How many lemons do I need for a lemonade stand?

Starting a lemonade stand is a fun summer activity that can also help kids learn about running a small business. One of the first things you’ll need to figure out is how many lemons you’ll need to get your stand up and running.

How much lemonade do you plan to sell?

The number of lemons you’ll need depends largely on how much lemonade you plan to sell. Here are some quick answers to common questions about lemonade sales:

  • If you plan to sell 5-10 cups per day, you’ll need approximately 10-15 lemons.
  • For 25-50 cups per day, plan for 50-75 lemons.
  • To sell 100+ cups daily, you’ll need 200+ lemons.

Take into account how many hours/days you plan to operate your stand. If you’ll be open for multiple days, you may go through 100+ lemons over the course of several days. Start with a rough estimate and adjust as needed.

How much juice and how many slices per lemon?

In addition to your sales goals, the amount of juice and number of slices each lemon yields will affect your totals. Here are some averages:

  • The average lemon contains 2-3 tablespoons of juice, or 1-1.5 fluid ounces.
  • Most lemons can be sliced into 6-8 wedges.

So for each cup of lemonade (8 oz), you’ll need approximately 5-6 lemons juiced. And if you want to garnish each cup with a slice, plan for 1 wedge per 8 oz serving.

Factor in waste and extras

No matter how perfectly you plan, you’ll likely need extra lemons on hand for these reasons:

  • Waste – Some lemons won’t yield as much juice or may be bad inside. Assume ~10% waste.
  • Spills/mistakes – Spillage and errors happen, especially with young lemonade stand operators!
  • Extras – Customers may request extra slices or more juice. Have backup.
  • Testing – You’ll want to sample the lemonade to get the flavor right.

For all these reasons, get 10-20% more lemons than you think you’ll need. It’s better to have too many than not enough!

Equipment factors

Your juicing method also impacts lemon totals. Hand squeezing leads to more waste vs electric juicers. Here’s a comparison:

Juicing Method Lemons Needed Per 8 oz Serving
Hand Squeezing 6-8 lemons
Electric Juicer 5-6 lemons

If you don’t have an electric juicer, account for more lemons to compensate for lower juice yields.

Choose the right lemons

Not all lemons are created equal. To maximize your juice yields, choose lemons that are:

  • Bright yellow (avoid greenish lemons)
  • Large and firm with thin skin
  • Heavy for their size

Lemons that are in season locally often provide better flavor and juice content as well. Meyer lemons are a great juicing variety.

Test your lemons

Since lemon quality can vary, it’s a good idea to test out your specific batch of lemons before your stand opens. A day or two ahead of time, juice and measure a sample to see exactly what you’ll get from each lemon. Adjust your lemon counts accordingly.

Estimate for your situation

Based on typical juice yields and waste, here’s a rough estimate for lemon totals:

  • 8-10 lemons per gallon of lemonade
  • 4-5 lemons per quart
  • 2 lemons per cup

But remember, run tests with your actual lemons and tweak the amount as needed. It’s also smart to start with more lemons than you think you’ll require.

Order extras as backup

Especially for longer duration stands, order extra lemons to have on hand forreplenishment. Local grocery delivery services make this easy if you start running low during your stand’s operation.

Get help prepping

For high volume lemonade sales, squeezing all those lemons can become labor intensive. Get friends or parents to help with lemon juicing parties. Or consider getting a countertop electric juicer to streamline the process.

Consider lemonade concentrate

As an alternative to squeezing bulk lemons yourself, some stands use commercially made lemonade concentrate as their base. This allows you to stir up pitchers or gallons of lemonade quickly and easily. Just be sure to water it down sufficiently based on package directions.

Use lemon slice garnishes

Lemons slices add a nice visual touch to a glass of lemonade. Slice some of your extras into wedges and place in cups for serving. Add a fun striped straw for maximum appeal.

Infuse your lemonade

To create unique flavors, try infusing your lemonade with fresh ingredients like muddled berries, ginger, basil, rosemary, cucumber, or mint. This provides variety without acquiring additional types of fruit juice.

Make lemon-themed treats

If you end up with leftover lemons, get creative in the kitchen! Bake up some lemon bars, lemon bread or lemon cookies to sell as treats at your stand. The citrusy aroma will draw in customers.

Stock up for multiple days

To simplify prep, squeeze and refrigerate large batches of lemon juice in advance if operating for multiple days. Just combine with water and sugar or simple syrup to create more lemonade as you go.

Have backup pitchers

Prepare an extra pitcher or two that can chill in the fridge in case you run out during a busy period. Then you can quickly replenish your stand’s supply on the fly.

Keep lemons cool

Lemons will last longer if kept refrigerated. For multi-day stands, store unused lemons in the fridge overnight to maintain freshness. Bring out only what you expect to use that day.

Consider pre-packaged lemonade

To save time and labor, some stands simply sell chilled bottled lemonade. This avoids juicing lemons but reduces the homemade appeal. Check costs vs making your own to see if worthwhile.

Buy in bulk for savings

You can often save substantially on lemon prices by buying in bulk from warehouse stores like Costco or restaurant supply stores. Just scale your recipe accordingly.

Use lemon juice from concentrate

As a shortcut, reconstituted lemon juice from concentrate lets you skip juicing altogether. Mix with sugar syrup and water for quick lemonade. Check the label for dilution ratios.

Consider bottled lemon juice

Pasteurized bottled lemon juice provides shelf stability at room temperature. While pricier than fresh, it gives flexibility if you can’t keep lemons cool.

Freeze for later

If you end up squeezing more juice than needed, freeze excess in ice cube trays or muffin tins. Thaw as needed for your next lemonade stand event.

Review your sales

Track your daily lemonade sales. Then for future stands, you’ll know how many lemons you really need based on actual consumption patterns.

Allow for sampling

Especially if selling multi-flavored lemonade, have samples available so customers can taste test options before purchasing. This encourages sales but requires more lemons.

Have backup bottle(s) of lemon juice

One bottled lemon juice backup lets you keep selling if you miscalculate lemon quantities or have an unexpectedly busy day. The shelf-stable bottle provides an insurance policy.

Consider lemon scented marketing

Consider lemon-themed ideas like 25 cent scratch and sniff stickers to apply to cups or a real sliced lemon with your stand’s name as a visual draw. This uses extra lemons in a practical promotional manner.

Partner with local growers

If your stand will operate through lemon harvest timing, partner with local orchards or groves. Buying directly from the source can mean fresher, better priced lemons.


Planning your lemon quantities for a successful lemonade stand involves estimating your sales goals, testing your actual lemons, allowing for waste and extras, and staying flexible. Start with more lemons than you think you’ll need and make adjustments as you go. With smart planning, your stand will squeeze every bit of profit potential from your crop of lemons!

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