How to Make Lemonade

Iconic for summer days and picnics, homemade lemonade is the ultimate refresher. We'll show you how to make lemonade with lemon juice (freshly squeezed!) and just two other ingredients. We're also sharing some of our favorite simple lemonade recipes so you can dress up your drink with basil, strawberries, mint, and more. Fresh squeezed lemonade is best, after all!

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What's in Homemade Lemonade?

Ade is a beverage made with water, sugar, and citrus juice. California is a large producer of the very-tart lemon varieties we are accustomed to purchasing. These juicy, bright yellow lemons are available year-round and add the ideal amount of mouth-puckering sourness that makes sweetened lemonade so yin and yang. Of course, fresh lemons are the key to perfect lemonade, so opt for them whenever you're making lemonade.

Follow our easy lemonade recipe below to make a homemade version of this refreshing ade using fresh lemon juice, or swap in a different citrus to make limeade, orangeade, grapefruitade—any ade you want!

Handling Lemons

  • Lemonade starts with fresh lemons, naturally. Look for firm, plump lemons that are heavy for their size and have no tinge of green on the skin (this is a sign of under-ripeness).
  • Store lemons that are in good condition in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Or store at room temperature for up to 1 week.
  • Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C, but this vitamin starts to lose its effectiveness fairly soon after squeezing. Drink your lemonade soon after making it for the most nutritional value.

How to Juice Lemons

  • For fresh lemon juice, leave lemons at room temperature for about 30 minutes before juicing for best results. Next, roll each lemon on the counter under the palm of your hand. This helps to release the juice.
  • Cut each lemon in half horizontally and squeeze each half on a citrus juicer.
  • For 1 cup lemon juice, you will need to juice five or six lemons.

How to Make Lemonade

Get the recipe for Homemade Lemonade
  • In a 1-1/2-quart pitcher stir together 3 cups cold water, 1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and 3/4 cup sugar.
  • Continue to stir until the sugar dissolves. You shouldn't see any sugar settling at the bottom of the pitcher.
  • To serve, pour the lemonade into glasses filled with ice. If desired, thinly slice an additional lemon or cut it into wedges and garnish each serving with lemon.
  • To store, cover the pitcher and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Get the Homemade Lemonade recipe.

Variations on Homemade Lemonade

Get the recipe for Strawberry Lemonade
  • Green Tea Lemonade: Bring 1 cup of the water to boiling and add 2 green tea bags. Let the tea steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and let the tea cool. Continue as above with 2 cups water and other remaining ingredients.
  • Raspberry Lemonade: Prepare as directed, except place 1 cup fresh raspberries in a blender or food processor; cover and blend or process until the berries are pureed. Press the berry mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the seeds. Stir the strained puree into the pitcher of lemonade. If desired, add additional sugar. Garnish with fresh raspberries.
  • Strawberry Lemonade: In a small saucepan combine 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water; cook and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool. In a blender combine remaining 3 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 cups of fresh strawberries, hulled; process until smooth. Transfer to a 2-quart pitcher; add cooled syrup, 1 tablespoon lemon peel, and 1 cup lemon juice. Stir to combine. Fill pitcher with crushed ice.

Garnish Ideas

Get the recipe for Sparkling Basil Lemonade
  • Lemon Ice Cubes: Cut a lemon into thin slices and halve or quarter each slice. Place a lemon piece in each compartment of an ice cube tray and fill with water. Freeze for several hours until solid. Place several lemon cubes in each glass and add lemonade.
  • Muddled Fresh Mint: Place a sprig of mint into each glass. Use a muddler, which is a bartender's tool for mashing, or the back of a spoon to push the mint against the bottom and side of the glass to release the flavor. Add ice and lemonade.
  • Mixed Citrus Wheels: Thinly slice a lemon, orange, and lime and place as many slices as desired in the pitcher with the lemonade. Or place a lemon, orange, and lime slice in each glass with the lemonade and ice. 
  • Edible Flowers: Sprinkle each glass of lemonade with edible flower petals, or use whole edible flowers as a garnish.
  • Lemon Candy Sticks: Place a lemon-flavor, old-fashioned hard-candy stick in each glass as a swizzle stick.

Simple Lemonade Recipes to Try

Get the recipe for Watermelon and Strawberry Lemonade

Whether you're in the mood for old fashioned homemade lemonade or want to try a new twist on an old favorite, we have an easy lemonade recipe for you. Grab your fresh lemons and start juicing!

Fresh Lemonade Recipes

Watermelon and Strawberry Lemonade

Melon and Mint Lemonade

Vodka Lemonade

Ruby Rhubarb Lemonade

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