One of the loveliest things about this homemade lemonade recipe—and there are many such things, including it being easy, elegant, and eminently giftable—is your ability to emphasize whatever qualities you most love in it. Like it tart? Use a light touch with the sugar. Like it fizzy? Swap tap water for seltzer. The one constant in the sweetly tart concoction is its ability to instantly summon summers gone by. Talk about a soulful sipper.–David Leite

Homemade Lemonade FAQs

How long does homemade lemonade syrup last?

This homemade lemonade syrup, or concentrate, will last for several weeks in your fridge if stored in a sterilized container. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered on sterilization in the instructions. Who loves you?

How can I use this lemonade in a cocktail?

Lemonade cocktails are fantastic summer sippers. Simply prepare the lemonade as directed and add 1 to 2 ounces of gin or vodka, depending on your preference. Garnish with a lemon wedge and mint sprig.

A glass bottle filled with homemade lemonade syrup, a bowl of lemons, and two glasses on a wooden table.

Homemade Lemonade

5 / 7 votes
This homemade lemonade recipe is made with a concentrated syrup that you keep on hand and then dilute as desired. It requires only lemons, sugar, and water, and is easy as can be. Here's how to make it.
David Leite
Servings16 servings
Calories116 kcal
Prep Time45 minutes
Cool15 minutes
Total Time1 hour


  • Large glass bottle with a stopper


For the concentrated lemonade syrup

  • 10 unwaxed lemons, preferably organic
  • 2 cups sugar, (any kind of sugar will do but the folks at Pitt Cue Co. use light brown sugar)
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water

For the lemonade

  • 1 part concentrated lemonade syrup
  • 3 parts cold water, or more, (you can use chilled seltzer if you like)
  • Ice, (optional)


Make the concentrated lemonade syrup

  • Remove the zest but not the underlying white pith from the lemons using a paring knife, vegetable peeler, or zester. [Editor's Note: This may amount to more zest than you've ever seen in a single place. That's okay.] Then juice the lemons. You'll probably end up with about 1 1/2 cups juice.
  • Place all the zest and juice in a saucepan, add the sugar and water, and heat slowly over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved. The liquid should approach boiling but should not actually boil.
  • Remove the pan from the heat. Strain the mixture and discard the lemon zest and any seeds. You should have about 4 cups concentrated lemonade syrup. Let it cool slightly.
  • Meanwhile, sterilize a large glass bottle and its stopper however you choose. (The authors like to thoroughly wash and dry the bottle, place it in a cold oven, and heat it to 320°F. After 20 minutes, they turn the oven off and let the jars cool slightly.)
  • Pour the warm lemonade syrup into the bottle and let it cool. Cover the bottle and stash it in the fridge until it’s chilled through and up to several weeks.

Make the lemonade

  • For each serving, stir together 1 part concentrated lemonade syrup with 3 to 4 parts cold water. (We like to use 1/4 cup lemonade syrup and 3/4 cup cold water per serving.) If desired, serve over ice. Sip and sigh.
Pitt Cue Co. Cookbook

Adapted From

Pitt Cue Co.: The Cookbook

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Serving: 1 (8 oz) glassfullCalories: 116 kcalCarbohydrates: 31 gProtein: 1 gFat: 1 gSaturated Fat: 1 gSodium: 3 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 27 g

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2014 Pitt Cue Co.. Photo © 2014 Paul Winch-Furness. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This homemade lemonade is summer in a glass—tart, sweet, and crisp. The lemonade syrup is just the right blend of sour, sweet, and a hint of bitter. I love the idea of having a stash of lemonade concentrate in the fridge ready for me to make lemonade at a moment’s notice. And the entire house smelled amazing after all that zesting.

The zesting and juicing took time and seemed quite daunting. I wanted an electric juicer about halfway through! I ended up with a mountain of zest—probably over 1/2 cup, which is more lemon zest than I’ve ever seen in a single place. I also had a mountain of dishes when I finished—the juicer, cutting board, saucepan, mesh strainer, bowl, and funnel. And it was all sticky. In the end, though, it was worth it to make a few week’s worth of lemonade concentrate.

Next time I’ll make the lemonade syrup when I have help, both with the preparation and the cleanup!

I used 1/4 cup lemonade syrup to 3/4 cup cold water to make each glass. The recipe yielded 16 servings.

Everyone loved this lemonade. It’s easy to make and refreshing to drink. This was the first beverage to disappear at the table. The kids loved it, saying it tasted like a melted lemon chill.

My lemon juice measured 3 cups and I only added 9 cups of water because we like our lemonade tart. This gave us 12 one-cup servings, which was just right after you added a little ice to the glass. I didn’t put the lemonade syrup in a jar because we used the whole amount in one day. I used granulated sugar since I was out of brown sugar, but I’ll try the recipe again with the brown sugar to see the difference. I also want to try the gin version.

