Limeade, when properly made, is supposed to be a little more tart than sweet. And that’s exactly what you’ll find in this easy rendition made with fresh lime juice, sugar or agave nectar, water, and not a lot else. No preservatives. No artificial sweeteners. No chemicals of any sort. Just old-fashioned puckery perfection.

A pitcher and two glasses of limeade on a colorful platter with a linen napkin on the side.


4.67 / 3 votes
This limeade is simple to make with no refined sugar or added preservatives. Just simple, refreshing goodness.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories68 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes


  • 4 cups cold water
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup or 2 tablespoons superfine sugar dissolved in a little hot water, or more to taste
  • 2 smallish lemons, preferably organic, scrubbed and halved
  • 4 smallish limes, preferably organic, scrubbed and halved
  • Ice


  • Pour the water into a pitcher, add the agave syrup or sugar mixture, and mix well.
  • Squeeze the juice from the lemons and limes into the pitcher, reserving the spent citrus halves. Taste and, if desired, add agave syrup or sugar according to taste.
  • If desired, slice 2 squeezed lemon halves and 4 squeezed lime halves in half again (by our count, that makes 12 wedges) and toss them in the pitcher.
  • Serve over ice.
Real Mexican Food Cookbook

Adapted From

Real Mexican Food

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 68 kcalCarbohydrates: 20 gProtein: 1 gFat: 0.3 gSaturated Fat: 0.04 gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.02 gSodium: 15 mgFiber: 3 gSugar: 10 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2012 Felipe Fuentes Cruz | Ben Fordham. Photo © 2012 Peter Cassidy. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Cannot wait for the warm weather to come so that I can always have a pitcher of limeade at the ready. The first time I made this as per the recipe instructions; for the second batch I omitted the agave. My advice is to allow each person to add however much agave he or she wants straight into that cup. I actually prefer it without, as it’s so very refreshing and has a nice bitter taste, which makes it that much more of a thirst quencher but not so overly bitter that it hurts your palette. My older daughter, who of course liked it with the agave, actually decided to blend it all and created a slushy. I tried it and thought it was genius! Another idea is to add orange slices, which will lend some sweetness.

I expected this to be a subtle, citrus-flavored water, but the amount of citrus specified packed quite a punch. This bold flavor actually worked nicely for an iced drink that inevitably gets watered down as it sits and the ice melts. I really enjoyed this recipe, and I expect to make it often this summer. I used superfine sugar instead of agave syrup because I didn’t have any on hand and it turned out wonderfully. I actually think honey would work well, too, and plan to try that in the future. The second time I made this I tried it with sparkling water instead of still and I liked that quite a bit, too.

I was excited to make this recipe because my children love fresh lemonade and limeade. I think my lemons and limes were all a little on the large size and the recipe said to squeeze them into the pitcher but I SQUEEZED them maybe a little too much (I ended up with 1 1/4 cups lemon/lime juice and pulp) because the taste was sooo tart. I added more and more sugar until we thought it tasted perfect, which ended up being about 1/2 cup more sugar, I’m a little embarrassed to say. The ratio of lemon to lime was perfect, though, and the final product was wonderful.

A very easy and VERY refreshing drink. It takes but a couple of minutes to make and is far better than any similar concoction you’ll find at your grocery store. I used granulated sugar, which in my experience dissolves nicely in fluid. I wanted the limeade a bit sweeter so I added some Splenda and it was perfect. Of course, the mix of lemon and lime wedges floating in a glass pitcher of limeade is quite pretty.

For those who like a tart lemon-lime drink, this recipe is for you. My husband likes lemonade in the summer but finds commercial lemonades and limeades too sweet. When I prepare one from a recipe, I always have to cut back on the sugar in the simple syrup, and even then the result is sometimes too sweet. This recipe has no simple syrup, just enough agave syrup to add a little sweetness to the citrus. We both enjoyed it, and it’s very quick and easy to make. I can see us keeping a pitcher of this limeade in the refrigerator throughout the summer. My lemons were juicier than my limes, though I did my best pounding the limes on the counter to get more juice out. I think this might be better with a volume measure than per piece. I typically expect 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon and 1 tablespoon from each lime, which would mean these would have had the same amount of juice from each fruit. Since I didn’t measure, I don’t know, but it seemed as though there was more lemon juice. It was good when just prepared and still tasted fine after 6 or 7 hours, but when the rest of it was consumed about 24 hours after it was first made, the lemon and lime pieces had imparted a bitter flavor to the drink. If this is going to be kept for later consumption, the pieces of fruit need to be removed after a while to maintain the quality.

A simple recipe but so good! I made this limeade on the only springlike day this year. We’d been trying to get caught up on unfinished yard work from last fall, and this was the perfect pick-me-up drink. I think the agave syrup gives it a smoother taste than sugar. I used the lighter agave syrup, because I was afraid the darker would give it an off color. I’d like to try this with gin, vodka, rum, or tequila, maybe making some adjustment with the lime/lemon ratio. I’m also thinking that a dry white wine would be nice in this, of course with some adjustment on the citrus and agave.

