Fast Food Lemonades Ranked Worst To Best

One of the best ways to celebrate summer is by sipping on a cold, freshly-made lemonade. The balance of sweetness and tartness makes it a refreshing drink on hot, sunny afternoons. And if you want to take your lemonade up a notch, there are tons of ways to customize the beverage with fruit additions like strawberry, peach, blueberry, and pineapple. 

Making lemonade at home isn't a huge hassle, but when you're out and about and the craving strikes you, where's the best place to go for a quick lemonade? A lot of fast food places offer the beverage, but not all are created equal. Some places make lemonade from scratch, while others use concentrated lemonade out of a soda fountain. While certain fast food restaurants have a couple of different flavors on the menu, others only offer regular lemonade. We sought out to find the best drive-through lemonade out there, and here are the winners, ranked from worst to best based on taste, tartness, and freshness. 

10. Chick-fil-A diet lemonade

Chick-fil-A's diet lemonade is made fresh daily, and only uses three ingredients, just like the regular lemonade. But instead of sugar added to the lemons and water, the diet lemonade is sweetened with Splenda zero-calorie sweetener. While the tartness levels of the diet lemonade are the same compared to the regular, the diet has a bit more syrupy, overstated sweetness to it that is noticeable after a few sips. 

While the sweetness isn't so unpleasant that the diet lemonade isn't enjoyable, it costs this drink some flavor points. The tartness just becomes overloaded by the sugary flavor after a while. Splenda is made with sucralose, which is 600 times sweetener than ordinary cane sugar, so it's not a surprise that the diet lemonade tastes different. But it's still a tangy and refreshing drink, so don't feel like you have to avoid the diet lemonade especially if you choose it out of nutritional necessity. 

9. Wendy's all-natural lemonade

The Wendy's classic lemonade is crisp and very refreshing, and definitely the tangiest lemonade on our list. It lacks the freshness of the regular Chick-fil-A lemonade — probably because it isn't made from scratch like the lemonade at its competitor restaurant, according to Wendy's employees on Reddit. In fact, one alleged employee says that the lemonade is just "from a carton and mixed with tap water." In the defense of Wendy's, its lemonade is advertised as all-natural and not freshly-squeezed, but the difference is still noticeable when comparing Wendy's to other brands that make lemonade fresh.

The flavored lemonades at Wendy's were far more tasty than the classic lemonade. The classic tastes similar to canned Country Time lemonade — not to say the flavor is bad, but it again doesn't compete with others that make fresh lemonade in-house. The flavor additions in Wendy's other three lemonades, at least, cover up this taste.

8. Chick-fil-A regular lemonade

Chick-fil-A's regular lemonade is a great classic lemonade if you like things more on the tart side. Being much less sweet than its diet counterpart at Chick-fil-A, the regular lemonade may not be a preferred option for everyone. But when tasting the diet and the regular side by side, the regular seemed much more enjoyable because it wasn't overwhelming after just a few sips like the diet was. 

While there are still quite a few lemonades that outperform Chick-fil-A's, this one reminded us of the traditional lemonade one would get at a state fair during the summer, where it is made from scratch right in front of you. It even had bits of lemon pulp like most classic homemade lemonades. Chick-fil-A does make its lemonade from scratch daily — and says that 60,000 lemon trees contribute to the 6.5 million gallons of lemonade made by the chain every year. 

7. Chick-fil-A frosted lemonade

If you aren't familiar with Chick-fil-A's signature frosted lemonade, it's a frozen, blended version of lemonade made by combining lemonade with Icedream, the chain's lower-butterfat version of ice cream. The resulting beverage is a thick, smooth dessert-like lemonade in a sort of milkshake form. The regular frosted lemonade — which just means it was made with the sugar-sweetened lemonade and not the diet lemonade — is very sweet, but not overbearing. 

This is an excellent summertime drink. Chick-fil-A sometimes has flavored versions of the frosted lemonade available, and some berry tartness would definitely help round out the drink's sweetness. Frosted strawberry lemonade may be available year-round at your local Chick-fil-A, but it wasn't available to us for this testing. The frosted lemonade is definitely something that we would order this summer to beat the heat since it's a bit lighter than a traditional ice cream milkshake (The drink is still made with dairy, though). 

6. Chick-fil-A half-and-half lemonade

The half-and-half lemonade is unexpectedly the most enjoyable non-frosted lemonade at Chick-fil-A. The sharp tartness of the regular lemonade meets the intense sweetness of the diet, and as a result, the flavor of the half-and-half lemonade is perfectly balanced. The regular lemonade's tang negates the sugary taste of the diet lemonade and vice versa. This is a beverage that we enjoyed from start to finish, whereas we lost interest in the other two Chick-fil-A lemonades before finishing them all. 

