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.
Why you have to try this recipe
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 so many other lemon recipes 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.
Some limoncello is super sweet, but I don’t like it that sweet. 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.
See my Homemade Limoncello Web Story for a quick visual guide to making this recipe.
Ingredients you need
- Lemons: You can make this with oranges, too. Check out my recipe for orangecello.
- Everclear alcohol or vodka: Now everclear is hard to find, so if it is not available where you live, just use vodka instead.
- Granulated sugar: Sugar is used to make a simple syrup that is added to the limoncello.
1. Wash and clean lemons with hot water, scrubbing to remove any residue or wax. 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.
2. 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.
3. Strain the peels from the alcohol and discard the peels.
4. In a large saucepan over medium heat stir together sugar and water. Cook for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and cool.
5. Stir sugar mixture to the alcohol. Store in the freezer until ready to serve.
Recipe tips and FAQs
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Read my full disclosure policy
I love giving homemade liqueurs to 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 and you can find them at craft stores, Target, World Market, Marshall’s, Ross and Home Goods.
You can also find bottles on Amazon or simply use mason jars. If you like the labels I made, you can find 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.
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!
If you are enjoying my recipes, I would love for you to sign up for my newsletter (and get my free citrus e-cookbook!) or follow me on Instagram or Facebook.
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.
- 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.
Serving Size:1 fluid ounce (1 shot)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 58Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 1gSugar: 7gProtein: 0g
PS If you try this recipe, why not leave a star rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page? I always appreciate your feedback.
You can also follow me on Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram. Sign up for my eMail list, too!
Can you slice and dry the lemons after you use the peel for Limoncello?
Yes you can. I usually juice the lemons and keep a bottle of fresh lemon juice in my refrigerator.
I sliced and dried the lemons and then tied one on each bottle with twine. It looks so cute!
(170 degree oven for 5 hours set on a rack over a baking sheet,)
I just bottled 5 litres of this recipe after an impatient 40 day wait! I used meyer lemons and a 51% proof spirit a friend made. I’m really happy with it! I plan to use a little of it in a limoncello tiramisu, then drink the rest!
That’s awesome! That limoncello tiramisu sounds incredible! Happy holidays!
Wish lemon trees would grow in my Minnesota backyard!
Looks delicious and refreshing too! Perfect for get together!
Laura I have decided to make this as Valentine Gifts for a few close friends. I’ve seen your overloaded gorgeous lemon tree in the front of your house. My question is : is it better to use Meyer Lemons due to their natural sweetness or regular lemons for their tartness?
Thanks my friend!
Hi Lori! You are too funny! Remember, you are only using the peel for the vodka infusion. Meyer lemon peel is thinner than regular lemon peels, but should still infuse great flavor. I used regular lemons for this recipes, but I have seen limoncello recipes that use Meyer lemons. I know the fruits have different sweetness and sourness levels, but I don’t think the zest varies that much in flavor. Whether you use regular lemons or Meyer lemons, I still recommend slowly adding the sugar syrup to get the final product you like. Good luck!
Oh my gosh! I have always wanted to make this and now I know how!! Recipe is printing as we speak and now I have a delicious weekend project! Thank you Laura!!!
Yay! I’ve made two massive batches so far this year, because our lemon tree is so full! Hope you enjoy it!