Limoncello. Learn how to make homemade Italian Limoncello (lemon flavored liqueur) with just 4 simple ingredients. This post is intended for those 21+ years of age. Please enjoy responsibly.
Limoncello! The luxuriously lemon digestivo! It just screams spring and summertime to me. There’s nothing like it. I love everything about it. It’s vibrant color, it’s sweet citrus smell, it’s smooth as Casanova flavor. But then again, I love all things lemon. It may look like sunshine and sweetness but pucker up princesses (and princes) this one packs a punch.
Limoncello is a drink that originated in Southern Italy. It’s typically made from Sorrento Lemons, which are some of the most beautiful lemons you will evah taste. The first time I had this summertime sipper I was hooked. 4 simple ingredients are all you need to make your own homemade limoncello.
How do you store and serve Limoncello?
Limoncello does not require refrigeration, but it is best served chilled. Store your limoncello in the freezer so it is ready when you are. It will not not freeze. If you want to be extra, you can also chill your serving glasses.
What are the best lemons to use? What is the best way to peel lemons?
Organic lemons are best for this recipe, as we’re using the peels.
A vegetable peeler works best for me. It’s not a potato peeling race, go slowly and you’ll have better results. You ONLY want the lemon peel and not the pith (white portion), which is where the bitterness lies. If you happen to get a little of the pith, just use your pairing knife and cut it off.
What is the alcohol in Limoncello?
High-proof grain alcohol is the best option. This will extract more lemon flavor from the peels, and makes a smoother limoncello. I used Everclear (you could also use moonshine).
Choose a glass container with a seal-able, airtight lid. You’ll be shaking this once a day and you don’t want anything spewing out.
Don’t throw all those naked lemons away. Make LEMON CURD !
This recipe is intended for those 21 years of age and older. Please drink responsibly.
- 1 liter pure grain alcohol (Everclear)
- 10 organic lemons - peeled
- 3 cups sugar
- 4 1/2 cups water
- Wash your lemons and dry them well. Remove the peels with your vegetable peeler . Careful to ONLY peel the rind and NOT the pith (white portion).
- Place the lemon peels into a large glass container with an wide mouth & an airtight lid. Pour the alcohol on top & seal with lid. Keep the container in a cool dry dark place. Shake it once a day for approximately 10 days.
- On the 11th day, boil the water and sugar, stirring often until well combined, making a make a simple syrup. Take off of heat and let it cool completely.
- Remove the lemon peels from your jar and discard. Strain the liquid with a sieve or coffee filter. Combine the two liquids together. Pour them into desired bottles and leave them at least once month before consuming.
- Note: Limoncello is best served chilled.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
OXO Good Grips Swivel Peeler
Glèur Reusable Square Glass Bottles with Swing top Stopper & Airtight Rubber Seal for Beverages or Salad Dressing, 1 Liter (33.8oz), Set of 6
U.S. Kitchen Supply - Set of 4 Premium Quality Fine Mesh Stainless Steel Strainers - 3", 4", 5.5" and 8" Sizes - Sift, Strain, Drain and Rinse Vegetables, Pastas & Tea
Weck Juice Jar Combo Pack - (1) 766 1-Liter jar (1) 764 1/2-Liter jar with Glass Lids, Rubber Rings and Steel Clamps
Jessica @ How Sweet says
That sounds so refreshing – I want a glass now!
Thanks for posting! I’m going to the store right now. After a trip to Italy I fell in love with limoncello. My in-laws spent the summer in northern Italy last year and brought back bottles of limoncino. I am now almost out and can’t find a good limoncello or limonceno in the states. I can’t wait to try this recipe and use it for my limoncello/limoncino cookies. thanks!
Awesome and I love your photos!
My “suocera” (mother-in-love) who was born in Ischia and lives in Napoli says it’s a must to turn the heat off under the water as soon as you see bubbles forming, then add the sugar.
My “marito” (husband) makes a wonderful lemoncello and has experimented recently with squirting a bit of the juice in with the peel/alcohol mix.
Just thought you’d want to know from the natives.
Wait…it’s add the sugar THEN turn off as soon as bubbles form. Scusatemi!
