Drinks | July 28, 2016

Homemade Lemonade for a Crowd

Nothing is more refreshing on a hot summer day than a tall glass of ice cold fresh squeezed lemonade! I’ve tackled a few of the most common problems related to making lemonade in ABK’s “Homemade Lemonade for a Crowd”  recipe.  Learn how to substitute  bottled lemon juice if you don’t want to squeeze lemons and the best way to store lemonade for 100! 

Homemade Lemonade for a Crowd

If you’ve ever had a glass of homemade lemonade, you know there’s nothing quite like it on hot summer day. Powdered mixes or concentrates from the freezer section at the grocery are fine in a pinch, but if you’re looking for a special treat, this is your lucky day. I’ve taken the guesswork out of making the perfect batch of lemonade for 10 or 100.

Homemade Lemonade for a Crowd

A few key issues I’ve addressed when making or serving lemonade are:
1. Fresh squeezed vs lemon juice from a bottle
2. What’s the best way to sweeten lemonade?
3. How to avoid watered down lemonade when ice melts.
4. How to make lemonade in large batches.
5. How to store and transport large batches of lemonade.

Homemade Lemonade for a Crowd

Let’s get started…

Fresh is best, but bottled lemon juice works too!
When making lemonade the best choice is fresh squeezed lemon juice. Why fresh lemon juice? Fresh is always best. Try making a glass of lemonade with fresh squeezed juice and a second glass with lemon juice out of a bottle. You’ll be able to taste the difference.  To get started, you’ll need something to squeeze the lemons. This is my favorite tool to squeeze lemons and limes. Cut the lemon in half and place the cut side down into the juicer, then squeeze away. It’s that simple. There are other methods, including electric juicers if you need to juice a large amount of fruit. If you don’t have the time or the muscle power to juice lemons, you can use lemon juice.  Bottled Real lemon juice works well.

Homemade Lemonade for a Crowd

Sweetening the juice…there are several different methods for sweetening lemonade, including swirling sugar and water together in a container and then adding lemon juice and ice. One of the problems with this method is the sugar eventually settles to the bottom of the glass or pitcher, and you’re left with a layer of sugar. After many experiments, I’m a firm believer in making a simple syrup and adding lemon juice to the syrup.

This method insures you are never left with undissolved sugar in your lemonade. The syrup takes just a few minutes to make, and in a  pinch, you can just heat water and sugar together in the microwave and stir until dissolved. Don’t let the word “syrup” throw you off. It’s just basically heating water and sugar together and bringing to a boil.  It is, after all, called simple syrup for a reason 🙂

Homemade Lemonade for a Crowd

I’m melting… Another problem encountered  with lemonade on a hot summer day is the melted ice factor. Melted ice = watered down lemonade. When I make a batch of lemonade, I want it to be just the right blend of sweet and tart. I want the glass to be filled to the brim with ICE  (because I’m totally obsessed with ice, and LOTS of it).

I combat the watered down lemonade issue with a mixture that is heavy on the concentrate and allows for melted ice in the glass. If you mix up the lemonade to be just the right blend without allowing for ice meltage (I know, not a word), and the ice melts, your lemonade will be diluted and not as flavorful! The key to flavorful lemonade is the concentrate. Make sure you don’t add too much water!

Homemade Lemonade for a Crowd

Making large batches of lemonade is simple if you follow ABK’s Homemade Lemonade for a Crowd recipe. I’ve included instructions for making the lemonade with fresh squeezed juice and also bottled lemon juice. The instructions include quantities for 10-20 servings (depending on glass size) and concentrate for 100 servings.

When making the lemonade for large groups (quantities over 100) I recommend using bottled lemon juice or a mixture of fresh squeezed and bottled mixed together. The time and cost involved in squeezing lemon juice for hundreds of servings may be prohibitive, and bottled lemon juice is a good alternative!

Homemade Lemonade for a Crowd

I promise this recipe made with bottled lemon juice is still going to be about 100 times better than any type of mix you can buy! As a side note, I have been in charge of Girls Camp, Trek, Youth Conference, Scouts, school functions,  etc more times than I can count. When I’m making lemonade for a youth crowd, or a large group for an event that is not a special occasion (such as a wedding) I reach for the Country Time Lemonade Mix every time. For kid gatherings and campouts, use a mix! 

