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Traditional Italian limoncello recipe

Traditional Italian limoncello recipe

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  • Drink
  • Cocktails

Traditional Italian limoncello is typical of the Amalfi coast, a beautiful area around Naples. It's traditionally made with Sorrento lemons, which are large and flavorful and a really unique Italian product.

5 people made this

IngredientsMakes: 3 one-litre bottles

  • 10 large lemons
  • 1L 95% alcohol (190 proof)
  • 800g caster sugar
  • 1.5L water

MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:10min ›Extra time:7days resting › Ready in:7days25min

  1. Peel the lemons, making sure to get the outermost part of the skin and carefully avoiding the pith.
  2. Place the lemon zest in a glass bowl and submerge in the alcohol. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 7 days. The alcohol will turn a yellowish colour.
  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the sugar and water to the boil and stir just till the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let the syrup cool.
  4. Drain the alcohol and discard the lemon zest. Mix it to the syrup and stir well.
  5. Pour the limoncello into thick, freezer-safe glass bottles. Store in the freezer for at least 2 weeks before serving.


As said, ideally you would use Sorrento PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) lemons. If you can't find them, make sure to select large, ripe, flavorful lemons, and all the better if unwaxed and organic.


190 proof alcohol is sometimes available online or found in speciality shops, such as Polish or Eastern European shops. Note that this highly concentrated alcohol can be dangerous if consumed on its own, but here it is being diluted substantially and served in small portions.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(2)

Reviews in English (1)

by Shawna Lynn Smith-Burke

I followed the recipe exactly. I used a gifted vodka that was very inexpensive. I filtered the vodka through my water pitcher filter 8x. The result was a lovely smooth sweet aperitif~-14 Oct 2018

Traditional Italian Limoncello recipe

The best Italian liquor out there. Here's how to do it.

You already know how good this stuff is, so let's focus on the recipe.

I'll just tell you the basic quantities, starting with 100g alcohol. Multiply them as you wish!

  • 100ml ethyl alcohol (if you can't find it, use the most alcoholic vodka you can find)
  • 40g lemon zest
  • 50-60g sugar
  • 120ml water (less if you want it to be stronger, more if you want it to be weaker)
  1. Zest your lemons. Watch out, don't zest the white part of the lemons (it sucks) – only the yellow part.
  2. Put the zest in a bottle and pour the alcohol inside.
  3. Put the bottle in a dark place, at room temperature, for 24 hours.
  1. Remove all of the zest from the alcohol. You will notice that the colour has changed from yellow to almost white.
  2. Put the sugar in the bottle. Do NOT stir.
  3. Pour the water into the bottle.
  4. Put the Limoncello into the fridge. It will be ready to drink in a couple of days – but the longer you leave it, the better.

If the Limoncello is too strong

Have you tried this recipe? Share your photos & thoughts in the comments below

[Family recipes] My mother&rsquos traditional limoncello recipe

After some rainy and cold days in late Spring, it is finally time to go out and enjoy the sunshine. The moment has come for endless days at the beach, outdoor concerts, day trips to the mountains, bike rides, feet in the grass, and long nights spent chatting with friends.

Simply put, I have been waiting all year for summer to arrive.

I love the changing of seasons, I don&rsquot know if I&rsquoll be able to live in a place where it&rsquos summer all year round, but &ndash let&rsquos be honest &ndash there&rsquos no better season than summer. Everything&rsquos nicer in summer, people seem happier, everything is wide awake, there&rsquos magic in the air.

One of the things I like the most, in summer, is having friends over for dinner. I am not a great cook, but I love cooking for friends. I usually prepare everything in advance and have some kind of picnic/aperitivo/dinner ready for them in my garden. This gives me the opportunity of spending time with them without being buried in the kitchen and missing a single chat.

Well, what is the perfect ending of a summer dinner? Limoncello, of course.

