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Limoncello Recipe {How Italians Make It}

If you love Limoncello and want to make it at home, this is the only authentic Italian Limoncello recipe you’ll ever need. You’ll learn all the tips and tricks on how to make THE BEST limoncello – how Italians make it

True, authentic Italian recipes are always simple. But the results are beyond ordinary.

Limoncello Liqueur is not an exception.

All it takes is 4 ingredients and some patience.

But if you’ve ever tasted even a store-bought limoncello, you know, it’s all going to worth the wait!

Not to mention that a homemade version is times superior than anything you could ever get otherwise.

This is how Italians make it. And THIS is the recipe that your friends will beg for 🙂

In Italy, Limoncello is one of the favorite digestive drinks. It’s a perfect ending to any dinner, meat or seafood based.

There are also many Italian limoncello based desserts that are just out of this world! Let me know if those are also of any interest to you. I’ll be posting my favorites shorty.

So if you don’t have a bottle of limoncello in the freezer, this is your chance to turn things around.

Before you jump right onto the recipe, I encourage you to read some important notes at the bottom of this page. They mainly clarify all confusions on what alcohol to use, so as pointing at good resources where to buy the right alcohol for limoncello and the best untreated organic lemons.

Limoncello Ingredients

Authentic Italian Limoncello - Limoncello Ingredients

Organic lemons

Pure grain alcohol 190 proof/ 95% vol

White sugar

Water

How To Make Limoncello – Step By Step

Step 1

Using a vegetable peeler or a small sharp knife, peel off the lemon zest as thin as possible. We only need the yellow part.

If you’re using a knife you might happen to cut some white pith together with yellow zest. In this case just trim off any white spots with a sharp knife.

I love using VERTICAL vegetable peeler.

Not only to peel lemons for limoncello but also for any other “peeling job” in the kitchen.

Authentic Italian Limoncello - Step1

Place all the lemon peels directly into the bottle of alcohol.

Of course, if you have a large bottle of alcohol than required by the recipe you have two options.

You can either measure and transfer the right amount into a separate glass bottle OR adjust the number of lemons, so you can have lemon infused alcohol saved for latter. Don’t worry, it can stay month steeped in the alcohol.

And your next limoncello will only be better. As my label reads – AL COOL ahah 🙂

Make sure to keep the bottle out of direct sunlight.

Leave to macerate for at least 8 days, best 3 weeks or more.

Step 2

Prepare sugar syrup.

Authentic Italian Limoncello - Step2

Mix water and sugar in the pot saucepan. On a medium heat continue to stir in the sugar until it’s completely dissolved. Let the syrup to simmer until boiling. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

Now begins the actual limoncello making process.

Step 3

In large saucepan/mixing bow/ or a container add lemon infused alcohol.

Authentic Italian Limoncello - Step3

Continuously stirring start adding the sugar syrup. Once you’ve added 4 cups taste.

Limoncello will be pretty strong. Add more sugar syrup and taste again.

I usually add almost all sugar syrup and limoncello is still full-bodied.

But it’s a good thing that you can decide what your limoncello will taste like.

If it’s too strong, add more sugar syrup to mild the taste, reduce it for a stronger limoncello.

I don’t recommend diluting the alcohol base too much.

Limoncello Alcohol Content

Authentic Italian homemade limoncello is about 38% vol or 76 Proof.

How to store Limoncello

Once you’ve reached the perfect flavor, bottle your limoncello in a glass bottle using a funnel.

Even though it doesn’t require refrigeration, I always store limoncello in the freezer!

Why? It’ll have an amazing “creamy” texture. Besides, alcohol doesn’t feel that strong and pungent when chilled well.

How to drink Limoncello

When it’s time to serve just pull the bottle from the freezer and pour into liqueur glasses (clear short glasses).

Enjoy as a digestive drink after dinner, in Italian known as “digestivo”.

Authentic Italian Limoncello RECIPE - True Perfection!

Fresh made limoncello reaches its perfection in a few days after bottling.

