How to Make Homemade Limoncello Recipe

Who says you have to go to the Amalfi Coast to taste limoncello? With a few simple ingredients, a pinch of patience, and a dash of love, you can make your own homemade limoncello in the comfort of your own kitchen!

Limoncello is a classic Italian liqueur with an unmistakable lemon taste. It’s made by infusing lemon peel in pure alcohol and then combining it with a simple syrup. The result is a yellow liqueur with a delicious balance of tartness and sweetness, perfect for sipping or as a refreshing ingredient in cocktails.

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But you can also use it for the preparation of desserts, like for example Limoncello Tiramisu. Or you can add some drops to fresh fruit salads; just a bit in Sorbet or on top of your Italian Gelato.

You will find that making limoncello at home is more than just a recipe: it’s an experience. It’s the act of meticulously zesting lemons and releasing their aromatic oils. It’s the meditative process of infusing the zest into pure alcohol, patiently waiting for the flavors to meld and intensify over time.

Making homemade limoncello is a labor of love. It allows you to control the quality of the ingredients, ensuring that only the finest lemons and purest alcohol end up in your creation.

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And the best part? You get to share the fruits of your labor with family and friends. Imagine their faces lighting up with the first sip when you tell them you made this limoncello with your own hands, in your own kitchen!

We will take you step-by-step through the process of making homemade limoncello. We will delve into the secrets of selecting the perfect lemons, revealing their sugary essence, and infusing them with pure alcohol to create a symphony of flavors.

Roll up your sleeves, don your apron, and get ready for a tantalizing adventure that will leave you with a bottle of liquid sunshine, a homemade limoncello that captures the essence of summer in every sip!

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How to Make Homemade Limoncello Recipe

  • Prep Time: 20 Min
  • Cook Time: 10 Min
  • Rest Time: 3 weeks

Limoncello Ingredients

Doses for about 2 liters (about 8 cups) of Limoncello

  • 8 big untreated organic lemons
  • 1 liter (4 cups) of pure alcohol 95° which is equivalent to 1 liter of Everclear (190-proof) or you can use a 100-proof Vodka
  • 600 g (3 cups) of granulated sugar
  • 1 liter (4 cups) of water

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Kitchen Tools and Equipment to Make Limoncello at Home

For making Homemade Limoncello Recipe it’s necessary to have some simple but really useful kitchen tools. Let’s see which ones.

First of all, a peeler, preferably ceramic, to finely peel the lemons and remove only the zest. The ceramic blade will never brown foods or alter taste or smell of food. So it’s perfect for this recipe.

Then you need a large glass jar (at least 3 liters/1 gallon of capacity) with an airtight or screwed lid.

It’s necessary a large fine mesh strainer to strain the alcohol and remove the lemon zest after the infusion. With that goes funnels of different sizes to pour Limoncello into bottles, even the smallest ones.

Finally, some glass bottles with airtight or cork cap to store Limoncello.

Where to Buy Limoncello (Beautiful Bottles and Glasses)

Limoncello, with its vibrant lemony essence and delightful zest, makes a truly delightful gift that captures the essence of Mediterranean sunshine.

Some of the limoncello bottles and glasses are truly beautiful!

dolceterra limoncello amalfiFor example, check out this Amalfitano Limoncello from the Amalfi Coast. It’s a lively, intense and undiluted limoncello that offers a delicious taste that delights your taste buds. The Sorrento lemons come in a stylish, handmade, hand-painted bottle that makes it the best gift you can give to anyone.

Dolceterra-Limoncello-of-Sorrento-Jar-and-two-Handmade-glasses-16.9-fl.oz_1800x1800Need a special gift? Take a look at this limited edition of 30 handmade and hand-painted Vietri ceramic bottles filled with the best Italian Limoncello of Sorrento tradition. The bottle comes with two glasses. They have been designed and made in ceramics by the skilled hands of Vietri artists to exalt tradition and guarantee the highest quality standards.

All bottles can be reused with limoncello made with our fantastic recipe! So check out all the Memoritaly, Handmade Jar Limoncello!

dolceterra limoncello memoritaly collection


homemade limoncello recipe step 1

Step 1) – Wash the lemons and dry them with kitchen paper. Do not rub them too much so as not to disperse oils and perfume. Use only ORGANIC UNTREATED LEMONS (for more informations see the paragraph below “What are the Best Lemons to Use?”).

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Step 2) – Peel the lemons with a ceramic potato peeler. The ceramic blade will never brown your lemons or alter taste or their scent.