Limoncello, the perfectly tasting liquor made with lemons, is a recipe that comes from the South of Italy &ndash from Naples and its surroundings, in particular. When I was little, nobody in my family knew limoncello and I never saw anybody drinking it. We didn&rsquot have relatives in the South and had never been there, so probably we never got the chance to taste it. Then, all of a sudden, limoncello was everywhere. I don&rsquot remember exactly how that happened, but everybody was drinking it &ndash here up North.

My mother started looking for a recipe and, after trying a few different ones, she came up with the perfect limoncello recipe &ndash which has now become a staple in my family cookbook. I really like it because it has a perfect balance between the taste of alcohol and that of lemon, it is strong but just as much as needed and has a lovely lemony flavor. Moreover, making it is very easy &ndash it just takes a little time and patience.


As for every typical recipe in Italian cuisine, each family has its own version and claims that it is the best one. The one below is the one my mother has always used and I love it because it is not too strong and is a perfect mixture of alcohol and lemons. I am sure you&rsquoll find a thousand different recipes around, but I&rsquod never try another one. This one is the one for me.

1 kilo (2.2 lbs) organic lemons
1 liter (4.2 cups) alcohol
600 gr. (2.6 cups) sugar
1 liter (4.2 cups) of water

Carefully wash the lemons, dry them, and peel the zest from them. While doing this, make sure not to remove the bitter white pit of the lemon skin. Put the lemon zest into a large glass jar and cover it with the alcohol. Close the jar, let the zest macerate for a week, and then filter it.

Boil the water with the sugar for 4/5 minutes and let it cool down. Once cool, add the filtered alcohol, mix well, and bottle it. Wait at least 20 days to drink it. Serve it chilled.

FYI: Limoncello should be drunk in proper glasses &ndash which should be previously chilled.

Limoncello, nonna’s lemon liqueur

Limoncello is a very popular Italian liqueur made from the peel of lemons from Campania, in southern Italy. It is traditionally made with lemons typical of the Amalfi Coast: Sfusato Amalfitano or Ovale di Sorrento.

The history of the limoncello is full of legends and different anecdotes

His invention is in fact disputed by the cities of Sorrento, Amalfi and Capri.

The first to register the “Limoncello” brand in 1988 was the entrepreneur Massimo Canale, and in Capri, many say that its birth is linked to the history of this family. It seems that this liqueur was born at the beginning of the ‘900 as an homemade preparation of his grandmother.

The limoncello has gained great popularity since the 1980s, becoming an object of large-scale industrial production. So much so that it has become a real favourite to prepare in the Italian summer and to drink during Christmas and the New Year.

How is limoncello drunk?

It is usually taken as a digestive after meals, but also in desserts or fruit salads.

Recipe of limoncello

The preparation of limoncello is simple but requires patience. With simple steps in two months, you can enjoy this perfumed yellow liquor.

Ingredients for 1.25 L of Limoncello

  • 5 organic lemons
  • 500mL of alcohol at 95° degrees (ethyl alcohol, drinking alcohol or simply alcohol)
  • 600 g of sugar
  • 750 ml of water
  • Hermetic container: it can be a plastic bottle or a glass jar with more than 1.25 L capacity


Day 1

  1. Wash the lemons in tap water, and rub the peel with a sponge to remove impurities ( we will use the peel), and then dry them with a cloth.
  2. Peel the lemons with a potato peeler, remove only the yellow peel and not the white part which is more bitter.
  3. Pour the alcohol and the lemon peels into the airtight container. Close the bottle and let the peels soak in the alcohol for 30 days in a dark place away from heat sources.

Day 30

  1. Today we prepare the syrup. Pour the water and sugar into a pan, and once the sugar is dissolved and reaches boiling point, turn off the fire.
  2. Wait until it cools down completely and add the syrup in the container of the lemon peel. Shake the jar to stir the syrup, then let it rest for 40 days, always in the dark, away from heat sources.

Day 70

  1. Take the container with the liquor and shake it.
  2. Pass the liquid through a sieve.
  3. Collect the liquor inside a transparent glass bottle or jar.

