Homemade Cherry Limeade

If you’re a Sonic Cherry Limeade fan, listen up! This homemade Cherry Limeade recipe is the real deal—no drive-through necessary. Learn how to make your own limeade, a fresh cherry syrup and more to make this summer drink.

A cherry limeade on marble with a cherry and lime garnish

I received free product from Northwest Cherry Growers that I used to make this recipe.

Back when I worked in Hattiesburg, I’d head on over to the local Sonic for happy hour on “hard days” to get myself a Diet Cherry Limeade because, well, I was (and am) all about treating myself.

Those days were most days, so I can definitively say that I have drank a LOT of cherry limeades.

And this homemade Cherry Limeade? Blows those out of the water.

Why we love this recipe:

Cherry Limeade just tastes like the summertime to me. This is one of the most refreshing drinks because it’s crisp and slightly sweet without being cloying.

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    Before we get into it: No, we’re not using frozen limeade concentrate or a maraschino cherry jar to get these flavors. We’re using real cherries and limes for this limeade, friends.

    It’s especially awesome because you can make the homemade cherry syrup (made with real cherries!) in advance and keep it in your fridge all season long for afternoon pick-me-up sippers.

    This Cherry Limeade recipe has a nice balance of sweetness and tartness, so it’s not overwhelming, and it’s great for sipping, no matter when you’re enjoying it.

    Other summer drink recipes to try: How to make a Grape Shrub Mocktail | Frozen Strawberry Margarita | Peach Bourbon Slush | Blackberry Red Wine Spritzer | Blueberry Mint Juleps | Spiked Watermelon Limeade

    Need drink inspiration? Head on over to my Drink Recipe Index for some ideas!

    A bowl of dark sweet cherries

    What you’ll need to make this summer drink

    The Speckled Palate participates in affiliate programs. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases. Please refer to my disclosure page for more information about these affiliate programs.

    Let’s talk ingredients!

    In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.

    Here’s what you need:

    • Cherries — I used fresh cherries for this recipe because they’re currently in season. However, you can use frozen cherries if you cannot find good sweet cherries at your local grocery.
    • Water
    • Granulated sugar — this is also known as white sugar. It’s our sweetener in our flavored simple syrup, and there is no substitute for it.
    • Lemon-lime soda — use your favorite brand. The key is we want it to be bubbly and light! I think ginger ale would also be a delicious swap, though that will change the flavor profile a bit.
    • Lime juice — freshly squeezed, so get out your juicer. This makes a huge difference in the lime flavor, so please don’t use the shelf-stable stuff.
    A collage showing how to make homemade cherry syrup with fresh cherries

    How to make Cherry Limeade

    Prep everything! Half and pit your cherries. You can use a cherry pitter* (affiliate link), but you can easily use a paring knife to slice them in half and then pop out their seeds. That’s what I do since I don’t have a cherry pitter.

    Make the cherry syrup. This is essentially flavored simple syrup. You’re going to warm the water and sugar over medium heat. Stir occasionally, letting the mixture bubble lightly, but not come to a full rolling boil, until the sugar is completely dissolved.

    Add the halved cherries, and let them steep for an hour at room temperature. Why do we do this? The cherry flavor will infuse into the syrup and change the color, too!

    Let it chill. Transfer the syrup and the cherries to a mason jar, and pop them in the fridge. These will keep for weeks on end because the sugar syrup preserves the cherries. They also make an excellent garnish!

    Make the Cherry Limeade. First, add crushed ice to your glass. (Yes, this makes a difference.) Pour the lemon-lime soda and lime juice on top of it, then drizzle the cherry syrup on top.

    Garnish with a cherry—fresh or one of the ones in the syrup—and a lime wedge.

    Enjoy immediately, and cheers!

    A collage showing how to make homemade cherry limeade recipe

    Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips

    Cherry Limeades at a backyard barbecue, at-home tailgate or any other gathering (hello, booze-free happy hour!) would be an utter delight for all.

    I love this drink because it’s kid-friendly, too, and who doesn’t love pouring that cherry syrup into their drink to see the beautiful swirl?

    Here are a few tips and tricks to make this limeade recipe as easy as possible for a crowd:

    • Double or triple the recipe. The syrup is gonna make more than enough for a crowd, but you can very easily double or triple the recipe since it keeps beautifully in the fridge for a long period of time.
    • Make it in advance. Since we want the cherry syrup chilled when it pours into the limeade, make this a day (or days!) early to take the heat off yourself.
    • Let guests mix their own. Print out the recipe in the recipe card below, and set it out with the ingredients, a bowl of crushed ice, bowls of garnishes and measuring tools. It’s fun to mix your own drink!
    • Or make a large pitcher drink out of it. I suggest taking the recipe and multiplying it by 8 or 10 to get a really big pitcher. Mix the cherry syrup and the lime juice beforehand and chill. Pour in the lemon-lime soda just before you’re ready to serve.
    Three limeades with cherries and limes with ice and a bowl of cherries

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is a cherry limeade from Sonic made of?

    According their website, a cherry limeade includes cherry flavor, a cherry garnish, lime, lemon-lime soda and ice. This recipe is a take on it, which includes a homemade cherry syrup, made with real cherries.

    What is diet cherry limeade made of?

    If you wanted to make this drink into a diet cherry limeade, I’d use a diet lemon-lime soda.

    Can I use frozen cherries in this cherry syrup?

    If you can’t find fresh cherries at the store, absolutely. Toss the frozen cherries into the simple syrup once the sugar has dissolved, and let them soak for an hour at room temperature before transferring to a mason jar.

    Now who’s ready to make this cherry limeade recipe?

    Three cherry limeades surrounded by ice and cherries
    Yield: 40 servings

    Homemade Cherry Limeade

    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 5 minutes
    Steep Time: 1 hour
    Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

    If you’re a Sonic Cherry Limeade fan, listen up! This homemade Cherry Limeade recipe is the real deal—no drive-through necessary. Learn how to make your own limeade, a fresh cherry syrup and more to make this summer drink.

    Ingredients

    Cherry Syrup (Makes 40 ½ oz. servings)

    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 cup halved, pitted sweet cherries

    Homemade Cherry Limeade (Makes 1)

    • 5 oz. lemon lime soda
    • 1 ½ oz. lime juice
    • ½ oz. cherry syrup, recipe above
    • Cherries and lime wedges, for garnish

    Instructions

    Make the Cherry Syrup

    1. Warm the water and sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.
    2. Add the halved cherries, and steep for an hour at room temperature.
    3. Transfer to a mason jar and store in the fridge.
    4. Don’t forget to keep the cherries in the syrup—they make a great garnish!

    Make the Cherry Limeade

    1. Pour the lemon lime soda, lime juice and cherry syrup over crushed ice.
    2. Stir.
    3. Top with a cherry (fresh or one of the ones from the cherry syrup) and a lime wedge.
    4. Enjoy immediately!

    Notes

    You can very easily double or triple the recipe for the limeade.


    How to store: Keep the cherry syrup in a mason jar in the fridge for up to 6 months. (In all honestly, it should keep longer than that since the sugar should preserve the fruit.)

    Recommended Products

    As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

    Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    1 drink

    Serving Size:

    1 drink

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 93Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 16mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 0gSugar: 21gProtein: 0g

    Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

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    About the Author:

    Erin Parker is a Southern gal living in Texas with her husband and two daughters. She started The Speckled Palate to share what she was cooking as a newlywed… and over the years, it’s evolved to capture her love for hosting. Specifically, the EASIEST, lowest key entertaining because everyone deserves to see their people and connect over good food. Learn more about her

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