Skip That Neighbor Kid’s Stand, Drink These 6 Lemonades Instead

There’s nothing quite as refreshing as a cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day (at least, according to old sitcoms and cartoons). Personally, I am a homemade lemonade obsessive. I have my formula down pat: squeeze the juice from two and a half lemons, add seven barspoons of sugar, stir, add ice, stir again, top with water, stir again, enjoy. But even I can get lazy sometimes—especially when it’s sweltering outside—and want to just open the fridge and pull out a jug of ready-made, store-bought lemonade. So, I was ready and excited for this taste test. And my standards were high. 

We culled a selection of some of the top-rated lemonades on the market right now and sat down with Good Mythical Morning writer Kalyn French to try to find the best ones. We wanted an ‘ade that was the perfect balance of tart and sweet. We wanted it to taste like real lemons were involved in the production of the juice. We wanted that “ahhh” feeling after taking a sip. Some failed miserably, tasting of things like cleaning solution and nothing but artificial sweetener. But others were just what we were looking for. Here are the top store-bought lemonades we tasted.

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Newman's Own Virgin Lemonade

Best of the Best

Newman’s Own Virgin Lemonade

“It’s like real lemonade but not as sour,” said Kalyn. “It’s like if you took a lemonade popsicle and let it melt,” Jordan countered. It’s tough to make a mass-produced citrus-based product. You’ll never capture the true essence of a fresh-squeezed lime or grapefruit or lemon. But Newman’s comes close. It has a nice, zesty quality and is certainly not as sweet as many of the other lemonades we tried. It’s extremely refreshing and keeps you coming back for more. It’s reminiscent of the lemonade you made using frozen concentrate—but I personally like that zingy quality. Trust Paul, this is good.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

Simply Lemonade

Best Sweet

Simply Lemonade

Simply was a close second to Newman’s Own. It’s a touch sweeter, which dropped it down half a spork for us, but still has great, crisp, tart flavor. And since it’s made with cane sugar, the sweetness is pleasant and rounded. If you like your lemonade on the more sugary end of the spectrum, this is the one for you. And I do have to commend Simply on its easy-to-pour packaging. The neck of the bottle makes serving a breeze—perfect for spill-prone folks like myself.                 

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

Sprouts Organic Old Fashioned Lemonade

Best Organic

Sprouts Organic Old Fashioned Lemonade

“Really tasty, very tart, I think Sprouts really did it,” said Sporked managing editor Gwynedd Stuart. “Hell yes.” Kalyn gave it the ultimate packaged lemonade compliment saying, “There were probably real lemons used to make this.” The sweetness in this lemonade is warm and rounded—almost like it was sweetened with honey rather than sugar. If you regularly shop at Sprouts, add this to your weekly list. It’s lemony and sharp—but still mild enough that you can easily gulp down a couple of glasses. You’ll need refills. 

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Uncle Matt’s No Sugar Added Lemonade

Best Sugar-Free

Uncle Matt’s No Sugar Added Lemonade

It’s hard to find a sugar-free lemonade that isn’t extremely sweet. That may sound counterintuitive, but if the manufacturer doesn’t add sugar, they add artificial sweeteners instead, and those are often sweeter than actual sugar. Uncle Matt’s manages to still strike a balance between the sweetness (provided by Stevia) and the tartness. The first flavor you get is true, pleasantly sour lemon flavor. Then you get a nudge of sweetness that helps mellow out the mix. It still has a bit of that artificial sweetener edge, but it’s worlds better than other sugar-free lemonades I’ve tried. 

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

Simple Truth Organic Lemonade

Best for an Arnold Palmer

Simple Truth Organic Lemonade

If you’ve ever been to a restaurant and ordered lemonade and then took a sip and realized that it was not fresh-made lemonade…that’s what this brand tastes like. It has a lot of the same qualities of fresh lemonade: It’s tart. There’s a balance of sugar. It’s thirst-quenching. It’s just obviously not made with fresh-squeezed lemons. And sometimes that’s fine. In this case, it makes a great base for an Arnold Palmer. The slightly less acidic taste melds beautifully with iced tea, and the calculated level of sweetness is perfect for a 50/50 AP. 

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

6.5/10

Sporks

Milo's Simply Lemonade

Best for Cocktails

Milo’s Simply Lemonade

When it comes to making cocktails, you need sugar. Sugar is to the cocktail world what salt is to the cooking world—it elevates the flavors of the other ingredients and helps bring everything together into one delicious, harmonious blend. And this lemonade is sweet, sweet, sweet. Personally, I love it—even as someone without a sweet tooth. It’s packed with sugar but it has a pure, honest flavor—like if you let your kid measure out the sugar for the lemonade. That’s how sweet this is. But it’s incredibly refreshing and would be great simply spiked with vodka or used as a shortcut in a Tom Collins. 

Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart

Rating:

6.5/10

Sporks

Santa Cruz Organic Lemonade

Best Mild

Santa Cruz Organic Lemonade

“This is the version of lemonade you would give a grandparent who can’t have a lot of crazy flavors,” Kalyn said. It is a very gentle lemonade, for sure. So it’s great for people who are sensitive to high levels of acidity or sugar. If you find yourself adding water to regular store-bought lemonade, this is the brand for you. It still tastes like good quality lemons with a fine level of sweetness, but it’s cut a bit, so you can gulp it down without worrying about burning your throat. 

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

6/10

Sporks

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About the Author

Justine Sterling

Justine Sterling is the editor-in-chief of Sporked. She has been writing about food and beverages for well over a decade and is an avid at-home cook and snacker. Don’t worry, she’s not a food snob. Sure, she loves a fresh-shucked oyster. But she also will leap at whatever new product Reese’s releases and loves a Tostitos Hint of Lime, even if there is no actual lime in the ingredients.

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  • Newman’s Own juices never miss!! Their Orange Mango juice rules.

    Reply
  • Aldi’s Nature’s Nectar lemonade amazing inexpensive lemonade. I highly recommend trying it. I would say it is superior to Simply and at least the equal to Newman’s.

    Reply
  • I agree Newman’s Own is better than Simply when comparing regular lemonade, but Simply’s raspberry and blueberry lemonades are where it’s at IMO. Also does Santa Cruz even qualify as lemonade? I took one sip of it and thought I had accidentally grabbed a lemon tea. I don’t know how anyone could honestly rate it higher than a 4.

    Reply