+ 7 Easy Tips to Make It Extra Yummy, Every Time!
~ This ultra-refreshing Lemon Lime Cucumber Water will inspire you to drink more water! And it’s so very pretty to share at parties or have on hand when guests pop by. But getting the flavor balance just right makes allllll the difference – I’m sharing the key tricks we discovered after extensive testing (and lots of sipping)! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Make Ahead • Vegan (and Vegetarian) • Gluten Free • Paleo •
Seeing how very popular my “recipe” for Cucumber Water has been, I knew you’d love the bright, thirst-quenching flavors of this Lemon Lime Cucumber Water, too – especially as we head into the hotter summer months.
It’s incredibly refreshing!
And if you get the balance of flavors just right, you end up with a gorgeous, nuanced sipper that artfully layers invigorating citrus notes over soft, smooth, almost creamy cucumber flavor.
Geez, I feel like I’m describing a wine here!
And while I can’t guarantee you’ll choose it over a glass of wine … well, who knows?!? You might! 😉
When it’s properly balanced, this water’s got such a lovely flavor that you actually want to drink MORE water. Which is a great thing for all of us – like me! – who struggle to drink as much water as we should (mainly because plain ol’ water is just uninspiring and, frankly … BORING)!
So here’s the thing, though … the magic truly is in developing the flavors nicely. It’s not hard at all. (I promise!)
But I do have a few little tips and tricks to share with you, so you can get this Lemon Lime Cucumber Water recipe just right every single time, pitcher after pitcher after pitcher!
Like I said in my article on how to make the perfect “plain” Cucumber Water:
Here’s what we learned …
Tip #1: Use the Right Ratio
You don’t need to get obsessive about this, and you can absolutely vary the precise ratio to suit your personal tastes.
After testing lots of variations, I found a solid starting point for you. It should give you a clean, crisp balance between the soft cucumber notes and the tart, bright citrus. The trick is not to use too much citrus, which drowns out the mellow, smoothing influence of the cucumber.
You might be surprised that you don’t actually need many lemon and lime slices at all!
For 2 quarts (8 cups) of water, I suggest starting with 5 ounces of thinly sliced cucumber (which should give you about 24-30 slices or a heaping 1 cup), plus 4 lemon slices and 3 lime slices.
Tip #2: Don’t Leave Your Lemons and Limes in Too Long
After sitting too long, the citrus becomes sharp, and adding more water doesn’t really fix that sharpness, but just dilutes the other flavors. So, it’s bet to remove the citrus when you’re happy with how flavorful your water is, probably around 4-6 hours.
Now … if you’re thinking logically here, you’re probably gonna jump to the conclusion that the way to solve the bitterness problem is to peel your limes and lemons. That way, you don’t have to worry about pulling them out before they get bitter, right? Just remove the peel and outer pith (with all their bitter citrus oils). Ahhhh … sounds perfectly logical.
That’s what I was thinking, too!
I tested it for you.
And, surprisingly, peeling doesn’t help as much as you’d think.
Plus, it creates new problems.
Which brings us to …
Tip #3: Don’t Peel Your Cucumbers or Fruit
Yes … peeling your citrus does help to prevent some bitterness. But it also leads to an unpleasantly strong, aggressive citrus flavor that overwhelms the smooth nuances of the cucumber and throws everything out of balance.
After sitting for awhile, it ends up tasting “Like lemonade that’s just not sweet.” Meh. Not the best.
You still have to take the citrus out of the water before it gets overwhelming. And it’s a heck of a lot harder to fish the citrus out when it doesn’t have any peels and has broken into lots of little bits floating through the water.
And peeling your citrus causes other dilemmas, too. Especially if you’re signing your infused water up for a beauty pageant (or just want it to actually look enticing).
Peeling creates UGLY water.
Now, I realize that you might not normally think you need to worry about how attractive your water is. But, friends, I’m here to tell ya: when you open the refrigerator door and see a gorgeous, photo-worthy pitcher of ice cold infused water sitting there … looks really do matter.
You WANT to drink PRETTY water!
Don’t peel your cucumbers, lemons and limes. They’re so much lovelier, so much more inviting with their vibrantly colored peels still on.
