My Ultimate Guide to Healthy Homemade Lemonade! Here’s how to make healthier, naturally sweetened lemonade from scratch, plus EIGHT delicious flavor variations. Try original, strawberry, raspberry, peach, mango, watermelon, blueberry & blackberry flavors! (Gluten free, vegan friendly)
Is there anything more quintessentially summer than a glass of ice cold lemonade? It’s so refreshing on a sweltering hot day, at a summer party, barbecue, or picnic. If you’ve ever wanted to make homemade lemonade yourself, today is the day!
Consider this my ultimate guide to healthy (or at least healthier) homemade lemonade. It’s naturally sweetened, takes only a few minutes to pull together, and comes in EIGHT delicious flavor variations. To be sure, it’s still a sweet treat, but it’s one that I feel great about. Grab a glass and a straw, and let’s get going!
How to Make Healthy Homemade Lemonade
Naturally sweetened lemonade is easier than you’d think! All you need is a few simple ingredients (3, to be exact!) to get started. Then, the flavorings are up to you…
FRESH LEMON JUICE. I highly–HIGHLY–recommend you use fresh lemon juice over the bottled stuff for homemade lemonade. The flavor of fresh lemon juice will be much better and less bitter and sour than the bottled kind. You need 1 cup of fresh lemon juice for this recipe, which will take somewhere between 4-8 lemons (depending on their size and juiciness). A citrus juicer can make quick work of this for you.
WATER. Pretty straightforward, but water will dilute the lemon juice and carry the other flavors in homemade lemonade. Use what you’d drink, whether that’s tap water or filtered water.
HONEY OR AGAVE. You want something light-tasting, whenever possible. I usually use honey because I love how it pairs with the fruit flavors, but agave also works. If possible, I recommend using a light-tasting honey (preferably raw). Raw honey tends to have the most nutrients and benefits, so if you can find it, I recommend it! If you’re going with agave, I opt for the lighter colored/flavored varieties.
FRESH FRUIT. For 7 of the flavors listed below, you’ll need some sort of fruit. For my flavored lemonades, you can use fresh or frozen fruit. I did a mix of both for mine, and they all work beautifully.
FRESH HERBS (REALLY!). You can get even more creative with flavors by adding a few leaves or sprigs of fresh herbs to any of the flavors listed below. My favorites are mint and basil. It won’t make your lemonade tase herby, it’ll just brighten up and wake up the other flavors. Start small, and add more, to taste!
8 Yummy Flavors of Naturally Sweetened Lemonade!
You know I LOVE playing with recipes, and since none of my family can ever decide what kind of homemade lemonade is our favorite, I’ve included the 8 variations we make most often.
HERE’S HOW TO ADD FRUIT FLAVORS TO YOUR LEMONADE:
- Choose 2-3 cups of your chosen fruit (fresh or thawed from frozen)
- Puree it in a blender or food processor until smooth
- Add the puree as is to the lemonade for a “freckled” or rustic version.
- Or, run the puree through a fine mesh sieve for a smooth puree that adds flavor without adding texture.
- Optional: add additional fresh fruit or fresh herbs as garnish
Other Flavor Variations for Naturally Sweetened Lemonade
Besides endless fruit options, here are a few other ways to get creative with your healthy lemonade:
MIX & MATCH FRUIT FLAVORS. You don’t have to just add one kind of fruit! Why not do peach-mango, mixed berry, strawberry-watermelon, or raspberry-peach? Or, add even more flavor combinations when you…
ADD FRESH HERBS. Our favorite fresh herbs to add to lemonade are mint or basil, but you can get creative and go with cilantro if you like! I start with just a few sprigs and add from there. Watermelon and berries are great with either mint or basil. I love mint with mango, peach, watermelon, and any of the berry flavors. So light and fresh!
