A classic homemade lemonade recipe from scratch. Plus, ten flavor variations to suit every taste.
When a grocery store gives you lemons on sale, it’s time to learn how to make lemonade from scratch! That’s the fortunate position I found myself in this winter when our grocery store priced lemons for $0.18 each. I guess there’s not a lot of demand for lemons in February, so I snapped up six pounds.
That’s right: six pounds of lemons. Then I broke out my super-easy electric citrus juicer and got to work. By the time I was done I had close to six quarts of freshly-squeezed lemon juice!
What a perfect reason to make lots of lemonade!
Making Homemade Lemonade from Scratch
Supposedly, there are a number of health benefits to drinking lemon water. Most times the advice is to drink warm lemon water, but your body is going to warm it up once it’s in there, anyway.
Okay, the health gurus don’t advise adding sugar. Since we try to avoid white sugar when possible, I used liquid stevia in one batch. Not an hour later, my son and I were both sneezing horribly. It turns out, if you have ragweed allergies, you shouldn’t use stevia. Who knew?
You Should Always Freeze Extra Lemon Juice
If you’re lucky enough to get very juicy lemons, you might have more than you need to make the recipe below. Don’t throw it out! Lemon juice freezes well in Mason jars, and you can keep adding more any time you’ve got leftover lemon juice. When you’ve got enough saved up, make more lemonade. (If you’re not a fan of Mason jars in the freezer, ice cube trays work well, too.)
Now, while old-fashioned lemonade is definitely my kids’ favorite, I do like to switch things up on occasion so I played around with a few variations, including one just for adults.
10 Lemonade Flavor Variations
All of the flavored lemonades below begin use the classic homemade lemonade recipe as a base. Be sure to read through the descriptions before you start making lemonade from scratch, though, since some of the variants include extra steps.
Ginger Lemonade Peel a 2-inch section of fresh ginger root. Slice it thinly, and add while making the classic lemonade’s simple syrup. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove the ginger slices before proceeding with the lemonade recipe. Adjust sugar to taste. Garnish with lemon slices.
Peach Lemonade Peel and chop 3 large peaches. Combine the chopped peaches and the lemon juice from the classic lemonade recipe in a blender. Strain and add into the recipe where lemon juice is called for. Reduce the amount of water added to 8 cups. Garnish with lemon slices and a wedge of peach.
Lavender Blueberry Lemonade: Add 1/4 cup dried lavender blossoms when making the lemonade’s simple syrup. Allow this to cool then strain the liquid into a blender. To the blender, add 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries and puree for 30 seconds. Strain and stir this into the finished homemade lemonade. Garnish with lemon slices and a few blueberries, or add frozen ones to the glass.
Strawberry Lemonade Make the simple syrup then blend it with 16-oz. fresh or frozen strawberries. Strain this and proceed with the classic homemade lemonade recipe. Garnish with sliced strawberries and lemons.
Mint Lemonade Fizz Add 1 handful of torn, fresh mint leaves as you’re making the simple syrup. Remove from heat and let it steep for 5 minutes. Strain and proceed with the classic lemonade recipe, substituting 16-ounces of club soda for 2 cups of the cold water. Garnish with mint sprigs and lemon slices.
Pink Cranberry Lemonade Substitute 1 cup cranberry juice for 1 cup of the cold water at the end of the classic lemonade recipe. Garnish with lemon slices. You can toss in some cranberries, too, if you like. Or freeze a few in ice cubes ahead of time for a pretty garnish.
Watermelon Lemonade Puree 4 cups cubed, seedless watermelon. Strain. Substitute this juice (around 2 cups) for 2 cups of the cold water at the end of the classic recipe. Garnish with lemon slices and a very thin wedge of watermelon.
Vanilla Lemonade Slice a vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds with a spoon. Add the seeds and the scraped bean to the sugar-water while making the lemonade simple syrup. Remove this from the heat and let sit 10 minutes. Remove the bean and proceed with the classic lemonade recipe. Garnish with lemon slices.
Lemon-Lime Fizz Substitute lime juice for half of the lemon juice in the old-fashioned lemonade recipe. Replace 2 cups of the cold water at the end with 16-ounces of club soda. Garnish with both lemon and lime slices.
Lemonade Champagne (Not for kids!) Make the classic, old-fashioned lemonade recipe but reduce the cold water at the end to just 2 cups. Fill a champagne flute halfway with this concentrated lemonade, and top it off with cold champagne. Cheers!
Classic Old-Fashioned Lemonade
- Citrus juicer (optional)
- Mixing spoon
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 cup sugar - or 1 tsp. liquid stevia
- 1 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cups ice
- 12 cups water - very cold
Make a simple syrup
- Combine hot water and sugar in small saucepan on the stove over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves then remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes. Note: liquid stevia users should skip this step!
Make the lemonade
- Stir simple syrup (or stevia) and lemon juice together. Add the ice then the remaining water and stir well. Taste and add more water if it's too sweet.
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