That’s even more important if you’re making a batch of this infused water to set out at a party or share with guests. (Repeat after me … looks matter. At least when it comes to infused water!)
Trust me, I tested the whole peeling concept. It’s not an attractive situation.
Not only do you lose those eye-catching stripes of peel, but your citrus tends to fall apart, with messy-looking bits floating all around.
Bottom Line on Peeling:
If you’re trying to get psyched about drinking more water – or want to create an inviting pitcher for a party – leave those peels on!
But, since you’re leaving the peels on, you also need to …
Tip #4: Wash Your Produce Well
Give your cucumber and citrus fruit a good rinse and maybe a scrub before you slice them.
You’re going to be soaking them – skins and all – in your drinking water, so you definitely want to be sure you’ve rinsed off any dirt.
You might be thinking that choosing organic cucumbers and citrus is a good idea here, too. And it is!
But, as I explain in more detail in my article on making “basic” Cucumber Water, garden-harvested or farm market organic cukes likely won’t have been waxed the way those in the grocery store have been, which may lead to them tasting a bit stronger. So, adjust the amount of cucumber slices if you need to.
Tip #5: Use Regular Ol’ Cucumbers
I go into A LOT more detail about this in my article on “basic” Cucumber Water, so if you really want to geek out on this point, head over there to soak up all the details.
Varieties We Tested
The short story is that we tested the 3 typical types of cucumber you’ll come across, at 7 different time intervals, ranging from just 10 minutes of soak time to 3 days. The 3 varieties of cucumber we tested were:
- Common “garden variety” cucumbers (the fatter ones you most frequently find at the grocery store)
- English or “seedless” cucumbers (these are long and skinny and are usually sold in shrink-wrapped plastic)
- Mini cucumbers
I absolutely expected that the seedless English cucumbers would be the best.
In test after test, the standard, garden variety cucumbers were the clear, hands-down winners.
If you’re making a pitcher to drink immediately – say within half an hour – you actually do get a bit more cucumber flavor from the English and mini cukes, straight out of the gate.
But none of my testers liked the VERY cucumber-y, assertive flavor of water made with either the English or mini varieties, after the water pitcher had been hanging out in the fridge for longer than an hour.
I’d recommend simply always sticking with regular cucumbers for making great Lemon Lime Cucumber Water. No need to overthink it or get fancy!
Tip #6: It’s Better Cold
Temperature isn’t important in terms of how the flavors develop or how strong they become.
What matters here is the simple fact that my testers all agreed they preferred drinking infused water like this when it’s nice and cold. (Regardless of what temperature the water was when I initially made the batch.)
So, it doesn’t matter if you MAKE your Lemon Lime Cucumber Water recipe with chilled water or room temperature water. BUT … it’ll taste best if it’s chilled when you serve it.
So, Should You Add Ice?
It’s an ideal way to get your pitcher of water temptingly cold FAST. And to keep your refreshing drink pitcher pleasantly chilled for outdoor events or long parties.
And, it’s prettier, too!
But it’s totally optional.
The Icy Options
If you’re storing your pitcher in the fridge, there’s no need for ice (unless you like how it looks).
But, if your pitcher is headed for a party, particularly a warm-weather outdoor gathering, then ice is a perfect way to keep it cold and refreshing.
Just remember that those ice cubes will eventually melt into additional water. So, you may need to toss in a few extra, fresh cucumber and citrus slices after a while, to ensure your infused water stays flavorful.
Tip #7: Yep, You Can Reuse Your Slices (Or Eat ‘Em!)
If you’re serving your Lemon Lime Cucumber Water at a party and it’s disappearing FAST (or if you’re a champion water guzzler yourself!), then it’s quick and easy to simply reuse your slices and top off the pitcher with additional water.
Eventually, your slices will start to lose their flavor. But you should be able to add fresh water two – or maybe even three – times before that’s a problem.
When you notice that your cukes and citrus are losing their flavor, you have a couple choices. You can either toss in a few new slices from time to time to pep things back up (like, if you’re hurrying to keep your party buffet table stocked and full). Or you can start over with a fresh batch of slices.
