Agua Fresca Recipe (Three Flavors!)

The name means “fresh water” in Spanish, and it’s a category of cold non-alcoholic drinks, usually fruit-infused.  Agua frescas have their roots in Mexico and Central America, and there they can be found everywhere from finer restaurants to street carts.  They have become understandably popular in the states, particularly in Texas, California, the Southwest and other areas with significant Mexican populations.  

Agua Fresca

And once you’ve had your eye-popping first gulp of one of these ridiculously refreshing drinks, you’ll be looking to make them part of your summer beverage rotation.  Fruit, water, and sugar: that’s it, and you have agua fresca.

Fruit Agua Fresca

Most agua fresca recipes just call for the sugar to be added with the other ingredients and blended.  The sugar dissolves as the mixture is pureed and then the mixture chills for a short while.  I’ve seen recipes that call for simple syrup, where the sugar is dissolved into the water over heat, and then chilled and added to the drink, but I’ve found you can skip this step.

Agua Frescas are refreshing non-alcoholic drinks made with just fruit (watermelon, honeydew, or cantaloupe!), water, and sugar. Perfect for hot weather!

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Agua Fresca

Guillermo who has worked with me in the kitchen for years also works as a chef at a Mexican restaurant, where they sell gallons of agua frescas.  He says watermelon is the most popular, but I think we can all agree that rotating through a bunch of fresh fruits is the most appealing option!

Sometimes the agua fresca is strained to remove any bits of fruit pulp, but I like to leave the agua fresco unfiltered or strained.  I like the fuller texture, and I like that all of the fiber and nutrients in the fruit stays in my drink.  And I don’t like waste.  But, straining the agua fresca will give you a lighter, clearer beverage so it’s up to you!

Agua Fresca

What Does Agua Fresca Taste Like?  

Agua fresca tastes like a cross between a full-on fruit juice, and fruit infused water.   They can be sweet, but most are on the subtler side, and when you are making it at home you have the option of determining how sweet or fruity or tart you want your agua fresca to be.  Some people don’t add any sugar at all.  There are no exact measurements, just personal preference.  

Of course, the fruit that you choose to be the star of your drink will be the predominant flavor, and how much of it you add will influence whether your drink is lightly fruity, or more intense.

Agua Fresca

Watermelon Agua Fresca

Watermelon is probably the most popular fruit used to make agua fresca. Most typically red watermelon is used, and the resulting drink is a bright pinkish red, and has all of the juiciness of watermelon, but pureed into into a refreshing drink. You can also try yellow watermelon for another subtle flavor variation, and a different summery color! I like to garnish this version with lime wheels or wedges, and little wedges of watermelon.

Honeydew Agua Fresca

This version of the drink is a pretty pale green color, with the sweetness of the honeydew melon front and center. Fresh mint sprigs and lemon wheels or wedges make a pretty garnish for this flavor.

Cantaloupe Agua Fresca

The orange-colored melon is also a perfect base for agua fresca, with it sweet earthy taste. You can use any kind of citrus wedges for this drink, and also play around with different sprigs of fresh herbs. Also think about a little wedge of cantaloupe or another melon as a garnish. Make sure your melon is very ripe so you get the best flavor out of your drink. And try other melons as well! As long as they are ripe enough to puree, they will all make lovely sippers.

How to Make Agua Frescas:

Tips for making Agua Fresca:

  • Make sure your fruit is very ripe and flavorful – the drink will only be as flavorful as the fruit you start with.  Also, riper fruit is sweeter, and that will require less additional sugar.
  • Taste and adjust the sweetness and tartness as needed.  Only by tasting will you know if you need a bit more sugar or a bit more acidity from the lime.
  • Play around with the fruit.  Popular fruit choices are melons of all kinds, like cantaloupe or honeydew, as well as the watermelon.  Other popular versions of agua frescos are pineapple, tamarind and horchata, made with rice.
Agua Fresca

How Long Will Agua Fresca Keep?  

It’s best the day it’s made, but it will stay for up to three days in the refrigerator.

Spiked Agua Fresco

If you want to add an ounce of vodka, tequila or rum to your glass of agua fresco, go for it!  It’s absolutely delicious.  Just make sure if you are spiking the whole pitcher you make sure everyone knows this drink is now alcoholic.

Agua Fresca

Other Non-Alcoholic Drink Recipes:

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Agua Fresca

Agua Frescas are ridiculously refreshing non-alcoholic drinks made with just fruit (watermelon, honeydew, or canteloupe!), water, and sugar.
Yield: 8 People
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Ingredients

For the Watermelon Agua Fresca (Sandia)

  • 3 cups ice cold water , divided
  • 4 cups cubed watermelon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar , or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice , or to taste
  • Lime wheels or wedges , to serve
  • Watermelon wedges , to serve

For the Honeydew Agua Fresca

  • 3 cups ice cold water , divided
  • 4 cups cubed honeydew
  • 2 tablespoons sugar , or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or lime juice, or to taste
  • Lemon wheels or wedges , to serve
  • Mint sprigs , to serve

For the Cantaloupe Agua Fresca

  • 3 cups ice cold water , divided
  • 4 cups cubed cantaloupe
  • 2 tablespoons sugar , or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice , or to taste
  • Lime wedges to serve

Directions

For the Watermelon Agua Fresca (Sandia)

  • In a blender or a food processor, combine half of the water, watermelon, sugar and lime juice. Puree for about 1 minute, until the mixture is smooth and the sugar has dissolved. Transfer to a pitcher, add the remaining water and chill for at least 2 hours.
  • Pour into glasses over ice and garnish with a lime wedge or wheel and a wedge of watermelon.

For the Honeydew Agua Fresca

  • In a blender or a food processor, combine half of the water, watermelon, sugar and lemon or lime juice. Puree for about 1 minute, until the mixture is smooth and the sugar has dissolved. Transfer to a pitcher, add the remaining water and chill for at least 2 hours.
  • Pour into glasses over ice and garnish with a lemon wedge or wheel and a sprig of mint.

For the Cantaloupe Agua Fresca

  • In a blender or a food processor, combine half of the water, cantaloupe, sugar and lime juice. Puree for about 1 minute, until the mixture is smooth and the sugar has dissolved. Transfer to a pitcher, add the remaining water and chill for at least 2 hours.
  • Pour into glasses over ice and garnish with a lime wedge.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 35kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 87mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 433IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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