My Clever Trick for Ridiculously Easy Lemonade Will Convince You to Ditch the Store-Bought Stuff Forever

published May 30, 2024
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Smashed lemonade beverage.
Credit: Andrea Rivera Wawrzyn

It’s warm, the windows are open, and I’m surrounded by the sounds of gas-powered lawn equipment — lemonade season is upon us. Lemonade is a classic summertime (or anytime, really) drink. A big pitcher of fresh lemonade is an image that’s right up there with a beach umbrella and a grill full of burgers when you think about the ushering in of warm weather. I live in a household of two, however, so a pitcher of lemonade is really more than I want to make at one time, and I’m not really into the store-bought stuff. Enter: the smashed lemonade method. 

There are lots of ways to make lemonade, but this one is by far my favorite. I learned this trick when I was a recipe developer at America’s Test Kitchen. Instead of juicing lemons and then adding the juice to a pitcher with sugar and water, I slice the lemons, add some sugar, and then smash them with a potato masher. It’s easy and I can tailor it to my particular tastes — and I’m going to be doing it all summer.

Credit: Andrea Rivera Wawrzyn

Why it Works

Smashing the lemons — along with their peels— and sugar together allows the oils from the peel to get into the mixture, pumping up the lemony flavor. This method simplifies the process of making lemonade as well. You’re essentially making a very potent lemon syrup, that you can then add to water in the exact ratio and amount you prefer. You can mix up enough for a large batch, or only smash 1 or 2 lemons for a few glasses of lemonade instead of an entire pitcher’s worth.

Why You’ll Love It

  • It’s simple. This is the streamlined version of making lemonade — just smash, strain, and add water.
  • No special equipment required. You don’t need a juicer to make lemonade this way. You don’t even need to use a potato masher; you just need something that’s capable of smashing the lemons. You could use a pestle or a muddler, or even the back of a sturdy wooden spoon.
  • It’s customizable. Not only can you make as small or large of a batch of lemonade as you like, but you can also add other flavorings to the syrup and work their flavors right into the syrup. Fancy some mint lemonade, or maybe a batch with watermelon? Throw them right into the bowl and mash away.
Credit: Andrea Rivera Wawrzyn

How to Make Smashed Lemonade

  1. Slice the lemons. Quarter the lemons and then slice them into about 1/4-inch slices.
  2. Smash the lemons. Add the lemon slices and sugar (I use 1/2 cup of granulated sugar for 2 lemons, but you can adjust the sweetness to your liking) to a large bowl. Add in any extra flavorings like ginger or fresh berries to the bowl as well. Use a potato masher to smash the lemon slices until the sugar is completely moistened. 
  3. Strain. Strain the lemon mixture through a fine mesh strainer; discard the solids.
  4. Mix the syrup with water. I mix about 2 tablespoons of the lemon syrup in an 8-ounce glass. Feel free to adjust to your taste.