Homemade Lemonade for a Crowd

Where am I going to store homemade lemonade for 500?? The last tip for making large batches of  homemade lemonade is storage. When I made several large batches of lemonade for a wedding recently, I stored the concentrate in gallon size Freezer Ziplock bags. I placed the bag inside of a bowl, and poured the concentrate in four batches into the bags (photo above). Each bag contained approximately 8 cups of concentrate, and when mixed with water equals about 25 (4 oz)  servings per bag (photo below).

This method of storage works well if you don’t have a lot of refrigerator or freezer space! And it makes transporting the drink very simple. Just place in a cooler and you’re ready to go.  You can also mix 2 of the large batches of concentrate into a 5 gallon container for transporting.  You can probably fit 3 large batches of concentrate into a 5 gallon container, but I’ve only tried 2 and then bagged the rest. This method is simple for dispensing. Just pour out 8 cups at a time and add water and ice as directed.

Not enough time to make concentrate for 100 or 500?  Think again. I made lemonade for 500 in about 2 1/2 hours start to (sticky)  finish and even ran to the grocery store to buy more lemon juice when I ran out of fresh lemons. I know you’re going to love this. When you’re rocking back on your porch sipping a tall glass of fresh squeezed juice, you’ll agree with me it was worth it!

Homemade Lemonade for a Crowd

5 from 13 votes
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Summertime Lemonade for a Crowd

Simple lemonade recipe for 10-100!

Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes
Servings 10 -100 servings
Author Si Foster, A Bountiful Kitchen

Ingredients

for 10 servings:

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 3/4 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice or bottled lemon juice such as Real Lemon green bottle
  • ice for pitcher and glasses

for 100 servings:

  • 8 cups water
  • 10 1/2 cups sugar
  • 8 cups cold water
  • 6 3/4 cups lemon juice fresh or bottled
  • additional water ice, gallon ziplock bags for storage
  • additional lemons washed and cut for decorative purposes in dispenser or pitcher

Instructions

for 10 servings:

  1. Pour 4 cups water and 2 cups sugar in a medium size pan. Bring to boil and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Pour into another pan, or let cool in pan.
  3. Add 2 cups cold water and 1 3/4 cups lemon juice with pulp. Stir well. Add additional water if desired.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to serve, pour over glasses filled with ice, or fill the pitcher with about 8 cups of ice and place additional ice in glasses and fill.

for 100 servings:

  1. Pour 8 cups water and 10 1/2 cups sugar into a large pan or stockpot. Whisk to mix sugar.
  2. Bring mixture to a boil, and continue boiling for 2-3 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Let cool a bit.
  3. Add 8 cups cold water and 6 3/4 cups lemon juice.
  4. Stir until mixed well.
  5. When mixture is cooled, pour into 4 gallon Ziplock bags, about 8 cups per bag, remove excess air and seal. Store in refrigerator, cooler or freezer.
  6. When ready to use concentrate, let thaw and mix each bag with 4 cups cold water and ice. Each gallon bag will yield approximately 24-4 oz servings in 8 oz cups filled with ice, or about 11-12 8 oz servings in 16 oz cups filled with ice.

Recipe Notes

-One 5 lb bag of lemons will yield about 6-8 cups fresh lemon juice, depending on size and juiciness of fruit. -The serving size will vary according to your cup size, and if the cups are filled with ice.-The amount of lemon juice in the recipe may be altered, if you like a stronger lemon flavor add more juice. If the sweetness is too strong, add more water to the finished product. Remember, if you add too much water and add ice as well, the lemonade will become watered down when the ice melts.-If you are filling the dispensers with lemons, make sure the seeds are removed so they don't clog the spout when dispensing the lemonade. -You may add pureed fruit to the lemonade to make flavored lemonades such as strawberry, peach, raspberry, etc. -This mixture will keep in the freezer for 2-3 months. -You may thaw the concentrate in the microwave. Set in a microwave proof bowl before thawing to catch any juice that escapes from bag. -Minutemaid Premium lemon juice sold in the freezer section may be used in place of fresh lemon juice.-If you purchase ice cream in gallon tubs, one of the large concentrate batches fits in a tub and stacks easily for freezing.

