Learn how to make lemonade from scratch with this 3-ingredient homemade lemonade recipe — naturally sweetened with maple syrup or honey, and easy to make as tart or sweet as you prefer. (This post contains affiliate links.)
Is there anything more refreshing in the summertime than an ice-cold glass of lemonade?!
Actually, yes — an ice-cold glass of this freshly-squeezed, naturally-sweetened, 100%-from-scratch homemade lemonade! ♡
I mean, first of all, nothing beats the flavor of freshly-squeezed lemon juice in my book. I can taste the difference it makes in a batch of lemonade every single time. (And with a good handheld citrus juicer, it only takes a minute or two to juice enough lemons for an entire pitcher!) I also love making lemonade homemade because it gives me the option to choose natural sweeteners like maple syrup or honey, instead of the gobs and gobs of white sugar that usually come with the store-bought varieties. And of course, when making homemade lemonade, I appreciate being able to control how much sweetener is added. So I can make mine as zingy and tart (my preference!) or as mild and sweet as a group of friends might prefer.
More than anything, though, I just love making homemade lemonade from scratch because it’s a breeze! All you need are 3 easy ingredients to make a batch. And when naturally sweetened with maple syrup, there’s no need to simmer a simple syrup on the stove to dissolve the sugar. Just juice your lemons, stir in the maple syrup and water, and a big pitcher can be ready to go in just 5 minutes or so. So simple, and so delicious.
So whether you have kiddos who are hoping to host their own little lemonade stand this summer, or you just happen to be craving a nice cold pitcher to serve with dinner tonight, gather up a batch of fresh lemons and crank up the Beyoncé and let’s make a batch together!
Homemade Lemonade Ingredients:
To make this homemade lemonade recipe, you will need 3 simple ingredients:
Freshly-squeezed lemon juice: Fresh lemon juice makes all the difference in a good glass of lemonade, so no shortcuts with bottled juice, please! To make the lemon juicing process go faster, I highly recommend investing in a good-quality citrus juicer. I’m a mega-fan of this one(affiliate link) and use it all the time for making lemonade, margaritas, aguas frescas and more.
Sweetener: I usually sweeten my lemonade with maple syrup, which I love because you can just stir it directly into the lemonade mix (no need to boil a simple syrup) and also because its flavor is delicious in lemonade. But honey is a delicious natural sweetener as well, which you can simmer with equal parts water and honey (in order to dissolve the honey) to make a honey simple syrup to add to your lemonade instead.
Water: I recommend starting with cold water, especially if you plan on serving this lemonade right away, so that the lemonade will be nice and chilled.
How To Make Lemonade:
Alright, let’s talk how to make lemonade from scratch! The extra bonus of making lemonade with maple syrup is that there is no extra boiling, mashing or straining required (as is the case with most traditional white-sugar lemonade recipes). Instead, simply…
Squeeze the lemon juice. Grab a citrus juicer and strain, strain, strain those fresh lemons until you have 1 cup of juice.
Add sweetener and water. Stir in the maple syrup (or honey simple syrup) and water until everything is combined.
Make any adjustments. Then give the lemonade a taste, and see if you would like to add any extra lemonade (for tartness), maple syrup (for sweetness), or water (to lighten up the flavor).
Serve over ice. Then serve the lemonade over ice, garnished with an extra lemon slice and/or fresh herb sprig if you’d like. Or you can store the lemonade in a sealed pitcher in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Full directions included in the recipe below.
Possible Lemonade Recipe Variations:
Want to customize your homemade lemonade recipe? Feel free to…
Sweeten with honey: If you would like to make honey-sweetened lemonade, you will need to make a quick honey simple syrup in order for the honey to dissolve evenly into the lemonade. To do so, simply combine equal parts honey and water in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, and stir briefly until the honey is dissolved into the water. Add syrup to the lemon juice and water mixture, to taste.
Sweeten with sugar: If you would like to make traditional sugar-sweetened lemonade (either with white granulated sugar or brown sugar), you will need to make a quick simple syrup in order for the sugar to dissolve evenly into the lemonade. To do so, simply combine equal parts sugar and water in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, and stir briefly until the sugar crystals are dissolved into the water. Add syrup to the lemon juice and water mixture, to taste.
Make it sparkle: To make sparkling lemonade, use your favorite sparkling water instead of still water.
Make it spicy: Stir in a pinch of cayenne pepper to kick your lemonade recipe up a spicy notch.
Make pink lemonade: Traditionally, pink lemonade is made with either cranberry, strawberry, or raspberry juice (or purée) stirred in with the fresh lemon juice. I recommend a 1:1 ratio of “pink” juice to lemon juice, but feel free to experiment and find whatever ratio you love best.
Make lavender lemonade: Simmer some fresh lavender in the maple syrup (or honey simple syrup) for 5 minutes, then strain out the lavender and add the syrup to the lemon juice and water to make fresh lavender lemonade. It’s delightful!
Make limeade: To make a homemade limeade recipe, just substitute fresh lime juice in place of fresh lemon juice, and adjust the amount of sweetener to taste.
Add fresh herbs: Feel free to stir or muddle a few sprigs of fresh herbs into a pitcher of lemonade, such as fresh mint, rosemary or tarragon.
Add alcohol: Want to make a boozy lemonade? Try mixing it with vodka, whiskey, or gin for happy hour.
More Favorite Drink Recipes:
Looking for more easy drink recipes? Here are a few of my summertime faves:
This 3-ingredient homemade lemonade recipe is naturally sweetened with maple syrup or honey, and easily adjustable to make as tart or sweet as you prefer.
1 1/2 cups freshly-squeezed lemon juice*
6 cups cold water
1/3 to 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey simple syrup,* or more to taste
Squeeze the lemon juice. Use a citrus juicer to strain the fresh lemons (or you can squeeze out the juice by hand, discarding the seeds) until you yield 1 1/2 cups of juice.
Add sweetener and water. In a large pitcher, stir together the lemon juice, water and maple syrup (or honey simple syrup) until combined.
Make any adjustments. Give the lemonade a taste, and add in any extra lemon juice (for tartness), maple syrup (for sweetness), or water (to dilute the flavor a bit) if desired.
Serve over ice. Serve over ice, garnished with an extra lemon slice and/or fresh herb sprig if you’d like. Or refrigerate in a sealed pitcher for up to 1 week.
*Lemons: I used about 8 large lemons, in order to yield 1.5 cups of juice. But the size and juiciness of lemons can vary widely, so I vote bring home a few extra lemons just in case. Feel free to also add in the zest of one lemon, if you would like to add a bit of tartness.
*Honey Simple Syrup: To make honey simple syrup, combine equal parts water and honey in a small saucepan and heat until the mixture reaches a simmer. Stir until the honey is dissolved. Then remove from heat and add your desired amount to the lemonade mixture.