The Chelada is a Mexican beer cocktail that’s easy and refreshing! This irresistible drink pairs lager with lime juice and a salt rim.


Want a refreshing beer cocktail that’s as irresistible as it is easy to mix up? Try a Mexican-style Chelada! The Chelada is tangy and refreshing, infusing Mexican beer with irresistible zing of fresh lime juice. Top it off with a salty rim and it’s ideal for anytime: a laid back brunch, cocktails on the patio, or a dinner of shrimp tacos. Here’s a little more about this special drink and why to try it.

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What’s in a Chelada?

A Chelada is a type of cervesa preparada: a beer cocktail or “prepared beer” in Spanish. There are a few types of this popular beer cocktail: best guess is that it came to be in the 1960’s. There are all sorts of variations on it all over Mexico, so there’s no “official” recipe. One theory on where the name came from: ordering “mi chela helada“, which means “my ice cold beer” in Spanish! But know one knows for sure.

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Another cervesa preparada is called the Michelada, which is very similar. But the standard definition is that the Chelada features Mexican lager with lime, where the Michelada is like a Bloody Mary made with beer. Here’s what you’ll need for a Chelada:

  • Mexican lager beer (like Sol, Corona, Modelo, or other)
  • Lime juice
  • Fine sea salt and Old Bay or tajin, for the rim

How to make a salt rim

The key to a good Chelada? The salt rim! Like a good margarita, it’s absolutely essential to the overall flavor. Using salt on the rim helps to bring out the sour flavors of the lime-infused beer. Here’s what to know about rimming the glass:

  • Place equal parts fine salt and Old Bay or tajin on a plate. Old Bay is an American spice blend that packs a powerful punch. Use purchased or homemade. Or for a more traditional Mexican vibe use tajin, a popular chili, lime and salt blend.
  • Cut a wedge in a lime to wet the glass rim. This is much easier than using your finger! Just cut a notch in the lime and run it around the edge.
  • Dip the outer edge of the glass in the salt. All you want is the outer edge of the glass, not the inside where it can fall in the drink. Shake off any loose salt into the sink.

How to make a Chelada

It’s so easy to make a Chelada: you don’t even need to dirty a cocktail shaker! The easiest cocktails are built right in the glass, and this is one of them. Here’s all you need to know:

  • Add the lime juice first. This recipe has just enough lime juice to add a zing, but not so much that it overwhelms the delicate beer flavor.
  • Consider using clear ice for a polished look! Clear ice is ice you can make at home that’s perfectly crystal clear, instead of cloudy like normal ice. It’s easy to make and makes your cocktails look like they’re from a fancy bar. Here’s How to Make Clear Ice at home.
  • Pour in the beer: and that’s it! Use your favorite Mexican-style lager.

What to serve with it

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Some cocktails don’t pair well with food: they’re more meant to be the main event (like an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan). Other cocktails go very well with food: like the Chelada! It’s meant to be enjoyed with food. Here’s what to food to serve with a Chelada:

  • Tacos: Try all our tacos recipes, especially fish tacos or shrimp tacos
  • Chips & salsa: Warm tortilla chips are where it’s at
  • Guacamole: Homemade guacamole is fabulous with a Chelada
  • Queso or bean dip: Try our 5-minute bean dip or easy refried bean dip

More Mexican cocktails

Love Mexican-style drinks? Here are a few more great Mexican cocktails to try:

  • Go for the classic margarita, or try all our best margarita recipes
  • Try the Michelada, a spicy Mexican beer cocktail made with tomato juice, lime, and hot sauce
  • Opt for the Paloma, made with grapefruit and tequila!
  • Go for tequila-based spins on classics, like the Mexican Mule or Bloody Maria

When to serve a chelada

This Chelada beer cocktail is light and festive. It’s great as a:

  • Brunch drink
  • Girls or guys night drink
  • Summer drink
  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink


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