This easy homemade lemonade recipe combines just three ingredients to make a delicious and refreshing lemonade that everyone will love. It’s the perfect drink for a hot day, a summer party, or to serve with pretty much anything.
Is there anything better on a hot day than a glass of ice cold homemade lemonade? Store-bought lemonade is fine but homemade is way better, especially when that homemade lemonade has the perfect balance of sweet and sour.
But today it’s all about a traditional homemade lemonade with just three ingredients – lemons, water, and sugar.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Simple – if you can boil water, you can make this recipe. It’s literally as simple as that! It also uses simple ingredients! The only thing you’ll likely have to buy at the grocery store is the lemons unless you have a bunch of lemonades on hand.
- Inexpensive – in a day and age where food prices are at an all-time high, inexpensive food and drink options are always a good thing to have on hand!
- Customizable – this recipe has a base homemade lemonade recipe but you can totally customize it to be a little sweeter if you want or a little more tart if you want. I’ve included instructions for the best way to do both of those at the bottom of this post!
- Fresh lemons – you’re obviously going to want to use fresh lemons for this but just in case you considered using bottled lemon juice, don’t do it. You’ll absolutely ruin the recipe if you don’t use real lemons and fresh lemon juice. You’ll need one cup of lemon juice, which is the juice from around 8-10 large lemons.
- Water – you’ll need two cups of water for the simple syrup, which can be any temperature, plus five cups of water for the actual lemonade. I recommend that the water for mixing the lemonade be cold water.
- Sugar – you’ll need one cup of water and it can be either regular white sugar or organic sugar. If you use organic sugar, your lemonade may be a little darker than in these pictures simply because organic sugar tends to have a slightly brown tint to it, similar to light brown sugar or coconut sugar.
- Ice cubes – you can either serve the lemonade over ice cubes or you can make it and store it in the pitcher and serve it chilled, totally up to you.
How to make homemade lemonade
While this recipe is super simple to make, I’ve included a few tips and tricks to make the process even simpler below!
1 – Make the Simple Syrup
The first thing you need to do is make a simple syrup that will give this fresh-squeezed lemonade its sweetness. You want to make this first so that it can chill in the fridge before you add it to the lemonade.
Combine two cups of water and one cup of water in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves into the water. The water should get hot but should not be boiling for best results. If it starts to simmer or looks like it might boil, turn the heat down slightly until the bubbles are gone.
Once the sugar is completely dissolved, place the sugar syrup in a heat safe container and place in the refrigerator to cool.
2 – Juice the Lemons
If you’re using an electric juicer, it’s typically easier to get all of the juice out of the lemons than if you’re doing it by hand. If you are doing it by hand, I recommend rolling the lemons gently on the counter or on a cutting board before cutting them in half to juice. This helps you get juicy lemons even if they’re not naturally juicy.
Once they’re cut in half, put on lemon half in the palm of your hand and squeeze over a bowl to get all of the juice out. Repeat with all of the lemons until you have one cup of lemon juice (or two cups of juice if you’re doubling the recipe).
Carefully remove any seeds with a fine mesh strainer before moving onto the next step.
3 – Make the Lemonade
Once you have all of your lemon juice and the syrup has cooled, it’s time to make the lemonade.
Pour the cup of lemon juice into a large pitcher (larger than 2 quarts as this makes 2 quarts, or 8 cups of lemonade) or drink container. Add the cooled syrup and five cups of water, and stir until well combined.
Serve immediately over ice or you can put the pitcher in the fridge and allow to chill until ready to serve chilled. It’s also really fun to serve in mason jars garnished with lemon slices and fun straws!
This fresh squeezed homemade lemonade is perfect for a hot summer day and a great way to cool down after playing outside! It’s also perfect for all of those backyard bbqs and the best thing for combating the summer heat!
Make more or less of this delicious homemade lemonade recipe by sticking to the same ratios included in this recipe – equal parts water and sugar for the simple syrup, then a 2:1:5 ratio for the simple syrup, lemon juice, and water. As long as you stick with those ratios, you can make as much or as little of this as you want.
This is a mildly sweet lemonade. If you want a more intense lemon flavor, you can increase the amount of lemon juice or decrease the amount of simple syrup. I’ve tried it with equal parts simple syrup and lemon juice and it’s still good, just a lot more sour than the way the recipe is originally written. Or if that is too much juice for you, you can start with 1 3/4 simple syrup and 1 1/4 lemon juice. Just keep in mind the amount of simple syrup will impact the sweetness and the amount of juice will impact the tartness.
Serve cold lemonade over ice rather than adding ice to the pitcher itself. If you add a lot of ice to the mixture, it can really dilute the flavor.
Serve in a big pitcher, ideally a drink dispenser that holds more than 1/2 gallon of liquid, with cut lemon slices for a fun visual garnish. If you only have a 2 quart pitcher, you’ll want to make less than the recipe calls for so that it all fits into the pitcher. Alternately, you could make the entire thing in a separate container and then just transfer a part of it to the pitcher.
Store in the refrigerator in a pitcher for up to a week. Stir the lemonade with a wooden spoon before serving.
Freeze the lemonade in an ice cube tray then defrost a couple of cubes whenever you want homemade lemonade. You can also let them freeze just slightly to enjoy a frozen lemonade, similar to a lemonade granita.
Make a simple syrup by heating water and sugar over the stove until the sugar dissolves. Juice lemons. Combine lemon juice, simple syrup, and water in a big pitcher. Serve over ice and garnish with lemons.
Lemonade can be made with just three key ingredients – water, sugar, and fresh lemons.
It typically takes between 8-10 large lemons to get 1 cup of lemon juice. This will depend on the size of the lemons and how juicy they are, so I recommend having at least ten for one cup of juice.
More Summer Drinks
If you like this fresh squeezed lemonade recipe, you should also try out these other refreshing drinks!
- Strawberry mocktail – a strawberry citrus mocktail that combines sweet and sour in a unique and refreshing way!
- Raspberry punch – a chilled raspberry punch made with fresh juice, soda, and raspberry sorbet.
- Easy butterbeer recipe – celebrate Harry Potter’s summer birthday with this delicious refreshing treat!
- Homemade limeade – a refreshing and delicious limeade recipe that’s about as easy as it gets!
- Virgin strawberry mojito – a delicious strawberry mint drink that has all the flavors of a mojito without any of the alcohol!
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 8-10 juiced lemons (about 1 cup lemon juice)
- 5 cups water
- ice (2-4 cups)
- Combine 2 cups water and 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan. Heat on medium until the sugar dissolves. It should be hot, but not boiling.2 cups water, 1 cup granulated sugar
- Pour syrup into a heat safe container and cool in the refrigerator.
- Squeeze lemons until you have one cup of juice. Put juice in a half gallon pitcher.8-10 juiced lemons
- Add the cooled syrup, water, and lemon juice to a pitcher. Stir until well combined and serve over ice.5 cups water, ice