For any citrus lover, this limeade will hit the right spots. Light, refreshing, easy to make, with a welcome edge of bitterness. I’ve always thought limeade would be too abrasive and so have shied away from it. The lemons balance out that harshness. I agree the agave adds a depth of flavor, but I used both agave and sugar. I had the kids asking for more…and I obliged.

Nothing is better than a tall glass of ice cold limeade to quench your thirst on a warm spring day. This limeade lived up to its expectations! It was simple to assemble and uses ingredients often kept on hand. I found that I did need to add some extra sugar though, as my lemons and limes were quite tart. You might want to give a range for the amount of sugar. I also felt compelled to extract as much pulp as possible to add a little extra citrusy flavor. While the thought crossed my mind, I resisted the urge to mix in a little tequila, but wouldn’t that be good? Margaritas, anyone?

This limeade was a tangy treat! I didn’t expect so much flavor out of such simple ingredients, but boy was I pleasantly surprised. This would make a great refreshment on a hot day or a wonderful base for a cocktail if you wanted to fire it up a bit. The small amount of sugar was just enough to tame the tanginess but leave a wonderful lime flavor. Drink up!

It’s well worth the investment of 10 minutes to make this delicious and refreshing agua fresca. I used a simple syrup made with granulated sugar. The limeade was a bit too tart for me and so I added another 2 tablespoons sugar dissolved in hot water, which perfectly balanced the tartness of the lemons and limes. This drink tastes best when it’s very cold, so be sure to serve it with lots of ice.

Refreshing, tasty, easy, lovely…keep this recipe on hand for picnics, barbecues, Mexican fiestas, potlucks, or anytime lemonade would fit the bill. Limeade is a little more interesting and a little less expected. I liked the directions for this recipe right from the get-go, measured by pieces of fruit, not by amount of juice, with no attention paid to any of the questions another recipe writer might ask: How big should the lime be? The lemon? Should the pulp be strained out from the juice? How many cups/spoons of juice? Instead, just take the fruit, squeeze, and mix—the 10-minute time estimate is generous; in fact, doing the few dishes that get dirtied will take longer than making the limeade. Since I’m not a big ice fan, I used extra cold water and drank it without ice. And I used agave syrup, which I prefer over sugar. I like its dark undertones and thought it’d work well here. It did, as the limeade wasn’t at all too sweet; for my personal taste it was perfectly tart, and for the rest of Americans, this’d likely be much too tart to enjoy with the amount of agave syrup per the recipe. Making it for others, I’d likely double (or more!) the agave syrup, though this may not hold true for the superfine sugar option.

This is a very refreshing limeade I think we’ll enjoy all summer. I used the agave syrup since I had some on hand. We didn’t think it made it sweet enough so I also added some simple syrup I had in the fridge. This was delicious served immediately over ice, but became a little bitter after sitting in the fridge for a while. I think the bitterness may’ve been caused by the lemon and lime quarters that were added to the pitcher. Next time I think I’ll just omit those.

Simple and refreshing is the best way to describe this limeade. I used the agave syrup recommended in the recipe and the flavor wasn’t overly sweet or too tart. It was nice not to have to stir and stir to dissolve sugar. This was so tasty that there was none left after lunch. I’ll make this again frequently. Apparently adding a little vodka or gin wouldn’t hurt either, but I prefer it au naturel.

Perfection for hot weather. Nothing more really needs to be said. A nice citrusy drink that isn’t too sweet (although, of course, you can add more agave syrup/sugar if you do want it sweeter). Simple to make—there’s no reason to not always have this in your fridge during the hotter months. To clarify a bit—while you juice all the lemons and limes for the recipe, you only add half the actual wedges to the drink (for a bit of extra flavor and because it just looks better).

What can I say about this recipe? It’s easy, very tart, and extremely refreshing. I loved it.

Very easy, quick, and refreshing. I made it and let it sit in the fridge for about an hour, then served it over ice. I liked it the way it was. Wife and kids added some extra sugar. I can imagine it’s even better on a hot summer day. Worked perfect with the simple and delicious enchiladas I made. I used granulated sugar, pulsed a couple times in the (clean) spice grinder. Next time, I’ll try it with the agave syrup.

I recommend this recipe not because it’s the best beverage you’ll ever serve, but because it’s a nice, fresh addition to your beverage recipe arsenal, especially for the summer. It has a fresh, interesting taste and presents very nicely visually. It’s a very simple recipe to make.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. I do this same recipe except instead of water, I fill the pitcher with ice and then use my immersion blender to make a sort of smoothie…perfect for hot or cold weather 😉 You could use a stand blender, too, but I prefer the quick cleanup of my hand-held immersion blender.

    1. Margie B, brilliant! I feel an instant affinity for you….can’t thank you enough for sharing this savvy tactic.

  2. 5 stars
    Augas frescas of Mexico are wonderful. This is one of my favorites. For something a little different add a handful of fresh strawberries and a little orange juice.

    1. Ah, yes. Many thanks, Sandra, although We dare say even plain, unflavored vodka would work terribly well in that capacity! Or a nice silver tequila?!