Cherry Limeade is a refreshing summer drink that you can make with an easy homemade cherry syrup! Instead of using lemon-lime soda, this version is naturally sweet and made with real lime juice.
This drink reminds me of the kind I used to get at a Sonic Drive-In, only this version is made with simple ingredients that you can easily find at the store.
If you’re reading this when it’s not fresh cherry season, you can also use frozen cherries, which are often a more affordable option. Plus, when you buy pitted frozen cherries, you can skip some of the prep work of pitting the cherries!
Why You’ll Love It
It’s delicious. The homemade cherry syrup takes the flavor of this drink over the top! You can use as much or as little as you want, until the cherry-lime flavor is “just right” for you.
There are no food dyes. It’s common to use maraschino cherries (or just the maraschino cherry juice from the maraschino cherry jar) in a recipe like this one, but those are artificially colored red. So, if you’re looking to avoid food dyes, you will probably want to use fresh or frozen recipes like this recipe calls for, instead.
It’s naturally sweet. Since this recipe doesn’t use Sprite or 7-Up as the base, you’ll avoid the high fructose corn syrup found in Sonic’s Cherry Limeade.
It’s loaded with vitamin C. Limes are a great source of vitamin C, and you’ll use the juice of a whole lime in each serving!
Ingredients You’ll Need
What is a cherry limeade made of?
- Lime juice
- Sparkling water (or club soda)
- Orange juice
- Maple syrup (or honey)
The cherries, orange juice, and maple syrup are boiled together to create the simple syrup, and then you’ll add it to the lime juice and sparkling water.
If you would prefer to use a frozen limeade concentrate for convenience, you could certainly use that as the base, too. (This will most likely produce a sweeter drink.)
How to Make Cherry Limeade
1. Make the cherry syrup.
Be sure to pit the cherries and remove any stems if you’re using fresh cherries. You can skip this step if using frozen pitted cherries.
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the pitted cherries, orange juice, and maple syrup. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat enough that the mixture is still constantly bubbling, but not rising up too high in the pot.
Boil for 5 minutes, then use a potato masher to mash the cherries. This will help them release their juices, so you get as much cherry flavor as possible.
Continue cooking the cherry mixture at a lower simmer (bubbling, without splashing out of the pot) for 5 more minutes.
When the timer goes off, arrange a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Pour the cooked cherry mixture into the fine mesh strainer, then use a fork to mash the cherries, so you get as much cherry juice into the bowl as possible.
Reserve the remaining cherry pulp that is left in the strainer in an airtight container in the fridge. You can use it later as a delicious topping for overnight oats or chia pudding. (Seriously, it’s so delicious– don’t waste it!)
2. Juice the limes.
For each 12-ounce serving of limeade, you’ll need roughly 3 tablespoons of lime juice. This is the juice from 1 large lime, or 2 small limes.
Use a lemon or lime squeezer for the best results. Since it squeezes some of the juice from the peel, as well, you’ll get a slightly more fragrant juice. Repeat with as many servings as you want to make. (You’ll get roughly 4 to 5 servings of cherry syrup, FYI.)
3. Assemble the cherry limeade.
Fill a 12-ounce glass with ice and add 3 tablespoons of lime juice. Pour 1/2 cup of sparkling water over that, add the cherry syrup, to taste, and stir well. I recommend using 3 tablespoons of cherry syrup, for a lightly sweet cherry flavor, but you can use 4 tablespoons for an even sweeter drink.
You can make at least 4 servings of cherry limeade with this recipe, depending on how much syrup you use per drink. Feel free to double or triple the recipe, if you’d like to make a large pitcher. Its a refreshing drink that’s perfect for summer entertaining, and you can let your kids add as much cherry syrup as they like for a fun activity.
Garnish with lime slices and extra cherries, if you’d like. (Bonus points if you have an ice machine that makes pebble ice, or as we call it in our home, “Sonic ice.”)
Storage Tips: The cherry syrup will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 4 days. (We’ve always used it up by then, so I can’t say that it will last any longer!)
Freshly squeezed lime juice can also be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. I recommend mixing in the sparkling water just before serving, so it won’t lose its carbonation.
More Drink Recipes
Need more delicious summer drink ideas?
- Easy Mocktail. Made with orange juice, grapefruit juice, and sparkling water, this is the perfect drink for a hot summer day.
- Orange-Infused Water. This effortless drink is perfect for a party!
- Honey Lemonade. Everyone who tastes this drink instantly falls in love. It has the perfect sweet-to-tart ratio of flavors.
- 1 pound cherries (fresh or frozen)
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 3/4 cup lime juice (about 4 large limes)
- 2 cups sparkling water
- To prepare the cherry syrup, be sure to remove the pits and stems from the cherries before getting started. In a small pot over medium-high heat, combine the pitted cherries, orange juice, and maple syrup. Bring the liquid to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Lower the heat if the syrup starts to bubble too high in the pot.
- When the timer goes off, use a potato masher to mash the cherries directly in the pot. Let the cherries simmer for 5 more minutes, over medium-low heat.
- When the cherries are done cooking, arrange a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl, and pour the cherry mixture into the strainer. Use a fork to mash the cherries, extracting as much juice from them as possible. Reserve the cherry pulp for another use, such as topping oatmeal or a dessert. (It's sweet & delicious!)
- To prepare the limeade, fill a 12-ounce glass with ice and add 3 tablespoons of lime juice and a 1/2 cup of sparkling water. (This is for 1 serving; repeat with as many servings as you'd like to make.)
- Add 3 tablespoons of the cherry syrup, and stir well. Taste and make any adjustments necessary. You can add a little more cherry syrup for extra sweetness and cherry flavor. Serve right away, with a slice of lime on the glass, for the best flavor.
- You can store any leftover cherry syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can also store leftover lime juice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. I recommend not mixing this limeade together with the sparkling water until just before you're ready to serve, so it won't lose its carbonation.
If you try this easy cherry limeade recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it.