The limoncello is ready!


Personally, I prefer to keep the limoncello in the freezer. The amount of sugar and alcohol prevents it from freezing and every time you are going to consume it, it is frozen and delicious.

To make the taste of limoncello more particular, you can add the peels of other citrus fruits such as tangerine or orange.


1. Process the Lemons

Wash the lemons well before beginning. If using store-bought lemons, scrub them under hot water to remove any traces of the waxes or oils that commercially grown fruit is often treated with.

Zest or pare the peel of the lemons, taking care to leave behind the white pith.

2. Mix Zest and Spirits

Put the zest in the jar and pour the spirits over it.

3. Variation: Adding Lemon Juice

Although it is not traditional, you have the option at this time of adding the juice of the lemons to the mixture, as well. This will make the finished beverage more cloudy, while at the same time adding a sour note to the sweet, boozy lemon liqueur. The more juice you add, the more sour the finished liquid will become. We couldn’t decide which method we liked better—so we did both!

4. Infuse for 2-4 Weeks

Seal the jar, and set it aside to infuse for 2-4 weeks.

5. Make Simple Syrup

After the initial infusing time, make a simple syrup ( In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of white sugar with 1 cup of water. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves.)

6. Add the Simple Syrup

If you want a clear limoncello, wait until the syrup has cooled completely before adding the sugar mixture to the vodka-lemon infusion. If, however, you have added the lemon juice, or if the clarity of the finished beverage is not of great import to you, then you may add the sugar syrup when it is still warm.

7. Strain and Measure Volume

Strain the limoncello through a butter muslin or paper coffee filter, into a large, clean jar or measuring cup, to gauge the volume. You should have about 24 oz of liquid, about a pint and a half, or a little more, depending on how much lemon juice you may have added. If you need to, you may add a little bit of vodka or lemon juice to the jar at this time, to make the portion sizes work for the jars you are using.

8. Bottle, Mature and Enjoy

Funnel the finished limoncello into airtight jars, and seal them well. Allow the finished limoncello to rest for a week, or longer, if you can stand it up to 4 weeks is ideal. After this time, the liqueur may be stored at room temp in a dark place, though it is traditional for it to be served frosted from the freezer. Keeps indefinitely.


Limoncello is a very popular Italian after-dinner spirit made with lemon peels.

The first official recipe of Limoncello originates in the early years of the XX Century. Maria Antonia Canale, the owner of the boarding house “Mariantonia” in Capri, use to serve Limoncello prepared following her grandmother recipe.

Her son, Massimo Canale, had registered the Limoncello trademark in 1988.

Homemade Limoncello Recipe

This low calorie sugar free recipe for limoncello drink comes with everything you need to make the homemade lemon alcohol.

From a shopping list to a sharable recipe card, this article will supply you everything you’ll need to know about making this Italian lemon drink at home.

Here’s what you’ll find in this article for the best limoncello recipes…

What You’ll Find in this Article:

  • Limoncello Ingredients (shopping list!)
  • How to Make Limoncello
  • Homemade Limoncello Recipe (recipe card!)
  • Nutrition and Calories in Limoncello

In the next section you will find limoncello ingredients in a shopping list form. You can screenshot it to your phone so you have it handy the next time you go to the store.

And further down you will find a sharable recipe card. You can email it to yourself so you have it available anytime you want to make this limoncello lemon liqueur.

Up next, a shopping list for this sugar free limoncello vodka recipe…

Crema di Limoncello

Crema di Limoncello is is a thick and creamy liqueur made from lemons perfect refreshment during summer and ideal ingredient for sweet preparations.

Author Ventura Limoncello


  • 500 ml 95° alcohol
  • 7 lemons untreated
  • 1 kg sugar granulated
  • 600 ml cream fresh liquid
  • 400 ml milk whole
  • 3 bags vanillin


First of all, carefully wash the biological lemons (not chemically treated) using a brush to remove the impurities.

