Homemade Lemonade Recipe (And Pioneer Lemonade)


There is nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than an ice cold glass of fresh lemonade. Growing up we didn’t make lemonade very often (we were sun tea drinkers!) but after I was married, me and my husband started a tradition of getting the fresh squeezed lemonade at the county fair each year.

But there’s no need to wait until until the county fair to make your own homemade fresh lemonade with this super easy homemade lemonade recipe. Make sure to make this lemonade a few hours before you plan to use it because it will need to chill in the fridge for a while before served.

Homemade Lemonade Recipe

What You Need:

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. lemon juice (about 6-8 fresh squeezed lemons)
  • 3-4 c. cold water

On the stove top, stir together the sugar and 1 cup of water. Stir occasionally and keep on a medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved in the water.

Little House Living - Fresh Homemade Lemonade Recipe

Pour the mixture into a pitcher. Juice the lemons and add in the lemon juice and cold water. Stir.

Chill in the fridge for several hours before serving.

Little House Living - Fresh Homemade Lemonade Recipe

In the Little House books, there are a few occasions where lemonade is served. Both in On the Banks of Plum Creek and Little Town on the Prairie. However it’s clear from this quote that real lemonade wasn’t a regular staple of the pioneers in Laura’s time.

“Is your lemonade sweet enough?” Mrs. Oleson asked. So Laura knew that it was lemonade in the glasses. She had never tasted anything like it.
– On the Banks of Plum Creek

Why wasn’t lemonade normal in pioneer times? The answer is simple. Produce was not shipped like it is today. Since Laura and many pioneers were in the north and the west, they didn’t have access to lemons. What did they make instead? Here’s the recipe!

Little House Living - Pioneer Lemonade

Pioneer Lemonade

What You Need:

  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 12 oz. water
  • 2 Tablespoons of sugar

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy!

What do you think? Could you handle the Pioneer Style Lemonade? Apparently the reasoning behind this drink was to add extra Vitamin C into the pioneer diets to help stave off disease. So that makes sense, but I wouldn’t exactly call it the same refreshing lemonade recipe that we enjoy today!

Is lemonade a summer staple for you? Do you have your own special homemade lemonade recipe? Would you ever try the Pioneer Lemonade?


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  1. Hi Merissa, I just discovered Pioneer Lemonade myself and absolutely love it!!! The recipe I use is a little different:

    32 ounces water (part ice)
    1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
    1 teaspoon powdered ginger
    10 drops lemon oil
    15 drops stevia extract

    Really seems to quench the thirst. 🙂

  2. I actually drink a version of the “Pioneer Lemonade” but I call it “Lemonade with a Kick.” I love it!! Here’s the recipe:
    1 quart water
    2 TBSP Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar (important to have raw, unfiltered ACV, usually found in natural food sections, for results. HUGE difference from processed, refined vinegars.)
    2 TBSP of raw local honey
    juice of 1/2 lemon

    I warm up about 1/2 cup of water on the stove and then pour it into a measuring cup, to which I add the honey. This step helps the honey to dissolve quicker.

    Then add the honey water to the quart, along with the remaining ingredients. You can drink it warm as a tea or with ice. I have asthma and this has been extremely beneficial in relieving the mucus in the body. I also noticed when I drank it daily, I had NO ISSUES WHATSOEVER during allergy season. For some reason, this past winter I did not drink it on a regular basis and this past allergy season kicked my butt! =) ACV has so many health benefits, I love it. I guess my absolute favorite benefit is the way it dissolves cellulite and helps with weight loss. Can’t beat that! =D

  3. We have made “lemonade” using Staghorn Sumac spikes. Bring the spikes just to a boil with water to cover. Strain but don’t press on the spikes as it releases bitter flavor. Add either sugar or honey to your taste and serve over ice. Makes a very pretty deep pink tart drink that is quite refreshing.

    1. Please be VERY VERY careful if you plan on harvesting the Staghorn spikes yourself if a novice. The RED fruit spikes (late summer, early fall) of the ‘Staghorn Sumac’ create a wonderful brew. The ‘WHITE’ fruit of the ‘POISON SUMAC’ is as deadly as its name. The fruits do not look the same, but ask someone who knows the difference to teach you.

  4. I prefer homemade lemonade – it’s the only time I really drink any – yet haven’t made any myself yet. I guess it would keep for quite a while in the fridge (if it lasts long enough from us drinking it!). Thanks for this, it’s given me a poke to make some of my own 🙂 I found your blog via the Hearth & Soul Hop.

  5. Hi Merissa,
    There is nothing better in the hot summer than a ice cold lemonade, this looks fabulous! Hope you have a wonderful week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  6. Thanks for linking up & sharing on DearCreatives.com glad to have you & can’t wait to try your lemonade recipe. Hope to see you again soon. Your newest follower.

  7. I did a lapbook and unit study with my kids and a friend for homeschool on the Oregon Trail/Pioneers. We made both Pioneer Lemonade and homemade lemonade. A few of the kids really liked the Pioneer Lemonade and asked for seconds! And all the kids had a blast juicing the lemons themselves. Thanks for the recipes!

  8. Hey there, I’ve never left a comment before, but that lemonade recipe was amazing. Thanks so much!


  9. And for raspberry lemonade you just blend a tbsp of raspberries and add it in! A wonderful twist to the classic lemonade!!!

  10. My ancestors settled the land of the farm I own. So, I came from a long line (200 years) of farmers until my parents generation. My Mom called the vinegar, sugar & water beverage Switzel and she said that it was used to quench thirst while working in the fields on a hot day. I do enjoy a bit of switzel now and then. It has been a long time, so I thank you for the reminder.

  11. I’ve often wondered about ur homemade lemonade over there & what u put in it – it’s not part of our culture here in Australia. I think I might make some up from my lemon tree, when our summer returns.
    Re: the Pioneer Lemonade – Apple Cider Vinegar doesn’t actually contain Vit C or any other vitamin, it only contains minerals, sugar & water, see the US Dept of Agriculture http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/272 – I’m wondering if maybe they just gave it to kids as punishment? lol

  12. I use ACV w/Mother (that’s where are the ‘good’ stuff is – if doesn’t have the Mother – then it won’t have much of anything good for you – but you can still use the plain ACV for other things)
    Each morning, I juice a lemon or lime and add that to a cup with 1 Tbl ACV w/mother + 1 tsp Gelatin (from grass-fed beef – from Great Lakes) + 2-4 drops Stevia (with no additives) And I heat water to fill the cup.
    The 1st sip sometimes makes me cough…. But after that I really enjoy it.

    Now I’ll need to try the Pioneer ‘Lemonades’ – because I don’t like to drink hot teas/drinks when the weather is warm.

    1. Oh yeah, this drink is suppose to help Cleanse the liver. (takes at least a year -I think 2 yrs for the liver to ‘rebuild’)

  13. I make home made lemonade but have never boiled the water; what is the purpose of having to boil water? I will try yours and see how I like it. 🙂