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The Best Lemonade You've Ever Had

By • July 3, 2013 • 81 Comments

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A deeply ingrained love of lemonade starts in childhood. Something about scrawling “Lemonade” on a poster board, throwing together a makeshift stand, and pestering each passing car to buy a cup of hand-squeezed lemonade carves out a special place in our hearts for this beverage. There’s nothing like sipping lip-pursing, icy-cool lemonade -- preferably through a striped straw -- to bring back memories of carefree afternoons and summer sunshine. 

More: Your other childhood favorites, all grown up. 

In this video, our editor Kenzi shares a trick for the ultimate glass of tart, sweet lemonade. The secret comes before the lemons are even juiced. By rubbing whole lemons in raw cane sugar, you'll release the fragrant juices of their skins and perfume the sugar with a lemon scent. Then, use that same sugar as a sweetener to infuse the whole drink with an intense lemon flavor. 

Video shot and produced by Todd Coleman.

What's your favorite way to make lemonade? Let us know in the comments!

Jump to Comments (81)

Tags: lemonade, beverages, drinks, booze-free drinks, summer, lemons, video, video

Comments (81)

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11 months ago robyn ann

nothing scientific, other than what i have read about microwaves kill off nutrients and we are working with a RAW product that is full of delicate enzymes that are destroyed by heat. So whenever something is raw I like to get all the benefits of the raw food. Because I eat totally organic I never use a microwave to reheat anything, I guess I am a food purist and I prefer fire to heat food with fire not microwaves!

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11 months ago robyn ann

I recommend never using a microwave for anything ever.

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11 months ago seiganjo

Any particular reason for this?

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11 months ago seiganjo

To get more juice out of the lemon, put your lemon some time in the microwave!!

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11 months ago Laura Gabriela

me,i make a much better lemonade...i cook the lemon peel in water with sugar and aroma is just -wow.....and i put honey and sugar...and in the end i put a little peppermint....

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about 1 year ago JulieBee

I've made this a few times as a lemon syrup, instead of a lemonade, by going light on the water,and I use it to sweeten ice tea. It's delish!

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about 1 year ago Dana Staves

Easily the best lemonade I've ever had, using this recipe. So glad I found it here.

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about 1 year ago sswan

So did anyone ever get the recipe? In general, how much of what kind of sugar, these lemons looked like Eureka. How much water? How many lemons?

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over 1 year ago jeanette godl

Nice video but it would have been nice it you would also print a recipe

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over 1 year ago heyadelaide

the ratio that I always use for lemonade is 1:1:5. 1 part L lemon juice, 1 part sugar, 5 parts water. this has always made the most delicious lemonade, it is on the tart side so you can add more sugar to taste b ut it's a good starting point

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over 1 year ago ashk

I did this and it made a mess, but I didn't notice that the lemonade was any better.

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over 1 year ago DPagano

what are the measurements?

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over 1 year ago SkiGrrl

It all depends on how much lemonade you want to make! (Also - on what size lemons you've got!) The last time I did this I used about 8 large lemons and 1 cup of light cane sugar. I tend to make a very strong batch and then lighten it to taste.

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over 1 year ago DPagano

thank you

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over 1 year ago SkiGrrl

For those doing the lemon-rolling routine: use a microwave-safe oblong dish, put a layer of rough sugar on the bottom. Put lemons on top of sugar, zap for 10 seconds. Remove from microwave, take lemons out of dish, add more sugar, then roll each lemon in the sugar one at a time. You get the easily released oils/juices from zapping, but haven't lost any to the microwave. Then you get all the benefits of sugaring the rinds and rolling the lemons. Then slice thinly and muddle or just juice them.

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over 1 year ago Celia Bouchard

I was in the Middle East recently (Egypt and Jordan). I fell in love with a drink that was called lemon mint. Add a big handful of finely chopped mint leaves to your lemonade -- very refreshing. Since I've been back I've made several pitchers and in one I used half and half lime and lemon juice.

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over 1 year ago SaucyCuisine

I've made a couple of batches this week. The first was so good that everyone wanted more. I thinly peeled the limes and mixed them with the sugar to extract the lime oil. So refreshing.

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over 1 year ago The Cooking of Joy

I've been making this all week with vanilla sugar and just tried it with mint, too! http://the-cooking-of-joy...

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over 1 year ago robyn ann

I think adding mint is a great idea!

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over 1 year ago DonnaHallelujah

Sounds like Summer!! :)

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over 1 year ago Cheri

I add crushed mint leaves to my lemonade. I've used various mixes of spearmint, pineapple mint, citrus mint, and pineapple sage. Makes a "fruity" tasting drink.

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over 1 year ago laurelei235

In one of Marcia Adam's books, she has an Amish recipe for lemonade. Zest the lemons with a vegetable peeler (no pith, please), and muddle (pound) with the sugar. Then add the juice and water. Pretty yummy.

