Ingredients for homemade lemonade: Lemons, water and sugar

From left to right: Homemade Lemonade, Minute Maid lemonade from concentrate, Simply Lemon lemonade

Lemonade is the quintessential summer beverage:  tangy, sweet and refreshing.  The smell of fresh lemon juice evokes a feeling of summer for me and I love the process of creating a delicious beverage from just 3 simple ingredients.  So, I may be a little biased towards freshly squeezed lemonade but I decided to compare my homemade favorite to lemonade made from frozen concentrate as well as Simply Lemonade brand lemonade found in the refrigerator section.  Homemade lemonade is so simple to make and uses only freshly squeezed lemon juice, sugar and water.  The recipe below is more like a ratio of ingredients, but you should play with the amounts to create a lemonade that is your ideal balance of tangy sweetness.

Freshly Squeezed Lemonade

Makes about 8 cups


2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 8 lemons worth

1 1/3 cups sugar

4 cups of water

Pour the lemon juice into a large pitcher and stir the sugar into the juice until it is all dissolved.  Pour in the water and serve over crushed ice garnished with some mint leaves or thin slices of lemon.

I had seven tasters for this comparison and we each had three

dixie cups filled with three varieties of lemonade.  There was not a definite winner in this comparison, but there was certainly a definite loser.  No one preferred the Simply Lemon lemonade and most of the testers commented that it had a “bitter” taste or a funny aftertaste.  People were pretty much split evenly between the two other kinds of lemonade with 4 people preferring homemade lemonade and 3 preferring the lemonade made from concentrate.  I think this beverage preference pretty much comes down to whether you like your lemonade tangy, or a little sweeter and milder.  I like a strong, tangy lemon flavor in my lemonade so I love the flavor that fresh lemon juice provides, but many people seem to prefer the mild sweetness of lemonade made from concentrate.  Lemonade made from concentrate certainly wins in both the time and money categories.  It cost only $0.97 making it half the price of the Simply Lemon and a quarter the price of homemade lemonade.  Also, lemonade from concentrate is easy to mix up and takes only a few minutes compared to the time and effort involved in juicing 8 lemons and mixing in sugar.

Bottom Line:  Overall, lemonade from concentrate wins out.  It takes less time to prepare and costs only a quarter of the price of homemade lemonade.  However, if you know that you like the strong lemon flavor of homemade lemonade, it is certainly worth splurging on occasionally.  Avoid Simply Lemon lemonade at all costs as it is more expensive than that made from concentrate and does not taste nearly as fresh.

Homemade Lemonade

Cost:  $3.75

Time:  15 minutes

Minute Maid frozen concentrate

Cost:  $0.97

Time:  3 minutes

Simply Lemon lemonade

Cost:  $2.00

Time:  None