How to Make Agua Fresca – Great for Family Grills and Parties!

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Well, Labor Day is upon us in the U.S. and that usually marks the end of summer. Or at least for the those who do not live in the far southern states. But regardless, it means for everyone BBQ, grilling, outdoor parties, pools, lakes, camping, and other fun stuff.

Unfortunately, it also means a ton of waste (all the aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and single-use utensils) and these things are so detrimental to the beautiful spaces that we enjoy. But with going zero waste, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the fun and outdoors. And what better way to enjoy the out of doors than with some refreshing low-waste and inexpensive drinks for friends and family?

So to help everyone celebrate this weekend in an environmentally-friendly way whether you are in the states or not, I thought it might be good to show you how to make agua fresca at home using fresh or frozen fruits.

And it is crazy how easy this drink is to make! And with a little bit of creativity, you can make some really awesome and original flavors. And if this is an adult only outing, these make for awesome alcohol mixers! Just saying…

How to Make Agua Fresca

The term agua fresca in Spanish means “fresh water” or “cool water.” These drinks are everywhere in Mexico and the United States. They are traditionally made with water, sweetener, and some flavors such as fruit, flowers, cereals, and seeds.

I was first introduced to agua fresca in Austin, Texas. I love them! Especially while relaxing by the river or playing at my favorite water hole, Barton Springs. There are some amazing ones you could get from food trucks and bodegas all over the city. I’ve had probably every kind of flavor combination you can think of (and many you probably haven’t!). So I thought to go along with showing you how to make your own drinks, I’d give you a few flavor ideas that were some of my favorites.

So to start with, I usually made my sweet water in gallon batches and used it on an as-needed basis. My preferred sweetener has always been agave nectar. It just works really well. It dissolves quickly and adds a light sweetness to the drink.

However, you can use sugar or another preferred sweetener of choice. I haven’t liked the results as much with honey or brown rice syrup but you are welcome to see what you think. I personally have not tried other sweeteners such as stevia or cane sugar so I do not know how those will work out at those ratios. I would recommend testing a small batch first to make sure you like the sweetness level. It is a bit pricey but you could also use coconut water instead and skip making the sweet water.

If you want to make your own sweet water, it is 8 oz. of agave (or another sweetener) to 120 oz. water which makes a gallon in total. In smaller batches that comes to 1 oz. agave to 15 oz. water to make 2 cups total or 1 tablespoon agave to 1 cup of water roughly. If you prefer it less sweet, try 1 tablespoon agave to 2 cups water. If you’d prefer it a little sweeter, try 3 tbsp. to 2 cups water. For my recipe, I’ll stick with 2 tbsp. of agave to 2 cup water.

On the subject of flavors… There is a standard lemon (which makes the best lemonade), watermelon, pineapple, blueberry, strawberry, lime, peach, cantaloupe, and any other fruit you can think of. You can use these in combination with each other or add some mint or even basil! The standard ratio of fruit to sweet water is 3-4 oz. fruit (or combination of) to 2 cups water. Here is a short list of some of my favorites:

From left to right blueberry lemonade, strawberry limeade, mango-habanero, and cucumber-mint.
  • blueberry lemonade
  • strawberry limeade
  • mango-habanero (or cayenne)
  • cucumber-basil (or mint)
  • watermelon-mint

That’s it! For something a little different, add a tablespoon of chia seeds to the finished drink.

To keep my lemon and lime juice zero waste, I use a hand juicer for those. It takes just a tiny amount of time and the juice is fresher, more nutrient dense, and better tasting than the bottled stuff from concentrate. I simply use the hand juicer and strain the liquid into my measuring cup until I get the amount I need. If you are doing just a simple lemonade or limeade, you don’t even need to use a blender! Just add the sweet water and lemon/lime juice and stir.

With the fruit, you can juice them if you have a juicer but if you’re like me I prefer the whole fruit for the extra nutrients. And if you have a high-performance blender, you can make it just as smooth as if it were juiced. I use a Vitamix 5200 blender for my aguas frescas and it works wonderfully! With this baby, I can make a smooth unfiltered agua fresca with fresh or frozen fruit in just a few minutes. 

With that said, let’s make some drinks!

Looking for other great low-waste recipes for those outdoor gatherings? You might like to check out my vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, easy chickpea salad recipe, vegan queso, and simple avocado brownies (the vegan version here).

