Follow/Be a Fan


Honeymoon Ravioli

Nutella Bread for Dessert or for Breakfast!


Learn to Make Fresh Pasta (with a video!)

Easy Italian Pulled Pork

I love to sew - come on over and see what I'm making!

Make Homemade Limoncello


Harvest Grape Bread

Tips for Homemade Marinara Sauce

Breakfast Fruit Walkaway is a family favorite

A Delicious Vegetarian Dish: Pasta alla Norma

Love knitting? Come read my knitting blog, Italian Dish Knits.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Eating Our Way Through the Amalfi Coast

Make Whipped Cream Firm

My Favorite Chocolate Cake Recipe

SUBSCRIBE for free and never miss a post:



or Use Key Words to Search this Site

Eggplant Lasagna

Lemon Cake from Capri

Cacio e Pepe

Learn to Make Arancini


Bucatini all' Amatraciana

Learn How to Make Artisan Bread with no Kneading for Pennies


 Thanks, Mom!


Strawberry Cheesecake Parfaits Require No Baking

Make Pie Dough in 60 Seconds!

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract


Spicy Bucatini all'Amatriciana - a Roman Classic

My Mom's Pork Chops

Chocolate Panna Cotta


My Five Inexpensive Kitchen Essentials

Beet Ravioli with Goat Cheese

« Basil Pesto with Potatoes, Green Beans and Pasta | Main | Bagna Cauda »

How to Make Homemade Limoncello

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:


Lemon Capri Cocktails


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 

for a printable recipe click here

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. 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (106)

1 liter =1.06 quarts. As to length of flavoring agent in the alcohol, within reason,,, the longer the better in my experience but not much change occurs after 4-5 weeks, again, this is my experience. Quality of the flavoring agent and quality of the extracting alcohol are the most important, again in my experience. What ever level of alcohol as well as added sweetness you choose to make the finished product will greatly influence what different people feel about the product. This is one of the great things about making your own, you can make it the way you like it.

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjohn D.

Can I put the lemons peels directly into a glass vodka bottle and let it sit?

October 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Sure. This is not rocket science. Get the peels into the extraction liquid, one way or another......

October 16, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjohn D.

Just decanted this into bottles for gifts at Christmas. I followed the recipe exactly and am pleased to say it's absolutely gorgeous.

November 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTina

I've made limoncello many times. I always use Everclear, available here in CA, and the organic Meyer lemons from my trees. I use a serrated peeler which takes off only the yellow skin and leaves the pith behind. I put the peels of about 45 scrubbed lemons in a large 6 liter jar and pour in 3 liters of Everlcear, cap tightly and leave in the back corner of my dark pantry for about 2 months or until the peels are white and will snap crisply when tested. I remove the peels and I add a simple syrup made from 5-1/4 cups of water to 3-1/4 cups sugar boiled together until sugar completely dissolved (Note: I add Organic washed raw sugar that I get from Whole Foods - it turns the liquid a darker yellow and looks cloudy but, after left another 2 weeks, it clears considerably but does not get completely clear) You can add the simple syrup by the cup and taste after additions if you prefer it less sweet and come back after it "cures" and add more syrup, if needed. I strain through cheesecloth into bottles, cap and leave for several more weeks.The organic raw sugar adds a depth of flavor that is smooth and rich, not light and fresh, but exceptional for sipping after a heavy meal. I serve from the freezer in chilled glasses.
The slow process produces a very smooth limoncello with little or no bite, and most people who receive it as gifts say that it is the smoothest and best they have ever tasted. Takes little work but a lot of time. I start in August for Christmas and use this doubled recipe for gifts - yields about eighteen 375 ml bottles.
I save thin grappa bottles, wrap the necks in twine that goes through tag with ingredients and tips for using. Great gift - with saved bottles, ingredients and my lemons, costs me about $60 for 18 bottles but tastes like the fine, expensive limoncello.

NOTE: You can freeze whole peeled lemons in a zip lock bag and take them out one at a time for lemon juice for lemonade or recipes.

December 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCatpainter

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

February 21, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMattia

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>