How to Make Limoncello

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There is nothing better than a chilled glass of Limoncello. Limoncello is an Italian liquor mainly produced in Southern Italy. It’s made from fresh lemons, sugar, water, and alcohol. The best part is, that you don’t have to go to Italy to sip this cocktail, you can make it at home!

This homemade recipe has 3 ingredients, is lightly sweetened, and has a refreshing citrus flavor. It’s perfectly infused with fresh lemons and after two weeks, you’ll have the most incredible Italian lemon liqueur to sip.

Check out all of our favoirte lemon recipes too!

Two glasses of homemade Limoncello on a marble table with slices of lemon.

I have never been a fan of store-bought Limoncello, but when we were in Italy we tried the most refreshing homemade Limoncello that was smooth and lightly sweetened. There is no comparison to the store-bought stuff! It’s fresh and smooth like lemonade with vodka. For two weeks, the vodka is infused with lemon peels, making every sip of this flavorful liqueur-like magic.

Making your own limoncello is easier than you think. The hardest part is having a little patience for the final product! So while it infuses, I’ll be dreaming of being on the Amalfi coast, sipping a glass of the best limoncello.

History of Limoncello

The exact history and when limoncello was made is disputed. Some say that it was created in the early 1900s by the grandmother of Maria Antonia Farace, who lived in a small guesthouse in Isola Azzurra.

However, several villages on the Amalfi coast claim to be the place of origin and others say it was invented in Sicily. Journalist Kristen Tillotson surmises that it may either have been invented by a citrus-grove tender from Azzurra around 1900 or by monks or fishermen much earlier.

Yellow lemons on a marble table.

Why We Love This Recipe

We use lemon juice as well as lemon rinds to infuse the vodka. This gives it an intense lemon flavor and makes a better limoncello.

This recipe is foolproof and you’ll be so proud of yourself when you’re sipping the most delicious glass of Italian limoncello.

It’s an easy recipe and makes wonderful gifts and party favors.

The citrusy flavor and a great addition to cocktails and desserts.

Supplies to Make This Recipe

  • 1-liter glass jar. A Mason jar works great for this.
  • Paring Knife
  • Cutting Board 

Ingredients in Homemade Limoncello

Vodka – A good quality vodka is also key to making a smooth limoncello.

Lemons – Use large, organic lemons to make the best limoncello. You can use Meyer lemons or Eureka lemons. This recipe uses the entire lemon from the lemon peel to fresh lemon juice,

Granulated Sugar – White sugar works perfectly for making this recipe.

Water – This recipe uses 1 1/2 cups of water. We like to use filtered water. The water and sugar are simmered together to make a sugar syrup, which sweetens the drink.

How do you make limoncello?

The process is easy! It’s the waiting that can be hard, but it will be well worth it! It’s such a novelty when you take the first sip of your homemade Limoncello! There are 4 parts to making limoncello:

Infusing the Vodka

  • Peel the lemon rinds of 6 organic lemons with a vegetable peeler. You can also zest the lemon as well. Either method will work.
  • Add the peels in a pile, since you will use these to infuse the vodka.
  • Cut the 6 lemons in half.
Squeezing fresh lemon into a glass jar.
  • Squeeze the lemon halves into a glass jar using a citrus squeezer. 
  • Add the juice of the lemons, vodka, and lemon peels into a tall, large glass jar with a fitted lid, that can hold a liter of liquid.
  • Close the lid and store the alcohol mixture in a room temperature area, directly out of sunlight.
  • Leave it there for 1 to 2 weeks to infuse. You can leave it for up to 1 month.
A bottle of Limoncello infusing on a shelf.

Sugar Syrup

  • Bring the water and sugar to a simmer in a medium saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. 
  • Let the simple syrup cool and set aside.
Limoncello being poured into a cheesecloth.

Straining

  • Line a sieve strainer with cheesecloth (if you don’t have cheesecloth, you can just use the sieve) and set over a large bowl with a spout.
  • Pour the mixture into the lined sieve to remove the lemon peels and create a smooth liquid. 
  • Discard the lemon peels and pour in the sugar water. Give it a stir with a wooden spoon.
  • Pour the mixture into sterilized glass jars with lids. You can use a funnel to do this part.

Chill

Place the limoncello in the fridge for 4 hours to chill before serving. You can also chill in the freezer for an extra cold limoncello.

A glass of chilled limoncello on a marble table.

Tips for Making

Make sure you have a large glass container to store the lemon juice, vodka, and peels.

Use good quality ingredients as it results in a smooth and lemony flavor cocktail.

Use 100-proof vodka or 80 proof when making this recipe.

How to Store Limoncello

Limoncello can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 months.

You can also store it in the freezer for up to a year. Most people prefer it stored in the freezer and poured directly into a glass when it’s super chilled.

How to Serve Limoncello

Limoncello is commonly served without ice in either a shot glass or tasting glass. Some prefer it poured directly from the freezer, so it’s freezing cold when consumed. The flavor is much more intense when it’s cold.

Limoncello Gifts

This Italian liqueur makes great gifts! We love easy DIY gifts and our homemade limoncello recipe.

