Is lemonade keto? Most lemonade recipes are high in white sugar (and carbs), but this recipe for keto lemonade is sugar-free! We’re using a sugar substitute to make a low-calorie lemonade that is perfect if you have a weight loss goal. Flavoring the lemonade with both lemon zest and fresh lemon juice really kicks up the lemon flavor. This may not be your grandmother’s lemonade, but it is still DELICIOUS!
Recently, my family has been blessed with an overabundance of lemons, courtesy of Misfits Market (code: COOKWME-BS6FSP). I was considering zesting and juicing the lemons and freezing this citrusy goodness to use in future recipes.
On a whim, I changed plans. I decided I would take those lemons and make lemonade. Why not make the day a little sweeter?
In my personal life and eating habits, I follow an “all foods can fit” philosophy. That means I believe I can enjoy small portions of treat foods while remaining healthy and on track with my health goals. (It does NOT mean I must eat every sugary and/or deep-fried thing that is out there.)
That said, if I had to choose one item that I think most should remove from the diet, it would be sugar-sweetened beverages. I’m talking about things like soda pop, sweet tea, drinks made from powdered (mostly sugar) mixes, and so on. It also means beverages with a health halo, such as the sweetened vitamin drinks from the health food store.
Some people fare best when they give up sugar-sweetened beverages cold turkey. For others, sugar substitutes can be used as a bridge that helps them reach a healthier dietary pattern. I used sugar-free drinks on my 70-lb. weight loss journey, so I can vouch that they are helpful in some cases.
What makes this keto lemonade sweet?
White table sugar is not appropriate for very low carbohydrate diets, such as ketogenic diets. Instead, I’m sweetening this keto lemonade with Swerve, a sugar substitute that can be used 1:1 in place of sugar.
I currently have no relationship with the folks at Swerve. You are welcome to try your favorite zero carb sugar substitute in this recipe instead.
However, I’ve been really happy with the results of using Swerve in beverages, like this Dalgona coffee. It also makes yummy baked goods, such as this no added sugar strawberry shortcake. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
But what if you aren’t using a very low carb or keto diet for fat loss or blood sugar control? You may still want to try this recipe.
White sugar provides 45 calories per tablespoon, while honey provides 60 calories per tablespoon. Let’s be honest, though, most of us use more than one tablespoon of sugar per serving of lemonade. Switching to a sugar substitute could easily save you 100 calories per glass of lemonade or more.
In general, the best drinks (health-wise) would be water or milk with no sweeteners or sugar substitutes. I always have a large pitcher of water in the fridge so I can have a cold drink whenever I want it.
Plain water can get boring fast, so I throw some slices of lemon, lime, or orange in there. In the summer, I also add some of my abundant fresh mint. This infused water is a (nearly) zero calorie drink and is my favorite hydration option.
Sometimes, though, I might feel like a sweeter drink. This keto lemonade is perfect for those occasions.
Keto Lemonade Nutrition
Please note that the nutrition information for this recipe lists net carbs only. Swerve has carbohydrates listed on the label, but these do not count towards your total carb intake if you are on a keto diet for weight loss. In other words, Swerve has zero net carbs.
The net carbs listed in the keto lemonade nutrition information below is for the small amount of lemon juice in each serving only. For low-carb newbies, net carbs are calculated as follows:
Total carbohydrates – Fiber = Net carbohydrates
In most of my recipes, I list total carbohydrates and fiber so you can calculate the net carbs yourself. Here, I did it for you.
The erythritol used in Swerve is also subtracted from the total carbs when calculating net carbs. However, erythritol is generally not part of the nutrition label. This makes Swerve look like it is high in net carbs when it is not.
Making the best keto lemonade
For the best results, please don’t use bottled lemon juice for this recipe! It’s going to be worth the effort to squeeze some fresh lemons, I promise. This recipe is still pretty easy, even when you go to the effort of using fresh squeezed lemons.
You don’t need a fancy electric juicer to do this either. I used a hand citrus squeezer that I picked up at IKEA for under $10. You could also hand squeeze the lemons without a kitchen gadget, but your juice yield may be lower that way.
Before you halve and juice lemons, I recommend peeling long strips of zest from them. It’s the lemon zest where most of the flavor of the lemon is, not the juice. You can use the zest in your lemonade to give it a more pronounced lemon flavor.
My family tested this recipe both with and without the lemon zest, and we all liked it best with the zest. Without the zest, the lemonade simply tasted, well, less lemony. It was sweet and tart but lacked that extra je ne sais quoi that the zest provides.
