You just can’t beat a big, cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day. I’m a lemon lover, so this classic refreshing drink is right up my alley. I made lemonade the old-fashioned way for years by concocting a simple syrup (boiling sugar and water together until it dissolves and then letting it cool), but the past few summers I’ve been cheating (or being lazy, whatever you want to call it) and making this drink an even easier way. The result? Fresh-squeezed lemonade that comes together more quickly, with no chilling time. The key is to use superfine sugar. At the beginning of each summer, I now buy a big bag, which I dedicate to fulfilling my lemonade cravings during the hot summer months. This recipe is embarrassingly simple, and I often adjust the amount of sugar I use simply based on how much sweetness I’m craving that day. It’s very unscientific and easy to remember. The best part is that it’s a wonderful base recipe or ratio for other variations. Below are three of my favorite lemonade variations, which I’ve been making all summer long.
1 1/2 cups lemon juice (12–14 lemons), plus 2 lemons sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 to 1 1/2 cup(s) superfine sugar
Ice, for serving
Strain the lemon juice into a large serving container or pitcher, removing the seeds and pith. Stir in the sugar until dissolved.
Add 4 cups cold water and continue stirring until well combined. Add the lemon slices. Just before serving, add ice to cups and pour 1 cup lemonade into each.
Sparkling Lemon-Limeade (Shown Above)
Substitute 1/2 the lemon juice and slices for lime juice and slices. Add sparkling water to the lemon-lime juice rather than still water.
Summer Berry Lemonade with Mint
In a food processor, pulse 1 cup raspberries and 1 cup blackberries until pureed. Strain berry mixture with the back of a spoon in a fine sieve to remove any seeds; discard. Stir berry mixture into prepared lemonade before pouring into cups. Garnish with additional berries and a sprig of fresh mint.
(For those with a really sweet tooth, my Cotton Candy Lemonade is always a huge hit at summer barbecues and parties.)
Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes posts from Kelsey Nixon every Wednesday, and tune in to new episodes of Kelsey’s Essentials every Wednesday at 8pm ET on Cooking Channel. Find all the recipes from Kelsey’s Essentials here.