Cucumber Lime Mint Agua Fresca

Okay, I know this one probably sounds a little weird, but trust me. It’s good. Really good. Eye popping, wow, surprisingly good. Especially on a scorchingly hot summer day. Agua frescas are refreshing fruit drinks they sell all over Mexico, and that you can find in this country at almost any taqueria. They’re cooling and sweet and are great alongside spicy food. This particular agua fresca is made with cucumbers, fresh limes, and mint. My good friend and local caterer Arturo Vargas made this for us the other day, inspired by agua frescas he enjoyed while trying to keep cool in the steamy Yucatan peninsula. It’s the cucumber juice base that seems to have the effect of lowering one’s body temperature. (Gives new meaning to the phrase “cool as a cucumber”.) In any case, this is a drink that I wouldn’t have made but for my friend who knew I would like it. And now I want to drink it all summer long, and think you will too, once you’ve tried it.

By the way, Arturo tells me you can take the purée solids and use them as a facial mask!

Cucumber Lime Mint Agua Fresca Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 1 quart (not including ice).

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of cucumbers (about 2 good sized cucumbers), ends trimmed, but peel still on, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup lime juice from fresh limes (from about 1 pound of limes, or 5 to 10 limes, depending on how juicy they are)
  • 1 1/4 cup packed (spearmint) mint leaves (about a large handful), woody stems removed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Approximately 1 1/4 cup of water

Method

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1 Put ingredients in blender, add enough water to fill 3/4 of blender. Hold the lid on the blender and purée until smooth. Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and pour the purée through it, pressing against the sieve with a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid out as possible.

2 Fill a large pitcher halfway with ice cubes. Add the juice. Serve with sprigs of mint and slices of lime.

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43 Comments

  1. rebecca h.

    Ah you’re my hero(ine)! In anticipation of the scary bumper looking crop of cucumbers in my garden I’ve been collecting cucumber-heavy recipes, and I’ve been looking for drinks!

    Sounds gorgeous. Would it be terribly wrong to add, say, tequila, do you think? Er, after five of course. I had been considering an (un)Bloody Mary type concoction, with cucumber juice instead of tomato.

    On my searches for cucumber uses I came across a recipe for cucumber and lemon thyme ice cream. I’m so gonna try it.

    Actually we tried some with a little tequila and it was good! Like the idea of cucumber with lemon and thyme, perhaps as a sorbet. ~Elise

  2. kris

    This looks wonderful! I have been making a salad of equal parts cucumber and watermelon, a generous squirt of lime juice and a scattering of chopped mint leaves. Yummy.

    Lovely idea, thanks! ~Elise

  3. Cooking with Michele

    I volunteer with Cooking Matters (part of Share Our Strength) to teach healthy cooking classes to families in need. Often at the last class we have a potluck and last class one of the women brought this – so I can vouch for you that it’s surprisingly delicious!

    What a coincidence, Arturo also works with Cooking Matters, through the Yolo County food bank! It is a great tasting drink, isn’t it? ~Elise

  4. justgloria

    Do you think this would freeze well in a popsicle mold?
    Thank you for all the great recipes… and thanks to your Mom and Dad too. I probably cook a Simply Recipes dish at least twice a week.

    You are very welcome Gloria. And yes, we were just discussing this morning how well this might taste as a popsicle. Might use less water in the mix, and a little corn syrup for a smoother mouth feel. ~Elise

  5. Tomáš Zajíček

    Thanks a lot for this recipe :) It is really great, made it for todays lunch and I am sure I will do it more often…

  6. Mary Lynn Reed

    This sounds really good and I have the cukes and mint growing in the garden.

    Several years ago, the LA Times ran an article with several recipes for paletas (Mexican popsicles) and one was for a cucumber chile lime flavor. That recipe should work as a model for modification of this one for freezer pops.

    http://www.latimes.com/features/la-fo-paletarec1aug22,0,4663429.story

  7. M. @ V. Gourmet

    While traveling in the Middle East a few years ago, a friend’s mother made us an icy blended drink of cucumber, mint and lemon – sort of like a refreshing slushie – and it was a perfect remedy for the scorching desert sun. The lime flavor sounds like a delicious variation, and I love how simple this version is. What a fabulous color, too!

  8. Anna

    I definitely plan to try this, but with a reduced sugar content or perhaps cut with some sparkling mineral water. I get a lot of cukes in my weekly CSA box during the summer, and sometimes need to find new ways to use them up or else give them away (my British husband isn’t wild about American cukes). I also have a very productive lime tree in my garden (I give away limes to friends and neighbors like some gardeners give away zucchini).

    It will be interesting to see if the kidlet likes it. Just last night I made a strawberry melon gazpacho that included a peeled, seeded cuke, and he objected to it (“ack! tell me what vegetable you snuck in here!)”. I thought the cucumber essence was exactly what made the cool, fruity soup so good – and not so much like a fruit sauce.

