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Old Fashioned Homemade Lemonade (only 3 ingredients!)

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Old-fashioned Homemade Lemonade with just the right amount of sweetness is the perfect, easy, three-ingredient drink for your next gathering. Squeeze fresh lemons, take some help from bottled lemon juice, or do a combination of the two.

pitcher of lemonade with a wooden spoon in it.

Lemonade from scratch

At our last BBQ, Bob wanted to make his grandfather’s lemonade recipe, which somehow, hadn’t come up before.

I love lemonade but I’m pretty picky about it. I don’t like it too sweet and this version was perfect.

I didn’t even water it down which I normally do with all juices (persnickety, right? I’m like a child). It will be known as Grandpa Dusty’s Lemonade around here.

glasses of old fashioned lemonade next to a pitcher.

What makes it a bit unique is that you can make it entirely from fresh squeezed lemons or give your hands a break and use some bottled lemon juice to pick up the slack.

I find either combination to work really well.

Why you’ll love this Homemade Lemonade:

  • It’s light and refreshing – perfect for summer days.
  • Only THREE ingredients!
  • You control the sweetness.
  • You can take a shortcut from squeezing lemons and make lemonade from bottled lemon juice to speed up the process.
lemonade with black & white striped straw.

Equipment you’ll need

Ingredients for lemonade from bottled lemon juice

Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card.

  • LEMON JUICE – You’ll need 3/4 cup lemon juice whether it is fresh or bottled. Depending on your lemon size, this is approximately 4-5 lemons. If using bottled lemon juice, pick one that is 100% juice. It will have some preservatives, but otherwise shouldn’t have any other ingredients.
  • SUGAR – Granulated white sugar is what I’ve tested with.
  • WATER
  • ICE
overhead shot of ingredients laid out to make lemonade.

How to make Old Fashioned Homemade Lemonade 🍋

collage of 3 photos showing the process of squeezing lemons for fresh lemonade.
  1. STEP ONE: Squeeze the lemons. Roll the lemons to help release the juice and then slice in half and juice them. Save the squeezed lemons and slice them. Alternatively, you can use bottled lemon juice. Whatever way you get there, you need 3/4 cup.
  2. STEP TWO: Make a simple syrup. To a large pot, add the sliced, squeezed lemons, and water. Bring to a slight boil over medium heat. Add in the sugar and stir until dissolved. Use a strainer to pour the sugar water into a pitcher to catch any lemon seeds, and pulp.
  3. STEP THREE: Assemble the lemonade. To the pitcher of lemon water, add the squeezed lemon juice and stir. Add in ice.
  4. STEP FOUR: Chill. For best results, chill 2-4 hours to really let the flavors come together and then enjoy!
collage of 4 photos showing the process of making homemade lemonade.

What to serve with lemonade

Really, what doesn’t go with lemonade?? I generally associate it with classic BBQ foods like macaroni salad, baked beans, potato salad, and bbq chicken.

But if you have more lemons to use up, try crockpot lemon chicken or lemon chicken orzo soup.

Desserts

To keep with the lemon theme: lemonade ice cream pie, lemon bundt cake, or lemon cupcakes with raspberry frosting.

Tips and Suggestions 🍋

  • Wash the lemons before you get started since you’ll be using the whole lemon in the process.
  • Don’t be afraid to use bottled lemon juice – just watch the ingredients to make sure you’re not getting any unnecessary additives.
  • I don’t find this lemonade overly sweet as written, but you can cut down the sugar to 1 cup (or even 3/4 cup) if you like tart lemonade.

How to store it

Homemade lemonade should be stored covered in the fridge for the best results.

How long is fresh lemonade good for in the fridge?

5-7 days. Keep it covered in the fridge. If it develops a strange smell or looks different, discard it.

lemonade being poured into glass cups full of ice.

FAQs

How do you make lemonade with store bought lemon juice?

Easily! Just follow the recipe as written but use bottled lemon juice in place of the fresh squeezed lemon juice.

Can you use bottled lemon juice in place of fresh lemon juice?

Sure can. This recipe calls for 3/4 cup of lemon juice. I don’t care how you get there – fresh squeezed, bottled lemon juice, or a combo of the two – just get to 3/4 cup.

How many lemons do I need?

Depending on the size of your lemons (they can vary greatly), you’ll need approximately 4-5 lemons, plus more for garnishing.

How much lemonade does this recipe make?

This recipe makes approximately 2 quarts, which is 8 cups.

How many does it serve?

Assuming each serving is a cup, this recipe will serve 8 people.

Want a flavored lemonade? Try these:

Blackberry Lemonade
Strawberry Lemonade
Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade
Pineapple Strawberry Lemonade
Passion Tea Lemonade

Still thirsty? Try these:

Cranberry Orange Cider
Berry Sangria
Starbucks Medicine Ball Tea

Click here for my entire collection of drink recipes.

overhead shot of 3 glasses of lemonade.

