Best Italian Limoncello Recipe

If you have ever been to Italy, you will instantly know about Italian Limoncello.  

Lemons are one of the most important staples in the food of Sorrento, Italy.  They have long been a staple in the region along the Italian Amalfi Coast in Capri and Sorrento.  Because of this, the city’s most famous product is their famous Italian Limoncello.  Families in Italy have passed down recipes for generations, as every Italian family has their own Limoncello recipe.  In fact, this lemon drink is now considered the national drink of Italy and can be found in stores and restaurants all over Italy.

This lemon drink is wonderful as a palate cleanser or as an after-dinner drink.  It is always served well chilled in the summer months.  Store your bottles of Limoncello in the freezer until ready to serve.  The ingredients are simple and few, and making a batch does not require much work, as it needs to steep for (80) eighty days.


Italian Limoncello Recipe - How To Make Limoncello

Check out more delicious Limoncello recipes:

Italian Limoncello Recipe

Fulvia’s Italian Limoncello




Italian Limoncello Recipe - How To Make Perfect Limoncello:
Prep Time
20 mins

This is my (Linda Stradley) personal recipe for Italian Limoncello that my husband and I make every year.

Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Best Limoncello Recipe, How To Make Perfect Limoncello
  • 15 lemons*
  • 2 (750 ml) bottles 100-proof vodka
Simple Syrup:
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 5 cups water (filtered tap water or distilled water)
Step One:
  1. Wash the lemons with a vegetable brush and hot water to remove any reside of pesticides or wax; pat the lemons dry.

  2. Carefully zest the lemons with a zester or vegetable peeler so there is no white pith on the peel.  Use only the outer part of the rind.  The pith, the white part underneath the rind, is too bitter and would spoil your limoncello.  Check out my web page on How to Zest Lemons.

    Lemon Zest
Step Two:
  1. In a large glass jar (1-gallon jar with lid), add vodka.

  2. Add the lemon zest as it is zested.

  3. Cover the jar and let sit at room temperature for at least (10) ten days and up to (40) days in a cool dark place.  The longer the mixture rests, the better the end taste will be.

  4. There is no need to stir - all you have to do is wait.  As the limoncello sits, the vodka slowly take on the flavor and rich yellow color of the lemon zest.

Step Three:
  1. Make a Basic Simple Syrup using the 4 cups sugar and 5 cups water:

  2. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and water; bring to a gentle boil and let boil, approximately 5 to 7 minutes.  Remove from heat and let the syrup cool before adding it to the Limoncello mixture.

  3. Add cooled sugar mixture to the Limoncello mixture (from Step One).  Cover jar and allow to rest for another 10 to 40 days.

Step Four:
  1. After the rest period, strain the Limoncello; discarding the lemon zest.  NOTE: Coffee filters or cheesecloth work great for straining the mixture.  Moisten the filters before beginning the straining process.  Pour strained Limoncello in bottle/bottles (of your choice) and seal tightly.

Storing Limoncello:
  1. Keep your bottle/bottles of Limoncello in the freezer until ready to serve.  Serve ice cold from the freezer.

  2. Ways to serve other than just drinking (drinking is my favorite way):

  3. Refreshing and light, it is wonderful as a palate cleanser or as an after dinner drinks. It is an incomparable digestive, and with tonic water it is a sweet, tasty refreshment.  Itis also great with champagne or mixed with juice as a cocktail.  t even does well simply drizzled on ice cream, fruit salads, or fresh strawberries.

Recipe Notes

* When choosing lemons you want to use organic if possible.  They won't have wax and pesticides on the peel.  Choose thick-skinned lemons because they are easier to zest.  The lemons must be yellow and not tinted with green.

