This perfectly sweet-tart lemonade recipe will knock your socks off and have everyone coming back for more! It’s easy to throw together with 3 ingredients in less than 20 minutes and is make ahead and freezer friendly – perfect for a summer day. Best of all, this lemonade is smooth without any graininess or separation and is endlessly versatile – use it as the base for strawberry lemonade, peach lemonade, etc. and/or add mint, lavender, cucumber, ginger, flavored ice cubes and more – all variations included!
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Fresh Lemonade Recipe FAQs
Lemonade is a a beverage high in sugar, but homemade lemonade typically has less sugar than store-bought concentrate. You can cut down on the sugar by using less or use natural sweeteners like honey or agave or artificial sweeteners like stevia.
Lemonade is high in Vitamin C which supports the immune system, aids in collagen production for healthy skin and connective tissues, acts as an antioxidant to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, and helps enhance the absorption of iron from plant-based foods. Consuming foods rich in vitamin C boosts the body’s ability to fight infections and maintain healthy skin, bones, and blood vessels.
Lemonade tastes the best when crafted with freshly squeezed lemon juice, striking the perfect balance of sweetness to complement its tartness. Using clean, filtered water ensures a refreshing taste, while serving it chilled with ice cubes enhances its refreshing nature. Most importantly, briefly simmering the sugar with water to create a simple syrup before combining with the lemon juice ensures equal sugar distribution for a cohesive, smooth lemonade.
Yes, you may use bottled lemon juice to prepare homemade lemonade in a pinch, but fresh is best! Freshly squeezed lemon juice boasts a brighter, cleaner flavor, whereas, bottled lemon juice can taste dull, not as fresh and even bitter.
Yes, you can make lemonade with honey instead of sugar, but be prepared for a honey flavored lemonade, instead of the clean, fresh taste.
See my variations section! Add fresh herbs like fresh mint, basil, and lavender, fruit like berries, peaches, or cucumbers, ginger or coconut water.
I do not recommend making lemonade without simply syrup. Sugar will not evenly dissolve in cold water, leaving the lemonade with crunchy crystals collecting at the bottom of the pitcher. The simply syrup, however, ensures
dissolved, evenly distributed sugar with a smooth consistency.
Absolutely! This lemonade recipe can easily be doubled, tripled and more, for a large gathering, potluck, barbecue, lemonade stand, etc. To increase the recipe, simply use the sliding scale that pops up when you hover over the servings in the recipe card.
Plain lemons, known as Lisbon or Eureka lemons, are best for making homemade lemonade. Do not use Meyer lemons because they are sweeter and lack the same vibrant sweet-sour citrus punch. If you do use sweeter Meyer lemons, reduce the sugar by ¼ cup and add more as needed to taste.
To make sugar free lemonade, replace the sugar in the recipe with your choice of zero/low sugar liquid sweetener. I have not experimented with the amount needed, so I would start with less and add more to taste. Because it’s liquid, you can add sugar directly to the lemonade once combined with the lemon juice.
Homemade Lemonade Recipe
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- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1 /2 cups water (for simple syrup)
- 1 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (with pulp, remove seeds)
- 4 cups cold water to dilute, plus more to taste
- 2 cups ice
- Make simple syrup: Add the sugar and 1 ½ cups water to a small, nonreactive saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir until the sugar dissolves completely, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
- Juice lemons: While the syrup is cooling, juice the lemons and add the lemon juice to a large pitcher.
- Add water and syrup: Add 4 cups water to the pitcher and the cooled simple syrup; stir to combine.
- Chill: Refrigerate until cold, about 30-45 minutes.
- Add ice: When ready to serve, stir in 2 cups ice.
- Adjust to taste: For less strong flavor, add additional water to dilute (noting ice will dilute the lemonade somewhat as it melts). For a more intense lemon flavor, add additional lemon juice. For sweeter, whisk in powdered sugar.
- Storage: Cover and refrigerate for up to 7 days.
- Freeze: Freeze the mixed up lemonade OR just freeze the lemon juice concentrate (simple syrup whisked with lemon juice) in freezer bags for up to 4 months. Allow to thaw completely, then add to a pitcher. For the concentrate, add water until it reaches desired flavor.
- Swap granulated sugar: Use caster sugar instead of granulated sugar or use honey instead of granulated sugar, noting this will give the lemonade a distinct honey flavor.
- Sugar free lemonade: Start with ¼ cup liquid stevia added directly to the lemon juice and water, then add more liquid stevia to taste. To use powder, dissolve ¼ cup stevia powder in 1 ½ cups water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, let cool, then combine with water to taste.
- Fruit/strawberry lemonade: Puree 1 cup strawberries, blackberries, peaches, watermelon, etc. and stir into the lemonade.
- Add fruit: Add fresh or frozen raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple or peaches.
- Limeade: Swap the lemons for limes, or use a combination of both.
- Fruit ice cubes: Use ice cubes made from pureed fruits like berries or cucumber.
- Add cucumber: Add cucumber slices for a complex, slightly bitter flavor and a gorgeous green hue.
- Add herbs: Add dried or fresh lavender flowers for a subtle floral aroma; mint for a cool and refreshing taste, or basil for aromatic, minty, sweet pepper notes.
- Add ginger: Add freshly grated ginger for a zesty and slightly spicy flavor.
- Add coconut: Swap the water with coconut water or part of it with coconut milk for a creamy and tropical twist.
- Fizzy lemonade: Use sparkling water for a bubbly twist. It will flatten over time, so combine just before serving. Refrigerate the soda water separately so it’s chilled before combining.
- Add edible Flowers: Use edible flowers like lavender, hibiscus, or chamomile for subtle floral notes.
- Add garnishes: Garnish the rim of each glass with a fresh lemon slice, candied lemon peel, mint, maraschino cherry, or even fruit skewers (like berries or watermelon chunks).
- Sugared Rim: Dip the rim of the glass in lemon juice or water, then dip it into sugar or a mix of sugar and salt to create a sweet and tangy rim.
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