Homemade Limoncello Recipe

No matter the season, limoncello is the ideal drink. With incredible flavors of fresh lemon, this Italian liqueur is absolutely delicious. The color is bright yellow, making it a cheerful drink to sip for a variety of occasions.

While you can certainly buy bottles of limoncello at a store, or enjoy a small sipper at a restaurant, it's also possible to make it on your own at home. "The lemon flavors of this limoncello deliver such a great kick of citrus," says food photographer and recipe developer Petar Marshall. "It's ideal for sipping after dinner, as a digestif, or even mixed into a martini or gin cocktail."

There's no need for a distillery to pull off this recipe. It only requires four ingredients, with vodka as the base and a few easy steps. The most important ingredient? Patience. You'll want to make this ahead of time for any occasion you plan to serve it, allowing plenty of time for the lemon flavor to infuse.

Gather the ingredients for homemade limoncello

You'll only need four ingredients to make homemade limoncello, including a bottle of vodka, four whole lemons, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 cup of water. "Don't go for the cheapest vodka," says Marshall. "Choose something decent. Your limoncello will only be as good as the base ingredient, the vodka."

Peel the lemons

To get started on making limoncello, first prep the lemons. Use a small, sharp knife to peel the lemons into small strips. "Be sure you're leaving the white pith on the lemon," says Marshall. "The pith can create too much bitterness in the drink."

Drop the lemon peels into a bottle

Once the lemons are peeled, grab a bottle or jar that's big enough to hold all of the liquid. Drop the prepared lemon peels into the bottle. 

Pour in the vodka

With the bottle filled with lemon peels, it's time to pour in the vodka. Dump the entire bottle of vodka in with the lemon peels. 

Make the simple syrup

Marshall says that you could choose to just use the vodka and lemon peels, but it's best if a bit of sweetness is added. "A simple syrup really kicks up the flavors a notch," he says.

Add the water and sugar to a sauce pan and stir. Bring it to a simmer for 5 minutes, then allow it to cool. Pour the simple syrup into the bottle with the vodka and lemon peels. 

Be patient and let the limoncello infuse

The key to making limoncello is to be patient. Once all of the ingredients have been added, seal the bottle and let it sit for a week. "Store the bottle in a cool, dry place," says Marshall. "Leave it for at least one week, or choose to go longer to allow the flavor to continue developing even further." Serve the limoncello in small glasses for sipping, or mix it into a cocktail. 

Homemade Limoncello Recipe
5 from 33 ratings
Light, crisp, and refreshing, you'll want to sip this limoncello all the way through spring and well into summer!
Prep Time
Cook Time
homemade limoncello in glass
Total time: 15 minutes
  • 4 whole lemons
  • 1 (750 milliliters) bottle vodka
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  1. Use a sharp knife to peel the lemons, without peeling the white pith. Drop all of the lemon peel slices into a glass vessel such as a bottle or jar.
  2. Pour the bottle of vodka into the container with the peels.
  3. In a saucepan, add in the sugar and water. Whisk to combine, and then bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Allow the sugar mixture to cool before pouring it into the vessel with vodka and lemon peels.
  5. Seal the limoncello bottle and let it sit for 1 week to develop flavor. Serve after 1 week, or let it sit longer to allow the flavor to develop further.
Calories per Serving 247
Total Fat 0.1 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Trans Fat 0.0
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 22.2 g
Dietary Fiber 0.6 g
Total Sugars 20.5 g
Sodium 2.3 mg
Protein 0.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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