Limoncello Recipe

Looking for a limoncello recipe? Limoncello is a sweet lemon liquor from Sorrento, Italy. It was invented in the 19th century by an innkeeper, Vincenza Canale, who served her guests homemade lemon liquor as a digestivo (after-dinner drink). You can buy limoncello ready-made, but it's just as easy to make your own, adjusting the sweetness and lemon flavor to your own preferences.

To make limoncello, you will need:

  • three pounds lemons
  • 16 ounces 190-proof grain alcohol, such as Everclear
  • 1-quart glass jar with tight-fitting lid
  • four cups sugar
  • four cups water
  • strainer
  • glass bottles
  1. Wash the lemons and pat dry. This will remove any pesticides or waxy residue.
  2. Remove the outer yellow zest from the lemon using a citrus zester or vegetable peeler. Stay away from the white pith; it will make your limoncello recipe taste bitter. Mince the lemon zest.
  3. Combine the grain alcohol and lemon zest in a 1-quart glass jar with a tight lid.
  4. Store the limoncello recipe at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for three to ten days or even longer, if you prefer a stronger lemon flavor. Shake it about once per day. The grain alcohol will soon take on a bright yellow color.
  5. Heat the sugar and water over medium heat until the sugar dissolves into a simple syrup. Let it cool to room temperature.
  6. Strain the lemon zest out of the alcohol. Combine the lemon-flavored alcohol with the simple syrup to complete your limoncello recipe.
  7. Pour the limoncello into glass bottles to store. Serve chilled.


  • Use the lemons you zested to make fresh lemonade.
  • Add two or three vanilla beans to the lemon zest for a more mellow limoncello with a subtle vanilla flavor.
  • Combine limoncello with sparkling white wine for an elegant aperitif (pre-dinner drink).
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