Italian Lemonade

When life, or an impulse buy at Costco (what was I thinking?), gives you an abundance of lemons, try this lemonade for a change. A change, because it’s not just ordinary lemonade. It’s Giada de Laurentiis lemonade. It’s “throw a stereotypically-Italian ingredient into a recipe that’s not Italian and suddenly it becomes Italian” lemonade. Seriously, have you noticed that? She throws a handful of hazelnuts on some ice cream or spreads Nutella over a piece of bread and suddenly it’s Italian.I actually really like Giada. A lot. She has great recipes, she’s as cute as a button, and she has a beautiful kitchen. I was just teasing her. I do that to people I like.(I wonder if ginormous hair would make my waist look smaller, too. Hmm.)

What makes this lemonade special is the basil-infused simple syrup. Basil and lemons typically go well together in savory dishes, so it makes sense that they would compliment each other in something sweet. I couldn’t get enough of this. Instead of mixing it all together, I kept the syrup in the fridge and juiced a lemon into a glass when I wanted some. The syrup will last a few months and it’s the perfect way to use up extra basil.

And hooray for Perrys’ Plate’s (whoa, tricky punctuation) very first beverage!

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Italian Lemonade


For the Basil Simple Syrup:
1 large or 2 small bunches of fresh basil, washed and stemmed
2 c sugar
1 c water

For the lemonade:
2 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 12-15 lemons)
2 c Basil Simple Syrup
3 qt (12 c) cold or sparkling water
lemon twists or basil sprigs for garnish


To make the simple syrup:
In a saucepan combine basil, sugar, and water and simmer until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Cool, strain leaves from syrup and store in the fridge.

To make the lemonade:
Mix lemon juice, basil simple syrup, and water together in a large pitcher. Store in the fridge until ready to serve. Pour into glasses and garnish. Makes 1 gallon.

Nat's Notes:
1. A wooden citrus reamer was probably one of the best things I ever bought to juice citrus. I bet I get twice as much juice than any other tricks (aside from getting an electric juicer).
2. The original recipe said to mix equal parts juice, syrup, and water. WHOA... talk about face implosion. It needs a LOT more diluting than that. Start with equal parts juice and syrup, then start adding water until you reach your desired taste. The water content above is about where I liked it.

adapted from Giada de Laurentiis (

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5 Responses to “Italian Lemonade”

  1. #
    ElegantSnobbery — May 30, 2009 @ 5:00 pm

    Mmmm… I’m going to try that. Perfect for summer in Texas!

    Oh, and big hair will just make you look stuck in the early 90s. Seriously. I know from experience. I still had a thick waist and my hair was bigger than Cindy Crawford in her seriously hot days.


  2. #
    Sarah — May 31, 2009 @ 8:24 pm

    I had some citrus basil ice cream in France and I loved it!!!


  3. #
    foodieplus4 — June 2, 2009 @ 12:50 am

    Yum. This looks amazing. Just waiting for it to get hot enough in CT.


  4. #
    Erica — June 5, 2009 @ 5:00 pm

    Hi Natalie! Thanks for the comment on my blog. Yay for Bay area food bloggers! Your photos and recipes look beautiful. I've already added the ingredients for your salsa onto my shopping list!


  5. #
    AlyGatr — June 5, 2009 @ 7:17 pm

    I love big hair…and Giada! Basil in lemonade, huh? Will have to try it.

    BTW…totally OT, but thanks for reposting your BLT Quesidilla recipe the other day. I tried it today and YUM. Mine was a BL, cause I hate raw "T"'s but it was delish all the same. Lesson learned, don't make your tortillas too crispy of they don't roll well :)


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