Perfect Lemonade

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Lemonade: sugar, water, lemon juice. Easy, right? Well, the problem is that if you just stir all of these together the sugar will sink to the bottom. So the best way to make lemonade is to make a simple syrup first, by heating water and sugar together until the sugar is completely dissolved, and then mix that with the lemon juice.

The proportions will vary depending on how sweet and strong you like your lemonade, and how sour your lemons are to begin with. Late season lemons are less sour than early season lemons. Meyer lemons are sweeter than standard lemons. Start with the proportions of 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water, 1 cup of lemon juice. Reduce the sugar amount if you are using Meyer lemons or if you like your lemonade less sweet. (I usually use 3/4 cup of lemon juice.)

Make the simple syrup, combine with the lemon juice, and then add more water (and ice) to dilute the lemonade to your taste.

Simple syrup you can easily make ahead and chill for later use. If you have a bunch of lemons you need to process, you can juice them and freeze the juice too.

Lemonade

Updated from the recipe archive, first posted in 2006.

Perfect Lemonade Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6.

For more intense lemon flavor, grate the zest from one fresh lemon and add the zest to the simple syrup as you are making it. Once the sugar has dissolved in the water remove from heat and let the zest seep in the simple syrup for several minutes, then strain out the zest when you add the simple syrup to the lemon juice.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white, granulated sugar (can reduce to 3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup water (for the simple syrup)
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 cups cold water (to dilute)

Method

1 First make a "simple syrup". Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir so that the sugar dissolves completely and remove from heat.

2 While the water is heating for the simple syrup, juice your lemons. Depending on the size of the lemons, 4 to 6 of them should be enough for one cup of juice.

3 Pour the juice and the simple syrup sugar water into a serving pitcher. Add 2 to 3 cups of cold water and taste. Add more water if you would like it to be more diluted (though note that when you add ice, it will melt and naturally dilute the lemonade). If the lemonade is a little sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice to it.

Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve with ice, sliced lemons.

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Links:

Lavender Lemonade here on Simply Recipes

Whole lemon lemonade - from Marc at Mental Masala.

Lemonade

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Showing 4 of 195 Comments

  • Kim Hamilton

    Just made fresh lemonade for the first time. This recipe is delicious!! I used 3/4 cup of sugar and it is perfect! Great for summertime!

  • Misty

    We just made this tonight and loved it! This is a great lemonade recipe. For fun, we had different fruits, basil, and mint for people to choose from to make their unique cup. The simple syrup is a game changer.

  • Alex Campuzano

    I used ¼ of a cup of lemon juice with ¼ of a cup of orange juice and 2cups of water and ⅓ cups of granulated sugar with ½ of a cup of SunnyD and then mixed it then I threw 1cup of ice in a blender with about ⅔ of the lemonade and blended it until the ice was crushed and it tasted delicious

  • I used Splenda and it was splendid! 1 cup lemon juice (I used bottled) 1 cup of Splenda and 3 cup of cold water. PERFECT! And with Splenda no need to make a simple syrup it dissolve in cold water without issue.

  • Edgar

    This is really good! Thanks Elise

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