Limoncello Recipe

5 from 4 votes
Jump to Recipe

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Originating from the Amalfi Coast, this lemon-infused liqueur has become a staple in bars and households alike. Limoncello is very easy to make at home and doesn’t require any special equipment or complex processes. Let’s get into it!

Finished, chilled limoncello in a glass swing top bottle.

This limoncello recipe all started on a trip to Positano. I brought home a few bottles of local limoncello that included the recipe on the label. After some trial and error and a few small tweaks, I arrived at my own perfect rendition.

How It Works

Crafting homemade limoncello requires just four simple ingredients: Everclear, organic lemons, sugar, and water. The process involves steeping lemon peels in Everclear for one week, removing the peels on the eighth day, and adding simple sugar (equal parts sugar and water).

Once you’ve mastered this, you can mix it right into a limoncello martini. If lemon is a favorite flavor of yours, enjoy a honey lemon margarita, Bee’s Knees, or Gold Rush cocktail!

Ingredients

  • Organic lemons: organic lemons are free of harmful pesticides and insecticides that will easily leach into your limoncello. Non-organic lemons are also coated in a food-grade wax, which will inhibit the extraction of the oils.
  • Everclear: Everclear is a grain alcohol that tastes very similar to vodka, however, it’s more readily available in much stronger proofs. Everclear is bottled at 120, 151, 189, and 190 proofs.
  • Simple syrup: a 50-50 mix of sugar and water, melted into a liquid sugar syrup. This sweetens the limoncello and balances out the Everclear.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities below.

Everclear Versus Vodka

Several limoncello recipes call for high-proof vodka. The problem is most vodkas reside in the 80-90 proof range (40-45% alcohol). Because the final product will be diluted with sugar and water, starting with a much stronger base spirit is important.

While 80-proof vodka will “work,” the sugar will need to be significantly reduced to account for less alcohol. The flavor and viscosity will suffer and the lower alcohol content will make your limoncello more susceptible to freezing in the freezer.

I prefer 151-proof Everclear, which is the perfect balance of flavor without being overly strong. You can use 190 proof but you may want to add an additional 1/2+ cup of simple sugar to account for the extra alcohol. If you can only find a 100-120-proof, spirit start with less sugar and add more to taste as needed.

How to Make Limoncello

Step 1.

Using a Y peeler, remove the rinds from the lemons, leaving all or as much of the pith on the lemon as possible (the white part). Too much pith and limoncello will be bitter.

A thinly sliced lemon peel from a y- peeler with minimal white pith on a wooden cutting board.

Step 2.

Place the lemon peels in a covered glass container with the Everclear and let sit for 7 days.

Lemon peels soaking in a mason jar filled with Everclear.

Step 3.

On the 8th day, strain the lemon peels from the Everclear and discard.

A mason jar holding limoncello before adding simple sugar.

Step 4.

To make the simple syrup (sugar and water), add the water and sugar to a medium saucepan on medium heat. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool to room temp and add to the Everclear. You can serve it immediately or place it in the freezer to chill. I like to store them in smaller glass swing-top containers.

Pouring simple syrup into limoncello steeped in Everclear.

Expert Tips

  • When peeling the lemons, it’s important to leave behind as much of the pith (white flesh) as possible. Use a sharp potato peeler to carefully remove the outermost skin from the lemons so only the yellow portion can be seen on the back of the peel.
  • To make limoncello you will need a large sealable glass container or wide-mouth jar. You can use large mason jars or any container that will allow you to easily strain or remove the lemon peels after you’re finished.
  • While you can equally divide the peels and Everclear among smaller containers during the steeping process, it’s much easier to combine everything in a larger single vessel, especially when it’s time to add the simple sugar.
  • This recipe calls for 1 liter of Everclear and roughly 7 cups of simple sugar, rendering 3+ 750ml bottles of finished limoncello. A one-gallon jar such as this is ideal!
  • Use a small funnel to transfer the limoncello to individual freezer-safe glass bottles with swing tops (or similar) for storage. I keep my limoncello in the freezer so it’s always ice cold.

How to Drink Limoncello

Limoncello is usually sipped as a digestif in a very small or tall shot glass after dinner. It’s served in 1-2 ounce portions and is best served chilled. Limoncello should not be shaken or diluted with ice or water! It also goes really well in a limoncello martini. These make a fantastic gift for any occasion.

A bottle of finished limoncello next to a small glass serving of limoncello.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ABV% of this recipe?

Assuming you use 151 proof Everclear, the final ABV will be roughly 29% alcohol or 60 proof, which is typical for most limoncello recipes.

Does limoncello need to steep in a cool dark environment?

I leave my limoncello on the kitchen counter to steep. I would keep out of direct sunlight but there is no need to keep in a dark location.

Can I steep lemons longer than 7 days?

Extended steeping may lead to bitterness or off flavors. I would recommend 7-8 days.

How much limoncello does this produce?

This recipe makes just shy of (3) 750 ML bottles.

