Limoncello Recipe




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Limoncello is a classic Italian liqueur. The process involves using the zest of the lemon peels, which are high in oils, and then steeping in alcohol to impart the lemony-flavour. Traditionally this lovely liquor is made from Sorrento lemons, but common Eureka lemons are just as good. 

You can easily make your own version on limoncello with lemons (or just about any other citrus fruit), splash of sweetener and a healthy dash of vodka.  What are you waiting for? Grab some lemons and follow along to make your own variant of this delicious mouth-puckering drink!

When life gives you lemons, make limoncello!

Step 1: Ingredients + Supplies

  • citrus fruit / fruit
    • lemons
    • limes
    • grapefruits
    • (kiwi)
  • grain alcohol / vodka (any type)
  • sugar
  • cheese grater
  • glass bottles / jars



Grain alcohol is ideal as it's high in alcohol content and is flavourless, however it's not available in some places. Vodka works just fine.

Step 2: Zest Fruit

Using the fine grating side of a cheese grater, take the zest off your fruit. The zest of the fruit is the coloured portion of the fruit skin and the white portion below is called the pith, the zest holds the oil of the fruit while the pith is bitter. You want all zest and no pith. 

Each jar was filled with fruit zest. For the kiwi I sliced into small segments and then muddled the pieces in the jar. After, each jar was filled with vodka. The remaining fruit can be made into a citrus meringue, squeezed to make fresh juice, or maybe you can find some creative uses

Step 3: Wait

After filling each jar was capped and set aside to steep for about 10 days, shake every few days to ensure a good mix.

During this time the zest will infuse the vodka with flavour and colour. Ensure your zest (or fruit) is completely submerged in alcohol to prevent the fruit from rotting while it's steeping.

Step 4: Strain + Sweeten

After the zest has steeped in vodka for a few days it's time to strain. Using a cheesecloth and a funnel transfer the zesty-vodka to a clean bottle. I chose a decorative bottle, but any bottle with a resealable cap will work.
Make sure to squeeze the cheesecloth after straining to ensure all liquid is removed from the zest.

Next a solution of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water) was added to the strained liquid, this will make the drink more palatable and less bitter. The amount of syrup to add depends on personal taste. I used about 90ml (3 fl.oz) pf simple syrup for 270ml (9fl.oz) of alcohol. 

Step 5: Serve!

Limoncello is served chilled (in chilled glasses) and typically consumed after dinner as a digestif, but is great any time you want a tart refreshment. Try it over vanilla ice cream for a zesty twist on your dessert!


Did you make your own version limoncello? Post a picture in the comments below and earn a 3-month Pro Membership to!

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53 Discussions


1 year ago

What about mixing the lemon juice in with the vodka and zest mixture?


6 years ago on Step 2

So, if I'm using a 5th of Vodka (750ml), how much zest of a grapefruit would I need? And how much kiwi? And do I just experiment with how much syrup makes it taste best?

1 reply

Reply 6 years ago on Step 2

It really depends on your personal taste - for that much vodka I would start with the zest of two large grapefruits, and about one cup of simple syrup. You can always add more sweetener after if it's too bitter. Good luck!


7 years ago on Introduction

Being Italian I feel compelled to post the original recipe.

doses for 2 liters of limoncello
- 10 lemons (preferably from South Italy)
- 1 kg of sugar
- 1 liter of alcohol at 95 °
- 1 liter of water

--- Preparation:
1) Peel the lemons with a vegetable peeler peels in a collecting container. Pour one liter of alcohol at 95 ° and close the container tightly, letting the dough rest for 15 days in the dark.
Occasionally stir the pot keeping it strictly airtight.
At this stage, the alcohol will remove all the color and scent from lemon rinds, charging flavor.

2) Meanwhile we can prepare a syrup, the juice from the lemons we get peeled, add 1 liter of water and sugar and mix together the ingredients needed to heat it will generate a real syrup.
To understand the proper density of the syrup can visually adjust, when we bring it to boil a few minutes to thicken. With this process we're pasteurizing the juice of lemon, to keep it intact for the time needed to the recipe.
Once formed the syrup let it cool and place in refrigerator.

3) After the expiry of 15 days of rest of the lemon peels in alcohol, it's time to unite, in a large pot alcohol (even with the lemon peel in it) and syrup. Close the container and let stand another day. The union of these two compounds in flavor blends in those 24 hours, in addition to the work of conservation that creates maximum alcohol with its 95 °

4) Prepare a funnel lined with cheesecloth and bottles that have a total capacity of 2 liters of limoncello. (I managed to fill 3 bottles, 2 x 1 / 2 and a liter)
Past the stage of filtering, filtered carefully through the limoncello into bottles funnel with gauze, the operation may be slow because the syrup is thick and lemon peels are soaked and retain the liquid.

5) At this point you have before you your bottles of limoncello, but beware! are not ready.
In fact, the lemon needs a further period of rest and filing to be effective.
Keep at rest for at least 1 month, you can keep in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

11 replies

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

What is 95°? Does that mean 95 proof or is it talking about the temperature? Do I need to heat the alcohol up to 95. I also checked out your sugar cubes and they look amazing. The liquid doesn't melt the cubes?


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

95 ° is the alcoholic strength, alcohol strength by volume of 95 %. the alcohol does not dissolve the cubes, only the water dissolves the sugar.


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

this recipe is also wrong!
in real limoncello there's no lemon juice.

Here is my recipe:
1kg of ORGANIC lemons, better if still green
1kg of sugar
1 litre of 95vol. alcohol
1 litre of water

peel the lemons using a sharp knike, be careful peeling only the yellow part of the skin and AVOID the white part as it is bitter and will ruin the flavor.
place the skin of the lemons into the alcohol. wait for a week, then filter the alcohol using a wine filter cloth.
mix water and sugar together at room temperature till the sugar is completely dissolved. then add the alcohol.bottle and try to wait at least one week before drink it...


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

So, that would make the final product about 47,5º? Is traditional limoncello usually that high in alcohol content?


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

If instead of water add 2 liters of milk with 2 kg of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, you get a fabulous cream of limoncello


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Neat, thanks for your recipe. You should make your own Instructable showing how you do it!


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

I will do. now you have to try this Italian specialty.


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

It really is tasty stuff, I even had a long-time lemoncello drinker that they liked mine over the store bought stuff. A high complement indeed!

Do you have a picture of your lemoncello to share?


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

It IS very tasty, but no, I don't have a picture to share. I wish I did, but the stuff was so darn tasty, and I drank it really fast! ;) Next time I make some I'll share a picture.


7 years ago on Introduction

I made it using your recipe and meyer lemons. It turned out great! Thanks so much!