How Long Can Lemonade Sit Out? [Store-Bought & Homemade]

Lemonade might remind you of being a child and selling it for a quarter with friends. Or this beloved drink could be a reminder of a hot summer day. Whatever lemonade means to you, it’s a drink you regularly keep in your house.

You made a pitcher, time got away from you, and it’s been sitting out for some time. How long can lemonade sit out?

According to the USDA, lemonade can sit out for 2 hours. It doesn’t matter if it’s store-bought, made from powder, or fresh-squeezed. Lemonade that sits out for longer than 2 hours moves into the Danger Zone.

This is the temperature area between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140˚F. The Danger Zone can be a bacterial breeding ground. 

All lemonade is susceptible to infection by harmful bacteria if it sits out longer than 2 hours. Even if it’s in a refrigerated carton, once the carton sits out for longer than 2 hours, it moves into the Danger Zone. 

While citric acid is a natural preservative, the Danger Zone is nothing to fool around with. Harmful bacteria need a water source to multiply rapidly. Water is the major component in most drinks, including lemonade. Food poisoning can cause severe symptoms like abdominal pain and dehydration. The rule of thumb is when in doubt, throw it out. 

How Long Can Powdered Lemonade Sit Out?

Some major brands in the store come in powder form, and you can mix some as you go. This is the fastest way to make lemonade, but what about the powder? Can it sit out for longer than 2 hours?

The simple answer is yes. It all goes back to the water content, which is relatively non-existent in powdered lemonade. 

Several brands come in powder form. Country Time is arguable the most well-known. These products should come with an expiration date of some sort.

If your package has passed the “best buy” day, it may not contain harmful bacteria or cause illness. But the taste will likely be lacking. Things that sit too long in the pantry will lose flavor over time. 

The best way to store powdered lemonade, or other powdered drinks, is in a cool, dark place.

Pantries and cabinets are your best option. Once you’ve mixed that drink with water, it can only sit out for 2 hours.

TRUE LEMON Original Lemonade Drink Mix

The addition of water is what can lead to bacterial growth. If you can’t drink it all, put it in the fridge.

How Long Can Shelf-Stable Lemonade Sit Out?

Shelf-stable brands like Minute Maid and Capri Sun come in containers that offer a long shelf-life.

These types of drinks can sit in your pantry for months. Each will come with an expiration date. But, it only applies as long as the seal hasn’t been broken.

Whether it’s in a pouch or box, the clock starts to tick if it’s open. 

Opened containers of shelf-stable lemonade have to stick to the 2-hour rule. Once opened, your drink is exposed to air, which is full of bacteria.

If you opened a bottle and can’t finish it, stick it in the fridge before the 2-hour mark to avoid possible food poisoning. 

What Is The Best Way To Store Lemonade?

The best way to store lemonade is in your refrigerator. The temperature in most fridges is below 40˚F, which is just out of the Danger Zone.

Lemonade in your fridge avoids the Danger Zone and lasts longer than it would on the counter. But that doesn’t mean bacteria won’t grow in the refrigerator.

Harmful bacteria grow in all kinds of conditions, including cold and heat out of the Danger Zone.

But, the growth of these bacteria isn’t as rapid. When bacteria sit between 40˚F and 140˚F, they multiply quickly. Keeping lemonade in the fridge is the best way to prolong its shelf-life. 

How Long Will Lemonade Last In The Fridge? 

There are several types of lemonade. You can buy it in a carton at the grocery store. We’ve already discussed the powdered version you keep in the pantry.

There is also fresh-squeezed, which can be purchased out or made right in your kitchen. And we can’t forget concentrated frozen lemonade. 

All these versions of lemonade have their differences, and that includes the shelf-life in the fridge. 

Store-bought brands, like Minute Maid lemonade, should have an expiration date on the carton. It should last until then unopened.

Once you open the carton, oxygen gets in, and the risk of bacterial growth increases. After you open a carton of store-bought lemonade, it will last seven to ten days in the refrigerator. 

Frozen concentrated and powdered lemonade have one thing in common. Once made, they also last five to ten days in the fridge. We’ll discuss freezer methods and times later. 

Minute Maid Lemonade

Homemade lemonade will last five to seven days in the refrigerator. The shortened time is due to the lack of preservatives and pasteurization.

