How to Make Homemade Limoncello Recipe (2024)

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!

How to Make Homemade Limoncello Recipe (5)For 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.

How to Make Homemade Limoncello Recipe (6)Need 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!

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Directions

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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.

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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

How to Make Homemade Limoncello Recipe (2024)

FAQs

How long does limoncello need to sit? ›

Place lemon in a large glass mason jar or other glass container than can be sealed airtight. Cover with everclear or vodka. Secure lid and place in a cool, dark location for at least 1 week and up to 4 weeks.

What is the base alcohol of limoncello? ›

Limoncello is made by steeping lemon zest (peels) in highly concentrated ethanol or vodka until oil is released, then mixing the resulting yellow liquid with simple syrup. Its alcohol content varies — especially among homemade varieties — but is usually measured somewhere in the 25-30% range.

What kind of vodka to use for limoncello? ›

The best limoncello is made with grain alcohol, but if you're like me (in the US) where it's not readily available to buy, use an inexpensive non-potato vodka, like Svedka, Smirnoff or similar. Avoid using high-end vodkas — they're a waste of money when making homemade limoncello!

Is it better to zest or peel lemons for limoncello? ›

Using a Microplane, zest your lemons, taking care to zest only the peel and not the pith. (The pith is the bitter white part of the rind, which will give an unpleasant flavor to your limoncello. The peel is the yellow part of the rind, containing the oils that give zest its lemony flavor.)

Can you steep limoncello too long? ›

If you want subtle Limoncello steep for 1–2 weeks, but if you're looking for a more intense flavor you should expect to wait up to a month. Forbes warns Limoncello makers that there is such a thing as over-steeping and it can ruin the liqueur altogether so keep a close eye on your booze.

Does homemade limoncello need refrigeration? ›

Limoncello does not require refrigeration for long-term storage. However, as is the tradition along the Amalfi Coast, we highly recommend chilling Fiore Limoncello either in the refrigerator or preferably in the freezer for several hours prior to serving.

Can you get drunk off limoncello? ›

Yes. Limoncello is a liqueur so you can get drunk. So drink responsibly. It has a 30% alcohol content so is quite a strong liqueur at that.

How do you calculate the alcohol content of homemade limoncello? ›

So if your alcohol is 190 proof and is 1/3 of the final mixture then it is 190 multiplied by . 6666666, which would equal about 126 proof. But if your alcohol is only 1/4 of the mixture then it is 190 divided by 4, which would equal about 48 proof. And then to find your ABV, ABV is simply half of your proof.

Do you have to sterilize bottles for limoncello? ›

on the fourth day, sterilize the wine bottles for the limuncinu: place them in a sink and fill them with boiling water. after a few minutes, drain the bottles and let them cool. (because the alcohol content is a great deal higher than wine, the rigorous sterilization process required for that purpose is not necessary.)

Why does my homemade limoncello freeze? ›

In Italy we drink Limoncello at the end of our meals. It is served frozen cold in cold shot glasses. A good quality of Limoncello should have a high level of alcohol and does not solidify when frozen. If your frozen Limoncello is too solid to pour it means it is too high in sugar and low in alcohol.

Why is my limoncello bitter? ›

There will always be residual amounts of the pith on the peels but as long as it's very minimal it's OK. The pith is very bitter and too much will make your limoncello bitter.

Do you shoot or sip limoncello? ›

Although limoncello is usually served in a shot glass or what some refer to as a “shooter”, the sweet drink is to be sipped, not taken as a shot.

How long does homemade limoncello last? ›

Add yellow food coloring one drop at a time. 3-4 drops for the entire batch should be adequate. After your Limoncello is done. Store in airtight bottles in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Should homemade limoncello be clear or cloudy? ›

In fact, limoncello is almost always cloudy! I know commercial limoncello is this beautiful light yellow and almost crystal clear liquid that we are all trying to aim for. However, homemade limoncello can look like a (dark yellow) orange juice.

Why is my limoncello not yellow? ›

If you want the limoncello to be bright yellow, mix the simple syrup with the lemon/alcohol mix while the simple syrup is still warm. If you wait for the simple syrup mix to reach room temperature and then mix, the resulting limoncello will be a deeper yellow color that is somewhat translucent.

How do you know when limoncello is done? ›

Infuse for at least four days (in the case of Everclear 190/189) and up to six weeks (for the lower proof alcohols). The infusion is ready when the alcohol is bright yellow and the lemon peels have lost most of their color.

How long to drink limoncello after opening? ›

Once opened, it's best to drink within six months for the best taste. Limoncello is a bright, sunny, and refreshing Italian liqueur that has been enjoyed for centuries as an after-dinner drink or digestif.

Does limoncello need to age? ›

Aging your Limoncello is a great thing to allow it to mellow a bit. It would be great if you could age it for a few months if you have the time. But if a week is all you have, go for it!

When should limoncello be drunk? ›

Typically, limoncello is served following a meal at a traditional restaurant or within the walls (or on the patio) of the Italian home. Lemon is known to aid in digestion, which is why this delicious beverage it is often served after lunch or dinner as a tasty treat.

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