Old Fashioned Lemonade

This simple lemonade recipe makes a big, refreshing pitcher of homemade lemonade. Chill it in the fridge, then pour over ice and enjoy it on the deck on a hot day.

Few drinks are as refreshing on a summer day as a tall glass of cold lemonade. Doubly so if that lemonade is homemade! Growing up with a giant lemon tree in my backyard, we always had more lemons than we knew what to do with so this old-fashioned beverage was a staple in our house. We also had a lime tree, so you know limeade was also in regular rotation!

Why Make Lemonade from Scratch?

I realize that the idea of making lemonade from scratch might sound impossibly fussy. Why make lemonade when you can just buy it at the store? I’m not against storebought – in fact, we love the Newman’s Own variety in our house. But I have a sweet spot for homemade if only because it brings back childhood memories of sipping citrusy goodness in the warm afternoon sun. Plus, it’s super easy to do!

What You’ll Need

Here’s a quick rundown of the ingredients you’ll need to make lemonade at home. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for specific amounts.

  • Lemons – 6-7 for the juice, and 1-2 lemons for serving. I recommend using organic lemons.
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Mint leaves – This is optional, but I love the fresh pop of flavor mint leaves add to lemonade.

How to Make Simple Syrup

The first thing we are going to do for our lemonade is make a simple syrup.

What is simple syrup?

This is literally just sugar dissolved in hot water.

Why bother with simple syrup?

Because when you use simple syrup in a drink the sweetness disperses throughout your beverage. By contrast, if you just add granulated sugar to a cold drink the sugar will fall to the bottom of your glass and add a grainy texture. It won’t dissolve in the cold liquid the same way it would in hot water. This is why you can add sugar to hot coffee but ideally not a cold drink like lemonade.

To make your simple syrup do the following:

  • Bring the water to a simmer in a small saucepan.
  • Add the sugar and gently whisk it into the water until the sugar dissolves.
  • Turn off the heat and let it cool.
  • Transfer to a mason jar to store in the fridge, or use immediately. If you store it in the fridge your simple syrup will last for 1 month.

Making Your Lemonade

Once your simple syrup is ready, you can use it to make your lemonade. Here’s how:

  • Juice the lemons.
  • Pour the lemon juice into a pitcher. Add the simple syrup and some water.
  • Stir everything together and give it a taste. If it is not sweet enough, adjust by adding more of the simple syrup. If it is too sweet, add more lemon juice or water.
  • Add lemon slices and mint leaves, if desired.
  • Chill in the fridge until cold.
  • Serve over ice with more mint leaves and lemon slices.

Ways to Use It

Lemonade can be enjoyed just as is, but if you are looking for additional ways to serve it consider making an Arnold Palmer or a John Daly drink. An Arnold Palmer is just a mix of lemonade and iced tea, while a John Daly is an Arnold Palmer spiked with vodka.

Can I Turn This Into Pink Lemonade?

You surely can. The easiest way to do this is to add cranberry or pomegranate juice. I don’t use pure cranberry juice for this because it is too tart, so go for an OceanSpray variety. Add about 3/4 cup to your pitcher of lemonade, taste, and add more water if needed to dilute the lemonade a bit. You can also use pureed strawberries to add the pink hue, though this will also add some strawberry pulp to your drink.

The bottom line is you should experiment with mix-ins, taste, and adjust according to your preferences.

How to Store

Store your lemonade in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Print

Old Fashioned Lemonade

Homemade lemonade in a pitcher next to lemons and a juicer
Save Recipe

This simple lemonade recipe makes a big, refreshing pitcher of homemade lemonade. Chill it in the fridge, then pour over ice and enjoy it on the deck on a hot day.

  • Author: Rustic Family Recipes
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4-5 servings
  • Category: Drinks
  • Method: Stovetop/Mix
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

For the simple syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

For the lemonade:

  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup simple syrup
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 67 lemons)*
  • About 3 cups of cold water
  • Ice, for serving
  • Mint leaves, for garnish, optional
  • Lemon slices, for serving, about 1-2 lemons

Instructions

Make the Simple Syrup

  • Bring the water to a simmer in a small saucepan.
  • Add the sugar and gently whisk it into the water until the sugar dissolves.
  • Turn off the heat and let it cool.
  • Transfer to a mason jar to store in the fridge, or use immediately.**

Make the Lemonade

  • Juice about 6 lemons until you have 1 cup of lemon juice.
  • Pour the lemon juice into a pitcher.
  • Add 1/2 cup simple syrup, reserving the rest of your syrup to add as needed.
  • Add 3 cups of water.
  • Stir everything together and taste. If the lemonade is not sweet enough, add more simple syrup. If it is too sweet, add more lemon juice or water to add more tartness or to dilute it.
  • Add lemon slices from 1-2 lemons and a handful of fresh mint leaves. Stir them into the lemonade briefly.
  • Chill the pitcher of lemonade in the fridge for 2-3 hours, until your lemonade is cold.
  • Serve in tall glasses over ice, garnished with more lemon slices and fresh mint leaves if desired.

Notes

*The amount of juice in each lemon varies, hence the range in the number of lemons needed for 1 cup of juice.

**If you store your simple syrup in the fridge it will last for 1 month.

Keywords: fresh lemonade, homemade lemonade, lemonade from scratch

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