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This fresh-squeezed Homemade Lemonade is an easy recipe for a hot summer day. The best part is that you can adjust the amount of simple syrup so the lemonade is as sweet or tart as you want. It’s the perfect solution when you have a bunch of lemons!
Welcome to #LemonWeek 2021 hosted by Lynn from Fresh April Flours! What better way to welcome summer than with over 50 recipes featuring bright and sunny lemons? Come join me and my fellow Lemon Week bloggers as we bring you recipes from appetizers to drinks to entrées and desserts!
Old-Fashioned Homemade Lemonade
During summer when it’s hot and the sun is blazing, one of our favorite treats is a glass of icy cold, fresh squeezed homemade lemonade! It is so simple to make and there is nothing quite like sitting on the porch in the shade, drinking that sweet-tart stuff out of a glass filled with ice and sunny slices of lemon.
All it takes to make fresh squeezed homemade lemonade is a bag of lemons, a simple syrup made in less than 5 minutes, and a pitcher full of water and ice. Let’s make lemonade!
This is just the thing to serve at a 4th of July or Memorial Day BBQ with a pulled pork sandwich, smoked babyback ribs or my all-American hamburgers with crispy onion strings. It’s sweet and refreshing and everybody loves seeing a pitcher full of classic lemonade!
You can easily double or triple the batch if you are serving a crowd!
Plus, homemade lemonade is a great thing for the kids to help make. They love trying to squeeze the lemons to get the juice out. I first shared this recipe when my oldest daughter was 6 and love this photo I snapped of her twisting lemons with all her might.
Even though they know how sour lemons are, my kids still always try to sneak in licks when they think I am not looking. I hope that as they grow up, when they think of summer they will think of the taste of this lemonade and remember making it with me!
What You’ll Need
- Lemons: You can’t exactly make fresh-squeezed lemonade without some fresh lemons to squeeze! I usually buy a big 5-pound bag of them from Costco unless we are lucky enough to have neighbors share from their lemon trees.
- Sugar: Some homemade lemonade recipes have you whisk the sugar into the water or lemon juice until it is dissolved, but I find that either takes longer than making a simple syrup, or the sugar doesn’t completely dissolve and you end up with little gritty bits of sugar in the lemonade, which I don’t enjoy.
- Water: The amount will depend on how concentrated you like your lemonade. Feel free to adjust up or down to your personal taste.
- Ice: Everybody loves ice cold lemonade, right?
- Juicer: You can squeeze the juice out of all your lemons by hand, but having one of those citrus juicers (either the kind where you twist halved lemons or press them through a press) is a huge help when you are making a batch of homemade lemonade.
How to make fresh-squeezed homemade lemonade
- Make a simple syrup: This is as easy as combining equal parts sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat it over medium heat, stirring occasionally, just until the sugar has dissolved. You will be able to tell when the water goes from cloudy white to clear with only a slight yellow tint to it. At that point, I recommend letting the simple syrup to cool to room temperature, and then covering and refrigerating it until completely chilled.
- Juice a bunch of lemons: The number of lemons needed will depend on how big and juicy your lemons are but 10 lemons (about 4 pounds) will generally do the trick. Remove any seeds, but I like to leave the pulp, which really makes the lemonade have that homemade fresh squeezed taste and texture.
- Combine: In a pitcher filled with lemon slices, then a bunch of ice, stir together the chilled syrup and the freshly squeezed lemon juice. Add additional water as needed to reach your preferred amount of sweetness and lemon concentration.
Frequently Asked Questions
Homemade lemonade will be good for up to a week in the fridge. Just store it in a covered container like a pitcher with a lid. If you made the lemonade with lots of ice that still hasn’t melted though, you might want to remove the ice before storing though so it doesn’t dilute the concentration.
Everything goes bad at one point or another, or at the very least will no longer taste as good as it did when it was fresh. If you notice that after several days, your lemonade develops and weird odors, flavor or appearance, discard it and make a new batch.
If you are looking for a sugar substitute, you can use honey in your simple syrup for this recipe. Just combine 2 cups honey with 2 cups water in a saucepan over medium heat to make the simple syrup and use as much as you would like to sweeten your lemonade. Other sugar substitutes would be 1/4 cup stevia or 1 to 1 1/2 cups monkfruit in place of the 2 cups of sugar.
- Use real lemons! Don’t use bottled lemon juice. It just won’t give the same fresh-squeezed taste that makes homemade lemonade so special.
- Make it as sweet or tart as you want! You can adjust the levels of sweetness by using less of the simple syrup. If you like your lemonade more on the tart side, start with just half of the simple syrup and continue adding more until you get the lemonade the way you like it!
- Juicier lemons: To get as much juice as possible out of your lemons, roll them on the counter first, pressing them with the palm of your hand to break up the pulp inside. This helps them release more juice. Also, room temperature lemons are juicier than lemons that have been stored in the fridge.
- Make ahead: You can make the simple syrup well in advance and store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- Start with less water and add more. Keep in mind that as the ice melts, the lemonade will become less concentrated. So if you think the lemonade will be sitting out for a while, you might want to use less water at first, knowing that lemonade won’t be quite as strong once the ice has melted.
Freezing Homemade Lemonade Concentrate
If you have a lemon tree that is bursting with fresh lemons, a great way to use them up is to make your own lemonade concentrate. Just combine the 2 cups of simple syrup with 2 cups of lemon juice, then transfer to a heavy-duty freezer-safe ziploc bag and freeze. When ready to serve, thaw the lemonade concentrate, then add it to a pitcher with water and stir. That’s it!
More drink recipes to try
- Homemade Blackberry Lemonade
- Brazilian Lemonade (Limeade)
- Horchata Mexican Drink Recipe
- Homemade Hawaiian Punch
- Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri
- Virgin Piña Coladas
- 2 cup sugar
- 4-6 cups water, divided
- 2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (around 4 pounds)
- 2-3 extra lemons, sliced
- 4 cups ice
- In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 2 cups of the water over medium-high heat. Bring to boil and stir to dissolve sugar completely, then remove from heat. Allow the simple syrup to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until completely chilled.
- Meanwhile, juice enough lemons to get 2 cups of lemon juice. The number of lemons needed will depend on the size of the lemons you have but generally speaking, 4-5 pounds of lemons will do the trick. Remove any seeds from the lemon juice, but leave the pulp. In a pitcher, stir together chilled syrup, the freshly squeezed lemon juice and as much of the remaining water as you want to get the concentration you like best.
- Add sliced lemons and ice to the pitcher for presentation.
You can adjust the amount of water until you get the level of sweetness or tartness you desire. I like to add a lot of ice and hold back on some of the water at first so that the lemonade doesn't get really watered down.
This post was originally published June 24, 2016. It has been edited to add new photos and additional information on May 24, 2021.