  9. Katie

    Just had something like this as vodka martini. Served in a chilled glass after shaken with a ton of ice – bartender used a citrus infused vodka. Delish. And beautiful to look at! So glad you posted this recipe – having grown up in SacTown, I love a hot weather drink.

  10. Stephany Brisco

    Dearest Elise,

    Could you pretty please come up with a recipe to make a lime mint drink?? I had it over seas, first in Nepal, and then on the flights coming home they had it as well, but I have never come across it here in the states. It can be made sweet like a mint limeaid or more of a flavored water. Your cucumber lime mint aqua fresca got me thinking about it and I want it again so badly! I’ve looked it up on line but haven’t come across anything that seems to fit it just right. There was one but it included alcohol and I don’t drink.

    I’m excited to try your fresca and will post as soon as I do. Thank you for your blog that has changed my life in the way of cooking for my family!

    No idea what lime mint drink you had, but we have a lovely limeade with mint here on the site. ~Elise

  11. Kim

    I don’t have any mint, but I tried this anyway since the color was so pretty, and it was very refreshing! It came out a light green color, but I’m sure with mint it would be even tastier. Thanks for the inspiration on a hot summer day!

  12. Shelle

    Mmm, this is lovely for a Sunday summer afternoon on the patio. It is a nice change from lemonade and only slightly sweet, which might be because I accidently tripled the amount of lime juice.

  13. Lester

    I will definitely be trying this with various liquors for a summer cocktail. Last year I mixed your Lemon Rhubarb and Rosemary Spritzer with gin. It was a huge hit at all the parties I took it to.

  14. Rosemary

    Gin is also good with cucumber drinks like this.

  15. Caroline

    How long do you think this would keep for? Or must it be consumed immediately?

    It’s best consumed right away, the color sort of turns muddy by the second day but it still tastes good. ~Elise

  16. justgloria

    Sitting here in NM enjoying my refreshing Cucumber Lime Mint Agua Fresca Popsicle. Added a little corn syrup as you suggest…delightful.

  17. Kay

    This was absolutely fantastic!! Thanks for the amazing recipe!!

  18. yoko

    Hot as blazes in the East, and this drink totally fit the bill. I love the combination of mint and cucumber. I need to make more aguas frescas to keep cool in the summer, so I’ll be trying out the strawberry-watermelon, and a jamaica from a link you recommended a while back. Thanks!

  19. Catherine

    Que bonito! and delicious too. It reminds me of a cucumber mint soup my parents used to make; it was very 80’s and had green food coloring in it and a dollop of sour cream. I don’t think I’ll be adding sour cream to this, but rum sounds about right. Kind of like a cucumber-y mojito. Thanks!

  20. Liz

    Whoa. I just whipped this up and it is absolutely amazing. Thank god! I never know what to do with all my cucumbers!

  21. jean

    This was so refreshing!!! This is a keeper. Thanks for the recipe!

  22. mccutcheon

    This is so perfect for a hot day. And at night I simply start adding some gin ;)

  23. AmyRuth

    Good Morning Elise
    Can I make this ahead and if so what amount of time would you think? Evening dinner event for 37 supposed to be served outside…. YIKES. Might just be the ticket to coolness. Sounds perfect!!! :”)
    Thanks
    AmyRuth

    I don’t recommend making ahead any more than an hour or two. Beyond that the colors start to muddy. ~Elise

  24. DEB

    I don’t ordinarily like cucumbers, but I am definitely going to try this! Question – what mint are you using? spearmint or peppermint?

    Good question. Spearmint. I’ve clarified that now in the recipe, thanks! ~Elise

  25. Ann

    How would this be with lemon balm? I have so much of that growing. Next year Im doing mint. Do you think the lemon and the lime will go well. Maybe the tequilla will cover it up. LOL

    No idea, worth a try! ~Elise

  26. Janet

    By happy coincidence, I just had a drink similar to this in a restaurant. I liked it so much I tried to recreate it at home and came up with something pretty good. Pureed 1 cucumber (peeled)and two sprigs of mint. Passed puree through a sieve, added juice of two lemons and one lime. Added one liter of club soda. Sweetened to taste with simple syrup (about 1/4 cup). Next time I make it, I’ll leave the peel on the cucumber – I like the color of yours better! With my pale green drink, you can add color by pulling the mint leaves off the stems and pureeing them separately from the cucumber. Don’t put the leaf bits through the sieve, add them directly to the drink for pretty green flecks.

  27. KimH

    Yum.. I need this NOW! But I guess I’ll have to wait until the grocery stores open for fresh limes. I’ve got plenty of mint growing like weeds & cukes are plentiful.
    This sounds like just what the doctor ordered.
    Thanks! Have a wonderful day!

