Nothing beats a chilled drink by the pool when it’s too hot to do anything. That’s exactly what I did a few weeks ago—drinking lemonade with extra ice (my go-to summer drink) and flipping through Instagram as my kids splashed in the pool nearby. A Reel of @cookingwithcocktailrings making limonada popped into my feed and immediately I was taken back to the open-air markets of Paraguay, where I grew up drinking it to keep cool on the hottest days.
It’s been over 20 years since I’ve had a limonada—a frothy, creamy, and tart drink made by whirling whole limes (called limón in Spanish and why it sounds like lemonade, though it’s closer to a limeade) in a blender.
The vendedores (“sellers” in Spanish) at the market peddled limonada in plastic beverage coolers, vigorously rocking them back and forth to mix the drink before filling plastic cups for customers. It was the best way to cool down after shopping in the shirt-drenching heat.
I recreated the limonada of my childhood for my kids (they LOVED it!). It only calls for three ingredients—fresh limes, sweetened condensed milk, and sugar. They are blitzed in a blender with water (I am counting it as a freebie ingredient), strained to remove the pulp and skin, and poured over ice (another freebie ingredient).
Move aside lemonade! This limonada is the thirst quencher I’m making on repeat all summer.
How To Make the Most Refreshing Limonada
For four servings, you’ll need:
- 4 limes, washed and quartered
- 4 ounces sweetened condensed milk (About a third of a 14-ounce can.)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups water
- Ice for serving
Add the quartered limes, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and water into a blender. Blitz on high for five seconds if using a high-speed blender like a Vitamix, or for 10 seconds in a standard blender that’s less powerful.
This is important: Do not blend the limes for too long. You’ll end up with limonada that’s too bitter. Since the mixture is strained, it doesn’t haven’t to be smooth like a smoothie. It’s okay if you see small chunks of lime peel and pulp.
Set a fine mesh sieve on a small pitcher—I use a 4-cup measuring cup. Pour the limonada into the sieve and use a spoon to push the liquid through it. Serve the strained limonada over ice. It’s best enjoyed immediately since it’ll turn bitter as it sits.
3 Tips For Making Limonada
- Up the Sugar for a Sweeter Drink: Though I’m accustomed to the bitterness of limonada because I grew up drinking it, my kids prefer it less so. (It’s not that bitter, but kids do have keen tastebuds.) The sweetened condensed milk is meant to tame the inherently bitter limes, it doesn’t actually add much sweetness. Keep the amount of condensed milk as is and up the sugar to 1/3 cup for a sweeter kid-friendly version.
- Leave Out the Pith for a Sweeter Drink: Here’s another trick to making a less bitter limonada. After quartering the limes, you can cut out the pith—the white part along the edge of each wedge. Then, don’t blend the limes for too long. Five seconds on high speed is sufficient to get all the juice and flavor you need. Any longer, you’ll release the bitter oils in the peel.
- Make It Dairy-Free With Coconut-Based Sweetened Condensed Milk: I like Let’s Do Organic sweetened condensed coconut milk from Whole Foods. For this recipe, you can use the whole 7.4-ounce can. And in case you’re wondering, you will be able to taste the coconut. If that’s a concern, add half the can and up the sugar to 1/3 cup.