Store Bought Lemonade Brands Ranked Worst To Best

Lemonade is tasty year-round, but it is a particularly refreshing summer treat. While it is relatively simple to make a classic lemonade, it is one of those recipes that takes more time (and heat) than one might expect. Luckily, there are many ready-made lemonades available at our fingertips. You can find them in powder form, in the freezer section, the refrigerated section, or even on the pantry shelves of the grocery store. But with so many options to choose from, how do you know if you are making the right choice? To help you out, we compared 14 brands and ranked them from worst to best.

How did we perform this taste test? To level the playing field, we tried the "base flavor" of each brand. Since some brands make an array of lemonades and others do not, we decided to stick to the originals only. No "fun" add-ins, no light or zero sugar, and no lemonade mix where you do the work yourself. That said, some are organic, whereas others aren't. Some are freshly squeezed, and others are shelf-stable. Here are the results!

14. First Street

First Street is Smart & Final's store brand. This West Coast-based chain's lemonade is called "Thirst Puncher." Sold in a 1-gallon bottle and certified kosher, it contains a whopping 33 grams of sugar. This lemonade is sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup and has only 3% juice per eight-fluid-ounce serving. It's in a shelf-stable package, but the company recommends refrigerating it after opening.

While this lemonade was by far the most affordable, that did not make it a good deal. It smells and tastes like weird, liquid candy. We are not quick to refer to any food product as "gross," but that's the first word that comes to mind. There's no difference between drinking this and soda, minus the carbonation, so why not go for the bubbles? The large gallon container is undoubtedly appealing, and we can imagine a drink called "Thirst Puncher" might grab the attention of parents looking to supply their kids' sports teams with a half-time drink, but do not do it. This lemonade does nothing more than punch up a thirst.

13. Florida's Natural

While Florida's Natural may be better known for its orange juice, the company makes six varieties of lemonade, including zero sugar, strawberry, and raspberry & peach. The original flavor that we tried comes in three sizes and contains 12% juice. The company uses sugar to sweeten its product, and the lemonade is made from lemon juice concentrate. An eight-fluid-ounce serving contains 27 grams of sugar. It is certified kosher.

This lemonade contains some pulp, which means there is at least some truth to the "Natural" part of Florida's Natural. The problem with this lemonade is that beyond that, it has little lemon flavor. It smells sweet and tastes like candy. There is nothing wrong with sweetness in lemonade, but we prefer at least a little bit of bite along with it. And the sugar should never be cloying.

Even if we are not superfans of this lemonade, if you are ever in Lake Wales, Florida, you can visit the company's Grove House and taste it for yourself. We have a sneaking suspicion that being surrounded by citrus trees would up the taste quotient.

12. Calypso

Though its motto is "A taste of the islands," Calypso Lemonade (part of the King Juice Company, Inc.) started in Milwaukee. In business for nearly 40 years, the brand now sells a variety of lemonades, limeades, and iced teas, including 14 types of lemonade. Some of them are quite original-sounding, such as kiwi lemonade, triple melon lemonade, and cucumber limeade. To stay fair to the test, we tried Calypso's original lemonade, which has been around since the year 2000. It contains lemon juice concentrate, sugar, and pulp. This drink has 53 grams of sugar in a sixteen-fluid-ounce serving. The product is certified kosher.

What a very strange lemonade. For starters, for lack of a better word, it smells skunky. And it tastes vaguely chemically or reminiscent of a SweeTARTS candy. It contains almost no pulp, and it made us thirsty. We know that sounds like it should be dead last on this list, but the fact that it had a taste beyond just sugar pushed it slightly above the worst.

11. Market Pantry

Market Pantry is Target's store brand. While we generally think of Target's in-house brand as middling, its lemonade is certainly towards the bottom of our ranking.

The beverage comes in a half-gallon bottle and is shelf-stable until opened. Made from lemon juice concentrate, it contains 3% juice and 25 grams of sugar per eight-fluid-ounce serving. This lemonade is sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup and has Yellow 5 coloring. It is certified kosher.

Considering this lemonade contains no pulp and has a low juice content, it is surprisingly lemony and has a bit of tartness. That said, it is still too sweet for our liking. It smells of candy, which is not what we want in a drink that is supposed to be refreshing. To be fair, it was an inoffensive drink, unlike those ranked below it. We suppose that if you like very sweet drinks and are on a Target run, this might do the trick, but in no way should you go out of your way to pick up this libation.

