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!
- 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.
Originally posted on May 11, 2011. Updated 2020.