  28. Deena

    This was super tasty! I added some of the leftover strained puree to some soy sauce + sriracha + sesame oil as dipping sauce for some gyozas. Really good!

  29. MaryBeth

    I made this over the weekend with the cucumbers and mint from my garden. It was wonderful! Later that evening I added vodka to it which made it even better ;)

  30. Emily

    Made this 3 days ago, it was a huge hit! :-D For a more adult (aka alcoholic- heehe) version I added some dry white wine, delicious! Works well both ways though. Thank you Elise for providing such great recipes.

  31. Rachel

    I made this just now, and my roommate and I both really liked it! For next time, I’m going to strain the juice a second time through cheesecloth to get it extra clear. I also threw in a splash of white grape juice that rounded out the flavor and eased the bite of the lime juice. Hmmm, there’s one glass’ worth left in the fridge…

  32. perudelights

    Hi Elise. This is one of my favorite recipes but I juice the cucumber and mint. Sometimes add two celery sticks, ginger and a piece of fruit, no sugar at all, it´s so good. Really refreshing. Besides, do you know that cucumber juice is a terrific tonic for the skin?

  33. Jessica

    My favorite flavor is a simple cantaloupe… my sister hates it because though she loves cantaloupe, she has an allergy to it that makes her gums swell.

    But all the same, Agua Fresca is one of my favorite drinks… living in Fort Worth, so close to Mexico, we have a ton of taquerias down here and of course our favorite serves Agua Fresca… I get it every time we go! I will have to show this recipe to my mother… she just may want to try it.

    Oh, and if you’ve never tasted a cantaloupe Agua Fresca, I urge you to try one! :D

  34. Rose

    This is so delicious! I just happened to stumble it and I’m very glad, the whole family loves it.
    One thing I did accidentally that turned out really good was to chop the limes up with the cucumbers and blend the whole thing together. After rereading your article I tried it both ways, and I think the blending time with the lime oils really does something nice for the drink.

    Thanks again for posting it :)

    That will certainly intensify the lime flavor! ~Elise

  35. Ajailyn M.

    I am just about to make this, but I am cheating slightly on “juicing” the fruit (cucumber and lime) using my J.L juicer. I’m also going to brew the mint like a tea after it goes through a food processor, so that the water is hinted with mint, instead of being over powering (my picky husband and all). I’ll let you know how it turns out!

    I am always looking for recipes that would go well with my juicer, I have found it to be a marvelous addition to my kitchen :)

  36. MC

    Thank you for the recipe! I have been enjoying it this summer.
    One thing I realize by trying both peppermint and spearmint is that, I prefer using peppermint over spearmint. Peppermint gives the drink a milder taste. Sometimes I found spearmint a bit overpowering that could remind me of Altoids or dental floss. (Well, I love Altoids and things minty but not too much in a drink)

    That’s weird, in that peppermint is the flavoring for Altoids, not spearmint. ~Elise

  37. ben

    hi

    i finally made this, been wanting to all summer. delicious. one guest suggested maybe adding cream to make it a soup. i really enjoyed it just the way it was! great job thanks.

    i enjoy making and eating so many of your recipes. you do a wonderful job.

    it was enjoyed by 6 out of 7. one friend just doesn’t indulge in too many green things. especially liquids.

    thanks so much,

    ben

  38. Mary

    So delicious!! I’ve had this drink before, at a tiny Mexican restaurant in downtown LA. Just as good as I remember it. Thank you for posting.

  39. Erin

    Holy guacamole that’s DELICIOUS! I don’t usually enjoy drinking cucumber; this has made me a convert. My husband brought the party by adding vodka, tasty. This would be a decadent addition to a party bar.

    As recommended, I caked the mash on my face and sat in the steam room. Very refreshing although maybe a little harsh for frequent facial use. Next I will use it on my tired feet!

    Thank you for this fantastic refresher, inside and out!

  40. Ruth

    I think this looks fantastic! Perfect for a sunny day on the porch. My husband often puts cucumber slices in iced water to freshen it up, rather than lemon slices – so he will definitely ‘get it’!

  41. Christina Austin (@buffyandgeorge)

    What kind of cucumbers did you use? Did you use English Cucumbers or the kind with the tougher skins that I usually peel before eating. Looking forward to trying this!

    Regular, thick-skinned cucumbers, the kind you normally peel. The tough parts get strained out when you strain the juice, so it isn’t an issue, and the peel helps give the drink its vibrant color. ~Elise

  42. Michelle

    Just came home from the farm with 16 good sized cucumbers! This looks amazing and will definitely be added to our dinner table tonight :)

  43. Amber DeGrace

    Delicious! I had a cucumber in the fridge and a bunch of mint on the counter that needed to be used before it went bad. This was the perfect way to use them. Thanks!

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