Limoncello ~ Lemon Liqueur

Several glasses partially filled with limoncello on a silver platter, with a bottle of limoncello in the background.

Limoncello is made in homes all over Southern Italy, where lemon trees grow in abundance. Less familiar outside Southern Italy is rosolio di limone, a digestivo, or after-dinner drink. Both rosolio and limoncello are served cold; once you’ve opened a bottle, store it in the refrigerator or freezer. The alcohol will prevent it from freezing solid. Here in California, I use Meyer lemons from my garden, but you can use any variety. Look for lemons that haven’t been sprayed or waxed, the fresher the better.–Rosetta Costantino and Jennie Schacht

LC Lousy With Limoncello Note

As one of our recipe testers noted, until now, we’d always dispensed our limoncello in stingy pours so as not to demolish our precious stash too quickly. But knowing we can make our own changes that. Given that it’s made with 151-proof hooch, we’re not so certain that’s a good thing. Gulp.

Limoncello | Lemon Liqueur

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 30 M
  • 22 D
  • Makes 48 (1/4-cup) servings
5/5 - 1 reviews
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Remove the zest from the lemons in wide strips with a vegetable peeler, taking only the yellow part and carefully avoiding even the slightest bit of underlying white pith, which would turn the limoncello bitter. Reserve the zested lemons for another use.

Pour the alcohol into a clean quart (1-liter) jar with a tight-fitting lid, such as a European-style canning jar with a rubber gasket and clamp lid. Add the lemon zest, close the jar, and let it steep in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cellar, for 1 week.

After the alcohol has steeped for 1 week, stir the sugar and water together in a large saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves completely. The mixture should be clear. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. (Do not be tempted to rush into the next step; if the sugar syrup is not completely cool, your limoncello will be cloudy.)

Remove the lemon zest from the alcohol and discard. Pour the infused alcohol into the sugar syrup and stir to combine. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, then decant the limoncello into clean bottles and seal with a cork or lid of some sort.

Let the limoncello mature for 15 days in a cool, dark place, then refrigerate. Serve chilled.

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    Tuxedo Variation

    • Rosolio di Limone
    • Tux variation

      For a sweeter, less puckier (oh, you know what we mean) version of limoncello called rosolio di limone, follow the instructions above, but instead use 6 cups water and 4 cups (800 g) sugar in place of the stated 4 cups water and 2 cups sugar. Let the liqueur sit for the same amount of time.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    Who knew it was so easy to make your own liqueur? I made the limoncello recipe, and I found this to be a little less bitter than some of the limoncello I've bought. The process is very simple. It's just the waiting that's hard. I like limoncello by itself as an after-dinner drink, and I also spike lemonade with it. I want to try this recipe with other citrus when they're in season.

    I've never made an infused vodka before, and I found the process to make the rosolio di limone fascinating. I didn’t have a chance to get to the liquor store to pick up Everclear, so I used vodka. I admit I used the cheap vodka I had on hand, and we love the result. The rosolio, after a full three weeks of aging is sweet, tart, and slightly bitter (in a good way) lemon goodness. I might just love the aroma more than the flavor, but my husband is a true fan. I'm already thinking up recipes we can use it in.


    #leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


    1. A few days after adding the sugar syrup, which was cool, my limoncello started to get weird near top, cloudy whitish looking. It has been very warm here. Is it ruined??

        1. Yes! There is condensation!! So it’s still good? It tastes wonderful! Should I keep in the fridge? Right now it’s in a dark cupboard, but it is kinda warm. SoCal.

    2. I boiled my sugar water at noon, then added to my limoncello at 230 the following morning, my limoncello was cloudy. There must be something more to it than temperature.

      1. Hi Linda, limoncello has the potential to become cloudy when the lemon oil infused alcohol is mixed with the simple syrup. It’s called the louche effect and can be seen in other spirits like ouzo or pastis. Letting the limoncello rest has a clarifying effect and most cloudiness will disappear over time. In the meantime, enjoy! The louche effect is a sign of high lemon oil content, which will give you that lovely lemony taste.

      1. Hi Bill, although we only tested lemons for this particular recipe, you can use all types of citrus to make variations of limoncello. Blood oranges make a lovely arancello.

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