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Homemade Limoncello In 3 Simple Steps

Homemade Limoncello In 3 Simple Steps

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With this Limoncello recipe you can easily make an authentic Italian Limoncello liqueur at home. Once you make your first batch you’ll be making it over and over again!

Limoncello is sometimes mistakenly spelled as lemoncello or lemonchello. You’ll learn all the tips and tricks on how to make THE BEST limoncello – how Italians make it.

The Best Limoncello Recipe

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.

So, how do you make limoncello? 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 & Tools

  • Organic lemons
  • Pure grain alcohol 190 proof/ 95% vol
  • Water and white sugar to make sugar syrup
  • Small sharp knife
  • Vegetable peeler (optional by highly recommended)
  • Big glass jar. Has to be bigger than the amount of alcohol you’re going to use as it has to fit lemon peels too.

How To Make Limoncello – Step By Step

Step 1: Lemon Peels

Quickly rinse lemons under cold running water and pat dry.

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 as much of white pith a possible. It’s easier to do that holding and running the knife almost horizontally.
Make sure your knife is sharp.

Through years of making limoncello, I’ve found that the best way to peel lemons for limoncello is by using a vertical vegetable peeler just like this one. You’ll save yourself quite some time and won’t have to deal with any white spots whatsoever.

Place all the lemon peels in the jar with alcohol.

Make sure to keep the bottle out of direct sunlight.

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

Step 2: 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.

Now begins the actual limoncello making process.

Step 3: Mixing Lemon Infused Alcohol & Sugar Syrup

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

Slowly start adding the sugar syrup and stir. 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.

What to do with lemons after making limoncello?

Well, I bet there’s no lack of variety when it comes to recipes using lemons.

The only problem is that there’s no recipe with reasonable portion/batch that requires ALL the lemons left making limoncello!

So here’s what I do, and I highly recommend you do too!

It requires zero cooking, zero baking and you’ll enjoy all the lemons flavor at its fullest.

  1. Slice lemons you have left and layer them in a glass jar with sugar. Store in the fridge and use to make lemon tea or lemon water. So easy, so quick and you’ll end up drinking the most flavorful lemon tea for about a month or even more!
  2. Squeeze lemon juice from the lemons, pour it into ice cube tray and freeze. Use as needed to make Salmon Carpaccio, to make Italian Fruit Salad and even whenever you clean and cook fresh artichokes!

What is your favorite way to use lemons after making limoncello? Which one will you try now?

Limoncello Alcohol Content

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

With this recipe you’ll get about 33-34 % vol Limoncello or 66-68 Proof.

To me, this is the perfect alcohol content that allows you to keep limoncello in the freezer without freezing it.

And if you don’t want to keep it in the freezer but still want to serve chilled you can simply add an ice cube and it’ll lightly dilute it.

Add extra 1/2- 1 cup of water to the sugar syrup to make your limoncello milder (about 30% vol or 60 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”.

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 pure grain alcohol 190 proof/ 95% vol approx 3 cups + 2 tbsp
  • 3 ½ cups white sugar about 550 g
  • 4 cups water about 900 milliliters (see notes)

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 in the jar with alcohol
  • Leave to macerate for at least 8 days, best 3 weeks or more.
    Make sure to keep the bottle out of direct sunlight.
  • 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.
  • 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

Add an extra cup of water when making sugar syrup (5 cups total)  if you’d like milder limoncello.
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 her are 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.

Limoncello 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.
Or make a delicious Limoncello Spritz from SeapaAndFeast friends : 🙂

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!

Easy Homemade Limoncello Recipe

Recipe Rating




Ruth Pownall

Friday 8th of October 2021

Hi what quantity of sugar and syrup for 1 litre vodka at 45%abv please? (I can't get higher than this in Australia)

Jessica

Tuesday 2nd of March 2021

How many milliliters of limoncello would this recipe make? I am looking to make limoncello for wedding favors and need enough to make 50 375ml bottles. Thanks!

Italian Recipe Book

Wednesday 3rd of March 2021

Hi Jessica, great question. 1. If you're to make strong Italin-style limoncello 34% Proof and will be using 4 cups of water for the syrup (as indicated in the recipe) you'll have roughly 2.150 liters of limoncello or 2150 milliliters. Make 9 bathes of this recipe to make 375x 50 bottles of limoncello. 2. If you prefer a little milder tasting limoncello (but still alcoholic and delicious) you will use 5 cups of water to make sugar syrup (as indicated in recipe notes), you'll get about 2.4 liters or 2400 millitires. In this case you'll need 8 batches to make 375ml x 50 bottles.

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.