How to Make Limoncello

The perfect limoncello recipe from Positano, Italy.

How to Make Limoncello

Limoncello is my absolute favorite after dinner drinkIt’s strong, sweet, and very lemony. Like a boozy, refreshing dessert liqueur. It could be an acquired taste for many, but for me it was love at first sip. I was even more pumped to find out just how easy it is to make your own limoncello at home. So easy I may make my own exclusively.

So how do you make limoncello? It’s 4 simple ingredients. Everclear, lemons, sugar, and water. This limoncello recipe all started in Positano, Italy. We had just arrived to the coastal village after a morning of traveling down from Rome. In fact, it was around this time exactly last year.

We got a late brunch at a small cafe a few hundred yards from the beach called La Brezza. The most necessary American breakfast I had all trip. Fried eggs and really good Bloody Marys.

I was in heaven, but it gets better. They brought us each a chilled glass of limoncello at the end of brunch, but the restaurant staff caught me tasting the tiny red hot chili pepper (yes, it was HOT) that was garnished on my Bloody Mary. Long story short, apparently they thought it was hilarious and I was the ONLY person they’ve seen attempt to eat the tiny hot pepper. Maybe I’m an idiot but it earned me a second free glass of limoncello so I regret nothing.

We ended up bringing home a few bottles of locally made Positano limoncello. The bottle included their own limoncello recipe, however I did make a few tweaks after my initial trial run. I ended up using less simple syrup than the recipe calls for.

I prefer limoncello a little less sweet. Other than that, it’s the perfect balance of flavor, strength and consistency. My only tip and it’s incredibly important—you must use Everclear and not vodka. Everclear is a grain alcohol that tastes similar to vodka, however it’s much more potent (151 proof). Yeah, drink it straight and you may go blind.

Using Everclear is so important because you will end up diluting it with sugar and water, bringing it back down to a more manageable strength. This allows it to remain strong like a flavored vodka and also keeps it freezable. If you use vodka, your limoncello will be too watery and may freeze in the freezer.

More importantly, always use organic lemons because they’re free of pesticides. Trust me, you don’t want to drink limoncello that has been soaking in pesticides.

Finally, when life gives you lemons, make limoncello.

Positano, Italy

How to Make Limoncello

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

How to Make Limoncello

How to Make Limoncello

How to Make Limoncello

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Authentic Limoncello Recipe

  • Author: Shawn
  • Prep Time: 25 min
  • Cook Time: 8 days
  • Total Time: 8 days
  • Yield: 2.5 liters 1x

Scale

Ingredients

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

Simple syrup

  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • 5 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Using a potato 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.
  2. Place the lemon peels in a covered glass container with the Everclear and let sit for 7 days.
  3. On the 8th day, strain the lemon peels from the Everclear and discard.
  4. To make the simple syrup (sugar and water), add the water and sugar to a medium saucepan on medium heat. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool to room temp and add to the Everclear. You can serve immediately or place in the freezer to chill.

Notes

I store my limoncello in the freezer so it’s always very chilled. Because I use Everclear (151 proof), it will not freeze. Do not substitute for vodka or it will become too weak and diluted when adding the water and sugar.