Take care to remove ONLY the zest (yellow part), leaving the white spongy one on the lemon, as it could give a bitter taste to the liqueur.

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Step 3) – Place the lemon zest in a large airtight glass jar then pour the alcohol (or the Everclear or the Vodka). Let them infuse for 2 weeks in a cool place out of direct sunlight.

Better cover the jar with a cloth to be sure that it remains in the dark. During this time, SHAKE THE JAR EVERY DAY to mix the ingredients well without ever opening the jar.

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Step 4) – After the required infusion time, you need to make the syrup. So put the water and sugar in a saucepan and, over low heat, bring to a boil. Stir constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved. Then let it cool down.

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Step 5) – Now filter the liquid with a sieve and remove the lemon zest.

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Step 6) – Once the syrup is cold, add it to the infusion of alcohol and lemon zest and mix well. Now pour the Limoncello into glass bottles with hermetic closure or cork stopper. Store the bottles in a cool, dark place for one week.

NOTE: for added safety, you can sterilize the bottles by boiling them in a pot full of water. The boiling should last at least 20 minutes, then drain the bottles upside down.

Now your homemade Limoncello is ready! Remember to put it in the freezer at least three hours before drinking it or keep it always in the freezer, ready to drink on any occasion!

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How to Store Limoncello

Once the limoncello is ready it can be stored in the freezer. The alcohol and sugar prevent it from freezing so don’t worry. In this way it’s already cold when you want to drink it! Homemade Limoncello should be drunk within three months from the date of preparation.

What Type of Alcohol to Use in Limoncello?

Traditionally, Limoncello is made in Italy with alcohol at 95°. In some countries, however, it cannot be found or its sale is forbidden.

In this case, replace it with Everclear 190 proof, which is the best alternative for this recipe. You can even use a high quality 100 proof vodka as a last option.

What Are the Best Lemons to Use for Homemade Limoncello?

You MUST use untreated organic lemons, possibly recently picked from the plant with the twig and leaves still attached. This is to preserve their unmistakable aroma for as long as possible.

The best lemons for the preparation of Limoncello are, of course, those from Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast: the famous “Femminello di Santa Teresa” and the “Sfusato Amalfitano”.

These lemons are very rich in essential oils and beneficial properties and give the Limoncello its wonderful aroma.

If you don’t have Sorrento lemons, don’t worry! Other varieties are also good, such as the Eureka or Lisbon lemons, which are widely grown in Florida and California.

In general, choose lemons with a rough, thick skin, large in size and, above all, untreated, preferably organic.

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How Long to Infuse

The duration of the infusion is a crucial aspect in the process of making limoncello. It can vary according to personal preference and theories circulating on the subject.

Let’s take a look at some of the more common theories regarding the infusion time of lemon peels to make limoncello.

  • Traditional theory: According to the oldest Italian tradition, lemon peels should be infused in alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks. This long infusion time allows the lemon to slowly release its essential oils into the alcohol, creating an intense and deep flavor.
  • Accelerated theory: Some limoncello makers suggest a shorter infusion time of between 1 day and 2 weeks. This theory is based on the idea that the accelerated infusion is sufficient to extract the desired flavor and aroma from the lemon zest, thus reducing the overall production time.
  • Custom Theory: Many limoncello enthusiasts experiment with different infusion times to create their preferred flavor profile. Some prefer a lighter, fresher flavor and opt for a shorter infusion time. Others like a more intense flavor and extend the infusion for several weeks or even months.

In conclusion, there is no single answer as to the ideal length of time to infuse lemon peel to make limoncello. It depends on personal preference and the theories you choose to follow.

We have chosen an average total time of three weeks, which everyone agrees on and which gives a great result!

However, experimenting with different infusion times can be fun and allow you to create a personalized limoncello to your taste.

Regardless of which theory you follow, it’s important to make sure that the lemon peels are of high quality and do not contain any harmful chemical treatments so that you get an authentic and tasty limoncello!

Why Should I Keep the Jar in the Dark and Away from Heat Sources During Infusion?

During infusion and storage, jars and bottles should always be stored in a cool, dark place. These ingredients are sensitive to light and heat, so improper storage can affect the flavor of the liqueur.

Why is it Better to Use Ceramic Tools?

To cut the lemon zest it’s better to use ceramic knives or peeler. The ceramic preserves and does not alter all the active ingredients and the benefits of the essential oils contained in the lemons zest.

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How to Drink Lemoncello

Drink Limoncello ice cold, NOT with ICE! Keep it in the freezer to have it always ready to drink. Alcohol and sugar prevent the liqueur from freezing, so don’t worry! Otherwise, remember to put it in the freezer at least three hours before serving.