Comments from Readers:

Thank you this recipe.  Just bottled my first batch last night.  It was delicious.  We let the second soak time go 60 days.  This photo shows the result. – Dave Oldaker (9/13/15)

Aged Lemoncello
I just wanted to thank you for posting your Limoncello recipe.  I am a novice wine maker and I have been known to distill certain fruit mixtures to make my own brandy.  The Limoncello turned out so refreshing!   I will be making this recipe to prepare for summer after dinner drinks every year.  Again, Thank You! –  Dennis Jordan (2/3/15)


Just to let you know that your Limoncello recipe is excellent and certainly appreciate the time you took to post this amazing Recipe.  Thank you  Candance Brooks (2/1/15)



Alcohol    Alcoholic Beverages    Italian Recipes    Lemons    Limoncello   

Comments and Reviews

94 Responses to “Best Italian Limoncello Recipe”

  1. Maria Serena de Gouveia

    Am totally hooked on this Limoncello and nothing beats making it yourself, proud to serve up a genuine Italian Limoncello

    • david

      another is use ever clear over the vodka makes it a little bit stronger

    • Audrey hambley

      Does lemon cello need to be refrigetated

      • Linda Stradley

        Per the recipe: Keep your bottle/bottles of Limoncello in the freezer until ready to serve

        • Garry Gillett

          I’m ready to make some now. But I would think that with 100 Proof plus sugar it would be stable and not need to be kept refrigerated. I have made plenty of apple pie shine and it’s ok just kept in a cool dark place.

  2. Michele Russomanno

    I put 150 grain alcohol 90 proof can I use this? Or do I have to go buy vodka?

    • Linda Stradley

      You can use the 150-grain alcohol. Your end result could be very strong and you might need to dilute it. Let me know how you Limoncello turns out.

  3. Ursula S Domingues

    Do you have a recipe for crema lemoncello

    • Linda Stradley

      I am sorry, but I do not have that recipe.

    • Janet

      I have a recipe for creamy limoncello if you still need it. It’s from an Italian lady outside Milan. If you still need it, I’ll dig it out.

      • Madalin Heron

        I would love your recipe for the creamy version of Lemoncello.I sampled it in Sorrento when in Italy in 2011 and have been making the clear one ever since and would love to do a batch of cream Lemoncello as well .
        With thanks

        • Linda Stradley

          I have not tasted or made a creamy version of limoncello. Maybe some of the readers can help you.

        • kathy Pressley Dills

          I would love a recipe for the creamy version of limoncello

      • Tracy

        Please provide the creamy limoncello recipe. Thank you

        • beany dee

          Soooooo, did anyone ever post the crema di Limoncello recipe or no? Can I have it?

      • Karstin

        Janet, I’d love it if you’d post your creamy limoncello recipe!!

      • Rebecca

        I would love the crema limoncello plz.

  4. Deb Behrend

    I have an abundance of key lime juice which has been frozen so as not to waste the key limes. Alas I have no zest. Would you know of a recipe that would use juice instead of zest? Thanks

    • Linda Stradley

      I’m sorry, but you just can not make true Italian Limoncello without the zest of fresh lemons.

  5. Peggy Roloff

    Our lemon tree has a bumper crop of meyer lemons. They are thinner skinned than others we’ve received over the years. I want to make lemoncello however is there a way to cut the sugar or use a substitute?
    Thank you for your helpfulness.

    • Linda Stradley

      You can cut the sugar down, if you desire. I do not think I would use a sugar substitute.

  6. Jackie

    Love this recipe

  7. Christy

    Hi! I want to make this for an event but only have 49 days. Is that sufficient or am I setting myself up for a ‘ not so great’ lemoncello?

  8. Dean Christ

    Why do commercial lemoncellos appear translucent/opaque/cloudy but no fines are floating and mine is transparent?

    • Linda Stradley

      Definitions: Something that is transparent lets all light through without distorting the image. It is as if the transparent object were not even there, visually speaking. Something that is translucent lets some but not all light through. Something that is opaque lets no light through.

      Because the limoncello is strained before bottling, this creates a transparent limoncello.