TRY SPARKLING WATER. You can also add a little fizz to this by using carbonated water if you like. I recommend whisking up the honey mixture, lemon juice, and any fruit or flavor add-ins you like before adding the sparkling water, so you only have to stir it minimally. (More stirring = less carbonation)
BONUS TIP: GET CREATIVE WITH ICE CUBES! To add more flavor, you can freeze slices or cubes of frozen fruit or sprigs of fresh herbs in your ice cube tray with water to add even more fun flavor while they thaw. (For example: diced strawberries + sprigs of mint or blueberries + basil.)
TRUST YOUR TASTEBUDS. There are a lot of variables at play with naturally sweetened lemonade–the tartness of your lemons, the sweetness and ripeness of your fruit, how strong your honey or agave tastes, etc. The big rule here is let your tastebuds be your guide when it comes to getting the flavor just right. My recipe is the perfect starting point. If your fruit is less sweet than you thought, you may need a bit more honey or agave. If it’s super sweet, you may not need as much. Taste and adjust as needed!
HOW TO GET THE SMOOTHEST TEXTURE. If you don’t like “freckled” or rustic lemonade (with pieces of fruit in it), you’ll appreciate straining your fruit purees first. For a smooth puree, press the fruit puree through a fine mesh sieve before adding it to the homemade lemonade. It’ll be velvety smooth and blend right in!
A PRETTY WAY TO SERVE IT. For extra pretty presentation, you can spoon the fruit puree right into people’s glasses, then pour the lemonade on top. It has a pretty ombre effect, and people can easily swirl their puree into the lemonade with a straw.
DON’T WATER IT DOWN. If you plan to add ice, I recommend adding less water (like, 5 cups instead of 6) to your lemonade upfront. It’ll taste a bit tart and concentrated at first, but as the ice melts, it’ll be just right. If you get the lemonade exactly where you like it, THEN add the ice, you run the risk of watering down the flavor as it melts.
VEGAN? NO WORRIES! You can absolutely make this naturally sweetened lemonade using agave instead of honey. Agave tends to have a lighter flavor than honey, so it’ll be sweet without impacting the flavor the same way that honey does.
CAN I USE ANOTHER SWEETENER? I haven’t tested my naturally sweetened lemonade recipe with stevia, xylitol or any other alternative sweeteners. If you give it a try, I’d love to know how it goes!
8 Amazing Flavors of Healthy Homemade Lemonade
My ultimate guide to healthy homemade lemonade! Here’s how to make healthier, naturally sweetened lemonade from scratch, plus EIGHT delicious flavor variations. Try original, mango, peach, watermelon, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry & blueberry flavors! (Gluten free, vegan friendly)
- 6 cups water
- 1/3–1/2 cup light-tasting honey or agave
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- Optional: Fruit puree*
- Optional: a few sprigs of fresh mint or basil
Heat 1 cup of water in a saucepan or the microwave until very warm to the touch (not boiling).
Add honey and stir to dissolve.
Pour honey mixture into your pitcher.
Add lemon juice and water
If adding fruit puree or herbs, add puree and herbs along with the water (see notes for how to make fruit puree)
Stir to combine and taste, adding more fruit puree, fresh herbs, honey or agave as desired.
Lemonade will keep about 1 week in the refrigerator.
*TO ADD FRUIT FLAVORS: Puree 2-3 cups of fresh (or thawed, from frozen) fruit in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add puree directly to the lemonade for a rustic or “freckled” finish, or strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve before adding it to the lemonade for velvety smooth fruity lemonade. Our favorite fruits to add are: mango, peach, watermelon, strawberry, raspberry, blackberries & blueberries. MIX & MATCH FRUIT FLAVORS. You don’t have to just add one kind of fruit! Why not do peach-mango, mixed berry, strawberry-watermelon, or raspberry-peach? Or, add even more flavor combinations when you… ADD FRESH HERBS. Our favorite fresh herbs to add to lemonade are mint or basil, but you can get creative and go with cilantro if you like! I start with just a few sprigs and add from there. Watermelon and berries are great with either mint or basil. I love mint with mango, peach, watermelon, and any of the berry flavors. So light and fresh!