Homemade Italian Limoncello

Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Limoncello is an Italian liqueur made from lemon zest.

It’s mainly produced in Southern Italy, particularly in Sorrento, Capri, and along the Amalfi Coast.

Traditionally, limoncello is made with Femminello St. Teresa lemons, a vibrant lemon variety native to the Sorrento Peninsula of Italy.

The liqueur is served chilled a drink served usually as an after-dinner drink to aid in digestion.

Limoncello is made by steeping lemon zest (peels) in highly concentrated ethanol or vodka until oil is released, then mixing the resulting yellow liquid with simple syrup and so easy to make.

The recipe below is delicious and can be used in several style cocktails, I have a holiday cocktail recipe and one for a mojito that is a very refreshing drink.

You can also use limoncello in desserts like bread pudding, or even try my ice-cold Watermelon Limoncello Cocktail.

Scroll down to the printable recipe card to make this Italian Speciality Liqueur in your own kitchen for pennies less than store-bought brands.

Please read all the things to know before you get started below first.

Homemade limoncello made from scratch. This is limoncello homemade in a pitcher and glass of tropical island style drink with an umbrella and olives on a tooth pick

Things to Know Before You Get Started

You will need some bottles to store this liqueur in.

I usually recycle my wine bottles or even purchase some from a local dollar store that is decorative.

You will need bottles that have a good tight seal on them for storing.

This liquor will stay fresh stored in airtight bottles in the refrigerator or freezer for up to 6 months.

Grain alcohol (the higher the proof the less steeping) (known by the brand name Everclear 190 proof) this is the alcohol I recommend making your limoncello.

Because Everclear is almost pure alcohol, it has the cleanest flavor and does the best job of extracting the lemon flavor it also will take 4 to 5 days to steep instead of 10 days.

If using vodka, that will need to age two weeks and should be at 80 proof.

Always cool the mixture completely before adding the alcohol or it will produce a cloudy limoncello.

this is a limoncello cocktail with an umbrella and lemons in the background

Ingredients You Will Need

  • lemons
  • sugar
  • water
  • Grain Everclear 190 proof or Vodka 80 proof ( NOTE: Everclear steeps 4 to 5 days and 80 proof Vodka takes around 2 weeks)

glass bowl of lemons

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Other Drinks We Love

Homemade Amaretto

Irish Cream

Irish Coffee

Amaretto Hot Cocoa

a recipe for limoncello mojito

Serving Limoncello

This drink is delicious over ice especially after dinner, however, there are two other cocktails here to try one is a pitcher full of Holiday Cheer and the other Mojito is a refreshing summer drink or anytime.

One other tip, because alcohol and sugar are such good preservatives, you can easily get at least 6 good months keeping this in the freezer or refrigerator.

A good limoncello has a fresh tartness, it's not overbalanced and leaves your tongue fresh and clean not bitter in taste, so if you experience that, it's gone bad.

Homemade Limoncello

Homemade Limoncello

Yield: 7 cups
Prep time: 15 MCook time: 15 MTotal time: 30 M
Here is a delicious Italian Limoncello Liqueur that is great on ice or served in a cocktail. The recipe is easy although it takes a little time to age.


  • 10 lemons
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 4 cups of water
  • 3 cups 190 proof Grain Alcohol Everclear or 80 proof Vodka ( NOTE:  Everclear steeps for 4 to 5 days and Vodka takes around 2 weeks)


  1. Zest the lemons, and place zest into a large glass bottle or jar. Pour in vodka. Cover loosely and let infuse for one week at room temperature.
  2. After one week, combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Do not stir. Boil for 15 minutes. Allow syrup to cool to room temperature. IF you mix this warm it will be cloudy!
  3. Stir alcohol using mixture into syrup.
  4.  VERY IMPORTANT STEP: Strain first then using a funnel pour into glass bottles, with a good seal.
  5. Store in at room temperature for 2 weeks using Vodka or if using Everclear 5 days.
  6. Serve in chilled over ice or use in cocktail recipes.
  7. Holiday Cocktail Recipe:
  8. 1/2 cup vodka
  9. 1/4 cup lemon-lime soda, citrus soda or seltzer
  10. 1 1/2 cups of chilled Limoncello Liqueur
  11. 1 cup of fresh orange juice
  12. 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice
  13. Mix in a pitcher and fill a glass with ice, serve with olives or fruit wedges.
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this is a pin for how to make limoncello

Try More Lemon Recipes

Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake

Chicken Francese

Italian Lemon Ice

this is a bowl of fresh lemons

Disclosure: This recipe was originally shared in 2009. It was edited and re-published in 2020.


  1. Now I know what I'll do with that home made bottle of limoncello a friend gave me....this will make washing down that turkey this week a little easier!

  2. i never drink limoncello,i seen only recipes...yours it's very beautiful coloured!

  3. @kathy glad to help lol
    @alison its really a favorite of ours, hard to get sometimes. thankyou

  4. Love Limoncello - you are singing my song.

  5. I'm sure I'm going to get drunk after taking this, even just a few sips! haha....

  6. First time I ever had Limoncello was in Italy. It is so refreshing.

  7. I've never had limoncello but I heard it is quite delicious. I need to pick up some limoncello now

  8. I love any cocktail with citrus flavor.
    I wish I had one yesterday to kinda sooth my stressful day.

  9. Nice and simple recipe. I feel like making a drink now!

  10. Very refreshing! A perfect summer drink.


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