How To Make Limoncello

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Today we’re talking about How to Make Limoncello at home. Homemade limoncello is crafted by steeping lemon zest in high-proof alcohol, straining out the zest, and then sweetened with simple syrup. The result is a refreshing and aromatic lemon liqueur perfect for sipping or mixing in cocktails.

Two bottles of homemade limoncello.

Homemade Limoncello

After sampling some homemade limoncello at a local Italian restaurant recently, I knew I needed to make my own version at home. I love a project, especially when it involves food and drinks, and this one intrigued me.

Let’s pretend we’re on the Amalfi Coast with lemon trees surrounding us, shall we? Bucket list destination for me – but in the meantime, shall we make our own homemade limoncello at home?

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Why This Recipe Works:

  • SIMPLE – You’ll need just a few ingredients – lemon, vodka (or ever clear), and sugar!
  • LEMONY – This classic Italian liqueur has an intense lemon flavor due to soaking the lemon peels. Removing the peels takes a little time and patience but the finished product is worth it.
  • PERFECT PARTY COCKTAIL – We love serving limoncello to guests. So tasty and they’ll be impressed with your craftiness!
  • GREAT GIFT – A bottle of limoncello makes a great holiday gift, housewarming, or hostess gift.
A hand holding up a shot of homemade limoncello.

Ingredients Used:

You’ll need just a few simple ingredients for this homemade limoncello recipe.

  • Fresh Lemons – For best results use fresh organic lemons. Regular lemons are often coated with food-grade wax to maintain their freshness and extend their shelf life. This wax interferes with the infusion process.
  • Vodka – Use 80-100 proof vodka or Ever Clear.
  • Simple Syrup – I recommend making simple syrup and chilling it in advance of mixing it with the limoncello.
The limoncello ingredients, labeled.

How to make Homemade Limoncello:

Step 1
Prep the lemons. Use a sharp serrated edge knife and remove all of the yellow zest from each lemon. Try to remove the yellow peels and not the pith. This takes a little patience!

A board with peeled lemons and a knife.

Step 2
Soak the peels in vodka. Transfer the lemon peels to a large glass container and add the vodka. Cover with a lid.

Step 3
Infuse the vodka. Let the lemon peels soak in the vodka at room temperature for several days to a month. We recommend allowing them to soak for at least five days. The longer you infuse, the more lemony the limoncello will be.

Step 4 (On day four or before)
Prepare the simple syrup. Combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer for a few minutes, or until sugar is completely dissolved. Let syrup cool and then refrigerate overnight.

NOTE: We used one cup of sugar and one cup of water for our batch of limoncello. If you prefer a sweeter limoncello, you’ll need to add more sugar and water. It’s up to your personal taste buds!

Step 5 (On Day five or after)
Strain the vodka. Pour the vodka through a fine mesh sieve over a large measuring cup. You may need to use a spoon to encourage the flow if it gets clogged during the process. Discard the lemon rinds.

Side view of the sieve on a measuring cup wit lemon peels.

Step 6
Add simple syrup to the infused alcohol. Add the sugar syrup to the lemon-infused alcohol and stir well. Taste and determine if it needs more sweetener.

Step 7
Add to bottles. Pour the limoncello into the bottles. We use a funnel to help with this process.

Step 8
Chill. Place bottled limoncello in your refrigerator (or freezer) to chill. You’ll want to chill for several hours before serving.

Step 9
Store. Store limoncello in your refrigerator for up to one month. Freeze bottles for several months or up to one year.

How to serve Limoncello:

  • Limoncello is typically served chilled, straight from the freezer or refrigerator, in small, chilled shot glasses.
  • Add it to cocktails. Try it in our Limoncello Mules, or make a Limoncello Spritz, Limoncello Martini, Limoncello Collins, Limoncello Mojito, or Limoncello Margaritas.
Side view of three shots of limoncello with lemon slices in the background.

Recipe FAQs:

What is the white part of the lemon?

The white part of the lemon under the peel is called the “pith.” It is a spongy layer between the outer peel and the fruit’s juicy flesh. The pith contains some nutrients but is often bitter compared to the flesh of the lemon.