And if you want to nibble a cucumber slice now and then? No problem! If it’s been floating around for a while, it may not be very flavorful, but there’s nothing wrong with trying.
So, with all those tips in mind, let me bring it all together for you …
How to Make Great Lemon Lime Cucumber Water
Grab a (rinsed) cucumber, a lemon and a lime.
As I discussed in more detail in Tip #3 above, there’s no need to peel them. (And they look much prettier if you leave all the peels on. So much more enticing … beckoning you, beckoning you to drink MORE water!)
Pro Tip: Muddling
It might seem like a good idea to muddle your fruit a little, to get the flavor to infuse more quickly. But if you’re too vigorous about it, you end up with too much citrus flavor being released, and lots of citrus bits floating unattractively through your water.
A better idea?
To get those citrusy flavors infusing a little faster, gently roll your lemons and limes back and forth on your counter a few times (before slicing). That helps loosen them up so the lime juice and lemon juice release more readily into your water.
Slice your cucumber nice and thin – about 1/8″ thick. Using 5 ounces of cucumber, you end up with about 24-30 slices, or about 1 heaping cup.
Slice your lemon and lime a little thicker, though – you’re shooting for about 1/4″ inch thickness on those. Why cut them thicker? Simply because if you go thinner than 1/4″ inch, they tend to fall apart.
I like to remove the seeds from my citrus slices, so those don’t end up in my water.
You don’t need very many citrus slices to add nice flavor and properly balance out all those cucumbers. (See Tip #1 above, about using the right ratio.)
Surprisingly, through all our testing, we found that just 4 slices of lemon and 3 slices of lime was the ideal combination.
Pile your pretty slices of cucumber and citrus fruits in a large pitcher and add water.
As I mentioned in Tip #6 above, I like to start with cold water, so my water is perfectly chilled and drinkable quickly.
Give it all a gentle stir.
The slices glide around the water and look so inviting already!
Resist the urge to start glugging that lovely refreshment straightaway. It takes just a few minutes for those colorful slices to begin to meld their refreshing flavors with the water they’re cheerily floating around in.
Give it 10 minutes, minimum, and you’ll be rewarded for your wait!
From there, the flavors will become stronger the longer the water sits. (Preferably in the fridge, so it stays refreshingly chilled.)
Your water should last in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.
But, if you’re going to have it around that long, you’ll find that the citrus flavor becomes too strong and bitter. So, for longer storage, remove your lemon and lime slices when you’re happy with the flavor balance. (I generally like to take them out after about 4-6 hours).
You don’t need to remove the cucumber slices (although you can if you want to). Their soft, mild flavor doesn’t overwhelm the citrus notes, even if you leave the cukes in for the full 2-3 days. As an added bonus, leaving the cucumber slices in looks prettier, too.
It’s a good idea to gently give it all a stir again before serving, to swirl the flavors evenly throughout.
And then …. ahhhhhhh … Enjoy!
Why Is Infused Water Like This So Good for You?
A lot of websites and “diet” advice get all amped up over infused water recipes being great as a detox drink or for helping to boost metabolism and weight loss. But, the true “detox” and health benefits of Lemon Lime Cucumber Water are really all about the water, and much less about the small amount of fresh fruits and veggies floating in it.
Humble, regular ol’ plain water is a healthy drink, all by itself … ideal for “detoxing” your body, for flushing out your systems, and for staying hydrated. With or without those pretty slices.
Sure, fruits and veggies have loads of good stuff going on (you might be thinking of those fresh lemons and limes and their vitamin C, for instance). But we’re not really looking at huge amounts of those nutrients from a few slices floating in your drink.
I go into additional detail in my article on “basic” Cucumber Water, but the key takeaway is that this Lemon Lime Cucumber Water is good for you … because water is good for you. From healthy skin to potentially helping to manage high blood pressure – the list of great health benefits goes on and on.
Add to that the fact that choosing infused water over sugary drinks saves calories and slashes sugar intake. Plus, it’s a great way to wean yourself off sugary drinks like soda and even sugar-loaded sports drinks.
So basically, the really big bonus here comes with the fact that people tend to find pretty-looking water like this much more enticing. And that means they’re more likely to drink enough water each day and hit their water intake goals, since if it feels special and tastes more interesting than plain tap water.
