How To Make Limoncello

Limoncello is synonymous with spring in Italy. Start this weekend and serve it next weekend!   I wish I had known years ago how easy Limoncello is to make at home.

Although… it does improve if you seep the peels for up to a month….

Still- there is nothing like the first magnolia or serviceberry flowers  of spring to make me think of Limoncello! Lemon is such a refreshing flavour….

All you need are lemons for the zest part only, vodka, sugar and water.  There are suggestions to use organic lemons since you are extracting the essential oils from the peels of the lemon. You can use standard lemons and it won’t affect the taste but if you are worried about pesticide residue on the peels go for organic lemons or wash them thoroughly with fruit and vegetable wash.

For the alcohol I used normal Smirnoff Vodka. Some recommend 100 proof grain alcohol. Your choice but the vodka is a bit of a milder, gentler finished product..

You are going to zest the lemons using a peeler to get long thin strips of peel.  Try to avoid the white pithy part of the rind. If you get any significant pith with your zest trim it off so you don’t end up with a bitter brew.

Then you are going to steep all that zest in the vodka for four days or more at room temperature out of direct sunlight.  Some recipes call for steeping for up to a month.  Many Italian recipes suggest that the bulk of the flavouring is extracted in the first four days.  You may get a stronger flavour with more time but it is not necessary to go beyond four days. So steep to suit your schedule.

Lemoncello steeping

When you are done steeping you are going to mix up the simple syrup with equal parts sugar and water.  Recipes vary from 1 cup sugar/1 cup water to 4 cups sugar/4 cups water.  I used 2 cups each.  My mixture is not as sweet as the commercial variety but I prefer it that way.  You can play with it to your taste.

Keep your Limoncello in the freezer and serve it straight in chilled shot glasses. In Italy it is considered a ‘digestif’ or after dinner drink.  I find the chilled lemon so refreshing I could have it any time!

Serve limoncello ice cold in frosted shot glasses

You might also like to try it in a Lemon Capri Cocktail

Have your after dinner espresso with cream and icy limoncello!  What a refreshing summer digestif!

Makes 2 drinks

Combine 2 Tbsps cream,  2 Tbsps chilled espresso and  2 Tbsps chilled Limoncello. Serve chilled. You can also mix up a batch ahead of time and chill in a pitcher.

Capri digestif with limoncello, cream and espresso

Fantastic Recipes that use Lemoncello

(Your say Potato – I say Potahto…Lemoncello is the British spelling of Limoncello that I started naturally with but I find Limoncello more expressive of the Italian origin so I have switched over to that spelling.)

Check out this better-than-takeout Lemoncello Chicken

Lemon Chicken

Fettuccine Lemoncello


With all these tasty recipes you may want to make a double batch right off the bat!

Limoncello bottle with 2 shots
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How To Make Limoncello

Refreshing, chilled Limoncello is the perfect spring digestif!
Prep Time30 mins
Active Time10 mins
Total Time4 d 12 hrs 40 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Italian
Yield: 6 cups


  • 10 lemons
  • 1 750 ml vodka
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar


  • Zest the lemon with a vegetable peeler to get long thin strips. Trim any white pith with a pairing knife and discard.
  • Pour the vodka over the lemon peel in a large pitcher or container. Cover or seal the container and allow mixture to stand at room temperature for four days. You can steep the peels for up to a month.
  • When done steeping make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat and stirring until sugar is dissolved. This may be about 5 minutes.
  • Allow the simple syrup to cool completely and then add to the vodka mixture. Let sit overnight at room temperature.
  • Strain the the mixture through a fine sieve and discard the solids. Transfer limoncello to clean bottles using a funnel. Seal and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
  • Store limoncello in the freezer for up to a year. Serve in chilled shot glasses.


Variation:  You can adjust the sweetness to taste using equal parts sugar and water from 1:1 cups up to 4:4 cups.
How To Make Limoncello

2 Replies to “How To Make Limoncello”

    1. Thanks Terri! The cocktail is rather different but I think it would be perfect after dinner on the patio!

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