Old-Fashioned Lemonade

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Tart, lemony, and just sweet enough. This lemonade recipe is easy to make with no straining, no syrups, and 3 basic ingredients.

It’s kind of a weird technique, but you’ll never go back to another method after you try this one. It’s the absolute best way to get the freshest lemon flavor and will be a hit with anyone who loves lemon recipes.

A large glass pitcher filled with homemade lemonade, ice cubes, and lemon slices, with filled glasses beside it, all ready to serve.

Old-Fashioned Lemonade Recipe

Tart, lemony, perfect. This is an easy method that gives you the best lemonade EVER.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Serving Size 6

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice about 10-12 lemons
  • 1 lemon sliced thin
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 8 cups cold water
  • lemon slices for garnish
  • fresh mint leaves optional, for garnish

Instructions 

  • Squeeze the lemons. Juice the lemons to make 2 cups of lemon juice and set aside. (Remember you need 1 sliced lemon for step 2.)
    squeezed lemon juice in measuring cups
  • Mash sliced lemon and sugar. Using a potato masher, mash lemon slices and sugar in a deep bowl until slices release their juice and sugar begins to dissolve.
    bowl of sliced lemon and sugar before and after mashing
  • Mix. Add water and lemon juice and stir, until the sugar completely dissolves. (This may take a few minutes!) Remove lemon slices.
    A bowl of lemonade mixture on a kitchen counter with a wooden spoon, showcasing the blend of lemon juice and sugar, ready to be stirred.
  • Chill the lemonade. Refrigerate the lemonade until cold, or serve immediately over ice.
    The same bowl of lemonade mixture now being stirred, with bubbles forming on the surface, indicating the sugar dissolving into the juice.
  • Garnish and serve. Serve the lemonade with fresh lemon slices and mint leaves for garnish.
    Close-up of a glass of homemade lemonade with ice, garnished with a lemon slice and mint leaf, showing the refreshing texture and cool condensation on the glass.

Notes

You must use fresh lemons! There are no substitutes.
Adjust the sweetness by adding more or less sugar according to your taste.
Add more or less water to adjust the strength/ tartness of the lemonade.
 

This easy, refreshing recipe brings a touch of homemade charm to your table. It also offers endless possibilities for customization to suit your taste.

Close-up of a glass of lemonade on a coaster, topped with ice, a fresh mint leaf, and a lemon slice, with more lemon slices and a bowl of lemons in soft focus in the background.

🥣 important tools and ingredients

Just the basics here, folks.

  • Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice. Fresh lemons are absolutely vital for the authentic, zesty flavor of classic lemonade.
  • Granulated Sugar. Granulated sugar is a staple in the baking aisle. It is crucial for balancing the tartness of the lemon juice. You can use honey or agave syrup as a healthier alternative. It will slightly alter the flavor.
  • Mint Leaves (optional). Fresh mint leaves are available in the produce or herb section. They add a refreshing, aromatic touch to the lemonade. If mint isn’t your preference, basil can offer a unique twist. It enhances the lemonade with a subtle, herby flavor.
  • Lemon Slices for Garnish. Lemon slices are found alongside lemons in the produce section. They add a decorative and flavorful touch to each serving. They reinforce the lemon flavor and make the presentation more appealing.

Choosing fresh ingredients will ensure your lemonade is the best it can be.

Overhead view of lemonade ingredients laid out on a countertop, including sliced lemons, sugar, a bowl of juice, and mint leaves, with a patterned yellow lemon cloth alongside.

Unlike the ingredients, there are workarounds for these tools. You can mash with a big fork, chill everything in a bowl, and pull things out with a spoon.

  • Citrus Juicer. A citrus juicer is essential for squeezing the most of the juice from lemons. This tool ensures you get all the flavorful juice needed for the recipe without too much effort.
  • Potato Masher. A potato masher meant for mashing lemon slices with sugar. It helps release the oils and essence from the lemon rind. This infuses the lemonade with a deeper lemon flavor.
  • Fine Mesh Strainer. A fine mesh strainer is crucial for removing the lemon seeds and pulp. It ensures your lemonade has a smooth, pleasant texture.
  • Large Pitcher. A large pitcher is necessary for mixing and serving the lemonade. It should be big enough to hold the entire batch. It should be sturdy enough to handle stirring without spilling.

