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!
Icy cold Fresh Lemonade: a family favorite!
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 for Fresh Squeezed Lemonade
- 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 many lemons to make lemonade?
It can really depend on how juicy and how big your lemons are, but in general you will need anywhere from 12 to 16 lemons to get 2 cups of fresh lemon juice for homemade lemonade. If we don’t have lemons from our lemon tree, I will buy a big bag of them from Costco and use most of the bag, with a few leftover for other uses.
Lemon to water ratio for lemonade
I use a 1:1:2 ratio of sugar, lemon juice, and water for our homemade lemonade recipe. So it’s 2 cups sugar, 2 cups lemon juice, and 4 cups water to start. From there I taste and adjust as needed, adding more water or ice until the lemonade is how we like it.
How to make 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.
Fresh Lemonade Recipe FAQs
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 ¼ cup stevia or 1 to 1 ½ cups monkfruit in place of the 2 cups of sugar.
You don’t get lemonade with just lemon juice and water unless you add a simple syrup or sugar to sweet it up. Some people might enjoy a cup of lemon water, but it’s not the cold, refreshing summery treat that you get with this homemade lemonade recipe that is perfectly sweetened.
Fresh Squeezed Lemonade Recipe tips
- 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.
Storing Home Made Lemonade
How long does fresh lemonade last?
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.
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
More Lemon Recipes
- Homemade Lemon Curd by Fresh April Flours
- Chicken Piccata by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Lemon Dessert Sauce by That Recipe
- Lemon Sugar Cookies by SueBee Homemaker
- Strawberry Lemonade Rice Krispies Treats by The Spiffy Cookie
- Lemon Zucchini Bread by Lemon Blossoms
- Grilled Lemon Mojito by Our Good Life
- Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Piccata by Our Crafty Mom
- Deep Eddy Lemonade Vodka Spritzer by Our Crafty Cocktails
- Meyer Lemon Scones by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Shortbread Lemon Tart by The Redhead Baker
- Sticky Lemon Oregano Chicken Recipe by Shockingly Delicious
- Garlic Lemon Pepper Rice by Daily Dish Recipes
- Crispy Lemon Chicken by Making Miracles
- South Indian Lemon Rice by Magical Ingredients
- Lemon Cookies by Devour Dinner
- Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken by Cheese Curd In Paradise
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
- 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.
This post was originally published June 24, 2016. It has been edited to add new photos and additional information on May 24, 2021.