Homemade Limoncello Recipe

Do you want to know how to make Homemade Limoncello Recipe? Then you are in the right place! Limoncello is really easy to make. You can make it at home with a few useful tools and few ingredients.

Limoncello is a classic Italian liqueur with a unique unmistakable lemon flavor. In Italy they usually drink Limoncello very cold as a digestive. After a rich hearty meal, maybe after Neapolitan Lasagna, what’s better than a good cold Limoncello to digest?

homemade limoncello recipe 600x900 2

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

Making Limoncello at home is really easy. All you need is excellent organic lemons and a little patience! So let’s find out how to make Homemade Limoncello Recipe!

Read also:

How to Make Homemade Limoncello Recipe

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

Homemade 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

 Kitchen Tools and Equipment for Making Limoncello

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.

A nice gift idea is a set of hand-painted Italian ceramic limoncello glasses with tray.

Even the small glasses for spirits, with their characteristic shape and long stem, are very nice and also perfect for Limoncello.


homemade limoncello recipe step 1

Step 1) – Wash the lemons then 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?”).

homemade limoncello recipe step 2

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.

homemade limoncello recipe step 3

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.

homemade limoncello recipe step 4

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.

homemade limoncello recipe step 5

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

homemade limoncello recipe step 6

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!

homemade limoncello recipe 600x900 4


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.

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.

Why is the Jar Kept in the Dark and Away from Heat Sources During Infusion?

During the infusion and storage period, keep always jars and bottles in a cool dark place. These ingredients are sensitive to light and heat so that a bad storage can compromise the flavor of the Limoncello.

homemade limoncello recipe 600x900 5

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. Then replace it with Everclear 190-proof, that for this recipe is the best choice. You can even use a high quality 100-proof Vodka as a last choice.

homemade limoncello recipe 600x900 8

What Are the Best Lemons to Use?

You MUST use untreated organic lemons, possibly recently collected from the plant, with the twig and the leaves still attached. This is to preserve their unmistakable aroma for as long as possible.
The best lemon varieties for the preparation of Limoncello are, of course, those from Sorrento and 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 to the Limoncello its wonderful aroma.
If you don’t have Sorrento lemons, don’t worry! Lemons of other varieties are also good, such as the Eureka or Lisbon lemons, widely grown in Florida and in California for example.
In general you must prefer lemons with rough thick peel, large size and, above all, untreated, better if they come from organic farming.
homemade limoncello recipe 600x900 3

How to Serve Limoncello

Serve Limoncello ice cold, NOT with the addition of 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 it.

This wonderfully sweet liqueur is traditionally served as an after-dinner drink, especially in summer, thought to aid digestion. So Limoncello is a digestif, NOT AN APERITIF.

Serve Limoncello in a shot glass which you have to cool for a few hours in the freezer. 

As it has a high alcohol content, you should sip Limoncello slowly, to fully enjoy its unique and unmistakable aroma.

Finally Limoncello is often used to flavor and give an alcoholic note to various desserts, such as fresh fruit salads, Lemon Sorbet or Gelato.

homemade limoncello recipe 600x900 6

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.

homemade limoncello recipe 600x900 1

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.

lemon juice 2

Limoncello: Between History and Legend

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

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

Around 1988, Mrs. Maria’s son opens a small artisan production of lemon-based liqueurs, of which he registers the brand. Thus was born the first official Limoncello in history.

homemade limoncello recipe 600x900 7

But certainly Limoncello has more ancient origins.

A legend tells that it was Zeus who revealed the secret recipe of this precious infusion to an inhabitant of the Lands 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 inside a monastic convent around 1700.

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

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

Limoncello Web Story

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

35 thoughts on “Homemade Limoncello Recipe”

  1. 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!!

    • Yes u can. Depending on your taste or ability to drink lower proof Lemoncello is all perfectly fine. I’ve made it both ways and it has come out perfect. Also consider mixing vodka with the ever clear.

    • I’ve made variations of this, using 80 proof and higher vodka. If you want less “burn” try a rye vodka, or a premium russian vodka. 80 proof works just fine, it’s just more authentic with the higher proofs, but has less kick at the lower proof.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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%.


Leave a Comment