Alton Brown’s Tip for Better Lemonade Is Actually So Smart

updated Jul 15, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: From left to right: Victoria Will/Ap/Shutterstock; Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

An essential part of summer is finding the perfect drink to keep you cool and hydrated while you’re roasting in the sun. Once upon a time, that drink was probably what could only be loosely called lemonade — cold water, a spritz of tart lemon juice, and, the main ingredient, several handfuls of sugar. That might have been acceptable when you were a kid, but you’re going to need a much more grown-up recipe these days.

Thankfully Alton Brown — king of the kitchen hack — has a recipe for lemonade that isn’t packed with sugar, but is refreshing enough that you’ll want to drink it all summer long. And it has one significant twist. 

Alton’s lemonade recipe from Alton Brown: Everyday Cook uses just half a cup of sugar and insists on fresh lemon juice. But here’s the interesting twist: Alton says that the key to making perfect lemonade is also using homemade preserved lemons. Is it more labor-intensive? Yes. Is it worth the extra effort? Oh yes.

Once you have all your ingredients together, you’ll need to simmer about six of the preserved lemon slices, sugar, and water in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. You’ll then have a lemon syrup. Let the syrup cool for about one hour, then add in your fresh lemon juice. When you’re ready to serve, combine the lemon juice and lemon syrup mixture with sparkling water and ice. That’s it!

Note: If you don’t have time to make your own preserved lemons, you can buy them jarred at various stores. We’ve seen them at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Home Goods, but you can also order them on Amazon.

The recipe makes enough syrup that you’ll be able to make a couple of pitchers for a backyard barbecue. Or you can keep the leftover syrup in the fridge to enjoy throughout the week — that way you always have a refreshing drink on hand for those sweltering summer days. 

You can also use Brown’s preserved lemons in pasta, salad, on fish, and even in ice cream, so the effort behind this recipe is totally worth it. Remember, Brown hates unitaskers, and this recipe is no exception. With multi-purpose preserved lemons on hand, you’ll be able to amp up the flavor on almost all of your recipes this summer.