There's nothing more refreshing than an ice-cold chelada on a hot summer day. A salt-rimmed glass, Mexican cerveza, a splash of lime juice, and a pinch of salt — absolute perfection!
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While you may think a beer is refreshing on its own, just wait until you try a chelada! This Mexican beer cocktail brings a whole new meaning to the word "refreshing."
What is a chelada?
A chelada is a popular way to serve beer in Mexico by combining light beer, lime juice, and a pinch of salt to your glass.
What you end up with is an immensely satisfying way to quench your thirst on a warm day. Once the first sip hits your lips, you'll already be thinking about guzzling down the rest!
The name "chelada" supposedly comes from two sources:
- Chela is a term used in Mexico to mean cerveza, and helada means iced.
- Smoosh both words together to get "chelada."
Of course, this is only a theory as to where the name came from so take it with a grain (or shall we say pinch) of salt!
Chelada vs michelada
Although you may sometimes hear the two terms used interchangeably, there are a couple of differences between a michelada and a chelada recipe.
- Michelada: A Mexican beer mixed with lime, tomato (or clamato) juice, and different spices like black pepper, Worcestershire, and hot sauce. This drink usually comes with a chile-rimmed glass.
- Chelada: As you now know, the chelada isn't a spicy drink at all. In fact, it's simply a Mexican beer with lime juice and salt in it.
As we said, you might hear both names used interchangeably depending on what region of Mexico you're in. Just double-check if you don't know which beer cocktail you're ordering!
We're not entirely sure if this origin story is true, but we always love reading about how different food and drinks come into existence. The birth of the chelada goes a little something like this:
- Back in the 1960s, a man (Michel Ésper) always asked for his beer to be served with lime, salt, ice, and a straw at a popular sports club (where he got the idea, we don't know).
- The drink was served in a special cup called a "chabela."
- People from the club started asking for "Michel's limonada" to test out his now infamous drink.
- Over time, the name of the drink was shortened to "michelada" and further to "chelada."
Regardless of whether this is exactly how it happened, it's a fun story to think about while you're sipping on your own chelada.
The most delicious chelada recipes include a salt-rimmed glass, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and an ice-cold cerveza (the colder, the better). Try adding more or less salt or lime until your chelada is just right.
Some people add ice, but others find it dilutes the beer and flavor — try both to see what you prefer the most.
For a light snack to serve alongside your chelada, try any of the following plant-based antojitos:
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
- Mexican beer: A refreshing, light, and ice-cold Mexican cerveza is a must for this chelada recipe. Bohemia, Modelo, Corona, and Tecate are all vegan-friendly, but any light beer will do the trick (just check the barnivore app).
- Lime: lending a tangy, fruity, and slightly sweet flavor is a nice big squeeze of lime. Don't be afraid to be generous with that squeeze!
- Salt: Adding salt makes this beer cocktail extremely palatable by enhancing the other flavors. Don't knock it 'til ya try it!
If you have questions about this chelada recipe, don't forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: Run a lime wedge along the rim of a chilled glass, or dip it in a shallow dish of lime juice. Then, dip the rim into a shallow dish filled with salt.
Step 2: Squeeze lime juice directly into the glass. Add a pinch of salt and stir. Add ice at this point if you'd like to use it.
Step 3: Pour in the beer, stopping well before it reaches the rim because it will fizz up. Stir and garnish your chelada with an extra lime wedge. Happy drinking!
💭 Tips & variations
We'd like to share some tips and variations we've learned since trying our first chelada:
- Skip the rim. If you don't like drinks with a rim, just skip it and add a little extra salt to the drink itself.
- Keep it light. The best chelada recipes include light beer (preferably a Mexican cerveza like Bohemia, Modelo, or Tecate).
- Make sure it's chilled. If you want the most flavor-intense chelada, don't add ice. But, make sure the glass and beer are both chilled.
- Don't forget the tequila. Every great Mexican beer cocktail becomes even better with a side shot of tequila. Bottoms up!
- No glass, no problem. You can easily make a chelada directly in the bottle or can. Just add a squeeze of lime and a pinch of salt straight into it.
🍴 Tasting notes
When the weather is hot, there is nothing that hits the spot better than an ice-cold chelada. It's:
If you try this chelada recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
- 1 Bottle opener
- 1 Beer glass
- 1 Citrus squeezer
- 12-ounce cerveza, Bohemia, Modelo, Tecate, etc. ($0.69)
- 1 lime, squeezed ($0.18)
- Coarse rimming salt ($0.02)
- Ice optional
- Run a lime wedge along the rim of a chilled glass, or dip it in a shallow dish of lime juice. Then, dip the rim into a shallow dish filled with salt.
- Squeeze lime juice directly into the glass. Add a pinch of salt and stir. Add ice if you're using it.
- Pour in the beer, stopping well before it reaches the rim because it will fizz up. Stir and garnish with an extra lime wedge. Happy drinking!
- Chill the beer, limes, and glass for best results.
- A typical lime yields about 1 ½ ounces of juice.
- We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more Mexican-style drinks, try some of our other favorites like:
- Cantaritos for a citrus-infused tequila cocktail that's served in a clay cup to keep it nice and chilled.
- Tejuino to try making an ancient fermented masa drink that's sweetened with piloncillo and topped with nieve de limón.
- Melon agua fresca for an incredibly refreshing, naturally sweet, and downright delicious drink made with ripe cantaloupe.
- Agua de guayaba if you prefer your drinks to be extra creamy, tropical, and sweet!
- Agua de Jamaica to try a tart, sweet, and refreshing hibiscus iced tea.
The best beers for cheladas are definitely cervezas. Our favorite varieties include Modelo, Bohemia, Sol, Dos Equis, and Tecate.
To properly rim a glass, set up two small plates. One has lime juice on it and one has coarse salt. First, rim the glass in lime juice and follow it with salt. You can also just run a lime wedge along the rim and then dip it in salt.
The alcohol content in a chelada corresponds to the beer you're using. In general, it will range from around 4-5% ABU.
Since the main component of a chelada recipe is beer, you can't really consider it one without it. But, you can use non-alcoholic beer if that's the reason for omitting it.