Leanne Brown’s Agua Fresca: A Simple Refreshing Summertime Drink

Agua fresca is a fruity, refreshing, and cold summertime drink that hails from South America. With just a few ingredients and a few minutes, you’ll have a party-worthy drink to share with everyone.

Serves: 4    Time: 4 minutes   Cookbook: Good and Cheap
Refreshing Agua Fresca

Leanne Brown is all about making the most of what you have. In her award-winning recipe book, Good and Cheap, she shows us that eating well for very little is possible. And in this agua fresca recipe, she shares how easy it is to create a refreshing, tasty craft drink on the cheap.

Do you have fruit that would otherwise go bad if not eaten? Don’t throw it away, make agua fresca! Believed to have been invented by the Aztecs, agua fresca is a simple drink made of fruit, water, and add-ins such as lime juice, herbs, or sugar. The possibilities for this recipe are endless. Use whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand to make a delicious, satisfying, and cost-effective beverage for any occasion.

Pro tip: Serve these refreshing drinks with mango guacamole and homemade tortilla chips for a crowd-pleasing appetizer.

Jump Ahead:

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Refreshing: Agua fresca literally has refreshing in the name. You can’t get much better than blended fruit and water, with aromatics and sweeteners, poured over ice in the summertime. It’s a favorite in our house during the hot days of summer and we know it will be for you, too.

Simple: You can’t get much simpler than this. Chop up fruit, add to a blender, add water, and boom: agua fresca.

Economical: You can utilize whatever fruit you have on hand, whatever is in season, or whatever is on sale. Since the only other mandatory ingredient is water, you can make quite a lot of this drink for very little.

Scalable: This is one of the easiest drink recipes to scale. Simply increase your fruit and water portions and blend away. Keep adding and blending and pouring up until you’ve made enough for everyone.

Ingredients Needed to Make Leanne Brown’s Agua Fresca Recipe

Strawberries, Mint, Water, ingredients for agua fresca

To make this sweet, refreshing, summertime favorite, you’ll need basic ingredients including fruit, water, and ice.

  • Fruit: Choose 2 cups of chopped fruit. Any type of fruit can be used in agua fresca. We used strawberries because they were in season and it turned out great.
  • Water: Cold water is best, since you’ll be serving this cold. Start with cold water from the fridge when making this.
  • Ice: To make the drink even colder, pour it over ice when you’re ready to serve.

Optional ingredients: Play around with adding one or two of these ingredients to your blended fruit and water, and taste as you go.

  • Lime or Lemon Juice: Add this for a brighter, citrusy flavor.
  • Mint or Basil Leaves: Both of these aromatics pair well with fruit and create a unique agua fresca flavor.
  • Vanilla Extract: Vanilla works well with most fruits and adds a depth to the drink that would be lacking otherwise.
  • Sugar, Honey, or Stevia: These sweeteners should be added to taste. Start with a small amount and add more if you like a sweeter agua fresca.
  • Chia Seeds: Chia seeds are fun because they’ll swell and float in the agua fresca. Add them several minutes prior to serving so they’ll have time to float and absorb some liquid.

Equipment You’ll Need in the Kitchen

  • Blender: The only must-have kitchen tool here is the blender since this will be the key item that makes your drink come together.
  • Fine Mesh Strainer (optional): If you like less pulp, then a strainer is key to removing the pulp from your agua fresca.
  • Pitcher (optional): Pour the fresh agua fresca into a pitcher filled to the brim with ice before serving for a beautiful presentation piece.

How to Make Leanne Brown’s Agua Fresca Recipe

This base recipe can be made with any fruit, so read through it and decide which fruit you want to use. You can find fun recipe variations below.

Chop the fruit

Chop the fruit into pieces but don’t worry about being uniform. This will all go into a blender; chopping just helps your blender out.

Blend fruit and water

Strawberries and Water in a blender

Place chopped fruit and water into a blender. If you plan on adding herbs, do so at this stage.

Blend well until the liquid is smooth and everything is mixed well.

Taste the blended mixture and decide if it needs any sweetener. If so, add a small amount of sugar, honey, agave nectar, or stevia. How much you add (or don’t add) is entirely up to you and what you want your agua fresca recipe to taste like.

You can also play around with flavorings by adding a splash of lime or lemon juice, or vanilla depending on your flavor combination.