10. Signature SELECT

Signature SELECT is available at Albertson's, Safeway, and other Albertson's brand stores. The brand sells a half-gallon of lemonade that contains 15% juice. It is shelf-stable till opened. Made from lemon juice and concentrate, this certified-kosher lemonade uses sugar as the sweetener, and an eight-fluid-ounce serving has 26 grams of it. The brand also produces a lemonade drink mix. Albertson's/Safeway also sells lemonade through its organic brand, O Organics.

This lemonade tastes pretty good. There is just one problem: It tastes like pineapple juice. The ingredients are "water, sugar, lemon juice, concentrate, [and] natural flavor," so we are unsure where the pineapple aroma originates. (Signature SELECT also produces pineapple juice, so we wonder if something happened there.) While we cannot recommend this as a lemonade, it is affordable with a decently high fruit juice content. Its shelf stability should also make it appealing to many. However, if you are craving pineapple juice, why not just buy the brand's pineapple juice instead?

9. Santa Cruz Organic

Santa Cruz Organic makes over 40 products, including lemonades, juices, and fruit sauces. While the company originated in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, these days, it also has a factory in the state of Maryland. One of the company's main goals is sustainability — even earning a "TRUE Platinum Zero Waste Certification" from the Green Business Certification Inc.™ A worthy achievement; we just wish the lemonade tasted good enough to be worth buying.

The brand sells five lemonades, including original, strawberry, and mango. Its lemonade is certified USDA organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, and gluten-free. It is made with organic sugar and organic lemon juice concentrate. A sixteen-fluid-ounce bottle contains 43 grams of sugar.

This lemonade had a really unpleasant smell. It did not seem fresh by any means. In fact, it smelled like it was cooked. The drink had some acidity but tasted like candy (a lemon drop, perhaps) that wasn't very lemony, nor did it contain any pulp. Fair or not, we expected more from this brand, and were left underwhelmed. 

8. Trader Joe's

Despite its chaotic parking lots, Trader Joe's is a favorite among foodies and non-foodies alike. And when it comes to lemonade, the grocery chain makes some fun flavors, such as spicy mango and jalapeño limeade, that we were tempted to try. Alas, we did not think that would be fair to the competition. Instead, we tested its certified organic lemonade, which the store sells in a half-gallon bottle that is shelf-stable until opened. It contains 12% juice, organic cane sugar, lemon juice, and lemon juice concentrate. One eight-fluid-ounce serving has 30 grams of sugar.

We love Trader Joe's and had high hopes for this lemonade, but it did not deliver. In fact, it reminded us of the Santa Cruz Organics lemonade in that it smelled cooked, but instead of tasting like a lemon bar, it was reminiscent of apple juice. This lemonade does not smell of anything and contains no pulp. We rank it slightly above the Santa Cruz Organics lemonade because it is more affordable and likely easier to find.

7. Simply

While we tried the original flavor, Simply makes three additional types of lemonade: raspberry, blueberry, and strawberry. The brand also sells a variety of other juices and mixers. We have ranked all of Simply's lemonade flavors, and the original came out on top, so this brand definitely had a fighting chance. It just could not pull past the lower-middle of the pack.

The original lemonade contains 11% juice, is available in five sizes, and contains 28 grams of sugar per eight-fluid-ounce serving. It is not from concentrate and is sweetened with cane sugar, which should appeal to many.

This lemonade reminded us of a lemon bar. The beverage is slightly acidic with a subtly sweet taste. Though it contains some pulp, it has an (oddly) vaguely fake and chemical-tasting flavor. All in all, this is middle-of-the-road lemonade. It does taste fresher than other lemonades on this list, but not natural enough to be super refreshing. That said, it would probably be a good mixer for your cocktails and mocktails. 

6. Barsotti

Barsotti Family Juice Co. started as an apple stand and slowly expanded into the juice business by making cider for a local grocery store. Now the company produces many different juices, including lemonade, carrot, and watermelon. Seasonally, it sells strawberry lemonade. Its lemonade is sold in two sizes and contains 20% freshly-squeezed juice and organic cane sugar. An eight-fluid-ounce serving includes an extraordinary 35 grams of sugar. The product is certified kosher and must be refrigerated at all times.

While we did not necessarily love the flavor of this lemonade, it has one major thing going for it: It tastes authentic. While it has no pulp and tastes like a melted popsicle, it tastes like sugar and real lemons. There's an actual acidity here that most store-bought juice does not have. If you like sweet lemonade but want something on the natural side, this is the drink for you. Pouring this over ice, mixing it with some sparkling water, or adding fresh herbs would kick this up higher on this list.

