Homemade Lemonade

Homemade Lemonade

The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Cool: 20 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 2 to 3 servings
Yield: 3 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
138 Calories
0g Fat
36g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 3
Amount per serving
Calories 138
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 9mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 34g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 16mg 79%
Calcium 9mg 1%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 43mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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.

"This was a very easy lemonade to make. You'll dissolve the sugar in the simmering water first, which only takes a few minutes. The hot syrup mixture can cool in as little as 10 to 12 minutes if you transfer it to a metal bowl and place it in a larger bowl of ice." —Diana Rattray

Homemade Lemonade Test Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 2 1/2 cups water, divided

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Homemade Lemonade ingredients

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

  2. 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.

    sugar and water in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

  3. 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.

    sugar and water mixture in a measuring cup

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

  4. 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.

    Homemade Lemonade in glasses

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger


  • 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.

Recipe Variations

  • 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.
  • Add some fruit: Mash strawberriescherries, raspberries, peach, or nectarine to add. They need to be very ripe for the best flavor and ease in crushing them.
  • 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.

How to Store and Freeze

  • Refrigerate fresh lemonade for up to 3 days.
  • Fresh lemonade may be frozen for up to 4 months.

What is the fastest way to cool the sugar syrup?

Transfer the simmered sugar syrup from the saucepan to a metal bowl and place it in a larger bowl of ice.

How many lemons do you need for 1/2 cup of juice?

The amount of juice you can get from a lemon can vary, depending on the size and variety of lemon and how you juice it. One medium to large lemon should yield 2 to 3 tablespoons, so plan on about 3 to 4 lemons to make 1/2 cup of juice.