No doubt … when it comes to an easy health victory you can achieve on a daily basis, drinking more water is a very good thing!
It’ll keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. But remember to pull out your citrus slices after about 4-6 hours to prevent your water from becoming overly citrusy and even bitter. (There’s no need to remove the cucumber slices.)
An infusion pitcher works great for making flavored waters like this. In particular, you might want to place the lemon and lime slices in the removable infuser basket, since those need to be removed after a few hours. Another option to help you keep your slices from splashing into your glass as you pour: use a pitcher with a narrowed pour spout.
Definitely! There’s no specific ratio for that, though. It really depends on how big your glass or water bottle is, and how fast you’re drinking it (how long the flavors will have to develop). You may want to use a few more slices than in my recipe’s base ratio, if you’re making individual glasses of water – assuming that you’ll be drinking them fairly soon after you make them. Using extra slices will help the infused flavors to strengthen more quickly. (And remember that you can reuse your slices for a second or even third glassful. See Tip #7 above.)
Absolutely! Lemon Lime Cucumber Water is a perfect drink for serving in big batches at parties (for both alcohol drinkers who need a hydration break, and for those who prefer not to drink alcohol). Especially on a hot summer day! And, if you get your whole family on board with drinking more (yummy!) water, you’ll probably go through one pitcher fairly quickly. Just stick to the basic ratio of approximately 5 ounces of cucumber, 4 slices of lemon, and 3 slices of lime per 2 quarts of water.
Surprisingly, my taste testers weren’t crazy about using sparkling water. Every single person preferred “still” or plain water during our testing. But if you love sparkling water, feel free to give it a try! (Note, though, that sparkling water goes flat after several hours. So rather than being good for 2-3 days, you’ll only get about 12 hours from it, at most.)
Spa Water (That You’ll Actually Enjoy Drinking!)
There’s a reason that spas, high-end health clubs and swanky resort hotels so often have big, icy-cold glass jugs of infused water, all ready to welcome you as you enter.
Even though it’s ridiculously inexpensive to make, it feels pampering and special. And, of course, thirst-quenching!
So go on … pamper yourself a little!
Make up a gorgeous pitcher of delicious, refreshing Lemon Lime Cucumber Water. You just might be surprised how much you LOVE drinking water. (And how much you love opening your fridge to see a pretty pitcher waiting to greet you!)
Love the Recipe? • Were My Tips Helpful?
Please leave a star-rating in the recipe card below – I truly appreciate all your wonderful feedback!
- 5 ounces unpeeled cucumber (regular cucumber, not seedless English – see note)
- 4 slices lemon (1/4" thick), seeds removed
- 3 slices lime (1/4" thick), seeds removed
- 2 quarts water (preferably chilled)
- Slice the cucumber about 1/8" thick (you should have approximately 24-30 slices, or a heaping 1 cup).
- Add the cucumber, lemon, and lime slices, and the water to a large pitcher, stirring gently.
- Let sit at least 10 minutes, or (refrigerated) up to 2-3 days. The flavor will become stronger the longer the water sits, and after a while the citrus flavor will become too strong and bitter. To prevent this, remove the lemon and lime slices when you're happy with the flavor balance (I recommend removing them after about 4-6 hours). You don't need to remove the cucumber slices, however.
- Gently stir again before serving.
*** In addition to the brief notes below, be sure to refer to the article above for more details regarding the best type of cucumber to choose, why we don't recommend peeling your citrus, and numerous other helpful tips.
Type of cucumber: As discussed in the article above, regular "garden cucumbers" were by far the most popular cucumber variety we tested, particularly when the Lemon Lime Cucumber Water will be sitting for more than an hour. Taste testers specifically did not like the stronger flavor that developed when using seedless (aka English) cucumbers or the mini cucumbers we tested.
Water: Our taste testers definitely agreed that this recipe tastes best when served cold. That's why we recommend starting with chilled water, particularly if you'll be serving your Lemon Lime Cucumber Water within the first hour or two. Refer to the article above to read more about water temperature and adding ice.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 cup water
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 9Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 10mgCarbohydrates: 3gSugar: 1gProtein: 0g
Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.