Today we’re making the perfect midsummer treat: Rainbow Lemonade! This is as beautiful as it is delicious, and it’s easier than it looks to make. My kids had a blast helping me make the rainbow lemonade and couldn’t wait to drink it. Keep reading to learn how to make this colorful summer drink. 


  • Lemons
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Measuring cup
  • Teaspoon
  • Pint size clear cups 
  • Ice


  1. Make simple syrup by combining 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a saucepan over medium heat on the stove. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Always have to taste your ingredients
Adding water
Stir over medium-low heat until dissolved

2. Squeeze enough lemons to get approximately 1 cup of juice (we used 4 large lemons).

Cut the lemons in half
Use a lemon juicer to squeeze out the juice…
…Or just squeeze the lemon halves with your hands to juice them.

3. Fill 4 pint size cups to the top with ice.

4. We will making the colored layers one at a time, starting with the bottom layer. In a measuring cup, combine 6 tsp lemon juice and 6 tsp simple syrup. 

5. Add red food coloring.

6. Add water until the liquid is at the 1/2 cup line.

7. SLOWLY pour the red liquid into each cup of ice, dividing evenly between the 4 cups. Pour the liquid directly onto an ice cube. 

8. Repeat steps 4-7, but this time using 5 tsp lemon juice and 5 tsp simple syrup and orange food coloring. 

9. Repeat steps 4-7, but this time using 4 tsp lemon juice and 4 tsp simple syrup and yellow food coloring. 

10. Repeat steps 4-7, but this time using 3 tsp lemon juice and 3 tsp simple syrup and green food coloring. 

11. Repeat steps 4-7, but this time using 2 tsp lemon juice and 2 tsp simple syrup and blue food coloring. 

12. Repeat steps 4-7, but this time using 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp simple syrup and purple food coloring. 

13. Take a sip and enjoy your rainbow lemonade.


  • Science: This works because of the varying densities of the liquid layers. Liquids with higher density will sink below liquids with lower density because it is mass per volume and heavier objects sink. So to build the layered drink, we start with the highest density at the bottom and lightest at the top. The lemon juice and simple syrup mixture increase the density of the water. We start with the highest ratio of lemon juice and simple syrup at the bottom, and decrease the ratio in each colored layer making each one have a lower density than the previous layer. 
  • Math: Have your kids help you measure and count ingredients. My kids counted each teaspoon as we added the ingredients.  

The science says it should work, but the skeptic in me thought the colors would mix when I added them. The ice cubes make all the difference. They slow the liquid as it goes into the cup and help keep the layers separate. I did a cup without the ice cubes and all my layers mixed together no matter how slow I poured the liquid. 

When my kids mixed the rainbow lemonade it made a brown drink that wasn’t as fun to drink (and gave them both epic colored mustaches).

This is what happens when you stir the drink (or if you pour the layers too fast and don’t use ice)

We ended up making classic lemonade with the leftover lemons juice and simple syrup. The kids loved it! If you want to skip the colored rainbow and just make basic lemonade, here’s the recipe we used: pour 1/4 lemon juice and 1/4 cup simple syrup into a pint size cup. Continue to fill it to about 3/4 full with water, and added a few ice cubes. 

They still have colored mustaches from the rainbow lemonade

Have you made homemade lemonade before? Do you think you’ll try our rainbow version?


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