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Now that we’ve covered the essential tools, let’s move on to some helpful tips. They’ll ensure your classic lemonade turns out great every time.

✨ Tips for the best lemonade

Lemon Selection: Choose lemons that are firm, heavy for their size, and have a bright yellow color. These are crucial indicators of juicy, flavorful lemons. They are important for a vibrant lemonade.

Room Temperature Lemons. Before juicing, bring your lemons to room temperature. Or, roll them on the countertop. This helps to break down some of the fibers and makes the lemons easier to juice, yielding more liquid.

Sugar Dissolution. To ensure the sugar dissolves completely, make a simple syrup. You don’t need to heat it. Dissolve the sugar in an equal part of hot water before adding it to the lemonade. This creates a smoother texture and a more consistent sweetness.

Taste as You Go: Lemon sizes and flavors vary, so it’s important to taste your lemonade as you mix it. Adjust the sugar and water according to your taste preferences.

If time allows, chill your lemonade in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. This helps the flavors meld together and enhances the taste.

Serving Options: For an elegant touch, serve the lemonade in chilled glasses. You can also rim the glasses with sugar or salt for a decorative and flavorful addition.

Avoid Bitterness: Be gentle when mashing the lemon slices with sugar. This prevents crushing the bitter white pith beneath the lemon skin. It can make your lemonade taste bitter.

🥫 Storage and make ahead instructions

  • Refrigeration: Pour the lemonade into a clean container or pitcher. Store it in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for about 5-7 days. Ensure that you seal the container. This will stop the lemonade from absorbing other flavors and odors from the fridge.
  • For longer storage, you can freeze lemonade. Pour it into a freezer-safe container. Leave some space at the top because the liquid will expand when frozen. You can also freeze lemonade in ice cube trays for easy, portion-sized servings. Frozen lemonade can last for up to 4 months. When you’re ready to enjoy it, thaw the lemonade in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Avoid metallic taste. Use glass or plastic containers for storage, not metal ones. Metal containers can sometimes give drinks, like lemonade, a metallic taste.
  • If the lemonade has been sitting in the fridge or if you froze and thawed it, give it a good stir before serving. This ensures the flavors are well mixed.

Can I use bottled lemon juice instead of fresh lemons?

No!

How can I make my lemonade sweeter or less sweet?

Adjust the sweetness of your lemonade by altering the amount of sugar. If it’s too tart, add more sugar, or if it’s too sweet, increase the lemon juice or water. You can also use a simple syrup to fine-tune the sweetness level.

Is there a quick way to chill the lemonade if I’m short on time?

If you need to chill your lemonade, fill a larger bowl with ice and cold water. Place your container of lemonade in it. Stir to help it cool down faster.

Can I make this lemonade in advance?

Yes, you can make this lemonade 1-2 days in advance. Store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Stir well before serving, as the ingredients may separate over time.

How can I make this recipe healthier?

To make a healthier version, reduce the sugar amount. Or, substitute it with a natural sweetener like honey, agave syrup, or stevia. Keep in mind that these substitutes will change the flavor profile.

What are some fun ways to serve this lemonade at a party?

For a festive touch, serve the lemonade in mason jars with colorful straws. Add a garnish of lemon slices, berries, or edible flowers. You can also create a lemonade bar where guests can add their own garnishes like mint, basil, or sliced fruit.

❤️ More homemade drinks you’ll love

Homemade lemonades and teas are easy to make and always worth the effort. Here are some more recipes you’ll love.

This classic recipe is perfect for parties, having a few friends over, or just tucking into the fridge for your family. I hope you love it and it becomes your new go-to lemonade recipe ❤️.

A close-up of a glass of ice-cold lemonade garnished with a lemon slice and a sprig of mint, with two other glasses and a pitcher of lemonade blurred in the background.
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