Ehila’ Amy! Grazie per la tua consiglia. Lo so che tutti fanno le ricettte in modo un po diverso. A presto…
I have done this it was a lot of fun. Potent fun. I even tried it with kumquats! GREG
Wow Greg a Kumquat-cello! Ah the …cello possibilities ; )
Elissa Carey says
I have made this before but have used Vodka. Is there a difference in taste when using grain alcohol? I know the ‘proof’ has to be higher..
YUM! My friend made such a delicious batch of limoncello that he started a limoncello business! Crazy! Make sure to show us the end result please!!!
Foy Update - Garden. Cook. Write. Repeat. says
I am so doing this! This New Year’s we hosted an Authentic Italian dinner and ask our guests to bring drinks. We got several bottles of Limoncillo and enjoyed it chilled as an antipertif. I didn’t know I could make it myself.
Here’s a recap of how the dinner went:
The Food Hunter says
We had a first sip from this years batch last night!
I love limoncello. When I lived in Napoli I went to Sorrento several times and always enjoyed the limoncello shops where they made it. You could get several flavors as well…strawberry, orange, melon, chocolate, coffee, and all flavors in regular and a creamy variety. I’d love to know how to make the creamy limoncello…it is to die for.
If you ever find out how to make the creamy version I would love to know. Our favorite Italian restaurant back home made it that way and it was fabulous.
lynda lambert says
crema di Limoncello is made with Milk….. thats how my neighbor in Naples Italy made it…
lisa bailey says
I’m fairly a novice with limoncello. The first time someone served it to me I downed it like a shot. Not a good plan in any way. I then learned the art of sipping. So lovely, can’t wait to try Paula’s.
Megan Gordon says
Fabulous! I remember drinking a great deal of limoncello on a family trip to Italy years back, and haven’t had it since. My friend Allison over at Local Lemons blog made it awhile back too. Now you both have peaked my interest!
Fuji mama says
Wow, it looks just absolutely gorgeous! Bee-you-tee-fool my friend! 😉
Makes a good martini too – 3 oz. vodka, 1 oz. limoncello and 1 teaspoonful of simple syrup. Shake well with ice.
My hubby loves limoncello (cause he’s a good Italian boy!). I may have to try this one myself. I had no idea it was made with grain alcohol. WOW! That will knock your sock off! Looks yummy!
The Italian DIsh says
We always keep a bottle around, chilled. Great post!
Rachel J says
Limoncello is a staple at our Sunday family dinners. Maybe one week I’ll surprise everyone by bringing my own! Thanks Paula! ^_^
Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle says
I discovered Limoncello on a visit to Boston’s North End. I was visiting there with my sister and daughter and we had no idea the place we chose to stay in was smack in the middle of what turned out to be a little Italy.
The charming restaurants with hanging lights, open windows and amazing food were incrediblle but it’s the Limoncello suggested to us by our waiter after our meal that I will never forget. And haven’t. I always keep a bottle in the freezer but must admit have never made my own, til now. Today I think that will change. Ciao Bella!
Love Limoncello… but where you do you buy grain alcohol in the states? I thought it was illegal? I am polish so of course have a ton of recipes with grain alcohol but having a hard time to buy it here.
Hi Kathy! I purchased Everclear (grain alcohol) at our local liquor store here in NC. I have heard of Limoncello being made with Vodka – but I have not personally tried it that way. Hope that helps : )
Cookin' Canuck says
I think I’d be under the table after one little glass of the gorgeous drink. Perfect for a summertime afternoon with no obligations!
My brother in law is from Napoli. His aunts & mama make the BEST limoncello! Fell in LOVE with the stuff while in Italy on family vacay! I am soo going to try this recipe!!
Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction says
Yum… I fell in love with Limoncello when I was on a market tour in the Italian North End in Boston and we tasted various limoncello’s in one of the wine tours. I definitely need to make some of my own.
love this! I always bring a bottle or two back when I go to Italy, but I’ve never made my own. Thanks for a simple recipe that I’ll start offering my clients this Season!
I applaud you making your own at home! Bravo! I just went and bought a bottle but wish I had been more virtuous and made my own. Next time!
Kurious Kitteh says
Oooh, that looks gorgeous, so beautifully lemony! I want some now =3.
Thanks for posting!
Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite says
Paula – we made our own limoncello last year and it was pretty good but Neil still thinks we need to “work on” the recipe… Riiiiiiiight! Beautiful pictures!
denise @ quickies on the dinner table says
Gorgeous! Love Limoncello but didn’t think it was this easy to make! Have to try this – thanks for sharing!
