Watermelon and lemonade are two icons of summer and they come together wonderfully in this refreshing drink. This is the ultimate seasonal beverage and everyone's sure to love its refreshingly sweet, tart, and fruity flavor.
Watermelon lemonade begins like any fresh-squeezed lemonade: lemon juice, sugar, and water. It requires just one extra step, but watermelon is the easiest fruit to juice. Since it contains so much liquid, you'll simply toss cubes into the blender and watch it break down into a pulpy juice. There's no need to pick out the seeds or use a seedless watermelon, either. The strainer does the work for you and leaves you with a clean, sweet, and super-fresh juice.
There are many ways you can build on this recipe. If you like, add flavor with extra fruits or garden-fresh herbs, give it some sparkle, or spike it for a quick watermelon cocktail. The possibilities are endless and the lemonade is so delicious that a pitcher won't last long in the fridge.
Gather the ingredients.
Cut enough watermelon to produce about 8 cups of cubes; typically 5 pounds with the rind.
A quick way to cube watermelon: Cut the whole melon into quarters. For each quarter, score the fruit's flesh in a grid pattern without cutting into the rind. Starting about 1-inch from the top, cut across the length of the melon to produce cubes, carving the bottom layer off the rind.
Blend half of the watermelon cubes in a blender until smooth.
Strain the watermelon juice through a fine-mesh strainer to catch the seeds and pulp. Use a spoon to stir the pulp and release more juice. Blend and strain the remaining cubes, then let the watermelon juice continue dripping while you juice the lemons (the pulp will be nearly dry).
Juice enough lemons to produce about 1 1/2 cups of lemon juice; about 5 or 6 large lemons. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer to remove pulp and seeds.
In a pitcher, combine 4 cups each of cold water and watermelon juice with 1 cup each of lemon juice and sugar. Stir well until the sugar is completely dissolved. Taste and add more lemon juice, sugar, or water as needed.
Add ice to the pitcher if serving immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Serve over ice and garnish with watermelon and lemon slices and a sprig of mint.
What Flavors Pair Well With Watermelon?
Watermelon is a surprisingly versatile flavor. Some of the fruit's top pairings include basil and mint, any type of berry or citrus fruit, pomegranate, and cucumber, as well as other melons. It can even take a little spice from chile peppers and peppercorns. To incorporate these flavors into the lemonade, toss fresh fruits (peeled as needed) into the blender with the watermelon, or add an infused syrup or fruit juice to the mix. You can also muddle fresh fruits and herbs in the glass or pitcher, or add the ingredient as a garnish and let it gently infuse the lemonade.
- For a cleaner watermelon juice, line the strainer with a layer or two of cheesecloth.
- When mixing the lemonade, make the flavor slightly concentrated (more juice and less water). This stronger flavor base will mellow with ice dilution and any additives (e.g., soda, liquor, etc.) you want to add to the glass.
- Fresh watermelon juice tends to settle in the pitcher so the lemonade needs to be stirred regularly.
- Substitute fresh watermelon with bottled watermelon juice. Start with 4 cups and add more to taste.
- A great use for leftover watermelon, this lemonade can be made by the glass or in a big batch. Keep the ratio at 2 parts each watermelon juice and water and 1 part each lemon juice and sugar, and adjust to taste.
- Use the strained watermelon pulp for smoothies, sorbets, jams, or fruit leather.
- For extra flavor, rim the glasses with sea salt before pouring the lemonade. Mixing it with a little chile powder or freshly ground black pepper creates a spicy salt that's fabulous with watermelon. You can dip the watermelon garnishes in the salt mix, too.
- Use 1/2 to 3/4 cup of simple syrup instead of granulated sugar.
- Other types of sugar and alternative sweeteners can also be used, either granulated or in a syrup. Watermelon does well with darker sweeteners like raw, coconut (or palm), and brown sugars.
- Infuse simple syrup with complementary flavors, such as mint, basil, or jalapeño. For balance (especially with strong flavors), you may want to use just a portion of the flavored syrup and finish sweetening the lemonade with plain simple syrup or sugar.
- Make this a sparkling lemonade by using sparkling water for a portion of the still water. Add it just before serving for maximum carbonation. Soda water and sparkling wine can also be added to individual glasses.
- Pour half a glass of lemonade and fill it with iced tea for a watermelon twist on the Arnold Palmer drink.
- Spike the lemonade by the glass. Pour a shot of rum, tequila, vodka, or whiskey into the glass, then top with watermelon lemonade.
- Make a watermelon shandy by pouring equal parts of watermelon lemonade and beer (wheat ales are really nice).
- Use this recipe for other types of melon lemonade (e.g., canteloupe, honeydew) or blend together a combination of melon varieties.