Pasteurized Vs. Unpasteurized Lemonade

The store-bought brands in the refrigerated section of the supermarket have likely been pasteurized. This process treats the lemonade or juice with heat to eliminate harmful bacteria.

Most of the juices sold in the United States, including lemonade, go through pasteurization. They also add preservatives and sometimes vitamins and minerals. 

But it won’t last as long in the fridge as lemonade that has gone through the preservation process. 

It’s good to know that pasteurization also kills off good bacteria. But, the safety measures are well worth it. Bacteria that cause food poisoning can create severe symptoms and lead to dehydration. 

Can I Freeze Lemonade?

You sure can. Lemonade is an excellent base for popsicles, and using lemonade ice cubes in your water is a fun way to mix it up. There are several ways to do this.

You can fill up ice cube trays and pop them out once frozen. Then you put all the cubes in a ziplock bag and take what you need.

Freezing store-bought lemonade in the carton can be done. It should last for eight to twelve months in the freezer.

But don’t expect it to taste good if you let it go longer. When freezing homemade lemonade, make sure the container has some space from the top. 

When liquids freeze, they expand by a whopping 9%. If you don’t allow space to grow, the liquid can break the container, defeating the purpose. This is why it’s crucial to be sure there is space for the lemonade to expand.

Store-bought containers should consider this but make sure before you freeze it.

Store-Bought Lemonade VS. Homemade 

Lemon Juice served in a Pitcher and Glass

When it comes to which lemonade is better, there are different opinions on this. Each option has its pros and cons. That’s why we listed each for you, with their advantages and disadvantages.

Store-Bought Lemonade

Store-bought lemonade doesn’t come in one form, which you already know from reading this article.

There’s the kind that comes in the carton, powdered and frozen-concentrated lemonade. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each. 



  • It comes prepared in a carton
  • Free of bacteria due to pasteurization
  • It lasts in the fridge for seven to ten days


  • Contains preservatives
  • Isn’t fresh



  • Long shelf life when kept in powder form
  • Less space used for storage when dry
  • Easy to make


  • Isn’t fresh
  • Could be surgery

Frozen Concentrated


  • Long shelf-life
  • Easy to make
  • Free of bacteria due to pasteurization


  • Isn’t fresh
  • It can taste like freezer burn if stored too long



  • Long shelf-life
  • Just open and drink


  • Isn’t fresh
  • Could be sugary

Fresh-Squeeze Or Homemade 

Some folks believe that nothing beats homemade or fresh-squeezed lemonade. We happen to agree with this, but there are downsides too. 


  • Free of preservatives
  • You made it
  • You can alter it to please your taste
  • Is fun to make


  • It doesn’t last as long
  • It takes more time to make
  • It hasn’t been pasteurized
Bottled Lemon Juice

As you can see, there are so many differences when it comes to lemonade. There’s likely one to meet all your needs.

Shelf-stable brands are perfect for school lunches, and fresh-squeezed is fun to make. It all depends on your tastes and mood.

How To Make Lemonade With Fresh Lemons?

Making lemonade is one of the simplest things to do. All you need is water, lemons, sugar, and any additional flavors you might like to add. We’ll get to the additions later and give you a basic lemonade recipe. 

1 cup of hot water

1 cup of sugar

4 or 5 lemons

2 to 3 cups of cold water

Step One

First, you want to make simple syrup, which is equal parts hot water and sugar. The sugar melts and infuses the hot water.

For the lemonade, you need one cup of simple syrup. So mix your 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of hot water and let it cool. Now you have simple syrup. 

Step Two

While the simple syrup is cooling, juice your lemons. Make sure your juice is free of seeds.

You can eliminate the pulp if you like, but lemons don’t leave much. You want it to yield 1 cup of lemon juice. 

Step Three

Mix your lemon juice and simple syrup well. Then begin to add cold water one cup at a time. Keep tasting it and stop adding water when it reaches the flavor you desire. 

Add Ons

Lemonade is yummy, but you can add other things to enhance the flavor. Here are a few of our favorites. 

  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Watermelon juice
  • Honey
  • Lime juice
  • Blueberries
  • Club soda

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Final Words

Lemonade has come a long way since grandma’s porch. The important thing is to beware of the Danger Zone.

Foodborne illnesses can cause you or someone in your family to become severely ill. The best way to avoid it is to practice food safety at all times. 

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