Easy Limoncello Recipe

Make your own version of this sweet, sunshine-colored, lemon zest liqueur at home.

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Liam Boylan

Limoncello is a sweet, sunshine-colored liqueur made with lemon zest. Created in Italy as an after-dinner drink, it's light and delicate with just the right amount of alcohol intensity. Mix together different fruits and add a little lavender or rose petals for added complexity. If you can't wait two weeks, it will still taste great after only a week of steeping time. Leave it for up to three months, if you're patient.

Recipe Facts

4.7

(3)

Active: 20 mins
Total: 0 mins
Serves: 18 servings
Makes: 750 ml

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Ingredients

  • 10 pesticide-free lemons

  • 375ml high-proof neutral grain spirit (such as Everclear 151)

  • 1 3/4 cups water

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar

Directions

  1. Zest the lemons using a Microplane zester. Reserve the lemons for another use.

  2. Place the zest in a sealable glass container, pour in the spirit, seal and shake. Let mixture steep in a cool, dark place for two weeks.

  3. Once your steeping period is over, bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small sauce pan. Remove from heat and let this simple syrup cool.

  4. Pour cooled simple syrup into lemon steeping mixture, and let this new mixture set for 24 hours.

  5. Filter your limoncello twice: Place a coffee filter inside a funnel, then pour your steeped mixture through it into a bottle or bowl. Repeat.

  6. Once you've filtered limoncello into your final bottle, refrigerate it overnight. Store in the refrigerator or freezer and enjoy!

Special equipment

Microplane zester, funnel, coffee filters

Notes

While you can use any type of lemon you like, Meyer lemons will make a slightly darker (though more fragrant) limoncello. Smooth, thick skins are the best for zesting. Any white pith can turn your liqueur bitter, so the zest is the only part of the lemon skin used in this recipe. A microplane zester is the easiest tool for the job.

You can substitute 100- or 80-proof vodka for the high-proof neutral grain spirit. Using a spirit that is more than 151 proof will make for a harsh end result. Vodka will impart a little flavor of its own to the limoncello, so I've read that many people use a water filter pitcher (like Brita or Pur) to "purify" the vodka first. (The vodka "flavor" doesn't bother me, so I've never tried this myself.)

Two weeks is the recommended steeping time, but as little as one week will work. Longer steeping times lead to a more mellow flavor, so feel free to let it steep for up to three months.

Filtering isn't just for appearance. Small particles can change the limoncello's flavor over time and may freeze if you choose to store your liqueur in the freezer.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
146 Calories
0g Fat
14g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 18
Amount per serving
Calories 146
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 4mg 22%
Calcium 5mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 6mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)