the Orendain brothers, who are descendants of some of the oldest tequila producers in the country. That said, the tequila still holds the same quality it did generations ago, with flavors of jackfruit, lime zest, and green pepper.

“Give your margarita some punch with Arette Blanco, a steal for a cheaper tequila,” says Hurst. He also recommends the distillery’s reposado (also budget-friendly) because it's “a great sipper and adds complexity to the paloma cocktail.”

Price at time of publish: $30

Type: Blanco | Bottle Size: 750 mL | ABV: 38%

Best for Shots

Agavales Blanco Tequila



What We Like
  • Higher proof alcohol

  • Low price tag

  • A crowd-pleaser

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for cocktails and sipping

  • Retains a burn

You definitely don't need to shell out more than $20 for shots. This crowd-pleasing budget bottle clocks in at a spicy 110 proof, so it'll add a little heat in each sip. Since it's on the lower end of the price scale, it's not as elegant in cocktails as some other options are.

That said, you can use in frozen drinks, like margaritas, or, as we suggest, for salt-tequila-lime shooters. Consider putting it in the freezer before enjoying. By chilling it down, the cold temperatures will balance out the higher-proof burn of making shots with this tequila.

Price at time of publish: $18

Type: Blanco | Bottle Size: 750 mL | ABV: 55%

Best Reposado

Espolòn Tequila Reposado


Total Wine

What We Like
  • Show-stopping bottle

  • Versatile in drinks

  • Affordable for the age

What We Don't Like
  • Very fat bottle

“Espolon is definitely my favorite inexpensive tequila,” says Kira Calder, former general manager of Lona Cocina & Tequileria in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “The reposado is rested in American oak barrels, which creates subtle notes of vanilla and caramel—perfect for spirit-forward tequila cocktails. All of its expressions are delicious and highly underrated.”

The tequila, which is aged between two and four months in white oak barrels, can present a little sweetness and citrus notes when sipped. Adding a citrus peel can help accentuate those. Beyond a bartender co-sign, this bottle has received many medals awarded at international spirits competitions. The design on the label features a tribute to Mexican culture, inspired by Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada.

Price at time of publish: $30 for 750 mL

Type: Reposado | Bottle Size: 750 mL, 1.75 L | ABV: 40%

Best for Sipping

Bribon Reposado Tequila



What We Like
  • Approachable

  • Can be used in Old Fashioned

  • Great for whiskey lovers

What We Don't Like
  • On the sweeter side

  • Lots of large vanilla flavors

The crystal-clear Bribon is unaged with vegetal earthy notes that work well in a margarita, paloma, or old-fashioned, but you might prefer to drink it on the rocks. This also is a great choice for anyone new to tequila or mezcal in general, since it has a bright, approachable flavor.

Bottles of Bribon are produced at the historic Casa Don Roberto distillery (a company started by Spanish immigrants in 1924) in the heart of Tequila town. 

Price at time of publish: $28

Type: Reposado | Bottle Size: 750 mL | ABV: 40%

Best Anejo

Lunazul Anejo Tequila



What We Like
  • Very affordable

  • One of few cheap aged tequilas

  • Warm vanilla and smokey notes

What We Don't Like
  • Very oak forward

  • Some might find it very rich

It’s tough to find an anejo tequila on a budget. To be labeled anejo, a tequila has to be aged between one and three years in barrels, so expect a lot of time and investment to go into each bottle. This gives the liquid a more refined flavor similar to a sipping whiskey or Cognac. 

Luckily, Lunazul offers a rare, wallet-friendly option in this category. The simple, elegant bottle is smooth and balanced, with pure agave flavors. The 100 percent agave tequila is made with agave plants aged over seven years, roasted, distilled, and then left to rest in reused bourbon barrels for between 12 and 18 months. The oak adds subtle smokey flavors and warm vanilla spices. Try it with a bit of agave syrup and Angostura bitters to make a spicy riff on an old-fashioned.

Price at time of publish: $30

Type: Anejo | Bottle Size: 750 mL | ABV: 40%

Final Verdict

For a 100 percent agave tequila that works particularly well in cocktails, go for our top pick: El Jimador Silver. If you're looking to rip shots, your best bet is Agavales Blanco.

What to Look for When Buying Cheap Tequila


There are five types of tequila: blanco, joven, reposado, añejo and extra añejo. Blanco is an affordable, beginning level of tequila that is white in color and aged the least—if at all—while añejo and extra añejo are aged the longest and are the top-shelf preferred sipping tequilas. Which one do you choose? It’s up to you. Blanco tequilas are well suited to mixing in cocktails like margaritas, palomas, and other sunny fare. Reposado (aged) and añejo (extra aged) are oak-aged expressions that drink more similarly to whiskey, with caramel, vanilla, and dried-fruit flavors often appearing on the palate. Because these two categories are aged for longer periods, these tequilas tend to make excellent sippers.


Your taste buds will sway you to the type of tequila to buy. There are many varieties of tequila—and how it is produced, including whether or not it's aged and what type of agave and other ingredients are added, has the impact on the taste of this liquor. You might find hints of citrus, honey, herbs, spices, and floral notes when tasting it.


What is the proper way to do a tequila shot?

Put some salt on your hand, lick it off, slam down the tequila shot, and suck on a lime wedge. 

What is bottom shelf tequila?

While you may think bottom shelf tequilas are sharply alcoholic, poor quality bottles, there are plenty of great tequila options that offer careful craftsmanship for a less costly price tag. So we qualify these bottom-shelf tequilas as bottles that offer a lot of value for an affordable price tag. Few of those pass $30, and offer everything from excellent mix-ability to supreme sipping potential.

What’s the difference between a highland and lowland tequila?

Lowland tequilas are grown and produced deep in the Tequila Valley outside of the cities of Tequila and Guadalajara, while highland (Los Altos) tequilas come from higher-altitude regions surrounding the valleys. The tasting differences are relatively subtle, but experts note that highland tequilas are more floral, while lowland tequilas are more vegetal and herbal.

What mixes well with tequila?

A wedge or squeeze of lime is a must when it comes to tequila, and this liquor has a plethora of mixers, including club soda, seltzer, grapefruit juice, coconut water, and other sodas, including ginger, coke, and lemon-lime.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Kate Dingwall is a sommelier and spirits writer. She has been writing about wine and spirits for five years and has visited the Jalisco region over a dozen times. She has even harvested her own agave.

Updated by
Sharon Lockley
Sharon Lockley
Sharon Lockley has over 20 years of experience as an editor and writer and has been contributing to The Spruce Eats since 2019.
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