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What you need to know about cheladas

Among cocktails, only chelada can compete with the hot Mexican summer. Find that lost shaker of salt and a lime: it’s chelada time.

Among cocktails, only chelada can compete with the hot Mexican summer. Find that lost shaker of salt and a lime: it’s chelada time.

What is a chelada?

We’ll start at the beginning. Chelada is a Mexican beer cocktail using lager beer and lime juice. Mexican lagers are inherently refreshing, but the citrusy chelada flavors push them into another dimension. Chelada ABV usually hovers around 4%, making it a top-notch hot weather drink. Let’s slice up a couple limes and get into some easy-drinking cheladas.

Basic chelada recipe 

Beer (a solid start)

What’s a good chelada beer? Grab your favorite Mexican lager. Modelo and Pacifico are great with limes. Corona makes for a particularly breezy chelada, so keep that in rotation, too.


We use fresh lime juice to guarantee brightness and you should too. Search our site for fresh whole limes; our partners often have them. For a standard chelada beer, just add as much lime juice as you like. Cut a wedge off your lime for garnish.

Salted Rim

Salt enhances flavor. This is known. Be sure to salt the rim of your glass so you get a pinch with every sip. Coarse salt works best!


Yes, you can put ice in your beer. There’s no shame in it. 

Anything else you want

You don’t need anything beyond those ingredients to make a chelada, but you’ll probably want to try some other popular flavor combos. Let’s dig a little deeper here.

Chelada variations

Unless you add motor oil, there’s no wrong way to make a chelada. We’ll give you some tips to make your favorite chelada, but since there’s no official recipe, let's keep it casual. 


You’ve probably had more exposure to micheladas than regular cheladas. Micheladas are kind of the Mexican spin on a bloody mary. Spicy, tangy and really refreshing, it’s no wonder there are tons of michelada recipes. Our original michelada recipe balances the spices for an eye-opening experience. Some recipes call for tomato juice, but this one goes without. Go easy on the tabasco sauce until you’re sure you know how you like it. 

Pre-made cheladas

Chelada’s popularity caught the ear of some of the big breweries, so now we’ve got plenty of ready-made options to round out your palate. Let’s take a gander at what’s out there.

Bud Light Chelada

Budweiser got into the chelada game with this tasty treat. It’s the standard Bud Light recipe of barley, hops and rice with the addition of clamato. What’s clamato? It’s a mix of tomato juice, clam broth and other spices. Like the bloody mary, this tomato-based drink has its lovers and haters. You’ll definitely taste the vegetal tomato flavor and savory spices. Bud light chelada has several different flavors to drink through if you like the overall concept, so give it a try! Does bud light chelada have MSG? Breweries aren’t required to show all ingredients, so we can’t say for sure. We’re pretty confident there’s some salt in there, though. According to the bud light website, a 12 oz can of the original bud light chelada has 151 calories and 15.6 grams of carbs. ABV is 4.2%

Modelo chelada especial

If you want to stick with the authentically Mexican motif, the Modelo chelada especial has your back. Modelo embodies the light, refreshing feel of the Mexican lager, so it’s a dead ringer for your chelada base. The original chelada is tomato-forward, but balanced by the bright lime and beer flavor. ABV and calories are a little lower than bud light, at 4.0% and 144 per 12 oz can, respectively.

What about some cheladas that don’t have tomato juice?

Fear not. There’s plenty to choose from here.

Limon y Sal 

We know tomato cocktails can be polarizing; they just aren’t for everybody. If the clamato/tomato juice flavors don’t thrill you, Modelo brews some tomato-free cheladas that let the other flavors shine. Limon y sal focuses more on citrus and salt for more subdued deliciousness. At 120 calories per 12 oz can, it’s a little more drinkable, too. As usual, alcohol is manageable at 4%.

Modelo Chelada Mango y Chile

Mango isn’t a citrus fruit, but it doesn’t know that. This tropical fruit drinks really well in a chelada; its fruitiness acts a counterbalance to the chile pepper spiciness. Chelada mango y chile is another tomato-less option, so don’t be shy. The mango y chile has 300 calories in a 24 oz can, and 4% alcohol. 

Stronger Mexican beer cocktails

With their low ABV’s, cheladas make for great beach days and hot afternoons on the harbor. When the nighttime rolls around, you may find yourself looking for something stronger to sip on. We have  a plan for that.

Mezcal michelada

Mezcal kind of rules. Tequila’s smokier, more aggressive relative, mezcal makes very distinctive cocktails and is a natural playmate of chelada. Our mezcal michelada leverages hot sauce/mezcal interplay for a spicy drink that’s at home at both brunch and cocktail hour. 

Loaded chelada

Cazadores blanco fortifies the beer in this cocktail, with the sweet and sour mix providing great acidity. Don’t forget the chile salted rim! Make a whole pitcher of it to share.

Chelada pairings

You won’t be shocked to hear that cheladas pair well with Mexican food. Their citrusy acidity and touch of salt brings out the flavors of pork tacos and ceviche in particular. Micheladas with tomato pair splendidly with brunch foods like omelettes, french toast and hashbrowns. 

Whether you sip it with tomato or without, there’s definitely an ice-cold chelada out there with your name on it. Getting through the hot summer can be thirsty work, so rest assured that Drizly can have you chilling with a chelada within the hour. Go place an order - and don’t forget the limes. Salud!