Lemonade is a summer beverage that both kids and adults can enjoy. While you can easily make it from a powder mix, it’s also simple to make at home and feel good about what you’re drinking. There are a number of lemonade variations you can whip up to please everyone’s palates, and adults can even add some spirit to their drinks if that’s what they wish. Here are six recipes that will convince you to step away from the powder mix and make your lemonade this summer from scratch. Some are more fancy than others, but they’re all delicious.
1. Classic Lemonade
First up is a classic lemonade recipe from Food Network. Enlisting hot and cold water, sugar, and lemon juice, this recipe couldn’t get much simpler, and it makes 6 to 8 servings. You’ll first dissolve your sugar in hot water before adding the lemon juice and enough water to fill a 1 gallon container. Then you can serve your fresh lemonade over ice and add a sprig of mint if you’re feeling fancy.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup hot water
- 2 cups fresh lemon juice
- 1 gallon cold water
- 1 lemon, sliced
- Mint sprigs, for garnish
Directions: In a 1 gallon container, place sugar and hot water, and stir until sugar dissolves. Add lemon juice and cold water to render 1 gallon. Stir until well mixed. Pour lemonade over glasses of ice, squeeze slice of lemon on top of each, and garnish with a sprig of mint.
2. Pink Lemonade
Next up is a pink drink from Fine Cooking. Pink lemonade appeals to kids and adults alike and this variation is colored by a homemade strawberry syrup. Aside from the berries, once again all you need are sugar, lemons, and water to make this drink, and it’ll quench the thirst of 6 to 8. Take 10 minutes out of your day to make this lemonade and you’ll realize that there’s no comparison between the beverage from scratch and the powdered mix.
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh strawberries (about 6 ounces)
- Zest of 2 lemons, peeled off in strips with a vegetable peeler (avoid the white pith)
- 2 cups fresh lemon juice
Add the lemon juice and 2½ cups of cold water to the syrup mixture and stir until well blended.
The lemonade can be served immediately over ice or refrigerated for up to two days.
3. Thyme Lemonade
To add some more natural flavor to your lemonade, add some thyme, and possibly, some gin. This thyme lemonade from Martha Stewart is earthy and refreshing, and it takes your typical lemonade up a sophisticated notch. The recipe serves 8 and if you want to make your beverage boozy, you can add in a cup of gin. Sit back and unwind with this perfect lemonade.
- 1½ cups sugar
- 1 bunch fresh thyme, plus sprigs, for garnish (optional)
- 2 cups fresh lemon juice (from about 10 lemons)
- 1 cup gin (optional)
Directions: In a medium saucepan, bring sugar, thyme, and 1 cup water to a boil; stir until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, gin (if using), and 6 cups cold water; strain into a large pitcher. Refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour (and up to 1 week). Serve over ice, garnished with thyme sprigs, if desired.
4. Spicy Ginger Lemonade
If you’re more into the idea of your summer drink coming with a bite, we recommend this spicy ginger lemonade from The Kitchn. This drink enlists a homemade ginger syrup that is added to lemon juice and water to ultimately yield 11 servings of lemonade. You can add as much or as little ginger as you want based on how spicy you like your lemonade — just don’t skimp on the fresh lemon juice.
- 10 ounces fresh ginger
- 2 cups sugar
- 10 cups water, divided
- 2 cups freshly-squeezed lemon juice (from about 15 lemons)
Directions: Peel the ginger and chop into roughly ¼-inch pieces. Combine the ginger, sugar, and 4 cups of the water in a medium pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on the ginger with the back of a spoon. You should have about 3 cups of syrup. Cool to room temperature.
Combine the lemon juice and remaining 6 cups water in a large pitcher or pot. Stir in all of the ginger syrup. Chill before serving or serve over ice.
5. Spiked Berry Lemonade
Speaking of making lemonade more fun, this next recipe from Chef Savvy does just that. Add vodka and triple sec to your favorite summer beverage and you have yourself a party. The addition of strawberries, blueberries, and sparkling water take it over the top. This spiked berry lemonade will quench your thirst and get you buzzing, and it should be multiplied if you’re serving a party. The boozy beverage is made from a simple homemade syrup combined with lemon juice, alcohol, fruit, and mint. The sparkling water is optional but will add a fun fizz to your drink.
- 4 cups water
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 3 ounces vodka
- 2 ounces triple sec
- ½ cup strawberries
- ¾ cup blueberries
- 1 tablespoon mint leaves
- 1 ounce sparkling water (per glass), optional
Directions: To make the simple syrup add water and sugar to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until sugar dissolves. Takes about 2 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool completely.
Add cooled simple syrup, lemon juice, vodka, triple sec, strawberries, blueberries and mint to a large pitcher. Stir to combine.
Pour into glasses. Top each glass with 1 ounce of sparkling water per glass. This is optional but gives the lemonade a nice fizz. Add the sparkling water to the glass, not the pitcher to ensure the drink does not go flat.
6. Watermelon Lemonade
Last but not least is watermelon lemonade from Betty Crocker. This variation is not spiked, but you can always add spirits if you please. To make your Watermelon Lemonade, you’ll first puree watermelon in the blender, and then combine it with lemon and lime juice. Next, stir in your water and sugar and refrigerate the good stuff for at least an hour before serving. Watermelon Lemonade has a pop of flavor and color all thanks to our favorite summer fruit.
- 3 pounds watermelon (without rind), seeded and cut into chunks
- 3 or 4 medium lemons
- 2 medium limes
- 4 cups cold water
- 1 cup sugar
- Watermelon or lemon slices, if desired
Directions: In blender, place watermelon. Cover; blend on medium speed about 45 seconds or until smooth. Strain through fine mesh strainer into 2-quart or larger pitcher.
Squeeze juice from lemons and limes; add to watermelon puree. Stir in cold water and sugar. Refrigerate 1 hour.
Stir before serving. Serve over ice. Garnish with watermelon slice.