This Southern Homemade Lemonade Recipe is easily made with fresh squeezed lemons, sugar and crisp, cold water. This simple, refreshing beverage is just what you need to wash away the Winter blues and welcome in Spring!
As Spring rears its head, I find myself dreaming of sunny days spent playing at the park with Harmony and sharing picnics with my husband. Warmer weather calls for light sandwiches, fruit salads and cold glasses of this sweet lemonade.
On hot days, my Big Mama used to bring out icy pitchers of homemade lemonade: a Godsend. Each sip was cool, tart and never too sweet. I’d ask for second and then thirds with my dinner because it was just that good. Unfortunately, that means Big Mama ruined any other kind of lemonade I could ever have.
So, today I’m sharing with you her perfect recipe in the hopes that the sun will rear its head and flowers will bloom. Happy Spring!
The Heart and Soul of the Best Lemonade Recipe
Cuisine Inspiration: Classic American
Primary Cooking Method: Mixing/Chilling
Dietary Info: Vegan, Gluten-Free
Key Flavor: Zesty Lemon
Skill Level: Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!
- Refreshing Zing: That first sip sends a summer breeze right through your soul.
- Health Kick: Packed with vitamin C, it’s a tasty way to boost your immune system.
- Customizable Sweetness: You’re in control! Adjust the sugar to your taste.
- Hydration Station: Quench that thirst with a beverage that beckons the sun.
- Party Favorite: From BBQs to picnics, it’s the drink that gets the people going!
The history of lemonade goes farther back than you might think; lemonade can be traced back to medieval Egypt. Though lemons originate farther east, and lemonade may have been “invented” in an eastern country, the earliest written evidence comes from Egypt. Cool, huh?
Lemonade slowly made its way across Europe and eventually, in the 18th century, made its way to America along with many immigrants. This sweet yet sour beverage took off in Southern states where the climate was often uncomfortably warm. Served with ice, lemonade became the tastiest way to hydrate and cool off.
Today, there isn’t a corner of the South where vats of this refreshing drink can’t be found. Southern grandmothers everywhere hoard their family recipes and make fresh pitchers to be served with fried chicken come Sunday afternoon.
What kind of lemons should I use?
Did you know that there are over 20 different varieties of lemons around the world? Neither did I. They all vary in appearance, flesh and level of acidity.
At your typical grocery store, you’ll find only 2 or 3 varieties; the most common being Lisbon, Eureka and Meyer lemons. Lisbon and Eureka lemons are pretty much indistinguishable; they’re tart, acidic and bright yellow.
Meyer Lemons are not truly lemons, they’re a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. Their flavor is less acidic, slightly herbal and even a bit floral. Though lemonade can be made using Meyers, the flavor won’t be as sweet and the coloration will differ.
Tip: My recommendation? Don’t sweat it. Use what your grocery has on hand; just be sure they are ripe and juicy!
Could there be anything easier to make than a pitcher of fresh lemonade? Let me answer that: no. With just a few fresh lemons, some sugar and plain ‘ole water, you’ve got the makings of a porch ‘sippin worthy drink.
Here’s how it’s done:
Always Use Ripe Lemons
The juiciest lemons are gonna be the ones that give a little when you squeeze them. The softer fruit will have more juice and a better developed sweetness. The outside rind should be bright yellow and without bruises or breaks in the skin. Avoid using yellow-green (underripe) lemons.
Add Lemon Zest
If you’re looking to intensify the lemon flavor and create a bit more fragrance, zest one of your lemons. Add the zest into your sugar and allow it to steep for several minutes. I find that this step adds the extra “POP” I’m looking for. So good.
Use Fresh Herbs
On occasion, I get the urge to mix things up and layer a new flavor into my lemonade. Using a few sprigs of thyme, rosemary or mint is a simple, easy way to give this recipe the occasional face lift.
If you keep it in the fridge, your homemade lemonade will last 5-7 days. I mean, there’s really no reason that your lemonade should go bad. But, I find that after a week the lemon juice loses its freshness and the flavors begin to separate a bit.
Wonderful Lemon Recipes to Try
Lemons are such a cheap, delicious ingredient to explore and play with. Next time you’re at the grocery store load up the cart with a couple dozen! Then, try a few of these tart, tasty lemon-inspired treats:
Homemade Lemonade Recipe
- 6 cups filtered water
- 7 fresh lemons juiced
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Mint leaves and fresh lemons for garnish
- In a large pitcher, add water and lemon juice.
- Carefully stir in sugar and continue to until it completely dissolves.
- Garnish with mint leaves and lemon slices.
- To serve, add to ice filled glasses with straws.