Lemon Week: How to make Limoncello!

Long time readers will be saying “Finally!”… I’ve been promising this tutorial for months. So here it is, and I hope you enjoy it. – Dot

Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur, tasty to sip by itself, use in cocktails, or whatever you would like to do with a cold tasty lemony alcoholic treat.  And you can make this with oranges, or any citrus fruit.  The steps are summarized below the slideshow ..  Click the slideshow to start viewing the pictures!

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After much research, I decided on a recipe from the trusty E-Gullet forums.  Go there to read the full recipe, and lots of tips, but here is the summary.  I modified it a bit based on other recipes provided by friends and through the links on the forum.
Making Limoncello
Click to view on Flickr

  1. Lemons – Wash well. Organic or Homegrown lemons are recommended since you’re using the peel…
  2. You’ll also need vodka – 100 proof.
  3. Zest the lemons – A microplane grater is your best friend for this.  If you don’t have one, you should get one!
  4. Our lemons are now nude, and our zest is in a large jar, big enough to hold our fifth of vodka.
  5. Add your vodka, stir.   And now… we wait.  For at least 2 weeks–some recipes say 2 months!  Until your zest looks whitish and the liquid is a lovely yellow.
  6. Now, strain out that zest.  Use cheesecloth, a coffee filter would take forever.
  7. Now you basically have really strong lemon vodka.  Not a bad thing in itself, but it’s not limoncello.  You’ll need to add sugar, so heat up a 1:1 simple syrup, and stir until disolved.
  8. Add the syrup to your vodka mixture.
  9. At this point, (minor CraftFail!) my source recipe said to add another 750ml of 80 proof vodka.  I felt like, at least in my case, this really made it too strong, and I didn’t want to weaken the lemon flavor with too much more water or sugar.  So I’d suggest adding several cups of vodka, then taste.  Then add more sugar syrup, water, or vodka as desired to get a nice sippable liqueur.  Based on advice from another recipe, I let this stage sit a while too.
    Anyway, once it’s to your liking, bottle it up and stick it in the freezer, it’s excellent chilled!


  • One thing to remember is lemons are different sizes, obviously, and the strength of your lemon flavor is going to depend on how much zest you use.  If you think your lemons are small, USE MORE!
  • I did use the zest of one lime, as suggested in the recipe, but it’s not pictured here.

Recipe Resource: KatieLoeb – E-Gullet forums (There is a bunch of information, tips, and recipe ideas at this link, check it out)

Tomorrow:  What to do with the lemon juice!

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