Remove the peel from the lemons with a vegetable peel, taking care not to remove also the white part (albedo).

Pour 95 ° pure alcohol into an airtight container and add the lemon peel cut into pieces. Leave the lemon peels to macerate for at least 3 weeks, shaking the container often to facilitate the extraction of the active ingredients.

After 3 weeks, you can proceed with the preparation of the milk cream. In a saucepan, gently heat the milk with the cream and vanillin (alternatively, you can also use a pod of vanilla opened lengthwise).

Allow to cool, then remove the superficial skin. Add the sugar and mix until completely melted. Allow the cream to cool.

Filter the alcohol from the lemon peel and add the very cold milk cream.

Store the limoncello cream in the freezer.

Leave to rest for at least 2 weeks before consumption. Serve it with the best limoncello glasses.

Obviously, it is a fairly caloric recipe. Furthermore, since it contains alcohol, limoncello cream should be taken with caution. It’s irresistibly sweet, therefore, has to be taken in moderation.

Traditional Italian limoncello recipe - Recipes

The minute we got back from the Amalfi Coast, Brian wanted to make homemade limoncello. When you go out to dinner in any of the towns in that area, they serve you little shots of icy cold limoncello after dinner - you know Italians and their wonderful digestifs obsession. You get used to it pretty easily. It's a nice custom. So we started researching recipes when we got back.

There are a lot of recipes out there for making homemade limoncello, but basically all you do is take the zest of lemons and steep them in vodka or grain alcohol for a certain amount of time and then strain the liquid. You then add simple syrup (sugar water) to the alcohol and then let that sit for a few days. That's really all there is to it. The big differences really come from the quality of lemons that you have and how much sugar you add to your concoction. The amount of sugar is really up to you and how sweet you like this - a good reason to experiment with a couple of batches!

We settled on a recipe from a very authentic source - Mamma Agata. Mamma Agata lives in the beautiful town of Ravello on the Amalfi Coast. Her family has lived there for generations. She has cooked all her life and now runs a cooking school out of her home there, which is quite well known. She has cooked for a number of celebrities and has a lot of interesting stories. She was kind enough to send me a copy of her wonderful cookbook. This is her recipe for limoncello and we found it to be really delicious - not overly sweet but just right.

On the Amalfi coast, the lemons are, of course, incredible - you won't be able to replicate that over here. But you can certainly make very good limoncello. Buy organic lemons if you can, since the peel is what you will be using.

Once you have homemade limoncello, you can make these absolutely delicious Lemon Capri Cocktails. They are great to serve to guests after dinner:

What to do with all the lemons after you are done zesting them for the limoncello? I made a big batch of lemon sorbet and a batch of homemade lemonade.

Homemade Limoncello
(lemon liqueur)
from Mamma Agata's cookbook

you will need a large glass jar


  • zest of 6 or 7 large organic lemons
  • 1 litre or quart of pure grain alcohol or vodka
  • 5 cups (1250 ml) water
  • 3 cups (700 gr) sugar


Peel the zest from the lemons with a vegtable peeler and place them into a large glass jar. Try to avoid the bitter white pith of the lemon skin, under the yellow zest.

Add the alcohol to the jar with the lemon zest.

Cover the glass jar with plastic wrap and store it in a cool place for 7 days.

1. Place lemon peels in large glass jar. 2. Pour alcohol over lemon peels
3. After seven days, strain the alcohol from the peels 4. Add simple syrup and pour into bottles

On the sixth day: Boil the water and add the sugar to the boiling water. Stir the sugar until it is fully dissolved in the water. Set the sugar syrup aside to let it cool over night.

On the seventh day: Strain the lemons peels from the alcohol and discard the peels.

Pour the sugar syrup into the glass jar with the alcohol and stir well.

Serve chilled, from the refrigerator or freezer.

NOTE: The limoncello will keep for one to two years. Store it in bottles with a cap or cork in your bar or cellar. When you want to drink it, chill the limoncello in the refrigerator or freezer before serving.