Get my newest recipe via email:

Lemon Basil Lemonade

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When lemon basil shows up in your CSA farm share box, make Lemon Basil Lemonade. That’s how we roll around here. Who wants a refreshing glass of homemade lemonade? 

Lemon Basil Lemonade in 4 tall glasses with straws

How to make lemon basil lemonade:

  • Transfer the basil mixture to a jar, add the lemon juice and water and stir.
  • Put lemon basil leaves, sugar and lemon zest in a bowl.
  • Crush or “muddle” until the basil is well bruised and the sugar is mixed in.
  • Transfer the basil mixture to a jar, add the lemon juice and water and stir.
  • Refrigerate to let the basil and zest to infuse their flavor into the water and lemon juice. Try to wait at least an hour.
  • When you’re ready to drink, strain off the basil and lemon zest and pour about 1/3 cup of lemonade over ice. Here, you can stir in 1/2 cup of water or instead, simply top with about 1/2 cup of sparkling water.
  • Note: When I mix the basil and zest with the lemon juice, I use just half of the water called for. Then I add sparkling water just before serving.

Basil is a close cousin of mint. If mint is wonderful in lemonade, why not lemon basil? If you don’t have lemon basil, you can substitute regular basil for this lemonade. Or mint!

What is lemon basil?

  • Lemon basil is a hybrid between basil and African basil. It’s not a common herb in the US.
  • It’s an uncommon ingredient in the US, so when we found a bunch of aromatic lemon basil in our farm share box and I decided to turn it into lemonade. The leaves are bright green narrow and pointed ovals and the fragrance is distinctly lemon with a lot of background sweetness.
  • Lemon basil’s distinct lemon fragrance is especially pungent once it’s minced or cooked. In this recipe we crush the basil with lemon zest and sugar.

Lemon basil for Lemon Basil Lemonade
Lemon Basil and lemon zest for muddling Lemon Basil Lemonade

Crushing or “muddling” the lemon basil, sugar and zest is the same method used to make a mojito. This lemonade is a “mocktail”, but you could definitely add tequila and turn it into a refreshing cocktail like these tequila mojitos made with agave nectar.

zest and lemon squeezing for Lemon Basil Lemonade
Lemon Basil Lemonade in 4 glasses with window in background

This recipe is adapted from the Lemon Basil-Mint Lemonade recipe in Deborah Madison’s cookbook, Vegetable Literacy. (Affiliate) In the headnotes for her recipe, Ms. Madison writes that basil and chia are both cousins of mint. So are lavender, thyme, and rosemary–all cousins.

To get my latest recipe posts and newsletters, subscribe here. (I hate Spam too and will never share your email with anyone.)

  • Follow me on Instagram!
  • Peruse my Pinterest boards for more vegetarian recipe ideas.
  • Find daily vegetarian and healthy living ideas on my Facebook page.

PS If you make this recipe and love it, please consider leaving a blog post comment. Your comments help other readers learn more about the recipe.

The link to the Vegetable Literacy cookbook is an Amazon affiliate link. When you purchase products via my links, it doesn’t cost you anything and I earn a tiny commission, which helps me continue to provide free content here on Letty’s Kitchen. Thank you!!

Filed under: Drinks

Tagged: ,


  • Marissa Sertich

    sounds like a delicious drink for these last few days of summer! Reply · 18 September, 2013

    • Marissa,
      I had leftover lemonade from that party. I put the jar on the fridge door and nursed it the next week whenever I wanted an alchohol-free treat. Reply · 27 October, 2013

  • Arabella

    Thanks for the recipes, I will make Lemon Basil Lemonade today!
    And some Mojitos this weekend. Reply · 18 July, 2017

5 from 2 votes (1 rating without comment)

Leave a Reply

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.