What type of alcohol is best for limoncello?

Most recipes recommend using a high-proof alcohol like vodka (at least 80 proof) or grain alcohol (like Everclear) to extract the lemon flavor effectively. We used 80-proof vodka because it was on hand.

Do I need to use organic lemons?

Using organic lemons is recommended because they’re not treated with pesticides or wax, and you’ll be using the zest, which could contain residues.

Can I adjust the sweetness of limoncello?

Yes, you can adjust the sweetness by varying the amount of sugar syrup you add to the alcohol. Taste as you go until you reach your desired sweetness.

What do I do with the zested lemons?

I recommend using the lemons to make homemade lemonade or using it for other lemon treats.

What variations can I make?

You can experiment with different citrus fruits like oranges or limes to make variations such as orangecello or limecello. You can also infuse additional flavors like herbs or spices for a unique twist.

Side view of two skinny bottles of homemade limoncello.

xoxo ~Sue

Side view of two bottles of homemade limoncello.

How To Make Limoncello

Today we're talking about How to Make Limoncello at home. Homemade limoncello is crafted by steeping lemon zest in high-proof alcohol, straining out the zest, and then sweetened with simple syrup. The result is a refreshing and aromatic lemon liqueur perfect for sipping or mixing in cocktails.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: cocktails
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 1 hour
Infuse Time: 5 days
Total Time: 5 days 1 hour
Servings: 32 2-ounce servings
Calories: 95kcal
Author: Sue Ringsdorf

Ingredients

  • 750 ml vodka – use 80-100 proof vodka or Ever Clear
  • 12 large organic lemons – remove peels
  • 1-2 cups simple syrup – depending on your personal tastes

Instructions

  • Prep the lemons. Use a sharp serrated edge knife and remove all of the yellow zest from each lemon. Try to remove the yellow peels and not the pith. This takes a little patience!
  • Soak the peels in vodka. Transfer the lemon peels to a large glass container and add the vodka. Cover with a lid.
  • Infuse the vodka. Let the lemon peels soak in the vodka at room temperature for several days to a month. We recommend allowing them to soak for at least five days. The longer you infuse, the more lemony the limoncello will be.
  • Prepare the simple syrup. {on about day four} Combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer for a few minutes, or until sugar is completely dissolved. Let syrup cool and then refrigerate overnight.
  • Strain the vodka. {on about day five} Pour the vodka through a fine mesh sieve over a large measuring cup. You may need to use a spoon to encourage the flow if it gets clogged during the process. Discard the lemon rinds.
  • Add simple syrup to the infused alcohol. Add the sugar syrup to the lemon-infused alcohol and stir well. Taste and determine if it needs more sweetener.
  • Add to bottles. Pour the limoncello into the bottles. We use a funnel to help with this process.
  • Chill. Place bottled limoncello in your refrigerator (or freezer) to chill. You'll want to chill for several hours before serving.
  • Store. Store limoncello in your refrigerator for up to one month. Freeze bottles for several months or up to one year.

Notes

  • NOTE: We used one cup of sugar and one cup of water for our batch of limoncello. If you prefer a sweeter limoncello, you’ll need to add more sugar and water. It’s up to your personal taste buds!
  • Most recipes recommend using a high-proof alcohol like vodka (at least 80 proof) or grain alcohol (like Everclear) to extract the lemon flavor effectively. We used 80-proof vodka.
  • Using organic lemons is recommended because they’re not treated with pesticides or wax, and you’ll be using the zest, which could contain residues.
How to serve Limoncello:
  • Limoncello is typically served chilled, straight from the freezer or refrigerator, in small, chilled shot glasses.
  • Add it to cocktails. Try it in our Limoncello Mules, or make a Limoncello Spritz, Limoncello Martini, Limoncello Collins, Limoncello Mojito, or a Limoncello Margarita.

Nutrition

Calories: 95kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 0.4g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.02g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.004g | Sodium: 7mg | Potassium: 63mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 9IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @Suebeehomemaker or tag #suebeehomemaker!

2 Comments

  1. How fun and refreshing for those hot summer days!

5 from 1 vote

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