Authentic Italian Limoncello RECIPE - True Perfection!
4 from 4 votes

Limoncello Recipe {How Italians Make It}

Perfect Italian Limoncello recipe and everything you need to know about the process and the ingredients.
Print Pin Rate / Comment
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

  • 7-8 organic lemons
  • 750 milliliters/ 3 cups + 2 tbsp pure grain alcohol 190 proof/ 95% vol
  • 3 ½ cups/ 1.7 pounds white sugar
  • 1150 milliliters/ 5 cups water

Instructions

  • Using a vegetable peeler or a small sharp knife, peel off the lemon zest as thin as possible. We only need the yellow part. If you happen to cut any white pith together with yellow zest, just trim off any white spots with a sharp knife.
  • Place all the lemon peels directly into the bottle of alcohol.
  • If you have a large bottle of alcohol than required by the recipe you have two options. You can either measure and transfer the right amount into a separate glass bottle OR adjust the number of lemons, so you can have lemon infused alcohol saved for latter. It can stay month steeped in the alcohol. Make sure to keep the bottle out of direct sunlight.
  • Leave to macerate for at least 8 days, best 3 weeks or more.
  • Prepare sugar syrup. Mix water and sugar in the pot saucepan. On a medium heat continue to stir in the sugar until it’s completely dissolved. Let the syrup to simmer until boiling. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
  • In a large saucepan/mixing bow/ or a container add lemon infused alcohol. Continuously stirring start adding the sugar syrup. Once you’ve added 4 cups taste. Limoncello will be pretty strong. Add more sugar syrup and taste again.
  • I usually add almost all 6 ½ cups and limoncello is still full-bodied.
  • Add more sugar syrup for a milder taste, reduce it for a stronger limoncello.I don’t recommend diluting the alcohol base too much.
  • Once you’ve reached the perfect flavor, bottle your limoncello in glass bottle using a funnel.
  • Chill in the freezer for at least a few hours before serving.

Notes

Fresh made limoncello reaches its perfection in a few days after bottling.
Liked this recipe?Follow @italianrecipeb for more!

Important Notes

What Alcohol/Vodka To Use?

It might be hard to find high proof alcohol at your local liquor store.

But here’re the two brands you can look for:

Everclear Grain Alcohol 190 Proof

Spirytus Wesoly 192 Proof

Both of them you can order online.

I did a pretty extensive research online and noticed that most of the recipes call for 100 or 80 proof vodka.

But here’s a problem. The average 80-100 proof spirit isn’t strong enough to extract much flavor and aroma.

If you substitute high proof alcohol with 80 proof vodka you completely dilute the limoncello and go far from what it really tastes like.

So what should you do if absolutely can’t get 190 proof/ 95% vol. quality alcohol?

Don’t worry, you can still use a really high proof vodka.

I’ve picked two options for you to go with.

US made 151 Proof/ 75 vol vodkas:

Devil’s Springs 151 Proof Vodka

Boyd & Blair Professional Proof 151 Vodka

In this case you’ll need to adjust a little bit the ratio for sugar syrup.

Here’s a really cool tool to help you with that –  Limoncello Alcohol Percentage Calculator

Simply type in the liquor quantity in milliliters, its proof divided by 2 and desired limoncello strength. We want it at 38%.

The answer will be the quantity of sugar syrup you need to get the perfect liquor.

So if you’ve taken one of the 151 Proof Vodka (750 ml) your calculation will look like this:

Limoncello Calculator - 151 Proof Vodka

If you’ve used pure 190 Proof Alcohol your simple syrup quantity will be equal to the one given in this recipe.

Limoncello Calculator - Pure Grain Alcohol

What Lemons To Use?

Lemons is another crucial ingredient of the limoncello recipe (dah!).

But it’s even more important to use lemons from your own lemon tree (lucky you if you have one!) or organic, untreated lemons from a trusted vendor.

Since lemon zest will be macerated in the alcohol, it means alcohol will not only absorb the aroma and the flavor of the lemon but it’s also pull any medicine/pesticides/insecticides used on the lemons.

I’ve heard really good feedback about organic lemons from the Organic Mountain. Six lb case is enough for 2 portions of alcohol.

If you are buying in late November I suggest you get a bigger 10-12 box.

Limencello makes a perfect Christmas gift 🙂

I’ve also found local organic lemon producers in California. From July to November they are likely to be out of lemons until the next season in November/December.

Lemon Ladies Orchard

Birch-Hill Organics Central Coast Meyer Lemons and Kiwi Fruit

At the time of posting this recipe I’m also waiting for some information from one of the Italian lemon farms on the Amalfi Coast, mainly on international shipping. Lemons from Salerno are exceptional. Fragrant, with big pulp – just perfect for limoncello.

Once I have all info needed this information will be added to this page as well.

