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Photograph by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Pearl Jones, Prop Styling by Dayna Seman
  • Active Time

    5 minutes

  • Total Time

    40 minutes

This homemade lemonade recipe shouldn’t be relegated to the kids’ table—it’s tart, sweet, and intensely refreshing on a hot day. Start by making a simple syrup infused with lemon zest. To get large pieces with as little pith (the bitter white part) as possible, use a sharp vegetable peeler and make sure your lemons and hands are completely dry so your grip is firm. Fresh-squeezed lemon juice is a must, so grab a juicer. To keep the tang and sweet ratios in check, add ice cubes straight to the glasses, not the pitcher, so the drink isn’t diluted.

While this fresh lemonade needs no embellishments, it’s also a versatile base for a host of summer drink recipes. Try adding two cups of frozen or fresh fruit like raspberries or peaches and an herb garnish. If you prefer a bit of sparkle, swap out half of the water in the base with club soda or seltzer. For a full-blown spritz, use only the sparkling water. Spices like sumac and star anise can also be added to the syrup-making process for something more complex. And mixing half-and-half with brewed black tea quickly turns it into an Arnold Palmer. For more ideas, check out this complete guide.

This is part of BA’sBest, a collection of our essential recipes.

Ingredients

4 Servings

½

cup sugar

3

lemons, zest removed in wide strips

¾

cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)

Lemon slices (for serving)

Preparation

Step 1

Bring sugar and ½ cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Let cool 5 minutes. Add lemon zest and let sit 30 minutes to steep.

Step 2

Strain lemon syrup through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher; discard zest. Add lemon juice and 3 cups water and stir to combine.

Step 3

Serve lemonade over ice garnished with lemon slices. 

Editor’s note:This recipe was originally published in July 2015.

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  • So delicious. I used lemons and limes . . . the first two times I made it, I was very sick and my brain wasn't functioning well. So I completely didn't see you are to add three cups of water at the end. Instead, I drank it without watering it down and it was DELICIOUS. However, I have since made it by adding two cups of water and like it that way as well.

    • LHJ

    • Charlotte, NC

    • 1/29/2022

  • Absolutely divine! Not too sweet, not too sour, and very easy to make.

    • Anonymous

    • Australia

    • 4/14/2020

  • Delicious! Rather than mix in all the water at once, I diluted it in a ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part syrup/juice mixture as needed. The syrup/juice mixture can be stored in the fridge.

    • Anonymous

    • New York

    • 4/4/2020