Homemade Limoncello - Fancy a Drink

Home ›  › Homemade Limoncello

Limoncello in the bottle by the pool

My first batch of homemade Limoncello was about 20 years ago. I had a grand plan to bottle it up for Christmas gifts for friends and family with my own private label. Unfortunately, the Limoncello was awful. Truly undrinkable.

Recently, through the magic of Flipboard, I came across on article at The Spruce Eats talking about the joys of Italian Liqueurs and how to make several of them. Having made terrible Limoncello before, I decided to try again. The article shared a recipe for homemade Limoncello that I used as the basis for the batch that recently went into a bottle and actually tastes delicious this time.

The Limoncello recipe calls for the following ingredients:

  • 15 lemons (organic is best)
  • 2 (750-milliliter) bottles of grain alcohol such as Everclear or vodka
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 9 1/2 cups water

In short, half the alcohol is steeped in the lemon peels for 3-4 weeks, then the sugar and water are used to make simple syrup and that plus the second bottle of alcohol are added to the steeped alcohol and put aside again for another 3-4 weeks.

I modified that recipe in several ways. First, I cut down the 4 cups of sugar to three cups so it would not be as sweet. Second, we gave it a third steep since it did come out too sweet even with the less sugar. So, we added 7 more lemons and then let is steep another two weeks. So, while the original recipe called for 40-80 days of steeping in two phases, this homemade Limoncello steeped for 28, 25 and 14 days across three phases for a total of 67 days. Finally, I used vodka as the base alcohol rather than Everclear so that it was not crazy strong.

So, this is the final list of ingredients as we used them:

  • 22 lemons (organic is best)
  • 2 (750-milliliter) bottles of grain alcohol such as Everclear or vodka
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 9 cups water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

And this is the step-by-step process I followed for the successful, not too sweet and not over-the-top strong, Limoncello.

  1. Wash and peel the 22 lemons and place the peels in a large 1 gallon jar.
  2. Pour one bottle of vodka into the jar.
  3. Use a wooden spoon to press the lemon peels down to the bottom.
  4. Close jar tightly and put in a cool dark place for 28 days.
  5. On day 28, combine the sugar and 7 1/2 cups of water to make simple syrup
  6. Let this syrup cool completely. Once cooled add it to the jar
  7. Add the second bottle of vodka to the jar and again close, seal and place jar in a cool dry place.
  8. Over the next 25 days, the limoncello really starts to take on its yellow color.
  9. on Day 53, we tasted the homemade limoncello and decided that it needed a bit more lemon.
  10. Here, I cheated a bit and added in the 1/2 cup of lemon juice.
  11. Close jar and steep one more time. This time we let it sit for two weeks.
  12. At the end of those two weeks, open the jar, add in 1 1/2 cups of water, and stir.
  13. Pour the entire jar of liquid and lemon peels through a strainer into a large bowl. This will separate the liquid from the peels.
  14. Pour the liquid through cheesecloth or coffee filters (the thinnest you can find). This will separate a lot of the sediment before bottling so it looks nice and clear in the bottle.
  15. Pour the limoncello one more time through cheesecloth on its way into the bottle (I used several cleaned out white wine bottles with the labels steamed off).
  16. Seal the bottle with a cork and put it in the freezer to chill.

Now it is time to enjoy. After your next dinner, grab a small glass and serve yourself a 2 ounce pour and enjoy your own incredible homemade Limoncello.

I like mine over ice, though my Italian friends tell me that the proper way is neat in a small glass. Either way, “saluti” and congratulations.

More on the Web

Email Newsletter

Do Not Sell My Personal Information