Homemade Limoncello Liqueur is a delightful Italian after-dinner drink that is a breeze to make.

Whip up a batch of this Limoncello Recipe for gifts! With only three ingredients and some patience, this lemon liqueur will be ready to pour!!

Homemade Limoncello in 2 glass jars with fresh lemons.

Why You Must Make

  • It only takes THREE ingredients! Plus, a little patience as the flavors in the lemon peel infuse into the alcohol.
  • It makes a wonderful holiday or hostess gift!
  • It’s the perfect after-dinner digestif or apéritif when serving Italian food (or any cuisine!).

My first sip of limoncello was during a gourmet dinner at the home of the principal of my boys’ parochial school. We were escorted by limo and wined and dined through the night.

When I thought the meal was over, a citrusy drink was poured into cordial glasses at each place setting. Thank goodness I had a full stomach as I sipped on the delicious, yet potent digestif.

Ingredient Notes

  • Lemons – Standard, organic lemons work best. Scrub to remove any waxy coating and pesticides. Meyer lemons can be used, but you’ll need more since they are smaller and the lemon taste may not be as intense as they are sweeter.
  • Vodka – Use a smooth vodka. Everclear can also be used. It will extract the flavor from the peel.
  • Sugar – White granulated sugar
  • Boiling Water – Used to dissolve the sugar to make the simple syrup.
Limoncello recipe in a large canning jar plus two smaller gars and half a fresh lemon.

An Easy Homemade Holiday Gift

Limoncello is a classic Italian after-dinner drink. Made from lemon zest steeped in vodka, it’s very simple to put together. The latest batch I made was a holiday gift for the gals in my fabulous book club.

When sipping this lovely lemon liqueur after an Italian dinner out with some friends this summer, I promised to show them how to brew this elegant digestif. We all gathered with our lemons and vodka and started peeling. Taking the peels off of 8 lemons was definitely the hardest part of this recipe!

Labeled jars of homemade limoncello next to a lemon and half a lemon

How to Make

  1. First, collect your supplies. 8 organic lemons are needed. Or use standard lemons and wash well. PRO-Tip: Organic citrus minimizes the chance of any chemicals like pesticides on the peel.
  2. PRO-Tip: When you peel your lemons, try not to get any of the white pith. It can make your limoncello bitter. Valerie Bertinelli’s recipe does not call for peel, but the zest. I haven’t tested this, but with zesting, it’s easier to avoid the pith.
  3. Purchase your vodka. Don’t buy cheap stuff. PRO-Tip: Your vodka doesn’t need to be top-of-the-line,  but a better quality will make a smoother limoncello liqueur. Everclear is another high proof alcohol that can be used.
  4. Allow at least 3 days to make this recipe. The mixture must steep for a few days for the lemon flavor to infuse. Waiting a week will infuse the most flavor.
  5. After the lemon peel has steeped in the vodka, it’s time to add some sweetness.
  6. Homemade simple syrup is added. Simple syrup is a basic recipe where sugar is cooked with an equal amount of water until it’s dissolved. It must be cooled completely before adding to the alcohol mixture.
  7. Finally, the limoncello must be refrigerated overnight, then strained, and placed in a clean container or containers to store.
  8. For longevity, store in the freezer for up to a year.

I sent my girlfriends home with their jars of peel and vodka to steep. It’s an easy process will make limoncello a perfect hostess or holiday gift. It can be made ahead of the holidays and stashed away till needed! I hope you’ll treat yourself to a batch of the best limoncello!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Limoncello Taste Like?

It is both sweet and tart with an intense lemon flavor.

What Type of Alcohol is in Limoncello?

Use Everclear (or another rectified spirit) or Vodka to make limoncello. The higher the proof, the better the lemon flavor is extracted from the peel. A rectified spirit is a highly concentrated purified ethanol.

What is the Alcohol Content of Limoncello?

Limoncello typically contains 25-30% alcohol.

What Types of Lemons Are Used to Make Limoncello?

Italians use Amalfi lemons which are grown along the west coast of Italy. Standard lemons, available in the U.S., work well, too. Buy organic if possible or else wash thoroughly to remove any pesticides.

How Do You Serve Limoncello?

It’s most delicious when served icy cold right from the freezer. Use a small glass, stemmed preferred, for sipping. Using a stemmed glass prevents the heat of your hands from warming the liqueur. It’s typically served straight up, without ice.
There are also a few delicious limoncello cocktails including the Lemon Drop or Lemon Martini (serve with a sugar rim!), Limoncello with Prosecco, or Limoncello with Gin and Club Soda.

Does Limoncello Go Bad?

Limoncello should be used within 7 days unless it’s refrigerated. If kept chilled, it’s good for a month. If frozen, limoncello will stay fresh for up to a year. And with the high alcohol content, limoncello will not freeze solid.

Why is My Limoncello Cloudy?

It’s not unusual for limoncello to become cloudy after the simple syrup is added. It’s due to a chemical reaction called the Ouzo Effect or spontaneous emulsification. A milky emulsification is formed when water (the simple syrup) is added to a certain type of solvent like ethanol (alcohol).

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2 jars of homemade limoncello next to a whole and half lemon

Homemade Limoncello Liqueur

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Yield 22

How to make an Italian liqueur at home!


  • 8 lemons, organic is prefered
  • 750 ml vodka
  • 2 ¼ cups sugar
  • 2 ¼ cups boiling water


  1. Peel strips of zest from each lemon taking care to remove only the yellow portion.
  2. Combine zest and vodka in an airtight container. Let stand at room temperature for 2-7 days.
  3. Add sugar to boiling water and stir till sugar dissolves. Cool completely. Stir into vodka mixture. Refrigerate in an airtight container overnight.
  4. Pour liquid through a sieve and into airtight bottles. Discard zest.
  5. Can be kept in the freezer for up to a year.


If you don't use organic lemons, make sure to scrub the lemons to make sure all traces of pesticides are removed.

Total time doesn't account for resting or refrigerating times. Adapted from Martha Stewart.

Calories are for the whole bottle, not for individual servings.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 162Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 1gSugar: 21gProtein: 0g

Thatskinnychickcanbake.com occasionally offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site. This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although thatskinnychickcanbake.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe. Also, many recipes on thatskinnychickcanbake.com recommend toppings, which may or may not be listed as optional and nutritional information for these added toppings is not listed. Other factors may change the nutritional information such as when the salt amount is listed “to taste,” it is not calculated into the recipe as the amount will vary. Also, different online calculators can provide different results. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information obtained is accurate.


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