Here’s how to make pink lemonade…with real lemons! What’s makes it pink? This recipe has the secrets to the bright color and fresh flavor.

Pink lemonade

What is it about pink lemonade that’s both nostalgic and irresistible? Those cardboard cans of concentrate conjure up summer afternoons and flipflops. But is actually in the stuff? What makes pink lemonade pink? Turns out, it’s as natural as can be! Here’s how to make Homemade Pink Lemonade with real lemons. It tastes like you turned up the volume on the concentrate: it’s intensely sweet tart and incredibly fresh.

What is pink lemonade?

Pink lemonade is lemonade that is dyed pink in color. The earliest recipe for it is from a recipe book from 1892, that called for lemonade to be colored with “fresh or canned strawberry, red raspberry, currant or cranberry juice.” There are a few origin stories for how it came about: both claim it was invented by an American circus worker in the 1850’s. Both stores sound a little like urban legends, but the key is: pink lemonade was either created or popularized by the circus.

What makes pink lemonade pink?

The color makes it look like it has extra flavoring, but pink lemonade tastes exactly the same as the traditional stuff. So why make it pink? Optics. It simply looks more appealing! The bright color is more visually interesting than the light yellow of standard lemonade. But what makes the color?

The 1892 recipe for pink lemonade used naturally red fruits or juices for the coloring. Many store-bought brands today use artificial dyes, but a natural pink lemonade may use:

  • Cranberry juice
  • Strawberries or strawberry juice
  • Raspberries or raspberry juice
  • Pomegranate juice
  • Grenadine (pomegranate syrup)
What makes Pink lemonade pink
This lovely color is all natural!

How to make pink lemonade

Let’s get to the recipe! How to make pink lemonade? For this all natural lemonade, we chose cranberry juice for the bright color. Here’s all you need to do (or jump to the recipe below for the exact quantities):

  • Juice the lemons. Best juicing tips are below!
  • Mix sugar and warm water in a pitcher. This dissolves it; no need to heat it on the stovetop.
  • Add cold water, lemon juice, and cranberry juice. Stir and you’ve got a beautifully bright color and refreshing, sweet tart flavor!

The recipe below makes a small pitcher of 4 servings. To make a larger pitcher for serving a crowd, simply double it!

Best way to juice lemons

If you love making homemade lemonade (and we do), here’s the best way to juice those lemons! Our top choice is our handy press citrus juicers, which is fast and saves your fingers of having to do all that squeezing!

  • Press citrus juicer: best choice! This type is efficient and gets out even more juice than other types. Here’s the press juicer we recommend. It’s held up the best of any method, after making 300+ cocktails.
  • Handheld citrus juicer. The next best juicer? The type with a ridged top (similar to this).
What is Pink lemonade

Use less cranberry juice for a lighter pink color

This pink lemonade recipe makes a beautifully bright pink color. If you prefer a more pastel pink, you can do that too! Just use half the cranberry juice. Or you can adjust it as needed! It doesn’t add much flavor-wise: it’s simply there for color.

More lemonade and limeade recipes

Try all our homemade lemonade recipes: they’re the perfect summer drinks! Pick from the following:

Lemon drink

This pink lemonade recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Pink lemonade

Easy Pink Lemonade


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 drinks 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Here’s how to make pink lemonade…with real lemons! What’s makes it pink? This recipe has the secrets to the bright color and fresh flavor.


Ingredients

Scale
  • ¾ cups fresh squeezed lemon juice (4 large lemons)*
  • ½ cup all natural cranberry juice (no sugar added)**
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ cups water, divided
  • Ice
  • Fresh mint, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Juice the lemons.
  2. Add the sugar and ½ cup warm water to a pitcher and stir until dissolved. Add 2 cups cold water, then pour in the lemon juice and cranberry juice. Add ice and serve.

Notes

*Or, double this recipe to make a large pitcher that serves 8.

**You can use half the cranberry juice for a lighter pastel pink lemonade, but we like the vibrant pink color.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Juiced
  • Cuisine: Drink

Keywords: Pink lemonade, how to make pink lemonade, what is pink lemonade, what makes pink lemonade pink

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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2 Comments

  1. When my son was a preschooler, he wanted to bring pink lemonade to a friendship party at his school. To make it pink colored, I mixed hibiscus tea and lemonade in equal parts. It was a huge hit with kids and parents! It’s light, slightly sweet and slightly tart, refreshing, natural colored, and has less sugar than regular lemonade. It’s turned into a summer staple at our house and we always have a pitcher for any summer celebrations!