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over 1 year ago robyn ann

what you are missing is the point of the video it was about am idea~an interesting new step to make lemonade the measurements are not the point different sugars are sweeter than others,some lemons have more juice than others.

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over 1 year ago Missy Kitchell

Lovely video ... I just wrote a story about Lemonade. Now I need to make some. Great idea to infuse the sugar with the lemon scent. Thanks!

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over 1 year ago JulieBee

This video is gorgeous but I can't find the actual recipe for measurements...am I missing something?

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over 1 year ago robyn ann

Lovely video! We are all good cook on this site, so lets be nice of course we use organic everything! Of course we all can decide what proportions of water, sugar and lemons. The advice she gave was great, rubbing the lemon skin in sugar was a great tip. thanks for sharing!

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over 1 year ago walkie74

Wonder if this will work with artificial sweeteners? I don't know if Splenda is abrasive enough to get the peel roughened up. Maybe I could use a microplane and add the zest to the sweetener, then make a simple syrup and strain?

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over 1 year ago LindsayC77

YUM. I have been craving lemonade on the daily this summer. Thank you for this lovely video!

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over 1 year ago soleilnyc

You guys may have shot yourselves in the foot with this title. "The Best Lemonade You've Ever Had" is a pretty absolute thing to be claiming when what you mean is "Better Lemonade Than The Way You'd Always Done It But Using Your Own Recipe". It doesn't come across as a tip, it comes across as a promise and, as users of Food52, we have come to expect details and explanations. Chalk it up to raised expectations.

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over 1 year ago Loren Jones

Great Video..love the music and preferred to have the ingredients as an option.

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over 1 year ago Heather

I guess I'm missing something! How many lemons, water and sugar?!

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over 1 year ago Emma Wartzman

Read all the comments below!

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over 1 year ago SaucyCuisine

Here's a LOL (Lemon. Orange, Lime) Lemonade with a citrus twist. The lemon oil in the peels enhances the lemon flavor.
http://www.saucycuisine...

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over 1 year ago Layne

Adding the lemon peel won't give you the same result because you are adding the bitter pith when addin the peel. Shortcuts can ruin a recipe.

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over 1 year ago DonnaHallelujah

No Layne, I don't add the white, I just thinly take off the peel of the fruit. I would never ruin a recipe. :) I've been cooking for over 50 years and am from a long line of great cooks and restauranteurs.

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over 1 year ago Layne

So you meant the "zest" and not the "peel" as you stated? You learn something new every day, eh?

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over 1 year ago DonnaHallelujah

I just add lemon peel to my pitcher of lemonade with the juice from the lemons and let it sit and get wonderful. Same result, less work. LOL Motto!

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over 1 year ago kathy antrim

How many lemons? How much sugar? How much water? For how much lemonade?

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over 1 year ago motto

As much as it takes for as much as you need

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over 1 year ago Heather

That's my question too Kathy!
I'm just looking for the ratios!

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over 1 year ago motto

Oi...the kvetshn instead of makin lemonade...just go play with the sugar and lemons already

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over 1 year ago DonnaHallelujah

LOL! :))

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over 1 year ago Elaine Sabih

The simplest recipe of all is: 1 part lemon juice, 1 part sugar and 4 parts water.

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over 1 year ago patricia melody

THANK YOU THE MOST INFORMATIVE PART OF THE RECIPE, ALTHOUGH THE RUBBING OF THE LEMONS IN THE SUGAR WAS NOT BAD

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over 1 year ago Darlene PThierman

I add vanilla to my lemonade.

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over 1 year ago Cdel

Try mixing your cup of lemon with some rhubarb juice (3-4 stalks with 2C water, 1/2 sugar or more depending on taste. simmer for 20 min. and strain juice through cheese cloth). Add more sweetner if you like, 2 cups seltzer and enjoy a great new lemonade. Great alternative to gin and tonic and a good way to use up plentiful rhubarb from your garden.

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over 1 year ago John Komdat

This is supposed to be a recipe for lemonade but it doesn't have any quantities?
If this happens again, I'm saying bye-bye.

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over 1 year ago Emma Wartzman

It's meant to be a tip for your favorite lemonade recipe -- to rub the outside peel in sugar and then apply that to whatever proportions you like best!

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over 1 year ago Emma Wartzman

You can see, though, exactly what we did in the comments below. 1 part water to 1 part sugar for the simple syrup, and then 1 part simple syrup to 1 part lemon juice (with added water to taste).

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over 1 year ago Carol

Love the music also!!

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over 1 year ago tastysweet

I read below but would still prefer proportions. I normally use 1 Cup Leon juice with 3/4 c sugar to 1/3 c water(simple syrup). Then 3 cups cold water. Then I can alter that if need be. Would like your proportions that you used exactly for this video.

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over 1 year ago tastysweet

Where is the actual recipe for this? Am I missing it somewhere?

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over 1 year ago Emma Wartzman

Not missing it! It's meant to be just a tip -- to rub the outside peel of the lemon in sugar -- applied to whatever lemonade recipe you like best!