Blend again to mix and taste.

Strain out the pulp (optional)

Straining out the seeds

Straight out of the blender, agua fresca contains all the fruit pulp. Some agua fresca drinks, like watermelon, work well with pulp. However, if you have fruit with skin, like peaches, you’ll want to remove the fragments of skin that got blended up.

Place a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl. Strain out pulp and skin by pouring the blended mixture through the strainer. The strainer will catch the pulp while the bowl catches the clear juice below.

Serve it up

Leanne Brown's Agua Fresca

Agua fresca makes a great presentation drink for parties and get-togethers. If making ahead, pour it into a pitcher and chill. Just before serving, add ice and stir well. If serving directly after the drink is made, pour into a pitcher full of ice and serve.

Leanne Brown's agua fresca Ready to drink

Agua Fresca Recipe Variations

It’s best to think of agua fresca recipes like guidelines. Tweak and change the ingredients you add based on your preferences. If you want to concentrate the fruit flavor, use less water. Is it sweet enough for your taste? Leave out the sugar. Want it a bit more citrusy? Add a splash or two of lime or lemon juice.

Here are some of the most popular types of fruit-based agua fresca drinks to try this summer. Follow the above recipe using these variations.

Tropical Fruit: Use 2 cups of a frozen tropical fruit blend like strawberries, pineapple, and mango.

Blueberry-Lemon: Use 2 cups of blueberries and 1/4 cup lemon juice.

Watermelon-Lime: Use 2 cups of watermelon and 1/4 cup lime juice.

Strawberry-Mint: Use 2 cups of hulled strawberries and 10 mint leaves.

Watermelon-Basil: Use 2 cups of watermelon and 2 sprigs of basil.

Peach-Vanilla: Use 2 cups of peach and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

Pineapple-Chia: Use 2 cups of pineapple and add 1 Tbsp chia seeds to pitcher before serving.

Agua Fresca Recipe Tips, Tricks, and FAQs

What are the best agua fresca flavors?

Ask five different people and you’ll get five different answers. Everyone has their favorite, but some of the most popular agua fresca flavors include watermelon/mint, pineapple/chia seed, and mango.

Can I substitute honey for sugar to make it healthier?

You can! The amount of sugar you add is to taste, so you may find that you don’t want any at all. If you do want to add a bit of sweetness then honey, agave nectar, or stevia can be mixed in, instead.

Why is it called agua fresca?

Agua fresca comes from two Spanish words: ‘agua’ which means water and ‘fresca’ which means fresh. Agua fresca is a drink that combines a base ingredient, such as fruit, with water for a refreshing drink served over ice. Horchata is one of the most popular types of agua fresca drinks.

What should I serve this with?

Serve this alongside Mexican food like mushroom and cheese quesadillas, chips and guacamole, and Better Homes and Gardens fish tacos!

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Leanne Brown's Agua fresca is a beautiful presentation

Leanne Brown’s Agua Fresca: A Simple Refreshing Summer Drink


Whip up this refreshing summertime drink with fruit and flavorings you have on hand. It’s a great any-time drink or perfect for a party or get-together.




2 cups chopped Fruit

4 cups Water


1/4 cup Lime or Lemon Juice

12 sprigs Mint or Basil

1/2 tsp Vanilla

1 Tbsp Chia Seeds

1/4 cup Sugar, Honey, Agave Nectar, or Stevia


For a fruit-only drink:

  1. Chop fruit into large chunks.
  2. Place fruit and water into blender and blend until smooth. Taste.
  3. Add preferred flavorings and sweeteners, and adjust to taste.
  4. Strain out fruit skin and pulp by using a fine mesh strainer.
  5. Pour liquid into a pitcher filled with ice. Serve immediately.

If adding herbs:

  1. Chop 1 Tbsp and add to fruit when blending.
  2. Strain out pulp and herbs before serving.
  3. Garnish glasses with a sprig or leaf of the herbs you used for presentation.

If adding chia seeds:

  1. Add seeds to pitcher or drinking glasses prior to serving.


If you plan to make this ahead, pour the drink into a pitcher and chill. Just before serving, add ice and stir well. 

  • Prep Time: 2
  • Cook Time: 2
  • Category: Beverages
  • Method: Blend
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: Summer, Refreshing, Strawberry-Mint, Iced Drink

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