Homemade Pink Lemonade

Homemade pink lemonade is a classic recipe to make on a hot summer day. This version is made with freshly squeezed lemon juice and gets its pink color from real cranberry juice instead of artificial colors.

Pouring a glass of pink lemonade from a pitcher.
Ciara Kehoe

Why is pink lemonade so much more appealing than regular lemonade?

What makes pink lemonade pink? Doesn't the canned stuff just have food dye in it to make it pink? I haven't bought canned pink lemonade in decades so don't really know. (But just in case you're curious too, Joe Sevier at Epicurious has some theories.)

How to Make Pink Lemonade

I'm guessing the canned stuff we grew up with is pink only through the addition of artificial dyes. But we don't need to do that.

You know the easiest way to make lemonade pink? Add some cranberry juice!

Unsweetened cranberry juice is tart, just like unsweetened lemon juice. All we need to do to turn our homemade lemonade pink is to incorporate some cranberry juice to the mix.

We make a simple syrup by heating water and sugar until the sugar dissolves, then we mix it with lemon juice, cranberry juice, and some more water. Add a few ice cubes and we're done!

Isn't it pretty? It's the perfect refreshing cooler for a hot summer day.

Two glasses of pink lemonade garnished with lemon rounds. A wooden spoon and pitcher are next to the glasses.
Ciara Kehoe

Swaps and Substitutions

  • Cranberry juice alternatives: Cranberry juice is just one of many ways to give lemonade a pink hue. If you prefer a sweeter flavor (since cranberry juice is very tart), you can use puréed strawberries, watermelon, or even cherries for a natural pink color. Just keep in mind that whichever fruit you use will impart its own flavor to the lemonade. 
  • Can you make pink lemonade from pink lemons? Variegated pink lemons are a new variety of lemon with striped skin and pink flesh. The juice from pink lemons is actually clear, rather than pink, but their floral, less tart flavor will still make delicious lemonade. Learn more about citrus varieties in Your Guide to the Wonderful World of Citrus.
  • Sugar alternatives: You can substitute the simple syrup for your sugar-free sweetener of choice, referring to the package for directions for amounts. Honey and agave syrup are also options, but note that they will impact the flavor of your lemonade.

Make it Ahead

You can easily make your lemonade a day or two before you plan to serve it, keeping it refrigerated. If any settling occurs, just give it a stir. The lemonade should stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Fun Serving Tips for Pink Lemonade

Pink lemonade is great to serve at a party or gathering! Chill some ice-filled glasses in your freezer, if you have the space, ahead of time so you can grab them right out of the freezer and pour the lemonade over them. This will keep the lemonade from getting watered down and will taste the best for your guests!

More Fruity Drinks to Try!

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Homemade Pink Lemonade

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup cranberry juice
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Method

  1. Make the simple syrup:

    Heat sugar (use 1 1/4 cups of sugar if you'll be using unsweetened cranberry juice) and 1 cup of the water in a small saucepan until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove the simple syrup from the heat and let it cool.

    Sugar diluting in a pot of water to make a pink lemonade recipe.
    Ciara Kehoe
  2. Stir together the lemonade:

    Combine the remaining water, cranberry juice, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a pitcher. Make adjustments to taste. If the lemonade is a little sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice to it.

    Stirring a pitcher to show how to make pink lemonade.
    Ciara Kehoe
  3. Chill, then serve:

    Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour, or add in ice to cool the lemonade.

    Overhead view of two glasses of pink lemonade garnished with lemon.
    Ciara Kehoe