How much sugar is removed from your diet by choosing the half-and-half lemonade? By opting for half-and-half lemonade, you're cutting about 15.5 grams of sugar out of a small, about 27.5 grams out of a medium, and 37 grams out of a large. With this lemonade tasting the best out of all three at Chick-fil-A and adding the benefit of keeping some sugar out of your daily nutritional regimen, half-and-half is an easy winner among the non-frosted lemonades at Chick-fil-A. 

5. Wendy's strawberry lemonade

The strawberry lemonade at Wendy's is a classic flavor. It's not as sweet or interesting as the blueberry pomegranate lemonade, another Wendy's flavor that outscored this one. It's sweeter than the Wendy's pineapple mango lemonade, which puts this flavor at a good sweetness level for people with moderate sugar tolerances. The strawberry lemonade does an excellent job of balancing sweetness and tang, with the strawberry softening the tartness of lemon. 

According to Wendy's, real strawberries are used to make this lemonade, but there weren't any actual strawberry pieces in the lemonade — something that we would have liked to see in addition to the strawberry puree used in the recipe. However, even lacking the strawberry pieces, this one tastes fresh and not too sweet. Because we found the blueberry pomegranate and pineapple mango lemonades at Wendy's to be more interesting, though, the strawberry lemonade ranks in the middle of our summer lemonade rotation. 

4. Chick-fil-A diet frosted lemonade

In our testing of the non-frosted Chick-fil-A lemonades, the diet lemonade was noticeably sweeter than the regular. We looked closely for the same difference in the frosted lemonades, but were surprised to find that the diet frosted lemonade was barely sweeter than the regular. The addition of the sweet, vanilla-flavored Icedream probably narrowed the sweetness margin between the two.

The regular and diet frosted lemonades were identical in tartness and texture. Without a stark discrepancy in flavor, picking the diet frosted lemonade is a great choice if you want to want to keep your sugar intake down. Unfortunately, frosted half-and-half lemonade didn't appear to be a regular menu item, but Chick-fil-A employees may be able to make a frosted lemonade with half-and-half if it isn't too busy and you ask nicely. Of the two frosted lemonade choices here, we would pick the diet since the flavor is by and large the same. 

3. Wendy's pineapple mango lemonade

The Wendy's pineapple mango lemonade is one we'd recommend for people who don't normally like lemonade. This is our second favorite of the three special Wendy's lemonade flavors. The common flavor components of lemonade are much more muted here: The lemon isn't all that tart, and the added fruit flavors don't create an overbearing sweetness. Mango is a flavor commonly overshadowed by more intense tastes like pineapple and lemon, but surprisingly the mango wasn't swallowed up by the other flavors in this lemonade. 

The pineapple mango lemonade is less sweet than the blueberry pomegranate and has fewer calories. Wendy's says a large pineapple mango lemonade has 420 calories, while a large blueberry pomegranate has 450. In either case, that's an unfathomably large amount of lemonade to drink — a large pineapple mango will get you 109 grams of carbs and 104 grams of sugar. We generally choose to go with a small or medium.

2. Wendy's blueberry pomegranate lemonade

If you've ever wanted to poke a tiny straw into a Fruit Gusher and slurp up the insides, the blueberry pomegranate lemonade at Wendy's is your perfect opportunity to do so. This lemonade is the absolute perfect level of sweetness, and the tart lemon pairs wonderfully with the blueberry. Pomegranate isn't a super strong flavor, but it's prominent enough to notice. The lemon taste is more subdued, while not absent, so this is a good lemonade for people that normally find unflavored lemonade overwhelming.

Wendy's lemonade isn't made from scratch by employees, but the restaurant does a pretty good job of making a fresh-tasting lemonade, complete with lemon pulp and what appear to be smashed blueberry bits. Wendy's employees point out that the lemonade is loaded with sugar, too — but isn't that to be expected with lemonade? In any case, Wendy's blueberry pomegranate lemonade is tart, fruity, and definitely our preferred drink of the summer. 

1. Raising Cane's lemonade

Raising Cane's may not have much interest in being a jack of all trades, but it's certainly mastered a few: chicken strips, dipping sauce, and lemonade. Cane's lemonade is made from scratch daily, with water, lemons, and sugar being the only ingredients. The Cane's lemonade reins in the sweetness that Chick-fil-A seems to struggle with, delivering a flawless harmony between the tangy bite of freshly-squeezed lemons and the sweetness of cane sugar. 

Chick-fil-A and Raising Cane's are close competitors in many ways, including lemonade and chicken. In the former, Raising Cane's holds a slight edge. An added benefit to Raising Cane's lemonade is that it's lower in calories; a regular-size Raising Cane's lemonade has 180 calories and a medium Chick-fil-A lemonade has 220. Both restaurants make an excellent, made-from-scratch summer beverage, but Raising Cane's has a better overall taste and a more palatable level of sweetness.