This refreshing non-alcoholic Tart Cherry Limeade is made with simple ingredients, makes a large batch, and the recipe has plenty of options for substitutions!
This is one of my Drinks recipes I know you’ll want to keep on hand!
I don’t know if things have been heating up where you live, but around here, it’s been 90 degrees lately, which means it’s about time to start making some refreshing summer drinks!
This recipe happens to be non-alcoholic, but if you wanted to add some of your favorite clear liquor… I certainly won’t stop ya 😉
There are a lot of cherry limeade recipes out there, but most of them use super sweet maraschino cherries and lemon lime soda.
I’m not knocking those, because that drink is definitely delicious! But I really like the slightly sweet, slightly tart version I’m sharing here today.
My version uses tart cherry juice, frozen cherries, and lime flavored sparkling water. However, I’ve detailed how to make this drink using the traditional maraschino cherries and soda down in the “variations of this recipe” section below.
How to make cherry limeade?
This is just an overview; the full ingredients and directions are in the recipe card toward the bottom of this post.
- Add cherries to pitcher. I really prefer using frozen cherries since they’re already pitted, nice and soft, and give off some of their juice as they sit in your glass.
- Make juice mixture. You’re not really cooking the juices and sugar, the heat just helps the sugar dissolve.
- Add juice mixture to pitcher. I try to wait a few minutes for the juice to cool a bit.
- Pour in sparkling water. Go slow, it’ll fizz up.
- Stir and add lime slices if you’d like.
If you won’t be able to get through this large batch, make the lime/cherry juice/sugar mixture and keep it in the refrigerator as a concentrate. To make a single drink, add about 3 Tbsp of the juice concentrate, a couple of frozen cherries, and top off the glass with the lime sparkling water.
Variations of this recipe
- Maraschino cherries – instead of frozen tart cherries, you can use maraschino cherries and the cherry juice from the jar. You’ll want to reduce the amount of sugar in the juice mixture since the maraschino cherry juice is plenty sweet.
- Lemon lime soda – you can use lemon lime soda, like Sprite, instead of the lime sparkling water. You’ll want to reduce the amount of sugar in the cherry juice mixture (or omit it completely), since the soda has plenty of sugar.
- Alcoholic – feel free to add any clear liquor you’d like to this drink. We prefer tequila, vodka, or light rum.
- Fresh cherries – when fresh cherries are in season, feel free to use those instead of the frozen variety. Just make sure to pit them, and since they’re not very soft, you’ll want to add them to the saucepan with the juices and cook for a while to soften them up.
No, this is a cherry limeade that’s made with tart cherries. Sonic’s version uses maraschino cherries and lemon lime soda.
Oh absolutely! We love adding vodka, light rum, tequila or any other clear liquor. You can any liquor, but the darker or more yellow the color, the color of your drink won’t be as appealing.
Making cherry limeade ahead of time
If you would like to make this drink ahead of time you can make the lime, cherry juice and sugar mixture, then store in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.
You can add the cherries if you’d like, or keep them frozen until you’re ready to serve, either way is fine. Add the sparkling water just before serving.
Leftover cherry limeade should be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Be aware though, the drink will go flat, but will still taste delicious!
To liven it back up, pour some of the drink into a glass, then top with more sparkling water or a splash of lemon lime soda.
This pitcher is elegant, yet simple, and holds up to 70 ounces so it’s perfect for larger batches.
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 2 or 3 limes)
- 1 cup tart cherry juice
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 12 oz frozen cherries unsweetened is what I like to use
- 60 oz lime flavored sparkling water (I buy cans, so I use 5 12 oz cans)
- ice cubes
- lime wedges/slices
- sprigs of mint (optional – for garnish)
- Add lime juice, cherry juice, and granulated sugar to a small saucepan. Heat over MED LOW heat and stir for just a minute or two, until the sugar dissolves.
- Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for about 5 minutes.
- Add frozen cherries to a large pitcher and top with the juice mixture once it's cooled a bit.
- Slowly pour in the lime flavored sparkling water and stir gently to combine.
- To serve, fill glasses with ice cubes and pour cherry limeade in the glasses. Garnish with a lime slice/wedge and a sprig of mint for a fun finish.
To Make Ahead:
- Complete steps 1 and 2, then add the juice mixture to a jar with a lid, and refrigerate.
- Pour about 2-3 Tbsp of the juice mixture into each serving glass, top with several frozen cherries, and fill the glass up the rest of the way with the sparkling water.
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