Homemade Lemonade for a Crowd

44 thoughts on “Homemade Lemonade for a Crowd

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  1. Si,
    Thank you for your “A Bountiful Kitchen” I have become a collector of your recipes and I need to tap into your experience and knowledge. I have a recipe that calls for champagne vinegar. What brand or type do you recommend? If the best is to be purchased at store of liquor store I’m good with either. Thank you Kristine

    1. Kristine,
      I love “O” brand vinegars. I’ve used several flavors and have loved every one. You can purchase locally at Harmons Grocery, kitchen specialty stores, or online at Amazon here’s link for you. http://amzn.to/2aDFdy0
      I’ve also seen O brand at TJ Maxx/Homegoods occasionally! Thank you so very much for reading ABK!
      loves,
      Si

  2. 5 stars
    This post made me so thirsty for lemonade! But it’s almost 10pm and I’m too tired to do the math for 2 glasses. ???? Can’t wait to try it!!

  3. My math isn’t always the greatest, but if the recipe calls for 1 3/4 cups fresh juice for 10 servings, wouldn’t you need 17 1/2 cups fresh juice for 100 servings instead of 6 3/4 cups? My son’s wedding is in two weeks, and I’d love to make this! Just trying to figure out how many lemons to buy. Thanks!

    1. Hi Lynne,
      The smaller batch (10 servings) is not a concentrate batch. It is made ready to serve (after cooling off) and serve over ice without adding additional water. The large batch for 100 is made in a concentrate form and is meant to be mixed with water after removing from storing in freezer or fridge. If you are making large batches (100 or more) you may want to use part bottled lemon juice. Real Lemon brand and some store brands work well. Real Lemon is sold in bulk at Costco.

  4. Hello! I’m looking forward to trying this. I’m hoping to make this for 50 guests- would I be better off halving your 100 servings recipe or X 5 your 10 servings recipe? Thankyou!

    1. Thanks Pam! I have done this but don’t always have the time for every bath of lemonade.
      Thanks for reading ABK!
      xo
      Si

    1. Ricky,
      Thanks for your positive comments! I’m glad this recipe worked well for you.
      Thanks for reading ABK!
      xo, Si

    1. Jordan,
      I’m so glad you liked this recipe! Finally the weather is warming up around here – we’ll need lots more of this in the coming months!
      Thank you for reading ABK!
      xo,
      Si

  5. 2 questions. Do you have a recommended ratio of pureed fruit to add to the Lemonade in order to make different flavors?

    Also, did you take into account melting ice when you calculated the ratio of water and concentrate for the 100 servings? I was thinking about dispensing from an Igloo beverage dispenser.

    It sounds so refreshing!!

    1. Arlene,
      I would add approximately 1-2 cups of pureed fruit per 10 servings to really taste a difference.
      Yes this recipe takes into account the melting ice, so it is quite concentrated! The only issue with dispensing from an Igloo or another container with a spout is you may have a clogged spout with the seeds from lemons. To avoid this, make sure to remove seeds before dispensing!
      thanks!
      Si

      1. 5 stars
        Thank you so much! We are using your recipe for a Lemonade Stand during our City’s “Lemonade Day”. I think it’s going to be a big hit. City provides a powder mix but WE are going to make the real thing! 🙂

        1. Arlene,
          That’s fantastic! I’d love to see a photo of your event! I’m sure this recipe will be a just the thing for your thirsty crowd.
          Thanks for reading ABK.
          xo,
          Si

          1. 5 stars
            Your lemonade recipe was a big hit! I’d love to share a couple of photos from our Lemonade Day but this page doesn’t seem to offer that option. May I email them to you?

          1. Yes I made this for my Formal event May 25 2019 about 300 people. I could not keep my dispenser filled up. I added Diet Cran-Apple juice. So delicious.
            Thank You for your knowledge. I made batches ahead of time like you suggested it made less work for me

  6. 5 stars
    I feel dumb…can u give me exact directions for 150 people……when reading…it says 2cups water…then 2 cups cold water… Help please…wedding and want to do it right!

