The dog days don’t stand a chance against this summer sipper. It pairs the hydrating power of watermelon with the perfect pucker of lemon for the ideal refresher. It’s sophisticated enough for brunch but hits the spot after mowing the lawn.
It’s also the lazy person’s beverage: Just seed and cube a couple lemons and cube some (seedless) watermelon and throw it all in the blender. The only other ingredients you need are water and sugar because the melon is doing the heavy lifting here. Blend, strain, and serve over ice.
Pick the Perfect Lemon
You don’t have to juice a ton of lemons for this recipe—the whole fruit is going in the blender—that’s right, skin, pith and flesh! Other than halving and seeding them, the most effort goes into picking the right lemon: You want thin-skinned ones.
Thin skinned lemons have less pith, the white part between the skin and the flesh. You want some pith because it adds a touch of bitterness, which is balanced with the sweet watermelon and tart lemon juice. But too much pith can make the lemonade unpleasant.
Thin-skinned lemons—which are usually smooth and squeezable—have less pith than thick skinned lemons, making them perfect for the task.
If you can find only firm, thick-skinned lemons—or if your thin-skinned lemons have a nubby, pointy end, which is all pith—you can trim the ends to reduce the amount of pith. Whether you buy organic or conventional lemons, wash them well before tossing them in the blender. You want to remove any wax or contaminants from the skin, which contains essential oils that give this lemonade a flavor boost.
How to Pick the Perfect Watermelon
You also want to buy watermelon that is heavy for its size, sounds hollow when you thump it lightly, and has a dark yellow field spot (an area where it was resting in the field.) Some say if the skin is dull then that’s another good sign the melon will be sweet.
If you’re not buying whole watermelon, judge a fruit by its color: The redder, the better. Seedless makes it easier on you, but if you can only find melon with seeds, go for it. You can flick out the black seeds and leave the tender white ones (they’ll strain out).
Blend It, Strain It, and Pour It
Run your blender until everything is nicely pureed. But know that you will end up with pulp that needs to be strained out. The pulp is just sweetened fruit solids, so you can save it in an ice cube tray in the freezer and then add it to smoothies or frozen cocktails (like margaritas) later.
Custom Cocktails and Mocktails with Lemonade
Do a boozy brunch with one of these creations:
- Shake with tequila, Cointreau and fresh jalapeño for a spicy watermelon margarita.
- Put it back in the blender with basil, vodka and ice for a cooling slushie.
- Stir with rosé and some chopped stone fruit for an easy sangria.
This lemonade is also a great base for alcohol-free drinks:
- Try it bubbly with ginger ale or a bit of sparkling water.
- Make a melon smoothie more melon-y: Blend it with cantaloupe, honeydew, and more watermelon.
- Muddle with cucumber and strain again for extra hydration.
Storing Leftover Lemonade
Store any leftover lemonade in a pitcher or sealed container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. As it sits, it will separate. Give it a shake or stir before pouring.
Refreshing Lemonade Recipes for Hot Summer Days
- 2 thin-skinned lemons (3 to 3 1/2 ounces each)
- 4 cups seedless watermelon, rind removed and cubed
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 cups cold water, divided
- Ice, for serving
Wash, trim, and seed lemons:
Wash the lemons to remove any dirt or wax. Trim the hard stem end, cut the lemons into quarters and remove the seeds. Cut lemon quarters into large chunks.
If your lemon has thicker skin, or if the blossom end is nubby, trim it to reduce bitterness.
Add ingredients into blender:
Combine the prepared lemons, watermelon, sugar, and 1 cup water in the carafe of a blender.
Blend on high until smooth, about 30 seconds.
Strain the lemonade:
Strain the lemonade over a pitcher using a fine-mesh sieve. Use a silicone spatula to press the pulp against the strainer and wring out the remaining juice. You could discard the pulp, if you’d like.
Add the water and serve:
Add the remaining 1 cup water. Stir to combine. Serve lemonade over ice.