An old Southern lemonade recipe that kicks lemonade up a notch by utilizing lemon zest for a beautiful and flavorful drink!

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This lemonade recipe is tried and true. Given to me by a military neighbor back in Virginia Beach, it’s honestly the best lemonade I (and anyone else who’s had a cup) ever tasted.

Not super sweet, not too tart, it’s absolutely thirst-quenching on those dog-days of summer, which are coming dangerously close now. And in the south, the heat is something we endure with a cup of lemonade that doesn’t burn our throats. Don’t you hate that?

Since we live in Miami now, it’s going to be sweltering! I was enjoying those 74 degree F days of February…

Old fashioned southern lemonade is a bit more time-consuming than my ‘shake up a lemon with some sugar water’ COUNTRY FAIR LEMONADE RECIPE, but I consider this recipe to be much better than a typical pitcher of lemonade.

Country Fair Lemonade - Sweet Tea & Thyme

I love a good glass of lemonade in the heat of spring and summer, especially while sitting out on my patio and writing out a new post.

I.e. I’m drinking a glass right now.

Let’s talk lemonade techniques.

So sure, this seems like a lot for some lemons and sugar water. But! I consider these steps key to making picture (or pitcher ;p) perfect lemonade: the zest simmered down in the simple syrup brings out a beautiful yellow color and gives the lemonade great flavor from the zest’s oils. And a lemon syrup isn’t a bad thing to bottle up for someone as a gift, I’m just sayin’.

P.S. This lemonade recipe is what I use in both my SOUTHERN ARNOLD PALMER and ADDICTIVE STRAWBERRY LEMONADE recipes. Go take a look at those for tasty twists on lemonade.

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Old Fashioned Lemonade
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • Zest of two lemons, in thick strips
  • Juice of 6-8 lemons
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 7 cups water
  1. In a medium sized saucepan, heat sugar, 2 cups water and zest over medium heat. Bring to a lively simmer, not a boil, for about 8-10 minutes or until the syrup becomes a light yellow color from the zest. Turn off heat.
  2. In a large pitcher, add lemon juice. Strain syrup with a mesh sieve into the pitcher to catch zest. Pour in remaining water. Taste for sweetness and tartness. Too sweet, add water. Not enough tartness, juice another lemon.
  3. Serve with ice.

 Don’t forget to PIN this recipe!

An old Southern lemonade recipe that kicks lemonade up a notch by utilizing lemon zest for a beautiful and flavorful drink!

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The Southern Arnold Palmer

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See ya in the next post!