Summer is almost here, and yummy, cold drinks are perfect to beat the heat. Sweet Lemon Water is one of my favorites, and my go-to drink to serve at any BBQ, party, or gathering. It’s incredibly simple to put together, refreshingly light, and absolutely delicious!
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You may be thinking, lemon water? How is this different from regular ice water with sliced lemons in it? It all starts with mixing sugar in with ice cold water, and letting it dissolve, then adding lemon extract for the lemon-y flavor and then…the secret ingredient…that changes it from ordinary to extraordinary!
The recipe came to me years and years ago from a dear friend who served it at a church function, and it has been one of my very favorites ever since. It’s also very inexpensive to make, which makes it great for serving to large groups. It’s also very versatile–it works for the most casual of get togethers, and also for events that are more on the fancy side.
Table of contents
Ingredients you need
- Lemon extract
- Citric Acid
- Fresh mint (optional)
Have you heard of citric acid? It’s used a lot in canning tomatoes as a replacement for lemon juice, and it provides just the right amount of “sparkle” to this recipe. It brings it up a notch from plain water, but isn’t carbonated or “spicy” as my kids call it. You can find it at health food stores, large retail stores like Ace Hardware and Walmart, and Amazon.
All the ingredients can be altered to taste. This recipe is on the sweeter side, so if you like things less sweet, I’d start with a little less sugar and add from there.
Equipment you need
How to make Sweet Lemon Water
In a large pitcher, dissolve the sugar in cold water. I like to stir it around for a minute or two until I don’t see the sugar crystals any more. If you don’t like things as sweet, you can always start with less sugar and then add more if needed.
Add the citric acid and lemon extract and stir well. You may adjust ingredients to taste. Pour in the ice when serving, and garnish with lemon slices.
Tip: Add fresh mint to the pitcher or beverage container. If you’re filling jars (or glasses) ahead of time, add a little to each individual jar. It gives it an additional depth of flavor that really gives it “oomph”.
Tips for serving
You can really serve this lemon water with any meal–it’s so light that it works with just about everything. I love to serve it at a BBQ—hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled meats–but also with salads, like my favorite Spinach Penne Pasta Salad or Summer Corn and Orzo Salad.
Consider serving it a bridal, baby shower or other event. Double or triple the recipe and add to beverage dispensers for serving–it can fit in with fancier events too.
Can this recipe be doubled? Yes! It can very easily be doubled, tripled, and more. The more I make, the less sugar I use. For example, if I double it, I usually only start with 3-3.5 cups sugar, then add more if necessary.
Does it need any fresh lemon juice? It doesn’t need it, but if you wanted to add a few tablespoons, you can. You may need to alter the sugar if you do so.
Where can I find citric acid? I actually have citric acid in a liquid form that I bought to make simple syrup for shave ice. But you can find it on Amazon, and in larger retail stores like Walmart, as well as health food stores. Make sure it is food grade!
More summer drink recipes you’ll enjoy
Sweet Lemon Water
- In a large pitcher, dissolve the sugar in the water. If you generally like things not as sweet, you can start with less sugar and add more if necessary.
- Add the citric acid and lemon extract and stir well. You may adjust ingredients to taste!
- Add ice, then garnish with lemon slices and fresh mint.
*Originally posted May, 2014.