Why would we make lemonade from scratch when we can buy a big jug of it at the grocery store? For the same reason we make all sorts of delicious food and drinks from scratch: it tastes better that way! Of course, a homemade batch of lemonade takes time and effort, so we’ll understand if you prefer to serve it on special occasions only. We’ve gathered several homemade lemonade recipes, from classic to creative, for you to try. We hope you’ll find a new favorite among them.
Classic Homemade Lemonade
While you might think a classic lemonade recipe would consist only of freshly-squeezed lemons, sugar, and water, we like this option from Bon Appetit that elevates homemade lemonade a notch or two.
What makes it different? Instead of using mere lemon juice and granulated sugar for that characteristic tart and sweet combination, you’ll make what’s called oleo saccharum. Wash your lemons thoroughly, and then peel the lemon zest from the outside. Place your strips of lemon zest in a bowl along with granulated sugar, and squeeze everything together with your hands. Then let the bowl of lemon zest and sugar sit at room temperature for up to a day, similar to macerating berries. You’ll end up with a sugar syrup infused with oils from the lemon zest.
From here, the process is quick and easy. Squeeze the lemons and strain the seeds and pulp from the juice. Then mix the lemon juice with water and oleo saccharum, strain it once more, and serve over ice.
Peach Green Tea Lemonade
We know Starbucks popularized this refreshing drink, but it’s simple to whip up at home too. Combine green tea and lemonade at a two-to-one ratio. Then add strained peach puree and simple syrup, as in this recipe from Powell & Mahoney. You can also simmer sliced or diced peaches in simple syrup, and then strain the syrup prior to adding it to the other ingredients. Serve your peach green tea lemonade over ice and enjoy it at home.
If you haven’t yet tried incorporating edible flowers into your cooking and baking, we suggest starting with lavender. Dried lavender is available at the grocery store, or you can grow and dry it yourself.
Try this recipe from The Kitchn. Make a simple syrup on the stovetop with water and granulated sugar, and then steep lavender in it. Depending on the strength of the lavender taste you want, allow the lavender to steep anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Strain your simple syrup, and then mix it with freshly-squeezed lemon juice and water. Once again, serve over ice.
Sparkling Rose Lemonade
Another homemade lemonade recipe that calls for edible flowers is this one from Tastemade. While you can buy rose water, it’s simple to make on the stovetop using rose petals and distilled water. Rinse the petals carefully, and then add them to a saucepan. Add just enough water to cover the petals. Simmer until the water turns color and the petals have gone pale, then strain your rose water and let it cool.
You can make a plain simple syrup, as in the Tastemade recipe, and combine it with lemon juice, sparkling water, and rose water. But we like the idea of adding the rose water to the Bon Appetit recipe featured above. Combine lemon juice, oleo saccharum, sparkling water, and rose water, and serve over ice.
Not all lemonade has to be sugary sweet. While this recipe from The Food Charlatan does include simple syrup, it’s infused with fresh basil to give this homemade lemonade an herbal essence.
Make a simple syrup on the stovetop, and then pour it over muddled basil leaves in a heatproof bowl. Let the mixture sit in the refrigerator as the simple syrup absorbs the flavor of the basil. In the meantime, squeeze the lemons and strain the pulp and seeds. Then strain the simple syrup into the lemon juice, add water, and serve over ice.
Want more variations on homemade lemonade? Serious Eats collected a whole dozen recipes. We’re sure you’ll find one (or more!) that sounds delicious.