Pour the limoncello into small glass jars with a little tag and give these as wedding favors, holiday gifts, or bridal showers.

Limoncello in a glass with lemon slices.

Frequently Asked Questions

What alcohol is limoncello?

It’s made with vodka or traditionally with grappa, which is a grape-based brandy produced in Italy. Grappa is made by distilling the pulp, grape skins, seeds, and stems. We use vodka for this recipe.

How do you Store Limoncello?

Store it in the refrigerator and it’s nice served it chilled. However, it doesn’t need to be stored in the refrigerator, it can also be stored in a cool dark place. Give it a taste test and if it’s lost it’s flavor, maybe make a cocktail with it instead!

Does limoncello go bad?

Since there are a few preservatives in limoncello… sugar, vodka and lemons it will last for several months to a year in the refrigerator.

What is homemade limoncello made of?

Limoncello is made of lemon peels, lemon juice, vodka, sugar, and water. The lemons infuse the vodka for a few weeks, giving it an intense lemon flavor. Then, the sugar syrup is added to sweeten the drink and it’s chilled for a few days.

Is Limoncello a Shot?

We prefer to sip chilled limoncello as a digestif. It’s also great to sip with a light meal. Although, some people do take it as a shot, but we don’t recommend drinking it that way. You want to savor the delicious cocktail you’ve waited weeks to infuse! It’s so good just chilled or over ice.

Two glasses of limoncello on a marble table.

Limoncello Cocktail Variations

Here are some ways you can mix Limoncello for an easy cocktail. Just fill a glass with ice, add in 1 to 2 ounces of homemade limoncello and top it off with one of the below:

  • Lemonade 
  • Tonic Water 
  • Prosecco 
  • Sprite 
  • Cranberry Juice
  • Sparkling Water 

Limoncello Cocktail Recipes

There are many cocktails that are made using limoncello. Here are a few of our favorites:

You can also pour Limoncello over ice cream for a delicious dessert! It’s the perfect after-dinner drink too.

Two glasses of limoncello with a cheese board.

When to Serve Limoncello

If you’re hosting an event or party, make a giant batch a few weeks in advance. Keep it chilled in the freezer until you’re ready to serve on the day of the party. Here are some special occasions to serve this fabulous Italian cocktail:

Brunch

Birthday Party it’s also perfect for a last-minute birthday party!

Carnival Party

Garden Party 

Tropical Party

Dining Alfresco

Outdoor Movie Night

Baby and Bridal Showers

Now get squeezing! The finished product is well worth the wait and you can savor every sip! What a delicacy to serve homemade limoncello at any party or event!

More Recipes You’ll Love!

If you love lemons as much as we do, try these lemon recipes. They all pair perfectly with a chilled glass of limoncello.

Let us know if you make this limoncello recipe by leaving a comment and review below! 

You can also FOLLOW US on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, and PINTEREST to see more delicious recipes, cocktails, desserts, and parties!

Limoncello Recipe

A refreshing, lightly sweetened homeade limoncello. Vodka infused with lemon peels and juice.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Cocktail
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
14 days
Total Time: 14 days 25 minutes
Servings: 1 liter
Calories: 2694kcal
Author: Eden

Ingredients

  • 6 large lemons
  • 750 ml vodka
  • 1 cup white sugar , granulated
  • 1 1/2 cup water

Instructions

Lemon Infused Vodka

  • Peel 6 organic Eureka or Meyer lemons with a vegetable peeler.
  • Add the peels in a pile, since you will use these to infuse the vodka.
  • Cut the 6 lemons in half. 
  • Squeeze the lemon halves into a glass jar using a citrus squeezer. 
  • Add the lemon juice, vodka and the lemon peels in a tall, large glass jar with a fitted lid, that can hold a liter of liquid.
  • Close the lid and store in a room temperature area, like a shelf. 
  • Leave it there for 2 weeks to infuse.

Sugar Syrup

  • After two weeks, bring water and sugar to a simmer until sugar has dissolved. 
  • Let the simple syrup cool and set aside. 

Straining and Chill

  • Line the sieve strainer with cheesecloth (if you don’t have cheesecloth, you can just use the sieve) and set over a large bowl.
  • Pour the mixture into the lined sieve to remove the lemon peels and create a smooth liquid. 
  • Discard the lemon peels and pour sugar syrup into the mixture.
  • Pour the limoncello into sterilized jars with lids.
  • Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Notes

Meyer lemons will produce a sweeter limoncello.
Very important to use washed, organic lemons for this recipe. 
You can infuse it for more than 2 weeks if you forget about it! 
Serve chilled for a smooth and refreshing cocktail.

How to Store Limoncello

Limoncello can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 months.
You can also store it in the freezer for up to a year. Most people prefer it stored in the freezer and poured directly into a glass when it’s super chilled.

Nutrition

Calories: 2694kcal | Carbohydrates: 260g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 23mg | Potassium: 894mg | Fiber: 18g | Sugar: 216g | Vitamin A: 145IU | Vitamin C: 343.4mg | Calcium: 169mg | Iron: 3.9mg
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how to make limoncello

Recipe courtesy of Boursin® and Tastemade Book Gathering

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