This wonderfully sweet liqueur is traditionally served as an after-dinner drink, especially in the summer, because it’s thought to aid digestion. Limoncello is therefore a digestif, NOT an aperitif!

Drink Limoncello in a shot glass that has been chilled in the freezer for a few hours.

Because of its high alcohol content, you should sip Limoncello slowly to fully enjoy its unique and unmistakable aroma.

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What Do You Do with Lemons after Making Limoncello?

Peeled lemons is what remains after making homemade Limoncello recipe. They are still good to use but do not keep long in the fridge because they tend to mold quickly.

The best way to not waste them is to immediately extract the juice. You can use lemon juice in many ways, first of all by preparing a fresh and refreshing lemonade or a Lemon Sorbet.

However, if you are unable to consume all the juice right away, we recommend a convenient and practical way to always have ready-to-use lemon juice available.

lemon juice 1

Squeeze the lemons and pour the juice into the ice cube tray, taking care not to drop the seeds. Then put it in the freezer.

After a day the cubes will be ready and you can remove them from the tray and store in the practical freezing bags. You can use a cube whenever you need lemon juice.

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You can also flavor the juice by adding chopped parsley or mint leaves or hot pepper, depending on the use you will make of it.

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Limoncello: Between History and Legend

The origins of Limoncello are certainly to be found in the beautiful Gulf of Naples. But there are many stories and myths about the birth of this famous liqueur, involving monks, intellectuals and even Zeus and the Sirens.

Many attribute the birth of Limoncello to Mrs. Antonia Farace, who ran a small hotel with a beautiful lemon garden on the island of Capri in the early 1900s. She made a very good lemon liqueur for her guests and passed the recipe on to her son.

Around 1988, Mrs. Maria’s son opened a small artisanal production of lemon-based liqueurs, which he registered as a trademark. Thus was born the first official Limoncello in history.

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But Limoncello certainly has more ancient origins.

Legend has it that it was Zeus who revealed the secret recipe of this precious infusion to an inhabitant of the land of the Sirens.

There are those who claim that limoncello was already known in Roman times, as evidenced by some frescoes in Pompeii.

For others, the recipe for limoncello was born in a monastery around 1700.

In short, the history of limoncello is shrouded in legend and mystery. What is certain is that at the beginning of the twentieth century, all the families of Sorrento and its surroundings always offered a glass of limoncello to their illustrious guests.

Limoncello has become a symbol of Campania in the world. It has also obtained the denomination of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). This means that in Italy the only authentic limoncello is that produced in the Sorrento area, on the Amalfi Coast and on the island of Capri.

Limoncello Web Story

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38 thoughts on “How to Make Homemade Limoncello Recipe”

  1. Hi there. In the UK, I am unable to obtain the alcohol that you recommend and I have used a 1l bottle of Smirnoff Vodka. My Limoncello freezes solid in the freezer. Is this because of the vodka type used? Can anyone offer an alternative that is available in the UK?

    Thank you,

  2. Contemplating making this as wedding favors. Do you know if it’s not frozen, will it be fine in little jars for a few weeks until the wedding?

    • If you sterilise the jars it’ll be fine. Wash the jars then heat them in the oven at 160*c for about 10 minutes. Wash the lids and soak them in boiling water for a few minutes. The limoncello will keep for ages.

  3. Good recipe – thank you. FYI you only need boil glass jars, bottles for 10 min. to sterilize them (avid canner here) 20 min is a waste of energy. You can also run them through the dishwasher at high heat. This limoncello will keep indefinitely and stay in prefect flavor profile if stored in the freezer… three months is not accurate. ***Using organic lemons is imperative as lemons can be heavily sprayed. Removing the zest and allowing to macerate for weeks will draw out every bit of poison on that skin. Follow the directions!
    Thank you for sharing.

  4. Using the zest from Mandarins produces a delightful drink which we first encountered in Puglia some many years ago. We have been making Mandarinata ever since and prefer it to lemoncello ( the recipe is the same of course)

  5. I failed to mention that I did make this. Started on 12/18, got sick 12/26 so it infused for 6 weeks (except for shaking every few days) until step 4. First two sips burn all the way down but smooth sailing after that. Delicious! Thank you

    • I’ve had bottles in my freezer for up to a year with no loss in taste. The alcohol content alone would probably make this last forever!!

  6. I did not use the porcelain peeler but otherwise followed the directions to the letter. It was absolutely wonderful. This recipe is worth making. I used Meyer Lemons and would recommend that. It is imperative that you scrap all of the white off the peel. It was killer.

