Whether you’re making 5 gallons or 50 gallons, here’s the best way to mix up some ice-cold Gatorade - guaranteed.
Step 1 – Get Your Stuff Together
You’ll first need to decide on whether to use Gatorade powder mix or Gatorade liquid concentrate. Both produce a final product that’s the same as ready-to-drink Gatorade, and both are comparable in price. There’s a slight difference in available flavors, and the liquid concentrate requires a little less stirring, but other than that there’s no real difference.
Gatorade powder is available in 1, 2.5 and 6-gallon pouches, whereas the liquid concentrate comes in a 1-gallon bottle that mixes with 5 gallons of water. The powder comes in Lemon Lime (Gatorade’s original flavor), Fruit Punch, Orange, Glacier Freeze and Riptide Rush. The liquid concentrate is available in Lemon Lime, Fruit Punch, Orange and Fierce Grape.
The next thing you’ll need is a cooler. To make things “official” it would be great to use an authentic Gatorade cooler, although it’s not necessary. What is important, however, is that the cooler have markings on the inside indicating the different gallon levels as shown in the photo here. (This is the secret to making Gatorade that’s ice cold and NOT diluted.)
Coolers typically come in 1, 3, 5, 7 and 10-gallon sizes. It’s best to choose one that’s closest in size to the amount you’ll be making. Although you can make 2 1/2 gallons of Gatorade in a 10-gallon cooler, it will stay colder if you make it in a 3-gallon cooler, since there will be less air space.
Next, you’ll need to round up some water and ice. When it comes to water, you can use tap, filtered or bottled. If you want to know the pros and cons of each, we cover that a little further down the page. As for ice, it’s up to you as to whether you make it yourself or purchase a bag from the store. If you have questions or concerns about using purchased ice, we cover that topic further down too.
The amount of ice to use is mainly dependent on the temperature of your water. If your water is cold to start, you’ll need less ice, and vice versa.
Finally, you should have something ready to help with the stirring. Theoretically, you could just wash your hands and arms and go that route. But it’s doubtful that your mom would approve, and trust us, your arms would get pretty cold. Luckily, they do sell mixing paddles and even official Gatorade mixing spoons.
Step 2 – Add the Ingredients
Now that you have everything in place, it’s time to add the ingredients to the cooler. However, if you’re thinking of dumping the water in first, just “slow your roll.” Actually, you want to add the ice first, followed by the powder or concentrate.
Next, add water until the water level reaches the appropriate marking on the inside of the cooler, as shown in the photo here. The ice will melt as you stir, and since you took it into account when adding the water, it won’t dilute the final mixture! (It ain’t rocket science, but this is how a rocket scientist would do it.)
In our example, we’re making 5 gallons of Gatorade using a 5-gallon cooler, so we add water until the level reaches the 5-gallon mark. If you were making a lesser amount, say 3 gallons, you’d only add enough water to reach the 3-gallon mark.
Step 3 – Mix It Up
Now it’s time to stir things up a bit. Fortunately, it’s a little easier than mixing cement. The required stirring time will be dependent on the starting temperature of the water and the amount of ice used. Your goal is to stir until all the ice has melted.
In our example, we added a 7-pound bag of ice to tap water that was 68.2 degrees F to start. We were able to get all the ice to melt after about 4 minutes of stirring. The final temperature of our Gatorade came in at 36.1 degrees F. Not too shabby for less than five minutes of work!
Step 4 – Put a Lid on It
All that’s left now is to serve up the final product. Just remember to put the lid on first, and if possible, keep your cooler out of direct sunlight.
If you’re wondering, these same mixing instructions can be used to make ice cold Sqwincher, using either Sqwincher powder mixes or concentrates. Again, the key is to account for the ice when adding the water, so as not to dilute the final product.
Homemade or Bagged Ice?
If you're only mixing up small batches of Gatorade and you're happy with the taste of your tap water, making your own ice is usually the best option. You'll save yourself some money, as well as a trip to the store. Many refrigerators also have ice makers that can make crushed ice. If you're in a hurry, smaller pieces of ice will melt a little faster.
On the other hand, if you're mixing up multiple large batches, purchasing bagged ice is usually more practical. It's both convenient and relatively inexpensive. However, be sure to check that the purchased ice is safe to eat.
We recommend purchasing bagged ice that features the IPIA label, as shown here. The International Packaged Ice Association (IPIA) has been around since 1917 and its members are committed to producing bagged ice that meets rigorous sanitation standards. Their motto, Ice is Food, says it all. Visit packagedice.com to learn more.
Tap, Filtered or Bottled Water?
When possible, we'd suggest using tap water. It's by far the most convenient and inexpensive option. Not to mention, it’s also environmentally friendly.
However, many feel that the taste of bottled water is far superior to the taste of tap water. Although blind taste tests frequently show that most people can’t tell the difference, there are obvious exceptions. In those cases, the addition of a water filter is a great option. Many name-brand bottled waters are produced using only filtered tap water.
If you have concerns about the safety of your tap water, check out this tap water database, maintained by the Environmental Working Group. You can enter your zip code and get a full report on the contaminants detected in your local water supply. Best of all, they also provide recommendations on which water filters to use based on the reported contaminants.
Finally, if you’d like to dig a little deeper, here’s a great article on bottled vs tap water. It covers all the bases and has plenty of links to additional resources.
Adding your ingredients in the proper order is the secret to mixing up ice cold Gatorade in less than 5 minutes. By adding the ice prior to adding the concentrate and water, you’ll avoid diluting the final mixture.