Old Fashioned Homemade Lemonade (And Syrup)
Nothing is more refreshing on a hot day than a cool glass of lemonade…and this homemade lemonade recipe made with real lemons will have your friends and family coming back for seconds!
Whether I’m hosting a 4th of July barbeque or just having a summer cookout for a few friends, this homemade lemonade recipe is always a big hit.
Trust me. Once you’ve had lemonade made from scratch with fresh lemons, you’ll never want to go back to the store-bought kind!
Although I’m happy my friends like it, the best part for me is you can make the lemonade syrup ahead of time, and store it in the refrigerator.
Which means you can whip it out of the fridge at the last minute, add some water and it’s ready to go.
It’s the perfect party drink that doesn’t take up a lot of your time while you’re trying to get ready.
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Here’s the shopping list (and it’s not very long!)
- Lemons: 9 or 10 large lemons (enough for 1 3/4 cups of freshly-squeezed lemon juice).
- Sweetener: 1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
- Garnish: Fresh mint or lemon balm
- You can substitute bottled lemon juice for the fresh squeezed lemons in a pinch, but it doesn’t taste as good.
- The traditional version of homemade lemonade uses sugar as it’s sweetener, but you can also substitute 3/4 cup honey. It has a slightly different taste, and looks a little darker (you can see the pictures below), but still tastes good and has fewer calories.
How to make homemade lemonade
Grate 2 Tablespoons of lemon rind.
When you’re doing this, try to only get the yellow part of the rind. The white part can make the lemonade bitter.
Juice the lemons until you have 1 3/4 cups of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Pour the juice into whatever jar or container you’ll be using to store the lemonade syrup.
If you don’t want pulp in your drinks, pour the juice through a strainer to remove all the bits.
How to make lemonade syrup
The first step to making this homemade lemonade recipe is to make some lemonade syrup. This is kind of like the frozen lemonade concentrate that comes in a can. Only it tastes way better!
To do this combine 2 Tablespoons grated lemon rind, 1 1/2 cups water and 1 1/2 cups sugar (or 3/4 cup honey) in a sauce pan over medium-high heat.
Bring the mixture to a boil making sure to stir it constantly (otherwise, the sugar will burn).
Once it is boiling turn the heat down to medium-low and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
Remove the sauce pan from the heat and let it cool completely. You can put it in the refrigerator if you want to speed up the process.
When the sugar mixture has cooled add it to the lemon juice in the jar and mix well.
Then store the lemonade syrup in the refrigerator until you are ready to make some lemonade. It will keep for about 3 weeks.
This recipe makes about 3 cups of lemonade syrup, which is enough to make about 16 6-ounce glasses of lemonade.
Make the lemonade
To make lemonade from the syrup, mix 3 parts water with 1 part syrup:
- For one cup of lemonade, combine 3/4 cup water with 1/4 cup of lemonade syrup.
- To fill a 2-quart pitcher (with some space for ice), combine 4 1/2 cups of water with 1 1/2 cups of lemonade syrup (about half the jar).
- For a 1-gallon drink dispenser (with a little room left for ice), combine 10 cups of water with a full recipe of lemonade syrup.
You can adjust the amount of water depending on how strong you like the lemonade flavor to be.
Add ice, sliced lemons and a few sprigs of mint or lemon balm for garnish.
Other drink recipes you might like
- lemon grater
- measuring spoons and cup
- small saucepan
- lemon juicer
- glass container for storing the syrup if you’re not making it right away
- pitcher for serving
- 1½ cups water
- 1½ cups granulated white sugar or ¾ cup honey
- 2 Tablespoons grated lemon rind
- 1¾ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
- fresh mint or lemon balm optional
- Combine 1½ cups water, 1½ cups sugar (or ¾ cup honey) and 2 Tablespoons lemon rind in a saucepan.
- Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
- Let the mixture simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and let cool.
- Pour 1¾ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice into a glass storage jar.
- When the syrup has cooled, add it to the jar and mix well.
To make an individual glass of lemonade:
- Add ¼ cup of syrup to a glass.
- Mix in ¾ cup of water
- Add some ice and garnish with a sprig of mint or lemon balm.
For a 2-quart pitcher:
- Add 1½ cups of syrup to the pitcher (about half of the syrup recipe)
- Mix in 4½ cups of water to the pitcher.
- Add some ice and garnish with sliced lemon and fresh mint or lemon balm leaves.
For a 1-gallon drink dispenser:
- Add 1 full recipe of syrup to the dispenser (about 3 cups).
- Pour in 9 cups of water and mix well.
- Add ice and some lemon slices.
- Using honey instead of sugar has a slightly different taste, and looks a little darker, but still tastes good and has less calories.
- The lemonade syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
- Make different amounts of lemonade by combining 1 part of the syrup with 3 parts water.
Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.
Comments or questions on our homemade lemonade recipe? Tell us in the section below.
This post was originally published on June 16, 2016 but was updated with new content on July 10, 2022.
What lovely idea. I love homemade lemonade, and your recipe sounds yummy! Hum, Hum, I want some now. :~}
Thanks, Ivory! I love homemade lemonade, too…it makes me feel like spending a relaxing summer afternoon on the deck 🙂
Always enjoy having homemade and fresh recipes instead of buying them packaged already in the store. Going to have to try this one for lemonade!
Hi Brooke! I agree…it’s nice to know what you’re eating, and the homemade versions usually taste better, too 🙂
I made this lemonade recipe tonight and it was so good. I will be making it again real soon. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks, Nancy! I’m glad you liked it…it’s one of my favorites 🙂
I have a 2 1\2 gallon serving container, how much of everything would it take
Hi Nicole…a single recipe makes about 12 cups of lemonade, so you would need about 3 times the original recipe to fill a 2 1/2 gallon container. That’s 4 1/2 cups water, 4 1/2 cups sugar, 6 Tablespoons of grated lemon remind and 5 1/4 cups of lemon juice for the syrup. Then you would mix all of that syrup (should be about 9 cups) with 27 or 28 cups of water.
Ty for sharing this drink. I am making it this 4th of July. Happy 4th y’all!
Thanks, Helen! Happy 4th to you, too!