Try out my recipe for Simple Basil Lemonade! The herb gives the lemonade a pleasant aftertaste without being overwhelming. I love this refreshing drink, perfect for a warm summer day or any time you need a bit of a cool citrus kick. 

Basil Lemonade

We planted a garden this weekend! Okay well 3 tomato plants. It took 2 trips to the store. And then we accidentally planted them in the wrong spot (too shady). And in the process Charlotte was attacked by ants. But at least it’s a start!
Pitcher full of basil lemonade 
Poor Charlotte. We were digging up the ground where we were going to plant (again, in the wrong spot) and hit an ant hill. So they got really mad and decided to take vengeance on our firstborn child. She had bites all over. Who knew regular black ants could be so vicious?
holding cold cup of basil lemonade
We’re pretty excited about this whole garden (inthewrongspot) thing. We go out as a family to water it every day (yes, really.) But soon it will become a chore much like laundry and dishes, and then we’ll see how long those little tomatoes last. I barely remember to water my basil plant and it lives 3 inches from my faucet.
Basil Lemonade
We also have a lemon tree in our backyard, hence the lemonade. It’s actually the neighbor’s tree, but it hangs over quite a bit into our yard. (I also walked over into another neighbor’s yard today and nabbed some Meyer lemons. Are you packing your bags for California yet?)
Basil Lemonade
If you told me a couple years ago that I’d be making Basil Lemonade, I would have scoffed. Basil? Could you get a little more pretentious please?
Basil Lemonade

But I’ve changed my ways. Snootified my life, you could say. I’ve even started wearing polo shirts. Just kidding. But I’m telling you, Basil Lemonade is where it’s at. The lemonade is perfect on it’s own (feel free to omit the basil if you want to Rage Against The Prep.) The secret’s in the syrup. You boil the sugar and water together to make a simple syrup, ensuring that the sugar is completely dissolved.

It’s just perfect. The basil honestly doesn’t complicate things too much. Just gives it a lovely aftertaste. This would be the perfect make-ahead drink for a Mother’s Day brunch or lunch!

Basil Lemonade

How to make Basil Lemonade

To start, measure our the basil that you need. It’s important to get the full amount. Jam that basil in there!

Measuring fresh basil

Then smash it up.

Smashing up basil

And add it to the syrup.

Preparing syrup for drink

Strain it out.

Straining basil from syrup

Add your lemon juice. Trust me, all that squeezing will be worth it!

Measuring lemon juice in jar

Then serve with ice and lemon slices and enjoy!

Pouring Basil Lemonade

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Basil Lemonade

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8 Servings
Simple Basil Lemonade. The herb gives the lemonade a pleasant aftertaste without being overwhelming.


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 & 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup basil, fresh, packed
  • 1 & 1/2 cups lemon juice, fresh-squeezed , 5-6 large lemons
  • 7 cups cold water
  • ice
  • basil, fresh, to garnish
  • lemon wedges, to garnish


  • In a medium pot, stir together 1 cup water and 1 3/4 cups sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until the sugar is completely dissolved, it shouldn't take more than a minute or two. Turn off the heat.
  • Meanwhile, in a heat-proof bowl, add the 1/4 cup packed basil. Use your hands to tear up the pieces. Use a wooden spoon to bruise the leaves against the bowl. Keep going until they are nice and dark. You want to get all that flavor.
  • Pour the sugar syrup over the basil leaves. Put it in the fridge for about 2-3 hours or until completely chilled. The longer it sits the more basilicious it will be.
  • Juice the lemons. Strain it through a colander to remove the seeds, but so that most of the pulp remains.
  • Add the lemon juice, 7 cups of water, and ice to a pitcher. Strain the refrigerated syrup through the colander into the pitcher. Discard basil. Stir well.
  • Serve with ice, fresh basil, and lemon wedges.


Source: adapted from


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 180kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 13mg | Potassium: 50mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 45g | Vitamin A: 42IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Calories: 180
Keyword: Basil, lemonade
Did you make this? I'd love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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  1. LOVE this combo! And congrats on the garden. Sorry to hear about Charlotte’s experience–but I feel like every kid has (and possibly needs?) a bugs-or-some-other-critters story. I’m sure the lemonade is helping, too.

  2. OMG!!!! Black ants???? I really used to think they were the innocent ones!!!! I’ve been meaning to grow a basil plant now mainly because I wanted to make fresh pesto regularly instead of using the canned stuff. But now, I have another reason to start growing the plant ASAP! This lemonade looks SOOOO REFRESHING!!!!!! I feel like reaching out to my screen and picking that cool cup filled with ice and that delicious basil lemonade and downing it in one single gulp! DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Your garden sounds so fun! Well, minus the ant hill thing, of course. I’ve always wanted a garden, but the deer ate anything we planted (besides geraniums, and those grew into a humongous bush!) at my parents’ place. And right now we’re renting, so maybe when we move towards the end of the summer, I could finally have a little garden! Or maybe just a few potted herbs. We’ll see. And basil in my lemonade? Count me in!! Basil is my all-time favorite savory flavor, so I could drink the entire pitcher by myself! ;)

  4. LOVE the idea of basil lemonade, especially for the summer, which it will feel like next week here in SoCal again. Your post cracked me up – my wife and I were walking the other day and saw a lemon tree and we both laughed as we remembered how all of our neighbors had fruit trees and how we thought nothing of taking them whenever we wanted as kids. Lemons, limes, peaches, apricots, you name it. Must be a California thing for sure, so spoiled here.

