Making your own homemade Lemoncello, aka Limoncello, limoncella, or limoncino, couldn't be easier and is well worth the wait! Simply soak the lemon zest in vodka, tuck it away, and wait to infuse the rich lemony vodka with some simple syrup!
This Lemony Liqueur Is A Ray Of Sunshine Any Day Of The Year!
After many years of making my own limoncello, I can happily say that I've never regretted it! This brightly-flavored lemon liqueur is so versatile whether it's served as a chilled drink, made into a dessert topping, or used as a lemon extract swap!
Since I'm an avid fan of all things lemon, it comes as no surprise that I was hooked on this amazing Italian liqueur the first time I tried it! Plus, it's super easy to make at home, so no waiting for it to arrive via special order.
What is Lemoncello?
There are several tales about the origin of Limoncello, also called lemoncello, limoncella, or limoncino - the deliciously refreshing lemon and vodka drink that has been around for over 100 years. The following story seems the most plausible, as it is endorsed by the Italian Association of Wine/Liquor Producers.
The story takes place on Capri, an island in Southern Italy’s Bay of Naples. A local woman who owned a small inn also had a garden filled with gorgeous, fragrant oranges and lemons.
For years she made an incredible alcoholic drink with her lemons and some vodka, and when her grandson opened a restaurant nearby, he included his Nonna’s recipe on the drink menu.
Limoncello can be made with any kind of lemon, but connoisseurs insist that the absolute best version is made with very specific lemons - those grown in the Amalfi Coast area of Italy. The Mediterranean climate supposedly helps create a very thick skin on the lemons that is rich in essential oils and has an extraordinarily strong fragrance.
The recipe for homemade lemoncello is surprisingly easy, with only four ingredients!
- Large Lemons - While you probably cannot find lemons grown in Italy, I do recommend using organic lemons because they aren’t coated in wax and the flavor comes through more easily.
- Vodka- You can use your favorite brand, but keep in mind that 100 proof vodka will extract the most lemon flavor from the peels.
- Sugar - For the simple syrup.
- Water - Also for the simple syrup to mix with your infused vodka!
How to Make Homemade Limoncello
This wonderfully tasty lemon liqueur is easy to make once you get the lemons peeled. Remember to get the zest portion only, not the pith, to avoid a bitter taste!
Infuse the Vokda
- Wash the lemons very well, as the peels are the main ingredient here. A produce cleanser is a good idea, just be sure to soak the lemons in it for a minimum of 30 minutes.
- Peel all the skin from each lemon using a vegetable peeler or micro-plane. Try to only peel the yellow skin and avoid the white pith underneath.
- Place the lemon peels in a jar (quart-sized or larger) and cover completely with a bottle of vodka. Close the lid tightly.
- Now it’s time to set the mixture aside to let the lemon properly infuse the vodka. You should choose a cool, dark place and let it infuse for a minimum of 4 days - however, 30 days is best!
- After the lemon peels have infused for your desired amount of time, strain the vodka into a bowl through a fine-mesh sieve. It’s helpful to line the sieve with a coffee filter and stir continuously to keep the mixture straining.
Make the Simple Syrup
- To make the simple syrup, bring 2 cups of water to a low simmer in a saucepan. Add the 2 cups of sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Take off the stove and let the syrup cool.
- Once cooled, mix the simple syrup with the lemon vodka, stir, and taste. If it’s not sweet enough for your taste, you can make and add more simple syrup, but know that it will dilute the concentration of alcohol. *2 cups each of water and sugar is what I prefer, however, I have seen variations of between 1 to 4 cups each used to make the syrup.
- Using a funnel, pour Limoncello into bottles. Be sure to chill for at least 4 hours before serving. I love this lemony delight served in chilled glasses!
Made correctly, this drink is sweet and smooth, with an incredibly intense lemon flavor. It’s also super versatile - sip your lemoncello as an after-dinner aperitif, mix with seltzer water for a delicious spritzer, or even drizzle over ice cream!
It is the quintessential drink of summer - sometimes called “sunshine in a glass!” You MUST try making this lemoncello at home and impress your guests with the dizzying lemon flavor all summer long!
🥡 Storing & Reheating
Keep your bottled lemoncello stored in the refrigerator and it will last for up to a month. Stored in the freezer, limoncello will last for up to a year. Just be sure that when you freeze it, you leave room between the liqueur and the top of the bottle for expansion once frozen.
Yes, most definitely! The slightly sweeter lemon is a wonderful option for making your homemade limoncello.
Yes! Using this lemony liqueur is a very tasty substitution for lemon extract with a strong citrus flavor for great results in any recipe calling for lemon extract.
Lemoncello (Homemade Limoncello)
- 10 large lemons
- 750 ml vodka (1 750 ml bottle - 100-proof vodka is best, or use 80-proof)
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- Wash and dry the lemons thoroughly since we're using the peels to make this lemoncello. *A produce cleaner can also be used, or be sure to soak the fruit for 30 minutes before rinsing.
- Carefully peel the lemons using a vegetable peeler. Try to get primarily the lemon peel and not the white pith.
- Transfer the lemon peels to a quart-sized glass jar and cover the peels with the full bottle of vodka. Close the jar with the lid.
- Set the jar of vodka and peels aside in a cool, dark place and allow the lemon to infuse into the vodka. *This can be done in as little as 4-5 days but is best at 30 days.
- Strain the infused vodka into a medium-size bowl or 4-cup measuring cup through a fine-mesh sieve. Line the sieve with a coffee filter, and stir as needed to keep the mixture straining.
- To make the sugar syrup, bring the 2 cups of water to a simmer in a saucepan. Add the 2 cups of sugar to the simmering water and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow the sugar syrup to cool.
- Combine the cooled sugar syrup with the lemon-infused vodka, stir, and taste. If desired, more sugar syrup can be made and added, but it will dilute your alcohol concentration. *2 cups each of water and sugar is my preferred amount, however, I have seen anywhere between 1 to 4 cups each used to make the syrup.
- Transfer the lemoncello into bottles using a funnel. Fill each bottle then chill before serving. *Chill for at least 4 hours before serving. I prefer to serve my lemoncello in chilled glasses as well.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!