This orange agua fresca recipe is easy, sweet and refreshing. Made with only three ingredients including freshly squeezed orange juice. This traditional Mexican agua de naranja is the perfect drink.
If you’ve never had an agua fresca, it’s a delicious, light and refreshing juice. This non-alcoholic drink is a traditional juice recipe from Mexico. It’s not the same as making fresh orange juice, but it’s a citrusy juice you need to try nonetheless!
I never had agua fresca prior to my move to Southern California. They’re typically served in large plastic pitchers at a street taco vendor or on a cart on the side of the road. The most common of this fresh juice is hibiscus (or jamaica), cucumber (or pepino) and pineapple (or piña).
If you’re on the lookout for a healthier drink alternative, agua fresca is it! This agua de naranja is one of my favorite summer drink recipes. Best part is, you can make it your poolside cocktail too by adding a shot of liquor!
What is agua fresca?
Agua fresca is a traditional Mexican drink or juice. The literal translation of agua fresca is ‘fresh water’. It is water blended with fruit, tea, and/or vegetables. It is sweetened with sugar and served cold or over ice.
Why this recipe works
- This recipe has fresh and simple ingredients.
- Perfect for serving a crowd of adults and kids alike!
- A super quick pitcher recipe to make - it takes under 10 minutes.
- Aguas frescas are a refreshing non-alcoholic drink that are always delicious, especially in the warm months! This recipe makes it on my list of best Summer drink recipes!
There are many different kinds of oranges, and it can be difficult to know which ones are best for making freshly squeezed orange juice. That’s why I created an Ultimate Guide to Orange for Juicing! The takeaway: for making this agua fresca I highly recommend using an orange that is in season (you can find out using the Seasonal Food Guide’s comprehensive database of seasonal food in the United States to determine when different varieties of oranges are in season in your state).
My preferences are Navel, Cara Cara or Valencia oranges.
While oranges can be very sweet, I find that adding a little sweetener does wonders to bring out that delicious orange flavor. There’s many different sweetener options out there: honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, simple syrup, granulated sugar, the list goes on and on. My preferences for this recipe are honey and agave nectar. I find that maple syrup is too strong in taste and overrides the gentle orange flavor.
This is an easy one! With any agua fresca recipe, you combine fruit with water. Because it’s an important ingredient, make sure to use filtered water if possible. You can also use sparkling or mineral water in this recipe since it’s not blended.
Making an agua fresca recipe with oranges is actually easier than any other agua fresca. That’s because you can simply juice the citrus and not have to blend it!
Step One: Juice the oranges.
For the first step of making agua de naranja, you have to juice the fresh oranges. There are many different ways to do this: citrus press, classic juicer, blender, and hand-squeezed.
Hand squeezing the oranges is the cheapest option, but can be strenuous if making big batches. The quickest way to juice any citrus is to use a citrus press.
With a traditional juicer, most of the juice will remain in the pulp and you will have to strain the remaining pulp to release enough juice. To use a blender, you will have to remove the peels of the oranges prior to adding to the blender and then strain.
Step Two: Combine ingredients.
Add water and sweetener to the freshly squeezed orange juice. Taste for sweetness, because some oranges will be more tart than others depending on what variety you use.
Step Three: Stir and refrigerate.
Finally, stir to dissolve the sweetener and combine the ingredients together. Refrigerate for a few hours (2 hours) to let the flavors meld together, or enjoy immediately over ice.
The variety of orange matters: Oranges can vary in sweetness depending on the variety and season. I recommend using the Seasonal Food Guide’s comprehensive database of seasonal food in the United States to determine when different varieties of oranges are in season in your state and using an in-season orange for the freshest agua fresca.
It is important to choose an orange variety that matches your flavor preferences and when determining how much sweetener to add. Some oranges may be very tart and may need much more sweetener if you prefer that, while others may be naturally extremely sweet. My typical top choices are Navel, Cara Cara or Valencia oranges.
Storage Directions: As with any fresh squeezed juice, enjoying this agua de naranja while fresh is best. If you do have any leftovers, store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
No! Orange juice is just that: the juice of an orange. Agua fresca is always water combined with fresh fruit or juice, so it is pretty much a watered down version of orange juice! Both have the orange flavor, but in agua fresca it is much less prominent.
If you’ve never had agua fresca, think of it as a fruit-packed water, or like a lemonade or iced tea. Because the pulp is strained, the drink is smooth like water but packed with flavor.
Yes, you can definitely use a juicer to make this recipe, however a citrus press or hand-squeezing the oranges have the best result. To use a classic juicer, remove the peels of the oranges and juice. For the most juice, remove pulp and strain into a large bowl or measuring cup. You will be surprised at how much juice stays in the pulp!
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Orange Agua Fresca (Agua de Naranja)
- Large Measuring Cup
- 1.25 cups orange juice, freshly squeezed about 5-6 oranges
- 3 cups water
- 2 teaspoons honey
Squeeze the oranges into a bowl or measuring cup.1.25 cups orange juice, freshly squeezed
- Pour the freshly squeezed orange juice into a large pitcher.
Add the water and honey into the pitcher. Stir together until honey dissolves.3 cups water, 2 teaspoons honey
- Refrigerate for a few hours (2 hours) to let the flavors meld together, or enjoy immediately over ice.