Emily Ziegler says
I adore limoncello! I always have been wanting to make my own! Now this recipe makes it possible 🙂
This sounds awesome and it has expanded my horizons from just making wine at home.
Chris and Amy says
Perfetto! We’ll be trying this asap! Thanks for the inspiration!
This looks fantastic…so refreshing and delightful!
I used Limoncello to make a creamy lemon garlic sauce for my pasta. It added fabulous flavor. I am definitely going to start some of my own. Thank you for sharing.
I just tried limoncello recently and really liked it. I love your photos and it does sound so refreshing.
Lemons are in the alcohol! Debating between lemon curd, a big batch of lemonade, or lemon sorbet for the juice. 🙂
Deb da Amazon says
Paula, now that your limoncello has aged, how did it turn out? Were you happy with it exactly as posted, or would you have made any changes as far as reducing/increasing the sugar? My boss loves limoncello, so I was thinking ahead to making it as a possible Xmas present for her. Thanks for the feedback, and huge congrats on being featured on Tasty Kitchen!!
Hi Deb! Thank you so much! We loved it! In fact I NEED to get another batch started! It was spot on. I served it at my Dinner in the Dark party & you can see some pictures of it in it’s final stage on the post here: https://bellalimento.com/2010/05/30/foodbuzz-24×24-dinner-in-the-dark-a-true-sensory-experience/
I’m so glad I found you! Your website is delightful and I will be checking in everyday!
Wow, great job here. Awesome picture too! You should really consider submitting this to Recipe4Living’s Summertime Sipper Contest! It looks delicious!
And tonight was the official opening….
Only curiosity is that I split the batch between two containers, one with a good solid hinged top and one that I had to go for sealing uber tightly with plastic. The hinged bottle, the one we’re tasting tonight is perfect (looks exactly like your finished product as a matter of fact), while the plastic wrap sealed bottle is “clear”. Haven’t tasted that one yet, but the look is different. Thoughts?
I’m baaaack! First round of limoncello (both bottles) rocked! I even was told by one of my cooks at work that it tasted just like the bottle she bought from Italy. *big grin* Tonight’s bottling will be another round of limoncello and one made from grapefruit. Thanks!
Has anyone tried to make limocello with vodka instead of grain alcohol?
In many countries it is impossible to get any alcohol above 50%.
If you make it with vodka and add sugar at the end of the infusion period as opposed to sugar syrup, the percentage should be about the same.
The questions are if the infusion will work out and if all that sugar will dissolve properly in the cold mix.
Renee (Kudos Kitchen) says
Yay! This really does look easy. Can’t wait to make it myself. I’ll bet it will be a great summertime drink for those lazy days by the pool.
I will be doing this come next spring to serve at our 4th of July party. I am so excited about this drink! I am also excited about all the lemony dishes I get to make so that I don’t waste any of those precious lemons. mmmmmm. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. 🙂
Penny O. says
Hi there! I just mixed the simple syrup mixture and lemon mixture together! I’m so excited and can hardly wait I enjoy it in a month! Question: during this month of sitting, should I refrigerate it or leave it in a dark place again!
And I also made you amaretto and it was such a hit! Our friends take a sip and their eyes widen so big not believing I made it! Thank you so much!
I’m so glad to hear that. No need to refrigerate. I do keep mine in the freezer when it’s ready to enjoy though.
Mary Simpson says
Paula….do you ever make the Crema di Limoncello? Some batches fail, some are good. Any suggestions, any recipe?
I did try the kumquotcello, but it curdled when I added the milk.
Hi Mary! I’ve not tried making the crema myself. It’s on my list though!
Mary Simpson says
I have been trying with milk, then 1/2 and 1/2, now I have been making it with sugar and cream. Yum. Everyone loves it.
Mix sugar with cream(instead of water) and heat, while stirring. Let cool, combine with infusion. Bottle and freeze.
Jodee Weiland says
This looks so refreshing and delicious! I, too, love everything lemon, so this recipe is a must do. Thanks for sharing!
Peggy J Parks says
I hate wasting anything. Can you save the peals, dry them then grind them to use in baking or even (hot & cold)tea a zing?
Hi Peggy – I haven’t tried that. If you do happen to try it, please share your results with us.