      • Stephen Knight

        I mistakenly did not allow the simple syrup to cool to room temp. When I added it to the Vodka lemon zest mixture the whole batch turned cloudy and remained this way even after straining. I found no difference in the taste. I have notice that the commercially produced varieties are cloudy. My theory is that this must be part of the pasteurization process causing a cloudy mixture.

  9. Gene Mamath

    I make large quantities of lemoncello. (four bottles of Everclear 150 proof) I use 25 meyer lemons per bottle.
    I use a micro-plane to zest the lemons and let the mixture sit for at least 40 days. I begin the simple syrup mixture at a ratio of 1 cup sugar to 1 1/4 cups water per bottle of Everclear and alter to taste. After another 40 days I strain and bottle the lemoncello. The finished product is worth the wait.

    • cindi

      Are you saying you use 25 lemons per bottle of everclear – so if you use 4 bottles of everclear you are using 100 lemons?

  10. Cindy Blanchette

    A friend highly recommend this recipe. We have hundreds of lemons on our backyard lemon tree. Another friend and I are going to make this for her summer wedding. My question is: after it rests for all of that time does it have to go in the freezer or can I put it in the freezer as we need it. Storage in the freezer is a problem.

    • Linda Stradley

      For drinking you want to store either in the refrigerator or freezer. Because of the amount of liquor in the limoncello, it should not spoil if stored at room temperature.

  11. Koula

    If I’m trying to make 2 litres of limoncello how much water & sugar will I need… Please thanks in advance… Regards koula

  12. Dee

    This sounds so good….but I need a non alcoholic version. Is there any such thing that would be yummy and not be zesty lemonade? Thanks!

  13. Bam

    I have the mixture with the simple sugar steeping now…LimoncelloQuest and a good friend that tracks his batches gave me the inpsiration and “ideal” blend of liquor/lemon/sugar. I sure hope so, the wait is driving me crazy.

    I strained before adding the simple sugar per the other recipe. I figured straining the sugar would be sort of a sticky mess. I hope this wasn’t a horrible mistake. Fingers crossed.

    • Ceecee

      I just bottled my batch and strained it at the end. It was not sticky or a problem to do. I am curious how yours turned out straining it first since mine had the additional 40 days of steeping.

  14. Christian

    I only have 2 smaller glass bottles, can I half the recipe and make 2 batches , one in each jar?

  15. Patricia

    Can I use a plastic container to store?

    • Linda Stradley

      I would not use plastic containers for storing. Please use glass containers. I store my limoncello in small bottles in the freezer. Small bottles also make for great gift giving.

  16. Judy

    Does the finished product need to be kept at room temp or can it be kept in the freezer?

  17. Di Davy

    I have an unopened bottle of Liquore di Limoni which has been stored for about 15 or 20 years at my parents house. Is it safe to use? Can I use it to create desserts (recipes??)
    many thanks Di

    • Linda Stradley

      It should be good! Open it up, smell it, and then take a taste. You be the judge!

  18. Jim Lowther

    When I wintered in Arizona, I had a magnificent lemon tree of unknown parentage that produced more lemons than all my friends could use. We had “grate” parties (actually we used microplanes, but grate sounds better), and gave away naked lemons to neighbors. Gosh I miss that tree! If my lemons weren’t ready when I was, I found that grapefruit zest is almost as good. No, it is as good, just different, but I don’t have a name for it.
    Now I have to settle for Costco bags of lemons. I allow the zest to steep for forty days, and then after adding sugar water, to rest for forty nights. Forty days and forty nights sounds almost biblical.