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over 1 year ago jan

My Somali friends make an entire blender carafe full of lemonade with one lemon because they blend it up and then add water and sugar. Pour over ice = Very delicious (and takes way fewer lemons).

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over 1 year ago jan

Obviously, this recipe is only for organic lemons. That's the kind we're all supposed to be using anyway.

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over 1 year ago Tim G.

It's all the pesticides that make it taste do good! ;)
PLEASE only do this with organic lemons. Please!

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over 1 year ago Jnehama

Agreed. See reply below

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over 1 year ago Joan - Downstairs

Nice. The same effect as using lemon zest without the little bits floating in the lemonade. I'll make the concentrate to keep in the refrigerator to mix with still or sparkling water as the afternoon progresses.
Thanks.

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over 1 year ago gina graff

As sold at the Brattleboro Vermont farmers market on Saturdays -- forget the simple syrup, forget the gritty raw sugar, forget the honey that gets hard to stir in an iced drink.

Sweeten with maple syrup. Just put a pitcher on the table. A sprig of freshly picked mint or lemon verbena is nice.

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over 1 year ago Lou Bourque

I love Brattleboro, Lived in West Dover.

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over 1 year ago sam.frankelli

Looks great! Cannot wait to try this.

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over 1 year ago Frances Peets

Made it using visual proportions - chopped my ice up in a blender - poured the cooled simple sugar/lemon mixture into the blender (of chopped ice) and then into the pitcher. Must drink it with a straw. It tastes best that way. Yes it was simply amazing to enjoy on a hot, hot day. Great video. I made it immediately after watching. Enjoyed the music too!

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over 1 year ago Frances Peets

Are the lemons washed first and if so does it effect the oils releasing and why raw cane sugar - just curious. Thanks.

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over 1 year ago Jnehama

I use Organic lemons and I wash them. Here are the amounts:
INGREDIENTS
10 - 12 medium lemons, scrubbed well, halved pole to pole, all halves sliced thin
1 1/4cups granulated sugar
pinch table salt (optional)
5cups water (cold)
INSTRUCTIONS
Mash lemons and sugar (and salt, if using) in large, deep bowl or saucepan with potato masher or wooden spoon until lemon slices give up their juice, sugar is dissolved, and juice is thickened to syrup consistency, about 4 minutes. Pour half the lemon slices and syrup through large sieve over bowl or saucepan; press on solids with masher or back of wooden spoon to release as much liquid as possible. Discard solids; transfer liquid to serving pitcher. Repeat process with remaining lemon slices. Stir in water until blended. Chill well and stir to blend before serving, over ice if desired.

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over 1 year ago LauriL

It's 94 today and I am sooo trying this!! Looks so refreshing and easy!

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over 1 year ago Jnehama

There's a great Cooks Illustrated Lemonade Recipe that uses the same idea. You slice all the Lemons very thin and combine them with the sugar. Let them macerated for 10-15minutes and mash with a potato masher. Pour off all the sweetened lemon juice and dilute 1:1 with cold water and pour over ice. Really spectacular. Search their site for exact amounts.

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over 1 year ago Christopher Bailey

So if I understand correctly, one part perfumed sugar/one part hot water for the simple syrup, then after you have the simple syrup it's one part simple syrup/one part lemon juice?

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over 1 year ago Emma Wartzman

Yep, you got it! And then we added water to taste to our liking after.

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over 1 year ago Christopher Bailey

Great, thanks!

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over 1 year ago Dorisde

your face sprechen seth something else, ?

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over 1 year ago Zuberi

How much sugar and ice do you need?

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over 1 year ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

We used a simple syrup with a 1:1 (sugar:water) ratio. Ice amount is totally your call.

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over 1 year ago Ann-Marie D. Nguyen-Shavurova

Is it possible to get more precise proportions - how much sugar in the simple syrup, water, etc?

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over 1 year ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

See my comment below!

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over 1 year ago Barb Casey Goiran

I zap citrus fruits in the microwave for 10-20 seconds before I juice them. It results in almost 2x the juice you'd normally get and releases the oils from the skin a bit. I'd do that before rubbing the sugar and rolling the lemons.

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over 1 year ago Carla Said

Great video. Who did the background music?

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over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

A friend of ours. Thanks!

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over 1 year ago chairmanhu

This is similar to oleo-saccharum per David Wondrich. http://drinks.seriouseats...

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over 1 year ago sygyzy

Or, you can grate the lemon peel into the pot with the sugar and water, dissolve the sugar, and let it steep (cool down) then strain.

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over 1 year ago OmniumGatherum

proportions please...

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over 1 year ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

This trick (rubbing cane sugar on the outside of your lemons) can be applied to your favorite lemonade recipe, whatever the proportions! That's the beauty of it. Here, though, our simple syrup was 1:1 (perfumed sugar:water), and then we added equal parts lemon juice to the syrup. After that, we just added water to taste.