Recipes With Limoncello

Besides enjoying Limoncello as digestive drink you can also make a delicious Limoncello Cake. Super soft and flavorful it’s like a rum cake, but much better 😉

You can also pour it over ice-cream or Lemon Semifreddo.
YUM!

Authentic Italian Limoncello Recipe

In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions about the process or ingredients, or anything at all 🙂

A wise Italian man once said: “If life gives you lemons – make limoncello!

And now you even have a recipe.

Salute!

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Recipe Rating




Paradise Cake {Authentic Recipe} - Italian Recipe Book

Tuesday 7th of July 2020

[…] It also pairs perfectly with a shot of homemade limoncello. […]

Peter Dmytrasz

Tuesday 18th of February 2020

Correction on my January 2020 comment. I just sweetened and diluted with blue agave and water for the first time and it turned out much too too dark for my liking. Agave syrup is what I prefer. Again trial and error.

Peter Dmytrasz

Thursday 9th of January 2020

This is a good easy to read and follow piece. However after reading this and a myriad of other such sites I developed a few ingredient ratios for my limoncello, rather than use a fixed recipe. I establish the final product volume required and use 1 lemon per 150 - 200 ml of final volume, depending on the size of lemons. One per 150 ml for small, 1 per 175 ml for medium and 1 per 200 ml for large lemons. Then I also establish the desired strength by volume, to determine the amount of alcohol and combined water and sweetener to use in dilution. I use distilled water if available, or at least filtered water. Sweetness source and level are a personal preference, but 1 cup blue agave per litre of final product I find gives the best taste and sufficient sweetness. I've tried sugar, maple syrup, honey and xylitol, but found blue agave the best for my taste. I found 4 1/2 weeks of lemon zest maceration in 95% Everclear; 96% Polish Spiritus, Alcol; or 96.5% Technical Reserve; with another 4 1/2 weeks of rest after dilution with water and sweetener, gives the best result. A few words of advice/caution. Don't forget to include the volume of the initial bottle of alcohol used for final volume establishment, but only the amount of pure alcohol within the initial bottle in your initial to final strength calculation. Use Meyer lemons when in season, or if not use organic smooth skinned lemons. Sterilize all equipment and jars before starting to make limoncello. Scrub lemons with hot soapy water to remove any pesticides, dirt and/or wax coating, then rinse well and pat dry before you zest. Make sure any discoloured portions and all the white pith is removed, from the lemon zest, with a sharp paring knife, before macerating in alcohol. Use glass jars with tight fitting screw tops and include a clear plastic sandwich bag under each top when tightening, to ensure the alcohol doesn't evaporate during the maceration or rest periods. I also filter out spent zest, with cheese cloth then paper coffee filters, before diluting and sweetening to remove as many remaining particulates as possible. It's easier to filter out the zest before dilution and sweetening, than after. Water and sweetener dilution must be cooled to room temperature before mixing with the flavoured alcohol, or the alcohol will evaporate from the heat. I also use tight fitting hermetically sealed flip top bottles for the final product, to preserve the limoncello and alcohol level. Store the zest maceration jars, limoncello rest period jars, and final bottled product in a cool dry dark place. Covered with a paper bag of sufficient size or inside a cardboard closable box in the basement is fine, but in northern climates use the cool room only in summer. Fridge or freezer is fine for the final product, the latter for up to 2 years. Experiment for your personal taste, regardless of the initial recipe followed. Limoncello is a great digestive, for after a meal. If alcohol is an issue for anyone, have them use it in hot tea where the alcohol evaporates but the lemon flavour remans. Enjoy.

Rhonda

Saturday 14th of December 2019

1. At what point is this strained? Before or after the syrup is added?

2. Nice calculator when using 153 proof grain alcohol, but how much sugar and water to get the 730ml would help.

Italian Recipe Book

Wednesday 18th of December 2019

Hi Rhonda, lemon infused alcohol is strained before adding the syrup so you work only with lemon infused alcohol. Approximate measures for 730 ml is 2 cups water and 2 cups sugar. Add slowly and taste. Happy Holidays!

Debbie Craig

Tuesday 10th of December 2019

I grow very large ponderosa lemons, they are very sour. when I make my Limoncello, How should I compensate for the sourness

Italian Recipe Book

Tuesday 10th of December 2019

Hi Debbie, since to make limoncello we only use lemon zest (just the yellow part of the peel with as few white spots as possible) it doesn't effect the sourness. So you can follow the recipe to a T. Let me know how it goes. Happy Holidays :)

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