Basil Lemonade is a unique and refreshing beverage that you can make easily at home! Looking for something special to make for a party or afternoon in the sun? Make this delicious twist on fresh squeezed lemonade that’s full of tart citrus and fresh herb flavors!
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Why We Love Basil Lemonade
- It’s a wonderful update on your favorite homemade lemonade recipe.
Who knew this simple summer drink could be so versatile? A cup of fresh basil leaves adds a punchy peppery flavor to the mixture, and it is so refreshing!
- It’s so easy to make.
Prepare your basil lemonade almost exactly the way you prepare any other cold drink. The herb-infused simple syrup is something you can use in cocktails, too.
- Inexpensive and easy to make in big batches.
This recipe is simple to scale up or down. This makes it a fantastic drink idea for summer parties, picnics and potlucks.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Lemons – You need the juice of about 8 lemons, plus an extra one to slice for serving. I recommend juicing the lemons yourself — skip the lemon juice from concentrate for the best results!
- Simple Syrup – A combination of sugar and water, simple syrup is — well — simple to make. You’ll also add basil to pack this homemade lemonade recipe with as much herbaceous flavor as possible.
If you’re looking for something to make that’s a little bit healthier, you could even add basil leaves to unsweetened lemonade.
- Basil – The key ingredient for your fresh squeezed lemonade! You’ll need 1 cup for the simple syrup, plus some extra sprigs for garnish. Using fresh basil leaves is a must…this recipe won’t work at all with dried herbs.
How to Make Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
The secret to making lemonade as fresh as possible is to opt for freshly squeezed lemon juice rather than concentrated juice.
We recommend using a citrus press for the best results. You won’t have to worry about picking out any seeds, and a press will get you as much juice as possible with minimal effort.
Simply slice the lemons in half and squeeze using the press. Voila, you’ll have freshly squeezed lemon juice in a jiff!
TFN Pro Tip
To get the most juice out of a lemon, roll it on your countertop before squeezing. If the lemons seem unusually firm, pop them in a microwave for 20 seconds to help the juices flow.
Tips for the Best Homemade Lemonade
- Start with cool water.
Stir the fresh basil and sugar into a saucepan with cool water before bringing the mixture to a simmer. This prevents the leaves from losing flavor due to the heat.
Also, leave the basil in the simple syrup as it cools. You’ll remove the leaves before adding the syrup to the other ingredients, but the longer you let them steep, the stronger and better the flavor will be!
- Let the simple syrup cool for at least an hour.
Obviously, fresh squeezed lemonade is best-enjoyed ice cold. This means that you need to allow the simple syrup to cool for at least 1 hour before combining it with the lemon juice and water.
After you remove the basil leaves, return the syrup to the fridge until you’re ready to mix up a batch of drinks.
Basil Drink Variations
While we love this recipe as is, there are several different variations you can make.
- Strawberry basil lemonade – Stir in some fresh strawberry syrup, or even just a few fresh berries.
- Basil lemonade popsicles – Mix up the drink, pour it into popsicle molds, and freeze until solid.
- Lemonade cocktails – just add a splash of gin or vodka, or you could make an Arnold Palmer iced tea by combining equal parts lemonade with sweet tea.
Basil Lemonade FAQ
While it is possible to smash the leaves with a mortar and pestle (many people use this ‘muddling’ technique to make pesto), it isn’t necessary for this basil drink. Just simmer the basil with sugar and water to make a simple syrup.
We are not health professionals, so you should always consult with a doctor or nutritionist to determine the health benefits of any food or drink.
That said, basil has been shown to reduce stress and help with depression, and some studies show that it can help to lower blood pressure.
We love the idea of serving this summery basil drink with penne Pomodoro, salmon pesto pasta salad, or Caprese flatbread. Honestly, it’s refreshing alongside anything that also boasts citrus and basil flavors!
Also, it makes a fantastic cocktail for adults. If you choose to serve it with alcohol, pair it with your favorite bar snacks. Soft pretzel bites and mixed nuts are great choices.
Serve the drink in a tall glass over ice cubes. For a nice presentation, add a few slices of lemon and extra basil leaves, and rim the glass with sugar!
Storing Fresh Squeezed Lemonade
Again, basil lemonade is best served cold. You can store any leftovers in a pitcher in your fridge, where they will keep for up to 1 week.
- 1 2-quart saucepan
- 1 citrus press
- 1 fine mesh strainer
- 1 serving pitcher
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup basil leaves
- 2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 8 lemons)
- 5 cups water
- 5 sprigs basil
- 1 lemon sliced thinly
- Add sugar, water, and basil leaves to a 2-quart (or larger) saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir continuously until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let syrup cool in pan for 1 hour.
- Strain basil leaves from syrup. Set aside while you make the lemonade, or refrigerate syrup in a covered container until ready to use.
- Combine lemon juice, 5 cups of water, and the simple syrup in a large pitcher. Stir to combine.
- To serve, add ice cubes, lemon slices, and 1/2 a basil sprig to a glass and fill with lemonade.