If using 2-3 lemons worth of zest is overly zesty for you, feel free to cut back to a single lemon. I like that using the zest uses (almost!) the whole lemon.
We’re making the recipe better with a part of the lemon that normally gets discarded. Though the lemon rinds do ultimately end up in the trash, I think it’s nice we put them to use first. I love little tricks like this that squeeze as much as possible out of the grocery budget.
Speaking of grocery budgets, conserve your Swerve!
If I’m going to speak on grocery savings, I might as well mention that Swerve is rather expensive. I’ve found that other natural sugar substitutes tend to be similarly costly.
I used as little Swerve as possible in this keto lemonade recipe. It’s not overly sweet (in an unpleasant way) like some lemonades can be.
I noticed that many lemonade recipes on the web use more sweetener than I used here. Sometimes, the recipe used twice as much sugar (or 1:1 sugar substitute) as I used.
On the other hand, a recipe for lemonade in one of my older cookbooks used about the same amount of sweetener that I have used here.
Is this difference is a signal that we’ve become accustomed to excessive amounts of sweetness more recently? If so, it may be a good time to start dialing things back.
It can be tempting to use a heavy hand when adding non-nutritive sugar substitutes in recipes. After all, if the substitute has zero net carbs and zero calories, what’s the harm?
I understand why some may want to add a lot more low-carb sweetener. Nevertheless, I’m going to encourage you to start with the amount of Swerve I’ve used here. You’ll save money when you conserve the Swerve!
You can always add more Swerve later to this lemonade recipe if you feel it is needed. However, it’s harder to take the Swerve out (though you could always dilute your batch).
Like caloric sweeteners, there is a healthy limit to be observed with zero-calorie sugar substitutes. This keto lemonade is low in essential nutrients. Sugar-free drinks may be low in calories, but they should not displace more nutrient-dense foods that you need to be healthy.
Final thoughts on lemons and life…
Admittedly, it’s been a difficult year for many of us. We may not have the solutions we need to fix all of the “lemons” in our lives.
But at the very least, when life gives us literal lemons, we can turn those into lemonade. I hope you get a chance to mix up a batch, pour yourself an icy glass, and relax. Sometimes a small act of self-care can make a world of difference to your overall spirit.
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
"Keto" recipes on the web may not be appropriate for those using ketogenic diets as part of their medical nutrition therapy. That includes this recipe.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to this post. Let's get cooking!
Keto Lemonade (Sugar-Free, Low Carb Recipe)
- 3-4 medium fresh lemons
- 5 cups water
- ½ cup Swerve, granular
- ice cubes, for serving
- Use the peeler to remove thin slices of the yellow rind from 2-3 of the lemons. (Check out the recipe video!)
- Put the lemon zest (i.e., the lemon peelings), the water, and the Swerve in a medium saucepan. Give it a good stir.
- Heat the mixture (medium heat) until the Swerve completely dissolves. The solution will not turn fully clear. Take the pan off the heat and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- While you are waiting, juice enough lemons to get ½-cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- After the 30 minutes have passed, remove the lemon rinds from the Swerve solution. Stir in the lemon juice. Refrigerate your keto lemonade until it is chilled.
- Serve your keto lemonade in a tall glass over ice. We garnished ours with fresh mint, but that is optional.
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). Milk and the occasional whole fruit smoothie aside, limiting your calorie-containing drinks is a smart move for weight loss. If you've been craving sweet drinks, using sugar substitutes may satisfy the craving while keeping you on track with your health goals. This keto lemonade uses Swerve, a (near) zero-calorie substitute for sugar. Unfortunately, some individuals report that using sugar substitutes actually worsens their cravings for sweet foods. If this sounds like you, this recipe may not be a good fit. For others, this low-calorie, low-carb sweet drink may make it less likely they'll reach for a soda. You're in the best position to determine whether this low-carb beverage has a place in your diet. Nutrition information is for one serving of the recipe. Carbohydrates listed in this recipe are for net carbs, not total carbs.
Do you need some keto-friendly food ideas to accompany this keto lemonade recipe? How about these keto zucchini boats with chorizo? Or if you’re just looking for a snack, may I recommend some deviled eggs with chipotle lime mayo? So good!
On the other hand, if you’ve been craving loaded potatoes, my air fryer radish recipe may be just what you need. Radishes mellow out when cooked and make the perfect low-carb substitute for potatoes. If you’re following the keto diet, you don’t want to miss that one!
So, that's how to make lemonade keto-friendly. Using no-calorie and low-calorie drinks made with sugar substitutes helped with my sugar cravings during my weight loss journey. Let me know in the comments below if this low carb lemonade is helpful to you!