  7. I have made “limoncello” with oranges so..Orangecello. It is wonderful in the summer with vanilla ice cream and a short pour of either orange soda or cream soda to make an adult version of a orange-creamsicle float. Yummy

  8. What is the correct volume for simple syrup, when I use 1.75 liter of 190 Everclear? I want about 32 abv so it won’t freeze.

    • 190 proof Everclear is 95% alcohol (Proof is double the percent)

      So 1.75 l of 190 proof everclear is (0.95)*1.75 = 1.7 l of alcohol

      To get to 32 % abv solve for 0.32 = 1.7 / final volume

      final volume = 5.2 l

      So you started with 1.75 l of Everclear. You then need to add enough syrup to make 5.2 l total, 5.2 – 1.75 = 3.45 l of syrup.

  9. Can I have this ferment for a longer period of time or is the three weeks the magic time? Let’s say for 3 months?

    • Hi Particia!!!
      How long should maceration take for homemade limoncello?
      Recipes give different and widely varying prescriptions: from one week up to forty days.
      It is actually in the first three days of infusion that the peel releases the essential oils into the alcohol.
      We recommend two weeks for a more intense aroma and also a more vibrant color. Then another at least week of rest without peels to let the taste of Limoncello mature. Three months of infusion is not needed.

  10. I made this and it’s sooooo good that I am going to make another batch and give them as gifts! I have Meyer Lemons growing in my yard and used Everclear as that was all that I could find with the right alcohol percentage. Absolutely delicious. Thank you so much!

    • Thank you for the info on using Meyer Lemons! I was wondering if those would work as I think they are the best lemons and they are local to where I live. Although they are not super large and rough skinned as the recipe suggests, I think Meyers have great oils and aroma. I can’t wait to make this!!!

      • I live in California and some counties allow the sale of Everclear and some do not. I would suggest calling some liquor stores and asking. It wasn’t that difficult to find it. We made one batch with Everclear and one batch with vodka and invited several neighbors to taste test and give their opinion on which they preferred without knowing which was which. Most liked the vodka batch. One really liked the Everclear batch. It’s personal preference. Enjoy!

  11. There is no health or flavor reason to use only organic lemons. Any pesticide residues left on the lemons are so infinitesimally small they are scientifically proven to have no effect on human health. And blind taste tests do not show a difference between organic or conventional. Insisting on organic is pure hype.

    • I disagree – there is, in my experience, a taste difference. Additionally, you are actually using the part of the fruit that comes into direct contact with the chemical pesticides. Personally, I’ll take a pass on that. For any recipe using citrus peel, keep it clean! IMHO, obviously. ✌️

      • Thank you, Cheryl for that comment. People amaze me! The soil for organic growers does not have the toxic chemicals either, if it’s organic, it’s not a GMO, which mostly everything is an GMO now. They should read what GMO is, what all is in that GMO fruit or vegetable. And they wonder why they have leaky gut, wait, they don’t even know that either, I bet. So “pure hype”
        the organic growers are killing the bees, and butterflies with their toxic chemicals like the other growers.

  12. I’ve just had lemoncello for the first time while in Florence Italy. WOW it was fantastic. Looked up this recipe and can’t wait to make more. A bottle I purchased at a loca store was, I must say, very good, but it was $20 which is a little expensive considering that I have a taste anytime during the day I choose. I have not actually made my first batch as I will aquire the correct containers and ceramic peeler before I start but I can’t wait. Thanks very much for your detailed recipe!

  13. This is the recipe to use for amazing limoncello!… I received a shipment of organic meyer lemons from someone’s California backyard and made limoncello for the first time. I soaked the peels for a full month in Everclear, then diluted the alcohol with simple syrup at slightly more syrup to alcohol ratio (wow! That Everclear packs a punch! and I like anything sweeter)… I have more than 3L of the final product, and will be sipping this nectar all year round (I hope!). Thank you for this easy, foolproof recipe!!!

      • No you can’t use the juice from the lemon you have to soak the zest from the lemon,. I suggest if you want to use the juice make lemonade with it but the yellow part of the peel is what you want for lemoncello

      • I would suggest to split the alcohol with zests in half. First half can be used with sugar as traditional Limoncello. Other half can be used to make Lemon Vodka – just mix spirit with lemon juice and honey. Add honey to lemon juice until sourness and sweetness are well balanced. Next mix it with spirits. Use online calculators to estimate how much water need to be added for 35-40%.


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