The perfect addition to your summer fridge. This is an extremely versatile concentrated lemonade syrup to have on hand at all times to make a quick glass of sweet-tart lemonade for yourself, a pitcher of lemonade for unexpected guests, or a yummy mixed drink with a few alcoholic additions.

The lemonade syrup is easy to make, but it does take about 20 minutes to zest and juice all the lemons by hand. I used organic cane sugar rather than light brown sugar with great results.

This is such a great make-ahead homeamde lemonade recipe for summer cookouts!

Hands-on time, it probably ​took​ 15​ ​to ​20 minutes to zest and juice all the lemons and to get the rest of the ingredients together. All in al​l​, ​this took about 30 minutes from start to bottling.​ ​I will say that I wouldn’t​ have thought of using brown sugar with the lemon juice, but it adds a little richness that you wouldn’t normally get with normal lemonade.

For a pint glass of lemonade, I’d probably use 1 ​1/2 to 2 ounces syrup mixed with​ the​ still or sparkling water. ​It’​s bright and tart and sweet and just perfect for this time of year.

With a homemade lemonade recipe like this​, ​​there’s always room to play around with the flavoring as well (herbs, spices, etc.).​ It’s a great ​thing to have in the arsenal.​ A summer fridge staple. And talk about ​ the​ perfect impromptu cocktail mixer. The variations described in the recipe look delicious. ​However​,​ this week I found myself out of St. Germain and Cointreau (time to restock!)​.

This homemade lemonade recipe is definitely a keeper. As my grandkids said when I served it, “DELISH!” I’ll certainly be making this lemonade often this summer.

I have a friend who grows lemons commercially, so when she brings me quantities of lemons, I zest and juice them and freeze them for another day. I don’t know how long it takes to juice and zest the lemons, but however long it is, it’s worth it. I used the equivalent of 1 tablespoon zest and 4 tablespoons juice for 1 lemon. I used soft light brown sugar as the recipe stated.

I didn’t strain the mixture; instead, I just discarded the seeds since we like the zest in our lemonade. I sterilized the jar in the oven as the author recommended, although I usually sterilize it in my dishwasher. Then I refrigerated the syrup when it was cool enough.

In less than 15 minutes, it’s possible to have a most delicious, citrusy, refreshing homemade lemonade. Because I’m going away and needed to clean out my fridge, I made 1/4 recipe using 2 1/2 lemons, 3 ounces water, and 1/4 cup sugar. Those ingredients resulted in about 2/3 cup lemon syrup. Thus far I’ve had 4 servings of lemonade and have a few more left.

That being said, I’d probably use less syrup in my beverage than the recipe suggests. I think I used about a 1:6 ratio since I don’t like my drinks to be too sweet. I’ve been drinking the lemonade with plain seltzer and have found it to be very refreshing and far better than most lemonades I’ve made in the past.

I have to admit, I didn’t sterilize the bottle. I just poured the lemonade into a bottle that had been washed in the dishwasher. If I was keeping the lemonade for longer than a few days, I might add this additional step. But for my purposes, it seemed unnecessary.

I love this. Lemonade syrup at the ready whenever you need it! The process from start to finish (not including cooking time) took 45 minutes, but during that time I also checked my email, made my daughter’s lunch for school the next day, and washed the (few) dishes.

My 10 lemons yielded 2 cups juice, and the finished recipe 4 cups syrup. I used 3 parts water to 1 part syrup, and this was perfect. You should get 12 to 16 glasses of lemonade from the recipe. I can think of many uses for this and will certainly make this again to have in my fridge at all times this summer.

Success the first time I made this recipe! I love having access to a syrup that I can add to my glass of water each day. I made one batch of syrup for a gathering and it served 12 guests. I used half brown sugar and half white sugar and the color looked similar to iced tea. It was difficult to detect that it was lemonade, but it tasted lovely and I’ll make it again.

I picked up a great lemon zester with a wide base made by Zyliss. It zested the lemons very quickly because of the zester’s large surface area compared to my long, skinny Zyliss microplane zester. I didn’t sterilize a pretty vessel for lack of time; instead, I just poured the syrup into a large 4-cup glass measuring cup, covered it with plastic wrap, and popped it into the fridge. Later I measured 1 part syrup to 3 parts water and refrigerated that in a pitcher and, when I was ready to serve guests, I added 1 part ice. It tasted great and was nice and cold. I didn’t need a lot of extra ice since the water and the syrup was already mixed together and cold.

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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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    A few ice cubes, a couple of mint leaves, some added water and I was enjoying a wonderfully refreshing summer drink. I love that I can store this elixir in a smallish container in my refrigerator then expand it to satisfy many thirsty people. It is sweet. It is tart. It is refreshing. I can never drink store-bought lemonade again.

  2. I love your recipes (delicious, clear, and generous). Even more, I love the graciousness, respect, and kindness with which you treat all your readers (especially novices).

    THANKS for both and everything!!