Seven bottles of lemonade

Nothing says summer quite like a tall, cold glass of lemonade. One of few staple beverages that’s been in the world’s sipping repertoire for centuries, this tart treat is more than a simple fruit juice. Lemons contain tons of beneficial properties, making their juice an excellent source of Vitamin C and soluble fiber (via Healthline). In its most basic form, lemonade is made of three simple ingredients: lemons, sugar, and water (and you can even add mint to change your lemonade game forever). However, both homemade and store-bought lemonades today are made with various ingredients, methods, and flavors — you can even find it in powdered form! As such, this ever-popular beverage is bottled and sold by a plethora of brands all over the world. Some taste more tart than sweet, some are sugar-free, some contain real lemon pulp, and others are flavored with various fruits. We’ve sipped on some store-bought lemonades to help you decide which tangy beverage to nurse at your next poolside chill session.

7. Minute Maid

Three bottles of lemonade

As far as store-bought lemonades go, none may be as well-known as Minute Maid is. According to the company website, Minute Maid has been selling bottled lemonade since 1980, having introduced a lower-calorie variety of the drink in 2012. Noting those decades of success Minute Maid has had to sell the stuff, we highly anticipated tasting its lemonade.

For starters, Minute Maid is one of the only brands of lemonade we sampled that included high fructose corn syrup in its ingredient list, in addition to various preservatives (via Minute Maid). Knowing this, we prepared to taste a lemonade that might not taste as fresh as other brands’ varieties that include more natural ingredients. Unfortunately, we were correct in guessing at Minute Maid lemonade’s potential artificiality. The original lemonade was sour, sure, but it came with an overpowering chemical-like taste that wasn’t pleasant in any way.

Surprisingly, Minute Maid’s zero sugar lemonade tasted infinitely better than its original, with a less harsh, more natural lemon flavor. Moreover, Minute Maid’s pink lemonade had a pleasant taste as well, though it tasted more like a simple fruit juice and less like a tart lemonade. Overall, Minute Maid’s options taste more like store-bought juices and less like the tart, freshly squeezed lemonade we tend to prefer.

6. Joe Tea

Glass bottle of lemonade

When it comes to store-bought food products, we try to buy from smaller businesses rather than strictly from bigger corporations. Moreover, when it comes to fruit juices like lemonade, there are plenty of smaller, family-centered businesses whose generational home recipes often taste better than the ones the corporations use. As per the Joe Tea website, Joe Tea is a family-owned craft iced tea brand that, after finding success selling a lemon-flavored iced tea, began making lemonade.

Joe Tea lemonade boasted a robustly tart flavor, but it was almost more fruity than it was lemony. It was a satisfyingly tangy and sweet lemonade, but it had a bit too much of a syrupy-sweetness. We found it at a Whole Foods Market for $2.79 per 20-ounce bottle, which didn’t make it the cheapest bottle we bought, but we’d consider it a fairly average price. Being that this lemonade was only available in our area at a Whole Foods Market, we expected it to have natural, healthier ingredients. In fact, the Whole Foods Market website shows that this lemonade’s ingredient list includes white grape juice concentrate, citric acid, and ester gum, which we didn’t find on any other brand’s labels, so do with that information what you will.

5. Trader Joe’s

Three bottles of lemonade

We found a few varieties of lemonade made and sold by Trader Joe’s. We sampled the organic lemonade, the low-sugar organic lemonade, and its "freshly squeezed" variety. When it comes to lemonade, "freshly squeezed" usually signifies a top-tier lemonade, but we didn’t really love this recipe from Trader Joe’s. With only water, sugar, and lemons as ingredients, we hoped for a lighter, fresh-tasting lemonade, but this one was a bit too acidic for our liking (via Trader Joe’s).

Trader Joe’s organic lemonade, in contrast, is made with water, organic cane sugar, organic lemon juice, organic lemon juice concentrate, organic natural flavor, and ascorbic acid, as per the company website. With less natural ingredients and a bit more added sugars, this lemonade tasted overwhelmingly sweet and the lemony flavor wasn’t as prominent as we’d hoped it would be. It didn’t taste bad, but if you’re looking for a tart, refreshing lemonade, we’d save this for a different day. Trader Joe’s organic low-calorie lemonade was unfortunately not our favorite either. Even when chilled over ice, it gave off a strong artificially-sweetened taste that took away from the hints of natural lemon.

4. Calypso

Four glass bottles of lemonade

Calypso sells a slew of lemonades in eye-catching glass bottles with its signature slogan, "Taste of the Islands," printed across the labels. As per the Calypso website, the original lemonade was first created in 1985, and since then, the brand has become a favorite for many tropical drink lovers. We thoroughly enjoyed the original lemonade flavor; it was slightly more tart than it was sweet, and tasted like fresh lemons — there were even bits of real lemon rind in each bottle.