More Cocktails You’ll Love

Enjoy this recipe? If you made this cocktail, please leave a ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ star rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments!
5 from 4 votes

Authentic Limoncello Recipe

Servings: 42
Prep: 25 minutes
8 days
Total: 8 days 25 minutes
The perfect homemade limoncello recipe made with Everclear, organic lemons, and simple syrup.

Ingredients 

  • 10 medium or large organic lemons, this is important—no pesticides
  • 1 liter Everclear alcohol*, 151 proof

Simple syrup (makes 7 cups)

  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • 5 1/2 cups granulated sugar
Save this recipe!
We’ll send it to your inbox, plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Instructions 

  • Using a Y peeler, remove the rinds from the lemons, leaving all or as much of the pith on the lemon as possible (the white part). Too much pith and limoncello will be bitter.
  • Place the lemon peels in a covered glass container with the Everclear and let sit for 7 days.
  • On the 8th day, strain the lemon peels from the Everclear and discard.
  • To make the simple syrup (sugar and water), add the water and sugar to a medium saucepan on medium heat. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Let cool to room temp and add to the Everclear. You can serve it immediately or place it in the freezer to chill. I like to store them in smaller glass swing-top containers.

Notes

When peeling the lemons, it’s important to leave behind as much of the pith (white flesh) as possible. Use a sharp potato peeler to carefully remove the outermost skin from the lemons so only the yellow portion can be seen on the back of the peel.
To make limoncello you will need a large sealable glass container or wide-mouth jar. You can use large mason jars or any container that will allow you to easily strain or remove the lemon peels after you’re finished.
While you can equally divide the peels and Everclear among smaller containers during the steeping process, it’s much easier to combine everything in a larger single vessel, especially when it’s time to add the simple sugar.
This recipe calls for 1 liter of Everclear and roughly 7 cups of simple sugar, rendering 3+ 750ml bottles of finished limoncello. A one-gallon jar such as this is ideal!
Use a small funnel to transfer the limoncello to individual freezer-safe glass bottles with swing tops (or similar) for storage. I keep my limoncello in the freezer so it’s always ice cold.

Nutrition

Serving: 2ouncesCalories: 164kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 0.3gFat: 0.2gSaturated Fat: 0.01gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.02gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.003gSodium: 3mgPotassium: 36mgFiber: 1gSugar: 27gVitamin A: 6IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 8mgIron: 0.2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Cocktail
Cuisine: Italian
Tried this recipe?Mention @kitchenswagger or tag #kitchenswagger!

About Shawn Williams

My name is Shawn, author behind Kitchen Swagger. I'm a food & drink enthusiast bringing you my own simple and delicious restaurant-inspired recipes.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




41 Comments

  1. Can’t wait to try this recipe.
    Question: If you start with 151 proof Everclear, after you have diluted it with the simple syrup, do you know what proof it becomes? Thanks!

  2. Hello Shawn,
    The steeping process needs to be in a dark/fresh cupboard or can it be left on the counter?
    Thanks!

    1. I left mine on the counter. Any room temp place is fine. I prob wouldn’t put it some place too hot or too cold. A little sunlight is OK.

  3. As an organic farmer, I have to dispel the myth of “no pesticides, no fungicides, no herbicides”. In order to sell commercially these are all used. Granted the products are organic, but still carry warning labels and are designed to kill insects, fungus and weeds. Ironically, many of the same products are used by non-organic operations. All are regulated by the USDA and require an applicators license to apply. WASH and SOAK all produce for 10 minutes in 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water, rinse well. If you have any questions regarding how these products are used, please talk to an organic farmer who raises commercial crops (crops sold in grocery chains and certified organic). Most will gladly answer your questions.

      1. 5 stars
        I saw a recipe where they said steep minimal 25 days. The rule was the lemon peel must lose its color and snap like a cracker.

  4. If I made this and forgot to heat the sugar and water (I was very tired that day!!) can I do that now with the everclear mixed in? It is absolutely delicious, but very thick.

    1. Hey Christina – could you clarify? Are you talking about heating the entire everclear mix with water, lemon, and unmelted sugar?

      I’ve never run into this so I cant say how that would turn out. You could try it as I can’t imagine it’s very good with sugar floating around.

      1. Yes, heating the entire mixture together as I just mixed the water and sugar together. I let the sugar dissolve quite a bit, but it is really thick to drink. It is still really good, so I am curious as to how much better it would have been, had I followed all the directions!!

        1. Christina,
          When you heat alcohol it evaporates, so it wont be strong liquor wise, in fact it could potentially go to 0 proof. I would leave it thick this time and heat the sugar and water next time.

  5. I’ve lived in California all my life–and had both Meyer and “regular” (Eureka) lemon trees. In my experience they both come is all sorts of sizes! But (also in my experience) Meyers are sweeter (well, actually, less sour) than Eurekas. So if you are using Meyers, you might have to adjust the sugar. The zest would depend on the size of the lemons you actually have in front of you.