This Lemonade Recipe Is Just Like Grandma’s

Learn how to make this tasty lemonade recipe (no mix required!). Our Test Kitchen provides a helpful guide with expert tips for making summer's most refreshing drink.

On a hot, scorching day, there’s nothing more refreshing than a glass of cold lemonade. And while store-bought lemonade is fine in a pinch, it just doesn’t have the same flavor, sweetness and zip as homemade.

Our fresh-squeezed lemonade recipe makes a thirst-quenching, tangy-sweet cup you’ll want to store by the bucketful in the fridge. It may even tempt you more than a cold beer or a carbonated soft drink!

Before you learn how to make fresh lemonade, take a look at Alton Brown’s secret ingredient for lemonade.

How to Make Our Lemonade Recipe

This homemade lemonade recipe comes from Tammi Simpson of Kentucky, who loves to serve it at gatherings for Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. Fill out the rest of your celebration menu with some of our best summer recipes.

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Ingredients:

  • 1-1/3 cups sugar
  • 5 cups water, divided
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1-3/4 cups lemon juice (about 10 lemons)

Tools:

  • Large saucepan
  • Juicer
  • Microplane or other zester
  • Pitcher

Makes: About 7 servings

Step 1: Juice lemons

person using a squeezer to empty the juice from a lemon and into a bowlTaste of Home

You can certainly use store-bought lemon juice, but juicing fresh lemons by hand is such a satisfying task. (Plus, it makes the kitchen smell amazing!) We swear by these two simple tricks to get the most from your citrus:

  • Firmly roll each lemon on the counter, using the palm of your hand.
  • Microwave the lemons on high 10-20 seconds just before cutting.

Then, cut the lemons in half and use a juicer-or a spoon and your hand-to squeeze the juice from about a half-dozen lemons; set aside.

Test Kitchen Tip: Substitute limes for lemons to make limeade. It’s just as refreshing.

Step 2: Zest, zest, zest!

Person using a microplane to zest a lemonTaste of Home

Zesting was an awkward task for me until I picked up a microplane grater. This nifty gadget will give you the finest lemon zest without any of the bitter white stuff from the lemon peel. Just grate that colored layer off the fruit. Don’t have a microplane? Try these zesting tricks.

Psst: Here’s what to do with those leftover lemon rinds.

Step 3: Cook it down

sauce pan heating up with the lemonade insideTaste of Home

In a large saucepan, combine sugar, 1 cup water and lemon peel. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, about 4 minutes.

Test Kitchen Tip: On its own, this step makes a useful lemon-flavored simple syrup. It goes great in drinks, like this Strawberry Basil Cocktail, or you can freeze it in an ice cube tray to make single-serve lemonade on-demand. If you’re feeling bold, play with flavors by adding fresh herbs, such as rosemary or basil, to the sugar syrup. Just be sure to strain the mixture once it cools.

Step 4: Cool and serve

person adding more water and lemon juice mixture to the cooling lemonadeTaste of Home

Remove your simmering saucepan from the heat. Stir in the fresh lemon juice and remaining water. Then, pop it into the fridge until it’s cold. It’s best served over ice.

Test Kitchen Tip: You can freeze extra lemon slices in ice cube trays. They’ll look beautiful and cool your drink without diluting it. They also taste delicious in a glass of cola. Here are more pretty ways to upgrade your ice cubes.

How to Make This Lemonade Recipe Your Own

Kentucky lemonadeTaste of Home

You can vary the flavor endlessly for fresh new taste sensations. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Lavender Lemonade: Add 1 tablespoon dried lavender with the lemon peel in the syrup. Strain after cooling.
  • Ginger-Mint Lemonade: Add 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger and 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves with the lemon peel in the syrup. Strain after cooling.
  • Berry Lemonade: Substitute 1 cup pureed, strained fresh strawberries or raspberries for 1 cup water when making the simple syrup.
  • Grown-up Lemonade: Add 1 oz. bourbon or vodka to a tall glass of lemonade for an adult beverage.

Looking to get even more lemon in your life? Check out these lemon recipes, from tart to sweet.

Summer-Ready Lemonade Recipes
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James Schend, Deputy Editor, Culinary, contributed to this article. 

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Nicole Doster
Nicole is a writer, editor and lover of Italian food. In her spare time, you’ll find her thumbing through vintage cookbooks or testing out recipes in her tiny kitchen.