If you give this recipe a try, I’d love to see your awesome creation! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to hashtag a photo on Instagram #sustainablesauceresses!

Or if you have any questions or feedback, you are always welcome to leave me a comment below. I’d really love to hear from you!

So what are your favorite aguas frescas?

Did you give this recipe a try?

Tag @sustainablesauceresses on Instagram and hashtag it #sustainablesauceresses.

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Have a safe and fun weekend! And happy Labor Day in the US!

Happy Blending!

10 thoughts on “How to Make Agua Fresca – Great for Family Grills and Parties!”

  • 5 stars
    Hello Tina. You are such a rockstar this article is right on time. We have our family cookout tomorrow and my wife and I wanted to do something different this year and we found it.
    As always we’re off to the store to get the ingredients to make the watermelon mint and the mango habenero.
    I know they’re going to be a hit, there hasn’t been one of your smoothies yet that haven’t been.

    Thank you so much for making our cookout easier.

    • Hey David!

      The watermelon mint one is just a classic! The mango habanero is a little different with a sweet-spicy combination. I love it!

      If your wife and you have some time away from the kids at any point. Try a little gin or vodka in those. They really make awesome cocktails too.

      I’m always glad to hear that these recipes are working for your family! Happy Labor Day!

  • 5 stars
    For sure I’ll try this, especially with the coconut water! Don’t you love the taste of that stuff? Yum yum! Thanks.

    • Hello Evan and thanks for visiting!

      I really love coconut water for a lot of different drink mixes I make but it’s just so expensive so I use it sparingly. The agave water is a nice substitute when making large batches for a big gathering. But for just a single drink for yourself, coconut water really works. I hope you enjoy the recipe. Let me know how it turns out for you.

      If you have any questions or trouble making it just let me know. I’m glad to help.

  • 5 stars
    I had not heard of aqua fresca before, but it sounds so refreshing and I can taste it now! I live in Florida, so it is hot a lot of the time and I am always thirsty. This seems like a wonderful thing to make and have in my fridge. I can use any sweetener I want? I think it is gonna taste so good, that I will want to use sugar free sweetener!

    • Hi Leahrae! Thanks for stopping by!

      I’m a little surprised you haven’t seen aguas frescas where you live but they are such a refreshing drink in the summer heat! They’ll be perfect in Florida any time of year.

      If you are going to keep it in the fridge I’d really suggest instead of pureeing the fruit, just throw slices in the pitcher with the water and let it slowly infuse since you’ll have the time. And as far as sugar-free sweeteners, I’m not sure if the ratios will work the same as with sugar-based sweeteners so I’d suggest you start with just a cup and taste test until you get the amount of sweetness you want before making a large batch.

      Let me know how those work out for you! If you have any questions with the recipe send me a comment and I’ll happily help as best I can. Happy Labor Day!

  • 5 stars
    These recipes sound awesome! I love anything with a fruit taste to it. Aqua fresca is something I’d love to try. The blueberry lemonade and strawberry limeade would be my favorites. I’m not much of a blender person but I am starting to be because I like making my own sugar free drinks. Thanks for these recipes!

    • Hi again Rob! Welcome back!

      If you don’t already have a high-performance blender already, I’d really suggest you get yourself one especially if you are getting into making your own drinks and such. It’s really worth the money and with your concern on sugar, making your snacks and drinks is the safest and healthiest way to go. But I also understand if you don’t want to spend that kind of money.

      Now the great thing about something like agua fresca is you don’t need an expensive blender to make one so you wouldn’t have to drop the money on an expensive one to get great results. However, you might have to filter out some of the pulp as it won’t be as smooth.

      And just like Leahrae, I’d suggest you taste test a small batch of water with a sugar-free sweetener just to make sure it works before making a large batch. Let me know how these work out for you!

      Thanks again! Happy Labor Day!

  • 5 stars
    Yum! These all look so refreshing! I had some with my friends last year and can’t wait to try your recipe! Definitely will beat the heat this Labor Day! Thanks for sharing! I love your recipes!

    • Hi Kris and thanks!

      I really hope you enjoy making them. If you have any questions or trouble making this the way you like, just shoot me a comment and I’ll gladly help out! Let me know how these work out or if you try a different flavor which is your favorite.

      All the best and Happy Labor Day!

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