5. Full Circle Market

Currently available in 42 U.S. states, the Full Circle Market brand sells various organic products, from beverages to honey to cleaning supplies. As far as lemonade goes, it makes three kinds: regular, strawberry, and mango. We tried the regular lemonade, which contains 10% juice and is made with organic sugar and lemon juice concentrate. It has 32 grams of sugar per eight-fluid-ounce serving. This lemonade is certified organic and kosher. The strawberry flavor uses strawberry juice and vegetable extract for color. The mango has mango puree for flavor and beta carotene for color, meaning these drinks do not contain food dyes.

This lemonade smells lemony-fresh. It tastes more like candy than the smell would have you believe it would. While it is way more drinkable than many others on this list, the lemonade has a bit of a funky aftertaste that we could not ignore, which is why it is not higher up on our ranking. Obviously, as it came in at number five, the aftertaste is not so unpleasant that we wouldn't recommend the product. 

4. Minute Maid

Even if you no longer drink it, Minute Maid probably conjures up images of childhood. This drink is pretty popular, and because Coca-Cola owns it, it is likely the lemonade you will see in many soda fountains. The company makes a lot of different lemonades and juices. They come in a variety of flavors, sizes, and preparations. We tried its 59-fluid-ounce carton of 12% juice lemonade. This lemonade is certified kosher and sold in the refrigerated section. It contains high-fructose corn syrup and lemon juice from concentrate. With 17 grams of sugar per eight-fluid-ounce serving, it has a much lower sugar content than most other lemonades on our list.

Minute Maid lemonade contains a small amount of pulp, and oddly, it doesn't smell of anything when you take a whiff. While it is sweet and definitely tastes like a soft drink, it is easy to drink, with a nice crispness to it. The lemonade has a bit of a watery-lightness at the back end but is pleasant. This is a refreshing drink and would be especially good if served over a bit of ice.

3. 365 Whole Foods

While Whole Foods is not without controversy, the grocery chain is incredibly popular and has die-hard fans. And though it has earned the nickname "Whole Paycheck," its store brand, 365 Whole Foods, is more or less equivalent to Trader Joe's prices (via Business Insider). The 365 brand makes many different lemonades, some organic and others not. They come in regular, as well as light or reduced sugar or flavored with other fruits. We tried the not-organic, regular lemonade. Though not labeled organic, it's still non-GMO verified and kosher. Sold in a half-gallon container, it is shelf-stable until opened, and afterward it must be refrigerated. This lemonade contains lemon juice concentrate and cane sugar and has 25 grams of sugar in one eight-fluid-ounce serving. It is 11% juice and certified kosher.

While this lemonade left us a little thirsty, it's still a nice, smooth drink. It is lemony, tart, and easy to drink. Even better, it smells fresh and lemony, which is a difficult achievement in a shelf-stable product. Good job, Whole Foods. 

2. Newman's Own

Actor Paul Newman's brand, Newman's Own, carries five lemonade products. They come in 59-fluid-ounce cartons that you can find in the grocery store's refrigerated section. For this ranking, we tried the "Old Fashioned Roadside Lemonade," which the brand says is "made with delicious ingredients like cane sugar and lemons. This original recipe evokes all the tastes of delicious, homemade lemonade. Made with no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives."

If you like sweet lemonade, this is the best on the list. It does not contain any pulp, but there is still an excellent lemony bite to it, which is also present in its smell. While we cannot say this tastes homemade, it evokes a sense of freshness not present in other beverages in this ranking. Newman's Own Old Fashioned Roadside Lemonade is very drinkable, and we can imagine ourselves at a 4th of July barbeque, drinking this up alongside our freshly grilled hot dogs.

1. Mollie Stone's

Mollie Stone's is a small chain local to the San Francisco Bay Area that has been around since 1986. Its "Fresh Squeezed Lemonade" is available in three sizes. The ingredients are lemons, light agave, and water. This is the only lemonade we tried that didn't use sugar or corn syrup as a sweetener. In the juice category, the grocery store also sells fresh-squeezed orange juice and grapefruit juice.

Our notes about this lemonade read "Pulp city," which is true. Mollie Stone's Fresh Squeezed Lemonade smells of lemon juice and tastes homemade. It's perhaps a bit sweeter than we would make at home, but it is still so good. Though this lemonade was one of the more expensive items on the list, it was worth it. 

While you probably do not have a Mollie Stone's near you, the takeaway is that your local grocery store chain or deli is likely the best place to buy lemonade if you cannot make it yourself. It's a win-win: delicious lemonade and supporting local businesses.