Sipping icy-cold sweet lemonade on a blazing-hot summer day is one of life's finest pleasures, which is why we think making lemonade from scratch should be the easiest drink you make this summer. After all, it is just three ingredients: lemon juice, sugar, and water. There's absolutely no reason you should be heating up the stove or breaking a sweat to squeeze lemons.
With this recipe you'll learn two smart tips for making lemonade faster and more easily, plus we'll help you find the perfect sweetness level for your taste with a ratio anyone can remember.
Here's the one lemonade recipe you need for back porch swinging, park picnics, and even your own neighborhood lemonade stand.
Skip the Simple Syrup for Better Lemonade
Here's my strong summer opinion: You should never have to turn on the stove for lemonade. Ditch the simple syrup and instead use the lemon juice to dissolve the sugar in a 3-ingredient recipe that delivers tangy, sweet lemonade every time. This summer we're not waiting for simple syrup to cool.
Tailor the Sweetness to Your Taste
Classic sweet lemonade: You can use the standard ratio of 1 cup of lemon juice to 1 cup of sugar added to 1 1/2 quarts of cold water for perfectly sweet lemonade, or you can figure out your perfect ratio and you can have almost instant lemonade anywhere, anytime.
Lightly sweet lemonade: For a less sweet lemonade, reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup and keep the lemon and water amounts the same.
Key Steps for Simple Easy Homemade Lemonade
- Juice and strain the lemons. There a couple of tricks for getting the most juice out of your lemons (rolling them, slicing them lengthwise, roasting them), but my new favorite "juicing hack" is to actually crush the whole lemons using my stand mixer. Seriously! Here's how you do it: Quarter the lemons and put them in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Use low speed to squeeze the lemons, then strain the juice directly into a measuring cup.
- Use the lemon juice to dissolve the sugar. Many modern lemonade recipes call for making a simple syrup — sugar and water boiled together — for sweetening summer lemonade, but if you stir the sugar directly into the lemon juice you can skip the simple syrup and get to lemonade faster — no heat required.
- Add cold water to taste. Since the lemon juice dissolves the sugar, we can go straight from lemon juice to cold water and ice and serve the lemonade straight away.
Storing and Serving Simple Classic Lemonade
This lemonade keeps well for about five days in the fridge, although it's a good idea to give it a swift stir just before serving each time. As for serving instructions, a tall glass, extra ice, and a sunny patio are recommended.
How To Make Lemonade from Scratch
Makes 2 quarts
What You Need
8 to 10 large
1 1/2 quarts
water (6 cups)
Lemon slices, for serving (optional)
Measuring cup or medium bowl
Knife and cutting board
Juicer or citrus reamer, or stand mixer with the paddle attachment
Juice the lemons and strain out the pulp. Halve the lemons, then squeeze the juice from the halves — you can do this manually with your favorite juicer or reamer. My favorite alternative method: Quarter the lemons and use the stand mixer to juice all of the lemons at once. Place the quartered lemons in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, then beat them on low speed for 2 minutes. With either method, strain the juice through a fine-mesh strainer into a large measuring cup or bowl to remove the pulp before making the lemonade. You need 1 cup of strained lemon juice.
Combine the lemon juice and sugar to make a lemonade base. Add the sugar to the strained lemon juice and whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Add the water and chill. Transfer the lemonade base to a serving pitcher. Add the water and stir to combine. Chill the lemonade for at least 1 hour before serving.
Serve with ice and lemon slices. Serve the lemonade over ice with lemon slices if desired.
Storage: The lemonade can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.