    1. True story. But in the case of citrus–I mean honestly, who cares? You can only eat so many lemons. We grew a lot of fruit trees in my backyard growing up and our house also backed up into an intersection. We would throw overripe fruit at passing cars. I want to smack my teenage self all over again. Thanks for saying hi Matt, nice to “meet” you.

  5. Yay for the new garden! We planted tomatoes and basil last year, and we were def more successful with basil. I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided to plant 3 basil plants. I added the herb to everything and anything, and I encouraged my mini schnauzer to eat some while playing in the yard ;). My husband is actually allergic to ants (which he found out the hard way during a mission trip) so I try to take care of all the “dangerous” tasks in the yard. I hope your lil’ one is doing ok. I absolutely adore this grown-up lemonade! Sound so refreshing!

    1. Probably you planted 3 basils thinking “I hope one of them lives”, which is exactly why I planted 3 tomatoes. Hopefully at least ONE survives!! I’m laughing thinking about your dog eating basil.

  6. You are like a mind reader! Jessica B just came over yesterday and was telling me that I just had to try some basil lemonade. Sa-weet! Just gotta wait for those little plants to grow a tad more…..

    1. Jessica has great taste! That’s awesome that you’re growing your own basil too!

  7. Is it bad that I’m insanely jealous of your lemon tree? Sorrynotsorry?

    This lemonade looks delish – Pinning! Can’t wait to try!

    1. Stop by anytime for some free lemons Melanie! I’ll even let you into my neighbor’s yard for the meyer’s too. We’ll be sneaky.

  8. I’m so proud of you and your gardening strides. Baby steps! I’m planting a bazillion (give or take a million) tomato plants this summer and five bushy basil plants. I might be addicted to tomatoes. And basil. Maybe there’s a twelve step program I can join…

  9. A lemon tree in your backyard? I didn’t think I could be so jealous of lemons, but here I am, ha. I am pretty sure I would make lemonade every day, especially when I could add yummy things like basil. Love the idea of adding herbs to lemonade – I am totally convinced that this tastes amazing :). Pinned!

    1. Thanks Kathi! I’m excited to try some other herbs too, like maybe thyme or rosemary. Makes me think of your Thyme Chocolate chip cookies!! Yum!

  10. There’s nothing I hate more than ants. NOTHING. Gross gross gross. Anyhoo. This, on the other hand is beautiful and I love it. Love love love. So refreshing. And I hate you for having daily access to lemon trees and meyer lemons. Why do I live in Kansas?

    1. I know. Ants really are the worst. Give me your address Nicole I will box up some meyers for you :)

  11. From what I’m told by others tomato plants are the hardiest things ever… So maybe they will be ok :) So wish I could go to the neighbors and get some lemons…. I could get…hmm thinking… nope my neighbors don’t have anything good. Except when my cat escapes.. and I have to do the whole… my cat isn’t really in your yard thing.

  12. Hi Karen, hope your little girl is alright, those mean ole ants! and what a wonderful thing to do with your family. Love this lemonade, great combination!

  13. Now you’re going to get 1748293 unsolicited gardening hints, but really soaking your tomatoes a ton in the first few weeks helps them have a big yield. I’ve learned this by experience…sad experience. Also, if you water in the morning instead of at night, and focus on the roots instead of the leaves, it will help your plants avoid powdery mildew.
    This lemonade looks amazing. Lemons are SO cheap here and we’ve got basil right next to the tomatoes in the garden, so I definitely see this happening soon…right next to a caprese panini. So summery!

    1. You are awesome! I’m going to call you about this, if anyone can make my tomatoes survive it will be you.

  14. This is totally reminding me of a peach basil sangria I had a fancy pants restaurant. I thought it would taste a little…interesting…with the basil in it. But it was SOOO good! And I’m so jealous that you have lemon trees that you can get to from your yard, even if they are your neighbors. That is my dream! I want to plant a lemon tree, but I read they take about 2-3 years until the fruit gets good. Can I wait that long? And when you put your tomato plants in a sunnier spot, you should plant some basil where the tomatoes were. They do great in the shade!

    1. The first basil drink I ever tasted was a watermelon basil lemonade that someone else ordered for me at a restaurant. I was not excited. But then I loved it and recreated it and blogged it, haha. You should totally plant a lemon tree Natalie! Yes you will have to wait but preeeetty sure you won’t regret it.

  15. Our brains are apparently in the same-ish place when it comes to beverages. But if your basil lemonade is in the same realm as polo shirts, then I guess my limeade is a t-shirt? I love the idea of boiling sugar and water together for a simple syrup, I’m definitely doing that!

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