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pitcher of lemonade with a wooden spoon in it.

Old Fashioned Homemade Lemonade

Melissa | Persnickety Plates
Old-fashioned Homemade Lemonade with just the right amount of sweetness is the perfect, easy three-ingredient drink for your next gathering. Squeeze fresh lemons, take some help from bottled lemon juice, or do a combination of the two.
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Chill Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 25 mins
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 2 quarts
Calories 501 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • ¾ cup lemon juice approximately 4-5 lemons
  • 7 ¼ cups water
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 3 cups ice

Instructions
 

  • Wash then roll then squeeze the juice from lemons until you reach ¾ cup (this should be approximately 4-5 medium lemons). Alternatively, you can use bottled lemon juice to replace or supplement the fresh lemon juice. Set aside.
  • Slice the squeezed lemons and set aside.
  • To a large pot over medium heat, add the water and sliced lemons. Bring to a slight boil (about 8 minutes).
  • Add in the sugar and stir until dissolved.
  • Use a strainer to pour the sugar water into a pitcher to catch any lemon seeds and pulp.
  • Add in the fresh lemon juice and stir. Add in the ice.
  • Let chill 2-4 hours in the fridge (or overnight) then enjoy!

Notes

If you are short on lemons, 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice may be used in addition to 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice. 
Store covered in the fridge for up to a week.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 501kcalCarbohydrates: 131gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 63mgPotassium: 97mgFiber: 1gSugar: 127gVitamin A: 5IUVitamin C: 35mgCalcium: 43mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Tried this recipe? Tag me!Mention @melissa_pplates or tag #persnicketyplates!

Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying/pasting and/or screenshots of full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited. Content and photographs are copyright protected.

Originally published May 31, 2016

Homemade Lemonade with just the right amount of sweetness is the perfect, easy four-ingredient drink for your next gathering. | Persnickety Plates
Homemade Lemonade with just the right amount of sweetness is the perfect, easy four-ingredient drink for your next gathering. | Persnickety Plates

Did you have a good Memorial Day? Bob wanted to barbecue at a beach about an hour away from us, but I really just wanted to stay home. As much as I love park get-togethers, the work of it makes me tired. I won, this time, and we had family and friends over to the house.

Homemade Lemonade with just the right amount of sweetness is the perfect, easy four-ingredient drink for your next gathering. | Persnickety Plates

It was a gorgeous day so we got out Julia’s water table and kiddie pool. We also snagged a new (to us) patio set from a mom-to-mom Facebook group so we got some new cushions and gave it a wipe down and had a nice setup on our deck.

Homemade Lemonade with just the right amount of sweetness is the perfect, easy four-ingredient drink for your next gathering. | Persnickety Plates
Homemade Lemonade with just the right amount of sweetness is the perfect, easy four-ingredient drink for your next gathering. | Persnickety Plates


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  1. Raymond R Dubois says

    5 stars
    I have made Lemonade countless times over the years. It’s my favorite cooling beverage.

  2. Angelina says

    Sounds so refreshing! I normally prefer plain lemonade but sometimes like to add blueberries when we can get them fresh in the summer.

  3. Makayla Phlong says

    5 stars
    I have made homemade lemonade before and I prefer plain lemonade however also enjoy flavoured lemonade!

  4. Lana says

    When I make lemonade, it taste like something is missing. I never thought of boiling the lemon slices and sugar to make simple syrup. I am going to try this next time my neighbor gives me a bag of lemon. For me only fresh lemons will do.

  5. Mary Perez says

    5 stars
    I love strawberry flavored lemonade.

  6. Pj cook says

    Fresh is best. Real lemons. Real sugar.
    Love your website.
    Pj

  7. Sharon Neighoff says

    Recipe sounds great. I have not made homemade lemonade in years so I will have to try this!!

  8. Sandy McClernon says

    5 stars
    I have not ever made lemonade before. A friend made homemade strawberry lemonade at a party I attended and it was the bomb!!

  9. Kay says

    5 stars
    I have not made homemade Lemonade, but I have made Cherry Limeade from scratch. I will definitely be giving this a try next week to take along for a family cookout.

  10. kesha says

    This recipe brings back such great memories. Every 4’th of July we would have a family get together at my Great Grandmothers house. We always had homemade lemonade. It was the hit of the party! I have made lemonade a couple of times and I can’t wait to try your recipe!

  11. Judith Grossmith says

    I make lemonade all the time.
    I use Realemon bottled lemon juice,
    Sugar and Tang, mixed with water and ice.
    Then I slice oranges and lemons and add them to the pitcher of lemonade. Delicious!!!!

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