Old-Fashioned Lemonade

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A Southern staple every summertime alongside iced tea, all you need is three ingredients (water, sugar, and lemon juice) to make this refreshingly sweet old-fashioned lemonade recipe.

Old-Fashioned Lemonade

This old-fashioned lemonade recipe makes homemade lemonade without all the mess but with all the flavor. Now, whenever you see old-fashioned homemade lemonade where I’m from, it’s usually served out of an old pickle jar and stirred with a stick! Homemade lemonade is a staple in the South for summertime, along with iced tea. It’s pretty served with a slice of lemon on the side (if you have it) and that also allows those who like it a little more tart to customize things a bit.

There is nothing like a glass of old-fashioned lemonade on a hot summer day, as it’s the perfect blend of sweet and tart. Plus, all you need is three ingredients: water, sugar, and lemon juice. You just need to dissolve the sugar in the water over heat and combine it with cold water and lemon juice. This is such a quick and easy old-fashioned lemonade recipe that I just know your family will ask for it again and again this summer! It’s so refreshing and smooth-tasting.

And remember, life may be full of lemons but when you take those lemons and have the wisdom to know what to add, they sure do make for some delicious days.

Now let’s make ourselves some lemonade.

Old Fashioned Lemonade ingredients.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Lemon juice
  • Granulated sugar
  • Water

How to Make Old-Fashioned Lemonade

Dissolve sugar in water over heat.

First, place a cup of water and your sugar in a medium saucepot. Bring this to boil (or close) over medium to medium-high heat while stirring constantly.

I’m not kidding about stirring constantly because if you don’t your sugar will scorch and your lemonade will be bitter. We do not want that!

Once all of the sugar is dissolved it will become clear again. At this point, you can take it off of the heat.

A lot of people will tell you that this needs to cool before making the lemonade but we don’t have that kind of time. 

I mean, have you seen my house lately? No, no you haven’t. And there is a reason for that. But I digress…

The main reason for cooling it is that if you are mixing it up in a glass pitcher and pour the hot syrup in, it might cause the glass to break.

We just get around that by adding a few inches of cold water to our pitcher first, then the lemon juice, then the sugar syrup, and give it a good stir. From there, add enough cold water to fill your pitcher, and VOILA! 

Old Fashioned Lemonade

See how easy it was to take something sour and make it sweet? Life lesson there. 

Drink up and enjoy your delicious homemade lemonade!


Store leftover lemonade in its pitcher in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Recipe Notes

  • If you woke up with it on your heart this morning to juice fresh lemons, please do so. You will need between 6 and 8 fresh lemons to make this amount of lemon juice. If you decide to make this old-fashioned lemonade with bottled juice like I do and have one of those friends who looks down their noses at it because you didn’t use fresh lemons, tell them you were trying to help the bottled juice recover from the cruel rejection suffered at their hands. It’s all about balance :). 
  • If you use fresh lemons, let them stand at room temperature and roll them on a counter while pushing down firmly. This will make them easier to juice.
  • For a tropical touch, garnish your lemonade glass with a lemon wedge, mint sprigs, or a cherry.
  • To turn homemade lemonade into a cocktail, add a shot of vodka.
  • For a stronger lemon flavor, you can add 1 tablespoon of grated lemon zest or the lemon rind from 1 lemon to the simple syrup. Remove the rind before pouring it into the pitcher.
  • Check out these different variations:
    • For limeade, simply swap the lemon juice for lime juice.
    • For lavender lemonade, add 2 tablespoons of dried lavender to the sugar water mixture and strain before adding it to the pitcher.
    • Alternatively, make strawberry lemonade by adding two tablespoons of fresh strawberry puree to the pitcher and stirring well.
    • For sparkling old-fashioned lemonade, substitute the cold water in the pitcher for cold sparkling water.

You might also enjoy these other delicious homemade drink recipes:

Tropical Pink: A Non-Alcoholic Fun Fruity Drink For Summer

How to Make Cold Brew at Home

Watermelonade Recipe

Cherry Limeade

Fresh StrawberryAde

Delicious Party Punch

Homemade lemonade (game day drinks).

Old-Fashioned Lemonade

A Southern staple, all you need is three ingredients (water, sugar, and lemon juice) to make this refreshingly sweet old-fashioned lemonade recipe.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: lemonade
Servings: 4
Calories: 145kcal


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups lemon juice


  • Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until all sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear.
    1 cup water, 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • Fill a 2-quart pitcher with cold water to a depth of 2-3 inches. Add lemon juice and sugar syrup. Stir. Add enough water to fill the pitcher the remainder of the way. Serve over ice and store any remaining lemonade in the fridge.
    1 1/2 cups lemon juice


Calories: 145kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!


“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy that makes happiness.”

~Charles Spurgeon

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  1. Hi Christy,

    Thank-you so much for the recipe, I just printed it off. I know this is going to sound silly but how do you make pink lemonade?

  2. Hi, love “real lemonade”. I am going to try it this way, I have never made it like this before. Now, as for the topic of the day…lol, I totally agree with Ruth Duncans’ comment… ” No one ever has it all together, some of us are just better at pretending”. Yes it sure does seem like that and maybe I am even jealous sometimes, and yes I admit it at least. I guess it just seem like some people just don’t deserve it and others work their butts off , well you know what I am getting at I think. Anyway, I am going to make some delicious lemonade. Have a fantastic day.

  3. I love lemonade and have no problem using jarred lemon juice. Will Splenda hold up with boiling it? I try using it whenever possible.

    1. OH absolutely!!! I’m glad you reminded me so I can go put that in the recipe. I usually use Splenda when it is something I will be drinking, too! You wouldn’t have to get the water as hot, as a matter of fact warm water will probably do, depending on the sweetener you use. Splenda dissolves pretty easily. The main thing is that you want your water to be clear, so you know all the sweetener has dissolved 🙂

  4. Hi Christy,

    I love lemonade, and I used bottled lemon juice too!

    Just this very week I let both of my kids, (9 & 10) make iced tea by themselves. I could hear them reciting the instructions to themselves, “don’t pour the hot tea over the sugar, it burns it”. Made me smile to hear that.

    I too have been guilty (a lot) of always thinking others had it together, and I didn’t. Now that I’m older, and let’s face it, when I remember, I know that it’s not true.

    I just have to remember what my Momma taught me, “This too shall pass”. Applies to everything in life giving you fits.

    Love your site…

  5. Love lemonade and it is one of my favorite things to make in the summer. Everything gets a little better with a little positivity. Thank you for putting a little perspective into my life today. I have been feeling very overwhelmed with all things in life and found myself looking at others thinking they have it all together and wondering “what am I doing wrong?” Thank you helping me to see things a little more clearly.

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