    1. Hi Judy,

      No worries! here are the directions for 100:
      for 100 servings:
      8 cups water / 12 cups
      10 1/2 cups sugar/ 15 3/4 cups
      8 cups cold water/ 12 cups
      6 3/4 cups lemon juice fresh or bottled/ about 10 1/2 cups
      additional water, ice, gallon ziplock bags for storage
      additional lemons,washed and cut for decorative purposes in dispenser or pitcher

      I placed the measurements you’ll need after the / on each line. hope this helps!
      xo
      Si

  7. Have you used Country Time Lemonade for scouting type/kid events that you prepared as a concentrate ahead of time? Would you heat and mix and make a concentrate with the Country Time mix? I have an event for a awards ceremony that I need at least 100 servings of lemonade for and I need to pre-mix so it’s ready for the event before hand. I wasn’t sure if the mix would dissolve with just water in a concentrated form ahead of time. Thanks for sharing your method in this blog post!

    1. Hi Wendy,
      I have used that in the past for kids. Just mix with water and allow for some of the ice melting into the lemonade. Cold water works fine!
      Thanks for reading ABK,
      Si

  8. What if I am going to fill the dispenser with ice, but not each individual cup? I need enough to make 300, 10oz servings.

    1. Hi Michelle, the recipe gives instructions for 10-100 servings I’d try a batch for 10 people and then pour out the serving size you need. Compare that to the yield in my recipe and you’ll know how much you need for the amount you specified. Thanks!

      xo
      Si

  9. Have you ever added raspberries or strawberries top your lemonade? Mr. Daughter would like raspberry lemonade as well as regular at her wedding in Aug. Any suggestions?

    1. Deb,
      You can try a test batch and add a pint of strawberries, pulsed in a blender to the lemonade mixture. If it is not sweet enough, add more sugar to the lemonade base. i would start with about 1/3 cup to a pint of strawberries.
      Let us know!
      thanks for reading ABK,
      xo
      Si

  10. Curious on yor method of adding so much water to the concentrate?

    Wouldn’t omitting the second 8-cups, and waiting to add the lemon juice (until ready to serve) save a lot of space?

    Have you tried that, or see any issues with it?

    1. Hi Christina,

      You can do it that way if you choose! I developed this recipe after trial and error and found this to be the best method for freezing and thawing fresh lemonade in large batches. I wanted to be able to fill the Gallon Ziplock bag as much as possible and then add as little water as possible when mixing together. The frozen lemonade concentrate also helps cool the drink!
      thanks for reading ABK
      xo
      Si

  11. 5 stars
    Hi, we have been using your recipe for our boy’s lemonade stand on Lemonade Day for the past 3 years! He gets rave reviews each year. Every year though, I have a hard time figuring out how much water to add to the concentrate. It does not get hot enough where we are to melt the ice. Do you have a recommendation for the amount of water to add to the concentrate if not using ice in the dispenser? Thank you!!

  12. Hi I am having a Formal Event in May and saw your recipe for Lemonade. I bought Real Lemon concentrate juice. I need a recipe for 300 guest for 6 oz goblets and my dispenser bonds 5 gallons. Could you help me please.
    TIA

  13. 5 stars
    We served this at a dinner party tonight. I tripled the basic recipe and we have a large pitcher leftover in the fridge for tomorrow. We used about a bag and a half of lemons from Costco. It is simply delicious lemonade and I can’t wait to have more tomorrow!

  14. 5 stars
    Made this today with my 6 year old daughter and it was so incredibly delicious. She adores lemonade and this recipe knocked her socks off. Can’t wait to make another batch!!

  15. 5 stars
    I spent *days* prepping food for my daughter’s grad party and this lemonade is what people are STILL talking about a year later! 😂💕😂 So, SO good and has been in heavy rotation already this summer (and by heavy, I mean there’s always a pitcher in my fridge 😊)!

  16. 5 stars
    I made this with my daughter for our 4th of July dinner and it was so easy, so yummy, and then we made popcicles out of the leftover lemonade. We will definitely be making this again!

  17. Making lemonade for 300. How long can the concentrate be kept in the refrigerator prior to using without freezing?

  18. 5 stars
    Hello! I just finished making the 100 batch! Squeezed about 9 lbs of lemons to do it. The concentrate doesn’t taste SUPER lemony to me. I think I added too much sugar, I was a little generous. 🙂 I’m thinking of adding more lemon juice, because obv adding the water later will water down the lemon flavor even more. But this recipe is SO easy, plus easy to customize to your taste. Thank you for posting!

    1. I’m so glad to hear that, Lauren, this is one of my favorite drinks to make for a crowd. Thanks for sharing and for reading ABK!
      xo
      Si