  19. Viv

    I’ve made this recipe twice. With both batches, bottled with decorative bottles that have a rubber washer on the rim and a metal clasp to secure. Had labels made through a popular “self-printing” company in the UK (which is where I live). Each batch made about 6 bottles of approx. 1/3 litre each. Wonderful gifts and wonderful to keep in freezer for when friends stop by. I’d love to find some frosted glass bottles which I think would add another little decorative element but haven’t found them thus far. My husband and I enjoyed a rainy afternoon in Venice with a bottle of Limoncello and ever since, it’s been a passion…but a nice one. Making another new batch this afternoon & felt compelled to write because it turns out so very well. Perfect time to prepare for misc. Christmas gifts. Cheers, all –

  20. Marlyss Paszkowski

    We are having difficulty trying to find 100 proof Vodka. Is Ever Clear the same thing as 100 proof Vodka?

    • Whats Cooking America

      Please do not use Everclear, as that proof will be too strong. I would recommend instead to use the highest proof vodka you can find.

    • Robert Hearne

      Everclear differs from vodka only because the distillation for vodka attempts flavor characteristics(ig:copper pot;use of corn,rye,potatos etc.).
      Any amounts discussed here are approximations fitting for our purpose .
      The Authors recipe yields 28% alcohol content , some go much higher. To achieve 30% using mixture of 80 proof vodka/everclear 95%: 5 cups (40 oz)vodka/1 1/4 cups(10 oz) everclear in lieu of 2-750ml 100 proof vodka.

  21. Carol Long

    This recipe sounds yummy. I would love to try it out; however, I am quite the novice. I know how to can but I have not ever attempted this type of recipe. So please bare with me with my questions. Am I to understand you only use the lemon zest and not the juice? If so, what you do with all the juice?

    • Whats Cooking America

      There’s a lot of flavor and color in the lemon zest that will impart into the vodka. You could freeze the lemon juice in ice trays, then store in resealable freezer bags and use for cooking, make some wonderful lemonade or lemon drop martinis.

    • Joy

      I freeze my lemon juice then in summer I make Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate for the kids to enjoy while the adults enjoy the Limoncello.

  22. Carol Long

    Another question: Do you keep the mixture in the freezer during the waiting periods or do you only store the finished product in the freezer?

  23. Diane Hopper

    I started my limoncello and put it away in a dark cupboard. Forgot about it! Now it has been sitting there for about 2 or 3 years. Do I throw it away or can I make anything out of this mistake?

    • Linda Stradley

      I think you need to taste it to see if it is ok or not. Remember there is alcohol in it and it may be fine.

    • carson kratochvil

      I’m replying to Diane Hopper about forgetting about your limoncello for 2-3 years. I had some that was several years old and it was delicious. I sure hope you didn’t throw it away! I would just transfer it to the freezer. I’m making my first batch after not having made some for a few years. I’m about to move onto the step of adding the sugar mixture. I can’t wait for the finished product! Salute!

  24. Anthony

    What kind of vodka do you prefer. Should i use the whole bottle of vodka.

  25. Rhonda

    You say cover the jar. Do you mean with cheesecloth and a rubber band or seal with a lid?

  26. Lety

    Can I mix two different brands of 100 proof vodka?

  27. Mattia

    This recipe for Italian Limoncello is fantastic! Congratulations!! It’s very similar to the taste of pepegusto Limoncello!

  28. Sandy

    My family in Italy use 150 proof grain alcohol. Everclear is corn . Also remember they do not have freezers like we do.. everything is stored in cool basements or cellars

  29. Linda

    Where do you get your bottles? Are corked ok, or swing tops better?

  30. Mauro perotti

    Would it be any different when using pure alcohol? Better/worse from vodka.
    I’ve always made it with pure alcohol and its delicious.

  31. Patricia

    Im making my second batch of lemonchello , it’s fabulous
    Im also making orangechello
    Have you ever made the orange an if you did do you follow same recipe

  32. Sharon L Thompson

    I only use Everclear proof 150 for all my “Cello” recipes. I make Lemoncello, Orangecello (with blood oranges) and Clemencello (with Clementines because I love the smell of the zest, and this is actually my favorite)..
    I use the exact same recipe, but use organic fruit whenever possible….It is ALL Amazing!!!!! We bought a chest freezor for just our “Cello’s”!

