Homemade Limoncello is a classic and popular Italian liqueur. Made with just 4 ingredients and making your own is so much more rewarding than buying.
It’s not just for drinking, you can use it in recipes too. Delicious in baked goods and marinades.
The first time I had Limoncello was quite a few years ago in Bologna Italy. Our trip to the capital city of the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy and also Lake Como.
As famous as the region is for their car makers, they are just as well known for some of the best Italian culinary offerings of the region like prosciutto de Parma, Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar of Modena. Just based on this you can imagine what kind of trip we had.
We met with local friends for dinner and we were greeted by the most jubilant Italian gentleman who made us feel very welcome. He seated us in his restaurant that hosted about 8 tables, we were in for the night because this restaurant does not turn the tables so the same people stayed all evening.
When the food courses started to be served, our friends advised us to just have tastes of everything because there’s a lot of food in our future, in addition to the fresh Parmesan cheese in between courses.
After all the courses had been served and our stomaches were bursting at the seams, came this yellow drink in a bottle along with shot glasses, served on ice. I was told it was Limoncello. One sip and I was hooked. Let’s just say, the walk back to the hotel was a little blurred.
So since this amazing trip, I’ve been meaning to make my own homemade Limoncello. This is not only a delicious after dinner drink, I use it in recipes like lemon pound cake (recipe coming soon) cookies and tarts as well as delicious mixed in cocktails.
Limoncello is traditionally made with Everclear which is 95% proof grain alcohol and is available in many liquor store. If you can’t find Everclear, you can use unflavored vodka.
Fresh lemons (preferable organic since you are using the rind) are peeled making sure only the zest is peeled and no white part, added to a large glass container with an opening large enough to remove the peelings when done, then Everclear is added and allowed to sit covered for 7 days.
Don’t waste the lemons. Juice them and make one of these delicious recipes:
- Ginger Mint Lemonade
- Quick and Easy Chicken Piccata
- Lemon Panna Cotta with Raspberry Sauce
- Mediterranean Lemon Pesto Salmon
After 1 week, the peels are strained out and a simple syrup of sugar and water is mixed in. This is when it develops its gorgeous lemon color. After the final storage overnight, I like to keep it in the refrigerator because Limoncello is best served cold.
Does homemade Limoncello have to be refrigerated?
No, it does not. I like to drink it cold, so I refrigerate it 1 hour before drinking. It will last a long time at room temperature.
- 750ml 95% 151 bottle Everclear grain alcohol (or unflavored vodka)
- 7 organic lemons * see note
- 2 cups (450 ml) filtered water
- 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
- Wash the lemons in warm water and scrub to remove any wax.
- Use a vegetable peeler to peel the lemons (see note). Yellow flesh only no white part. Add the lemon peel to a large container, pour in the alcohol, cover with plastic wrap. Leave for 7 days at room temperature.
- Add the sugar and water to a pan over medium high heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
- Strain the peel from the alcohol, discard the peels. Add the cooled sugar syrup to the alcohol. Transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate.
* I like to use organic when I'm using the peel of any fruit or vegetable
* Squeeze the lemons and reserve the juice for lemonade or cooking.
Recipe yields about 6 cups/1.5 liters
Serving Size3 ounces
Amount Per Serving Calories 136Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 3mgCarbohydrates 35gFiber 1gSugar 32gProtein 1g