We tried three of Calypso’s flavored lemonade variations, and they were sweeter than the original, with the Ocean Blue Lemonade being a little too sugary for our liking, although it had a lovely summery taste. Calypso’s Southern Peach flavor was our favorite, as it was wonderfully light and super refreshing with a perfect touch of peach and lemon. Overall, each flavor of this lemonade tasted more than satisfactory, and we liked that even the fruitier flavors still had a distinct lemonade taste without being too fruit juice-like. If you like your lemonade a little on the sweeter side while still getting that fresh, natural taste, this brand should work for you!

3. Santa Cruz

Two glass jars of lemonade

With a fancy glass bottle and the word "organic" elegantly printed on the label, Santa Cruz lemonade seemed impressive before we even tasted it. It was the first lemonade we sampled that was deemed organic, so we wondered if this would mean a fresher, healthier tasting variety. The verdict? Fresh and healthy, indeed! Santa Cruz’s lemonade is smooth, lightly sweet, and all-around good. We also like that its ingredient list is fairly short and clean, including water, organic sugar, and organic lemon juice concentrate (via Santa Cruz).

Santa Cruz offers a tantalizing selection of flavored lemonades, so we sampled the mango version. If lemonade is the staple summer beverage, mango is the staple summer fruit. As such, these flavors blended deliciously for a tangy, tropical taste explosion with a wonderful subtle tartness. We’d venture to bet that most of the other Santa Cruz lemonade flavors also hit the nail on the head. The one downfall to Santa Cruz was that it was one of the most expensive store-bought lemonades that we tried, at $3.49 for a 32-ounce bottle at Whole Foods Market. But making your own flavored lemonade at home luckily isn’t too difficult and is probably a cheaper alternative.

2. Simply Beverages

Four bottles of Simply lemonade

On the website, Simply Beverages reports that its lemonade "is a refreshing alternative to homemade lemonades." This begs the question: Do we want our lemonade to taste homemade? What we seek in most store-bought products are food and beverages that taste as fresh and satisfying as they would if we made them ourselves but in an easily accessible form. We can confirm that the original Simply lemonade fulfills its claim. With fresh lemon pulp swirling throughout the bottle, this lemonade tastes like what the quintessential lemonade should: fresh, tart, sweet, and refreshing. With a concise, no-frills ingredient list consisting of water, lemon juice, cane sugar, and natural flavors, we aren’t surprised at its natural-tasting goodness (via Simply Beverages).

We also sampled Simply’s raspberry-flavored lemonade and, likewise, it was wonderfully pleasant without an artificial taste. Simply also carries a lower-calorie, lower-sugar line of its fruit juices called Simply Light, which are sweetened with Stevia, according to the company website. The Simply Light lemonade tasted exactly like what you’d imagine a Stevia-sweetened lemonade to taste like. That is to suggest that if you’re not a fan of Stevia or artificial sweeteners, you may not love how this tastes (and artificial sweeteners have gotten a bad rep lately). The same goes for the Simply Light raspberry-flavored lemonade, which tasted equally as artificially-sweetened, but still like a fresh lemonade — there’s even pulp! Over ice, the lighter lemonades taste significantly better, and, of course, the original is pure tangy perfection.

1. Newman’s Own

Two cartons of lemonade

A brand with great-tasting, quality products is a brand we like, and a brand with great-tasting products that gives back to the community is one we love. When we sampled Newman’s Own lemonade, we were rewarded by its knockout taste and by the fact that 100% of what we paid for it will be donated to charity, as reported on the website. The first sip of Newman’s Own lemonade was a vibrant explosion of tangy, sweet lemon that we immediately loved. Poured over ice, it was wonderfully refreshing.

Some brands sell fruit-flavored lemonade and others sell pink lemonade. Before sampling Newman’s Own pink lemonade, we wondered what exactly pink lemonade is. As per Food Network, it’s been speculated that pink lemonade originated when a batch of regular lemonade was inadvertently dyed pink. Accordingly, Newman’s Own website confirms that the only difference in ingredients between its original lemonade and its pink lemonade is the inclusion of grape extract, which gives the beverage its pink tint. Even with our eyes closed, we’d be able to tell that Newman’s Own pink lemonade is the perfect pink lemonade. It’s hard to distinguish what we want out of a pink-flavored beverage, but this variation offers the pleasant tartness characteristic of lemonade, plus a sweeter, fruiter finish. It’s perfectly light, sweet, and tangy. Plus, at less than $3 per 59-ounce carton, this was easily one of the most affordable store-bought lemonades we sampled (via Stop and Shop).