Homemade Lemonade

Fresh Lemons and Lemonade
Homemade Lemonade. jeff giniewicz/Getty Images
  • 15 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Yield: About 2 1/2 cups lemonade

Lemons, sugar, water. That's it. Homemade lemonade is easy, delicious, and endlessly customizable. The key to perfect lemonade every time is taking those few extra minutes to make a simple syrup, in which sugar is completely dissolved in water by heating it. This keeps the sugar from sinking to the bottom of the pitcher or your glass.

This recipe yields about 2 1/2 cups (about 20 ounces) of lemonade—that's 2 to 4 servings depending on how big your glasses are. Feel free to double, triple, and beyond if you have a thirsty crowd to quench or a lemonade stand to supply.

What You'll Need

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups fresh water

How to Make It

  1. Put the sugar and 1/2 cup of the water in a small saucepan. Heat to a simmer and cook until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour into a measuring cup or metal bowl to let cool.
  2. Combine the lemon juice, 1/3 cup of the sugar syrup, and remaining water. Stir to combine and taste. Add more sugar syrup to taste. Serve over ice, of course.

Let the Customization Begin!

Using the recipe above as a starting point, making the lemonade of your dreams is at your fingertips.

Mix Up That Lemon Flavor: Add up to half Meyer lemon juice, white vinegar, or fresh orange, lime, or grapefruit juice to the lemon juice.

Intensify the Flavor: Cut or grate off the zest (the thin bright yellow outer part of the peel) of the lemon and add the zest to the sugar and water while you make the syrup and let it sit in the syrup while it cools. This will imbue the syrup with lemon flavor. Strain the syrup before mixing with the lemon juice.

Add Some Fruit: Smash in a few strawberries or cherries or raspberries. Chunks of peach or nectarine work, too, but need to be quite supremely ripe. 

Give It a Bit of Kick: Swirl in some fresh ginger—peel off the thin beige skin and use a fine grater for an intense ginger flavor or simply add a thin slice or two to each glass for a more subtle twist.

Herbs Are Your Friends: Muddle in a few mint leaves, use a rosemary sprig to stir everything together (watch out, rosemary flavor can get intense), or add a fresh basil leaf to each glass. 

Make It Sparkle: Use sparkling water instead of regular water for a lovely bit of refreshing fizz. 

Go the Cocktail Route: Add a shot of gin, vodka, or rum to each glass to make an instant hard lemonade.