  33. Sylvie

    What kind of lemons do you suggest do they have to be Meyer what would be better?

  34. Peter Daniel

    Try cumquatcello..same recipe..magnificent

    • yvonne Chavez

      If I don’t have tons of freezer space how long will this be good if just in the refridgerator once sugar/water mix added? How long on the shelf? Also wondered, can you keep the lemon in vodka in a dark cupboard for longer than 80 days and just make batches as needed?

  35. Michelle

    Has any one tried the recipe with stevia rather than sugar?

  36. judy

    So, I’ve strained my limoncello (thru 4 layers cheesecloth and fine seive) into the bottles, but have noticed that I still have “floaters” suspended in it. Any ideas for further straining? Am I doing something wrong? I’ve been super careful.

  37. Victoria

    Michelle, you can make homemade, sugarfree syrup with Swerve or other sugar substitute. Lots of sf syrup recipes on line.

  38. Joseph

    I decided to make this recipe. Made a couple of mistakes but it’s still delicious. I used 80 proof vodka and let peel sit in the vodka for over 60 days. After filtering and bottling it I stored it in the freezer where it froze solid. Perhaps if I’d used 100 proof vodka the higher alcohol content may have prevented it from freezing. But it is delicious! Thanks for the recipe.

  39. Russ Jackson

    You Have Heard Of Limoncello Here Is Rumincello!
    1 750 ml Bottle Everclear
    3 Bottles 750 ml Brazillian Cachaca Rum
    Peels From 26 Limes (Try to keep pith to a minimum but the bitter works with the Rum)
    6 Cups Raw Sugar
    5 Cups Water

    Peel 20 of the Limes and put in a large glass container with lid.
    Pour in the 3 bottles of Brazilian Cacacha Rum and 1 Bottle of Everclear.
    Seal and cover for 20 days stirring every few days.

    After 20 days dissolve 6 cups of raw sugar in 5 cups of water. Add to Glass Container.
    Peel additional 6 Limes and add to Container.
    Let sit additional 10 Days.
    Strain, Bottle and Place bottles you are keeping in freezer. Give additional bottles to your closest friends.
    Caution People who received a bottle in about 2 weeks are going to ask for more. They will also tell you they are willing to pay big.

    You will need a large container but if you have friends it will not be large enough. Serve from the freezer. It will thicken but will not freeze.

    Final Edited Version

  40. Joann

    Been using this recipe for years with great results….I have even made orange-cello and lime-cello and they also turned out wonderful.

  41. Stevie

    For the simple syrup do you have to use water? Or could you use lemon juice?

    • Nancy

      I imagine it is going to need some water, that is a lot of lemons to squeeze to get 5 cups of liquid. The goal of the simple syrup is to sweeten the already lemon infused vodka, not sure how much more lemony it can get. Let us know if you try it and how it turns out.

  42. Olin cannon

    Making my first batch for the first time i,m using everclear do I use both bottle.

  43. Stevie

    I’m about to make a second batch of Limoncello and I’ve realized with my first batch I used about 30 lemons for 1750 ml a vodka, 90 Proof. Should I be thinking about diluting this or just really enjoying the extra lemon flavour?

  44. Anne

    why does it call for such a large glass jar? would it be ok to put the lemon zest/peel directly into the vodka bottle for the first 40 day rest?

  45. Ana Marie

    Excited to making my first ever Limoncello! @ Step 2 Waiting for 40 days. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  46. TIm

    your gonna need 1 or 2 one gallon jars, the reason for the large jars, you will put simple syrup in the mix and you will need the extra space

  47. TIm

    find wide mouth jars with swing lids.

  48. ChuckInPhoenix

    I don’t have a large enough glass jar, is it ok to use a Stainless Steel Stock Pot instead?


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