Limoncello is a delightfully refreshing Italian Lemon Liqueur that's incredibly easy to make. Bursting with the zesty and tart flavor of ripe lemons, this liqueur has a subtle sweetness transport you back to Italy. Enjoy as a palate cleanser or as a finishing touch to your favorite Italian cocktail.
What is Limoncello?
Limoncello is an Italian palate cleanser or after dinner digestivo. Limoncello is a very popular liqueur from Italy, and surprisingly easy to make. It's perfect for gifting a bottle to family or friends. Perfect to enjoy on a warm summer's night, a sweet, infused lemon liqueur served chilled.
Ingredients You'll Need
- Lemons - organic and pesticide free is best, as you're infusing the peels in alcohol which absorbs everything!
- Grain alcohol - 100 Proof Vodka is easily bought, and won't be diluted too much from the sugar syrup
- Sugar - granulated white sugar
- Water - to dilute the sugar, to add sweetness
This is the hardest part of the recipe, peeling the lemons with a vegetable peeler. Peel thin strips of lemon rind, without removing the white part of the lemon. Carefully peel without cutting your fingers.
How to Make Lemon Liqueur
So easy to make Limoncello at home, you only need 4 ingredients, and take minutes to prepare. You also need patience while waiting for the essential oils from the lemons to infuse into the vodka!
- Zest - carefully zest or peel the lemons with a vegetable peeler.
- Prepare - place peels into a large glass jar and add vodka.
- Infuse - allow to infuse for 4 weeks in a cool dark place.
- Strain - using a fine sieve or cheesecloth, strain the vodka and peels
- Simple Syrup - make sugar syrup by bringing 4 cups of water and 4 cups of sugar to a boil until sugar dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Sweeten - add 1 cup of sugar syrup to the limoncello. Taste and gradually add more syrup unitl desired sweetness is reached
- Bottle - using a funnel, bottle Limoncello in glass bottles with a lid before drinking or gifting.
- Serve Cold - store in the fridge or freezer for longevity.
Making it at home allows you to control the sweetness and the alcohol content. The higher the alcohol content you use to make Limoncello, the better the lemon flavor is extracted.
Alcohol to Use for Limoncello
- 40% Vodka - most commonly found and sold everywhere
- 100 Proof Vodka - ensures strength isn't water down by sugar syrup
- Everclear - cannot be drank after infusion - needs to be diluted down to 20-40% alcohol content
Alcohol Percent of Limoncello
Limoncello is sold with approximately 30% alcohol. The more sugar syrup you add to sweeten the lemon liqueur, the more you dilute the alcohol content. This is why it's recommended to use a higher % alcohol. If you dilute too much, it will also freeze when storing in the freezer. You can easily control the alcohol strength when making homemade limoncello.
Recipe Tips and FAQs
- Wash Wax - if using store bought lemons, wash the wax before peeling
- Avoid Piths - when zesting lemon peels, peel only the yellow lemon peel and not the white piths. Using white piths will ruin the taste of your liqueur
- Flavored Frosting - add Limoncello to your vanilla frosting, perfect to add a lemony kick on cakes or cupcakes
- Lemon Desserts - add to a Lemon Tart, Lemon Trifle, Lemon Cupcakes or even mix through your Lemon Curd before serving
- Leftover Lemon Ideas - keep lemons in fridge until you use them, squeeze lemon juice into ice cube trays, or make fresh squeeze lemonade with your leftover lemons
What Lemons to Use for Limoncello?
Homegrown lemons are best as they are usually organic and unwaxed. You want the purest lemons, as the peels infused into the alcohol. I used Meyer lemons, but any lemon will work.
How Long to Infuse Lemon Liqueur?
It's accepted that the longer the lemons infuses, the better the Limoncello tastes. For best flavor, infuse for 4 weeks, however for a milder lemon flavor, infuse for only one week.
- Fridge - homemade Lemon Liqueur usually lasts 2-3 months in the fridge. If it tastes off, or you see mold, throw it out.
- Freezer - If storing in the freezer, it can last up to a year (if you don't drink it first)!
How to Drink Limoncello
- Chilled - served in a small dessert wine glasses
- Make a Limoncello Spritz - add Limoncello to Prosecco Sparkling Wine
- Cocktails - mix into your favorite cocktails
- Shot Glasses - enjoyed cold and quickly
Vodka Infusion Recipes
Now that you know how to make Lemon Liqueur, enjoy in moderation, like a dessert wine or ice wine. Perfect to help with digestion after dinner. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
- mason jar for infusing
- Cheesecloth for straining
- funnel for pouring
- glass bottles for bottling
- 12 organic lemons
- 1 litre Vodka 100 proof
- 4 cups sugar
- 4 cups water adjust to taste
- Wash the lemons with hot water to remove any wax or pesticides (if not organic)
- Carefully zest or peel the lemons with a vegetable peeler.
- Place peels into a large glass jar and add vodka.
- Allow to infuse for 4 weeks in a cool dark place.
- Strain the vodka and peels through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Discard the peels.
- Prepare the sugar syrup by bringing 4 cups of water and 4 cups of sugar to a boil until sugar dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Add 1 cup of sugar syrup to the limoncello. Taste and gradually add more syrup unitl desired sweetness is reached. The more sugar syrup you add, you increase the sweetness, but decrease the alcohol base.
- Using a funnel, bottle Limoncello in glass bottles with a lid before drinking or gifting.
- Serve cold. Store in the fridge or freezer for longevity.
©PetersFoodAdventures.com *originally posted January 2016, updated April 2023