Homemade Limoncello is super easy to make. You can bottle it up to enjoy for yourself, or use small bottles and give as gifts. I include a free printable limoncello labels for you to use. You can even use oranges to make homemade orangecello!
One of the many perks of living in Southern California is definitely the mild weather. We don’t have harsh winters (sorry) and all that warm sunshine means we can grow lots of great produce. And for my family, it’s the blessed lemon tree right in front of our house that brings us much joy.
This lovely lemon tree always confuses my father-in-law because it is frequently covered in lemons, blooms and buds at the same time all year long. This endless, or nearly endless, supply of lemons is welcomed in my family of lemon lovers.
We typically use the juice of all our lemons and add it to our soups, salads, marinades and stews. We make lemonade, lemon bars, lemon cake and anything else lemony we can think of or desire. But it’s the precious zest, the yellow part of the peel, that is often overlooked and under appreciated.
Lemon zest contains tremendous lemon flavor and aroma thanks to the oil in this part of the skin. And if you need a recipe that will use this precious lemon zest, in mass abundance, then this recipe for homemade limoncello is for you.
Limoncello is an Italian liqueur that is very easy to make. It is basically a lemon infused alcoholic beverage. You remove the zest of the lemons, in big chunks, I use a vegetable peeler, and immerse these peels in a bottle of everclear alcohol.
Now everclear is hard to find, especially here in over-regulated California, so we just use vodka. You let the everclear/vodka infuse with the lemon peels for at least 4 days or up to 30 days in a cool dark place. I typically infuse for 10-14 days and keep the bottle in a cabinet.
When ready, you pour the mixture through a strainer to separate the lemon peel from the alcohol. The longer the peels infuse with the alcohol, the more lemon flavor your liqueur will have. But be careful! It can turn bitter if infused too long.
If you want a lemon infused vodka, you can stop the process right here. But to make homemade limoncello, you need to add a sugar syrup to it. How sweet you want your limoncello is up to you, but typically limoncello is a sweet drink.
I don’t like it candy-sweet, so I use 3 cups of water with 2 cups of granulated sugar for 1-liter of infused alcohol. Feel free to adjust the sweetness to your personal taste. Just make your simple syrup, let it cool and add it to the lemon-infused alcohol.
How to serve limoncello
Traditionally, limoncello is served very cold so you can store it in your freezer or refrigerator. You also don’t drink limoncello by glassful. You will get sick and plastered in no time because of the high alcohol content of this stuff!
Limoncello is served in small shot-glass sized ceramic glasses and served after dinner. Those with higher tolerances can certainly enjoy more!
Limoncello bottles and FREE printable limoncello labels
My husband and I love giving homemade liqueurs to our friends (they don’t seem to mind) so you can easily bottle them up in small jars or bottles. I collect glass bottles in all shapes and sizes.
I find possible limoncello bottles at Target, World Market, Marshall’s, Ross and Home Goods. You can also find a variety of bottles online. Here are some of my favorite options for limoncello bottles:
If you like the labels I made, you can the free printable limoncello labels here. I print them on white card stock and cut them out by hand. Tie a little colorful baker’s twine and voila! Homemade limoncello gifts.
- 15 lemons
- 1 L everclear alcohol or vodka
- 2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 cup water
- Wash and clean lemons with hot water.
- Using a vegetable brush scrub lemons to remove residue and wax
- Pat lemons dry.
- Using a potato peeler or zester, take all or the lemon rinds off the lemons so there is no white pith on the rind. Only remove the yellow, otherwise limoncello will be bitter.
- Place lemon rinds in a large container and pour over it with everclear or vodka.
- Cover the container and let it sit for at least 10 days and up to 40 in a cool dark place. No need to stir during that time.
- Strain the peels from the alcohol and discard the peels.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat stir together sugar and water.
- Cook for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and cool.
- Add sugar mixture to the alcohol.
- Store in the freezer until ready to serve.
Serving Suggestions: Limoncello is traditionally served cold, in small ceramic shot glasses. It is served in small quantities as an after-dinner drink due to it's high alcohol content.
Cooking Tips: * 100-proof vodka can be used instead of Everclear. It can also be made with oranges instead of lemons, or with a combination of the two.
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Serving Size:1 fluid ounce (1 shot)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 58 Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 1mg Carbohydrates: 8g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 7g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 0g