How To Make Lemonade from Scratch

updated Sep 4, 2023
4th of july
Lemonade-from-Scratch Recipe

Ditch the simple syrup for the easiest homemade lemonade ever.

Makes2 quarts

Prep10 minutes to 15 minutes

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Credit: Joe Lingeman

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. To make this lemonade-from-scratch recipe, juice the lemons and strain them, then use the lemon juice to dissolve the sugar, and add cold water to taste.

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.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Ingredients for Lemonade

For the freshest-tasting lemonade, keep it simple.

  • Lemons
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Ice

Once you’ve made this classic version, you can experiment with add-ins like fresh mint.

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. (For limeade we like using maple syrup instead of simple syrup.)

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.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Key Steps for Simple Easy Homemade Lemonade

  • Juice and strain the lemons. We know a few tricks for getting the most juice out of your lemons (rolling them, slicing the lemon lengthwise, roasting them). But through testing we found the best way to juice lemons is to use a hand-held Chef’n Fresh Force citrus juicer. That said, in the recipe I included directions for my personal favorite juicing method, using a stand mixer.
  • 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.
Credit: Joe Lingeman

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.

Lemonade-from-Scratch Recipe

Ditch the simple syrup for the easiest homemade lemonade ever.

Prep time 10 minutes to 15 minutes

Makes 2 quarts

Nutritional Info


  • 8 to 10

    large lemons

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 quarts

    water (6 cups)

  • Ice

  • 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

  • Pitcher

  • Fine-mesh strainer


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  1. 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 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Serve with ice and lemon slices. Serve the lemonade over ice with lemon slices if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: The lemonade can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.