Basic Lemonade or Limeade

Cook’s Notes: A glass of lemonade is excellent topped off with a splash of pomegranate juice.

Formula: Combine 1 part lemon or lime juice, 1 part simple syrup, and 6 parts water for a total of 8 parts.

1-1/4 cups water (to make 1 cup simple syrup)
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup lemon or lime juice
6 additional cups water
Optional: Capful of lemon or almond extract; garnish with sliced lemons, limes, or mint leaves

Start with the simple syrup. In a small saucepan, bring to a boil 1-1/4 cups of water. Stir in sugar until it dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. (The extra 1/4-cup of water will boil off while simmering.) Turn off the burner and let the syrup cool.

Combine the lemon or lime juice and 6 cups of water in a pitcher. Chill the pitcher in fridge while the syrup continues to cool. Add cooled syrup to the pitcher. Stir well. Pour over ice.

Makes 2 quarts (8 servings)

Sources: Adapted from recipes by Matt and Ted Lee (The Lee Bros.), Simply Recipes, and Cheap Healthy Good.

Related Recipes

  • For a lemonade spritzer, fill a glass with ice. Pour the lemonade in so the glass is 2/3 full. Top with cold seltzer or club soda.
  • Frozen Blueberry Limoncello (Safeway): Whirl 1 cup blueberries, 3 Tbsp sugar, and 3 Tbsp lemon juice with just enough limoncello liquer to make a smooth slush. Divide berry slush among 4 tall glasses (8- to 12-ounce size), add 2 oz chilled lemonade (or limoncello) to each glass; fill with club soda. Garnish with fresh berries on skewers; swizzle as you sip. For nonalcoholic drinks, replace all limoncello with lemonade.

Variations: Fruited lemonade

Before you putting in the additional water, add 2 cups fruit to the lemonade. Add enough water to make 2 quarts (3 to 4 cups additional water). As Kristen Swensen says, “Almost any fruit works well — watermelon, raspberry, nectarine, or strawberry — with either lemonade or limeade.”

  • Blackberry: Blackberry Limeade makes a great spritzer. Place 1 cup water and 3 cups blackberries (1.5 x 10-oz bags frozen blackberries) in a blender; process until smooth. Strain through a sieve into a large pitcher; discard the pulp.
  • Blueberry: Place 1 cup water and 3 cups blueberries in a blender; process until smooth. Strain through a sieve into a large pitcher; discard the pulp.
  • Cucumber: Slice a peeled English cucumber into large chunks. Place 1 cup water and cucumber chunks in a blender; process until smooth. Press cucumber puree through a sieve into a large pitcher; discard seeds and pulp. Cucumber Lemonade is surprisingly refreshing and is excellent with an Asian-style menu.
  • Watermelon: Purée and strain watermelon chunks until you have 2 cups of purée. Strain through a sieve into a large pitcher; discard the pulp. Freeze the Watermelon Lemonade in ice cube trays and pour seltzer water over the fancy ice.

Additional Sources:

  • Blackberry Limeade: Adapted from Kate Washington, Cooking Light, JUNE 2007
  • Cherry Lemonade: Kristen Swensson, July 20, 2009, on Serious Eats
  • Cucumber Lemonade: Adapted from recipes by Fred Thompson, Kate Washington, and Corinne Trang.
  • Watermelon Lemonade: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen