|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
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 3 cups of lemonade—that's two to four 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.
- 1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 cups water (divided)
Put the sugar and 1/2 cup of the water in a small saucepan. Heat to a simmer and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour into a measuring cup or metal bowl to let cool. If you're in a hurry, nestle the metal bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice. This is the simple sugar syrup.
Combine the lemon juice, 1/3 cup of the sugar syrup, and the remaining water. Stir to combine and taste. Add more sugar syrup to taste. Serve over ice, of course.
Using the recipe above as a starting point, making the lemonade of your dreams is at your fingertips. Here are a few ideas to get started.
Mix the citrus flavors: Use 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup of other citrus juice, such as Meyer lemon, orange, lime, or grapefruit juice. Or, try "pioneer lemonade" with 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.
Intensify It: Use 2 cups of water, 1 cup lemon juice, and 1 cup simple syrup to produce 4 cups of lemonade that is more concentrated.
More lemon, more flavor: Cut off or grate 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. Let the zest sit in the syrup while it cools. This will infuse the syrup with lemon flavor. Strain the syrup before mixing with the lemon juice.
Give it a ginger 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 subtle ginger 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 to add a decidedly grown-up edge to a glass of the cool stuff.
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, tequila, or rum to each glass to make an instant hard lemonade. Herbs such as mint or basil also go well with a lemonade cocktail.
Try a different sweetener: Honey, maple syrup, or molasses can be used instead of granulated sugar to give lemonade a deeper, more complex flavor.
You can make your lemons release more juice by warming and tenderizing them before cutting and squeezing. The lemons should be at room temperature, or you can give them a few seconds in the microwave for gentle heating. Then roll them firmly against the counter or cutting board.