Few summertime drinks are as sweet, tart, and refreshing as lemonade. It can cool off even the hottest day and help you relax poolside, on the beach, or just sitting around the house.
Although basic lemonade is delicious in its own simplicity, making a tiny tweak or adding new ingredients can take your favorite fruity beverage to entirely new levels of awesomeness. So if you want up your lemonade game, try one of the following twists to wake up your tastebuds and make your summer even sweeter.
Turn your average lemonade into an even sweeter drink by adding some raspberries. However, you don't need to add fresh raspberries or even break out your muddler; instead, just pop into your pantry and find a jar of raspberry jam.
As The Kitchn recommends, stirring just a half-teaspoon of the popular ruby-colored jam into a single glass of lemonade creates a unique version of pink lemonade. Not only does the coloring make your glass more exciting, but your beverage will take on an even fruitier and sweeter taste without adding spoonfuls of granulated sugar.
The ingredients for traditional lemonade are well-known and incredibly simple: water, the juice of fresh lemons, ice, and sugar. Yet if you heat your lemons up on the grill before you get juicing, you'll create an entirely new beverage—or so it will seem. Mix up a glass of grilled lemonade by placing your sliced lemons atop your hot grill grates and searing them with heat until they're browned and extra sweet.
The heat that hits each slice of lemon while grilling caramelizes the sugary juices, adding extra sweetness, reducing tartness, and creating a richer flavor. You can also achieve a similar effect by roasting your lemons in the oven, as The Kitchn suggests.
If you try this method, all you need to do is preheat your oven to 400°F and cut each lemon in half. Place the lemons sliced-side down on a baking sheet, and allow them to roast in your oven for about 20 to 30 minutes. When they're lightly browned and a little charred at the edges, they're ready to be juiced and stirred into the perfect batch of mouthwatering lemonade.
According to Faith Durand of The Kitchn, a bit of salt stirred into your glass enhances the sweet flavor of those lemons. And there's some super cool science behind this. io9 shares that our tongues actually have intestinal cells on them that are sensitive to sugar. These SGLT1 sensors nudge glucose over to your sweet taste receptors in the presence of salt, thus making sweet things (like lemonade) taste even sweeter.
Adding just a small amount of salt—a true pinch, if you're tossing it into a pitcher, and even less if making a single glass—reduces the acidity of the lemonade while also making the entire beverage more "vibrant." This tiny twist on the traditional recipe will balance out the tastes within your glass or pitcher, giving it a fresher feel as you sip without any perceptible taste of salt.
If you have herbs growing on your kitchen windowsill, in your garden, or even just hanging out in your spice cabinet, reach for the basil. Adding basil to traditional lemonade takes this favorite drink to new heights and balances out the sweetly tart flavors you're so familiar with.
According to Epicurious, you can choose to use fresh basil, dried basil, or even a homemade basil lemon syrup to infuse this bright herb into your lemonade. Combine your choice of basil (there are over 160 varieties!) with cold water, lemon juice, ice, and garnish with lemon zest and a basil leaf or two, and you'll find a new flavor that may even be better than your tried-and-true favorite.
Lemonade might be the number one drink of summer, but there's another fruit that fits perfectly into backyard barbecues and picnic gatherings—mango. If you add some fresh mango into your lemonade, you can give your all-American drink a tropical twist!
Creating mango lemonade is easy, as Nashira of Plateful instructs.
With just a half-cup of mango purée, fresh lemon juice, water, and sugar, you'll have a beverage that rivals poolside cocktails. Toss these ingredients in the blender with ice, and you can even create your very own mango lemonade slushy to keep cool while lounging and relaxing.
If you'd like an even lighter taste, you can add green tea to your mango lemonade, as Megan Marlowe of Strawberry Blondie Kitchen suggests. Iced tea mixed with plain lemonade (aka an Arnold Palmer) is another summer tradition, but adding mangoes to the mix sweeten the taste while keeping you cool.
Lemons may be the featured fruit when it comes to lemonade, but peaches are another summertime favorite. Adding these juicy, seasonal delicacies to your lemonade can only help increase its sweet, fruity flavor.
As J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats explains, adding peaches also thickens lemonade, making it more smoothie-like in both consistency and taste. If you want a lemonade that's weightier in its substance and delicious flavor, try blending three fresh peaches, lemon juice, sugar, water, and thyme and serving the concoction over ice. Together, these fresh ingredients will balance the acid and sour taste of lemonade while adding an herbal splash from the fragrant thyme.
If you favor the flavor of traditional lemonade but still want to change things up a bit, try your hand at creating Brazilian lemonade. According to J. Kenji López-Alt at Serious Eats, Brazilian lemonade requires just two additional ingredients: condensed milk and lime juice. Use a blender instead of just stirring with a spoon, and enjoy the soft and frothy beverage before you.
Adding condensed milk into your lemonade adds a velvety richness that deepens and sweetens the acidic and tart taste traditionally found in every glass. Limes don't alter the flavor too drastically, but their own slightly more bitter taste comes through as it's balanced by the sweet milk.
And lemonade isn't just for the kiddies. You can turn this variety into a summertime cocktail: just add a shot of Cachaça, the rum-like national spirit of Brazil.
Spinach is another ingredient that just seems better suited to salads and savory dishes. However, it also makes for an interesting and delicious addition to lemonade that can make the familiar drink seem entirely new. This lemonade twist is one that packs health benefits and nutrients into a refreshing and sweet drink you can sip all summer long.
- juice of two lemons
- half a cucumber
- one pear
- two Granny Smith apples
Juice all of these ingredients and stir them together with a splash of agave nectar (lemonade does need its signature sweetness, of course). Chances are, you won't even notice the incredibly healthy spinach and all of its iron hiding out in this delicious treat.
Mustard is a beloved hot dog garnish, but that's not all it can improve. According to Barbara Feiner of Organic Authority, a small amount of mustard can turn average lemonade into something entirely new and a little bit spicy.
Feiner suggests combining 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard (skip the plain yellow variety for this recipe) with a half-cup of your favorite lemonade. Top the mixture off with a single slice each of lemon, orange, and cucumber, and add fresh mint as a garnish if you'd like.
You can even turn this lemonade into a hard lemonade by pouring in a half cup of spiced gin. With or without this adult ingredient, you certainly won't be sipping boring, traditional lemonade!
If it's total relaxation you're looking for as you enjoy a tall glass of lemonade, try adding lavender into your next batch. Lavender lemonade is a twist that offers more than just a delicious taste: with the fresh taste and scent of lavender essential oil, your lemonade will become a soothing herbal drink that can relieve tension and induce calm. While lavender is typically used for aromatherapy and not as an ingredient in summertime recipes, a single drop of its essential oil into a batch of lemonade creates a drink that's as refreshing as it is relaxing.
If all you have are memories of puckering up while you sipped on sugar water with a few squeezes of lemon in it, these 10 refreshingly original recipes for lemonade variations should make for some fantastic new reminiscences. Adding other fruits, vegetables, herbs, and even condiments to your tall, cool glass of lemony goodness can elevate lemonade to a beverage you can't live without this summer.