This limoncello recipe came from a kitchen towel I found at the open air market in Sorrento, Italy. With only four ingredients, homemade limoncello is actually quite easy to make. All it takes is a little patience as you wait for the lemon oils to infuse the vodka. I have the limoncello recipe posted here in both English as well as the original Italian version!
ORIGIN OF LIMONCELLO
In its purest form, homemade limoncello is a simple Italian liqueur made with lemon zest. It’s typically served chilled in a small glass as an after dinner drink (a digestif) to help digest a meal. You know, just a little shot of something strong and sweet to settle the stomach.
Traditionally, limoncello produced along the Amalfi Coast, specifically in Sorrento and Capri. But it can be made at home too! In fact, when visiting Italy, you’ll find quite a few innkeepers will offer you their homemade limoncello. I actually picked up this recipe below during a trip to Sorrento.
HOW TO MAKE LIMONCELLO
In order to make limoncello at home, you’ll need to steep lemon zest or peels in vodka until oil is released. This typically takes 3-4 days. Then, mix the resulting yellow liquid with simple syrup. It’s that simple!
I suggest using 6 to 8 lemons, depending on their size. And I also recommend wearing gloves. I know, I’m not wearing gloves in the photo above. So learn from my lesson, the acid in the citrus oil will make your hands dry. You don’t need to wear gloves, but they will protect your hands from the acid lemon oil and juice.
Once you have your lemons peeled, add them to a container you can seal along with 2 cups of vodka. Set it on your counter and let it soak. After a couple of days, the lemon peels will have infused the vodka with a zesty citrus flavor and the liquid will be yellow.
MAKING SIMPLE SYRUP
Once the vodka is infused with lemon flavor, the next step is to make a simple syrup. In order to make a simple syrup, bring 2 cups of water to a boil and then add 2 cups of sugar.
Remove the pan from heat (or turn it to a low heat) and stir the sugar with a wooden spoon until it is completely dissolved in the water. Let it cool for a least 30 minutes.
Simple syrup is usually a 1-to-1 ratio. If you’re making more limoncello than just the liter below, you can adjust your simple syrup mixture accordingly. For example, 1 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water.
FINISHING THE HOMEMADE LIMONCELLO
Next, mix the simple syrup with the lemon vodka infusion. Now you’ve got homemade limoncello! Pour it through a filter or sieve into a glass bottle or pitcher to remove any bits of left over lemon peel. Chill for a minimum of four hours or overnight. Serve cold and enjoy!
Homemade Limoncello Recipe
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups vodka
- 2 cups sugar
- 6 lemons
- Peel lemons and place peels in a sealed container with alcohol to infuse with flavor for a minimum of 4 days.
- After a couple of days, the lemon peels will have infused the vodka with a zesty citrus flavor. The next step is to make a simple syrup by bringing 1 liter of water to a boil and adding the 4 cups of sugar. Once syrup has cooled, blend the lemon infused alcohol with the syrup.
- Stir together with a wooden spoon, then let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Pour the limoncello through filter or sieve into a glass bottle. The sieve will remove the lemon peels and leave you with a bright yellow liqueur. Chill for a minimum of four hours or overnight. Serve cold and enjoy!
Homemade Limoncello (Original Italian Recipe)
un litro d’ acqua
un litro d’ alcool
un chilo di zucchero
Prendere degli 8 limoni solo le bucce tagliandole sottili e mettendole in infusione dentro l’ alcool. Il tuuto in un barattolo ermeticamente chiuso.
Aspettate quattro giorni ed unite l’ infuso d’ alcool con lo sciroppo che avrete preparato con un Kg di zucchero in un litro d’ acqua tiepida. Mescolate e lasciate riposare il tutto una decina di mimuti, filtrate ed imbottigliate. Si Serve molto freddo.
More Recipes We Think You’ll Love
- Mint Lemonade
- Lemon Linguine
- Authentic Bolognese Sauce Recipe
- Lemon Olive Oil Cake
- Lemon Pistachio Cavatappi
Originally posted on May 11, 2011. Updated 2020.
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Limoncello is delicious 😀
My Hubby and I have been making limoncello since we discovered it during our wedding/honeymoon in Italy years ago. Through much trial and error we discovered we prefer grain alcohol instead of vodka–higher alcohol content and it doesn’t freeze when we keep it in the freezer. Great recipe–spread the word–everyone should love limoncello!
Queen Mcaree says
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Emerald Bilecki says
Really nice style and fantastic articles , very little else we want : D.
This is great! Thanks for the recipe 🙂
Have you ever come across a recipe for creamy limoncello? I had a recipe from a friend in Italy, one of those old family recipes. It rocked! But I lost it. 🙁 so I am on the hunt for a new recipe.
Hey! I’ve not even tried creamy limoncello! I did have some in Italy that were a bit more opaque than the one I make here at home, but they didn’t have cream. I bet it tastes divine! I’ll see if I can find a recipe for it. =)
Sent the recipe straight over to my mon – she loves the stuff since travelling to Italy a lot. There are quite a few recipies for the creamy version on the web, but I like the idea of adding a teeny bit of vanilla pod to this one: http://www.blogdolcevita.com/post/2984/homemade-limoncello-with-a-twist-recipe-for-cream-of-limoncello
Pat in DE says
I too got ‘hooked’ on Limoncello during a 5 city, chic-trip of a lifetime in Sept of 2010. I have the same kitchen towel shown in this blog!! Purchased in open-air market in Firenze…lovely. I brewed my first batch of Limoncello this Christmas-and gave as gifts to special friends (with rave reviews I must say…) On batch two now–I can’t wait to use oranges and tangerines as a third followup. I purchased 7oz snap-top bottles from specialty bottle company and painted lemons on the front with my sig for the gift bottles–using the lemons from the towel as a guide. I’m not an artist, but I have to say I enjoyed every minute creating the personalized ‘vessel’ for my Crema as much as I enjoyed making the libation…
Patricia Storbeck says
Rachelle, thank you for the recipe. I bought lemon vodka in Menton, France and it’s a great alternative to Limoncello. You drink it the same way…frozen.
As soon as we find a big enough town with store that sells good quality spirits, I’m making this. You should mention that the lemons must me organic, not waxed. The lemons from Menton is the best, they are world famous.
Sailing in Sardinia
Great extra tips!
It takes some time to bring these pieces together.