Beverages, How To — December 16, 2012 at 9:39 pm

The Limoncello Project: How to Make Homemade Limoncello

Limoncello, very easy drink to make at home.
Limoncello, very easy drink to make at home.

Every time I go to Italy, I swear I get hooked on something new.  The first time was it was espresso.  The second time it was bolognese sauce and Nobile di Montepulciano.  Well, this time it was limoncello.  Limoncello is traditionally served as an after dinner “digestivo”.  After returning home, I decided to head to the liquor store to buy a bottle.  I was shocked that it sold for $25 per bottle.  In Italy, it was somewhere around $10 per bottle.  After that, I decided I would attempt to make my own.  To my surprise, limoncello is very simple to make.  I was able to make a gallon for around $45.  Five bottles roughly makes a gallon, so that would cost around $125.  For those of you who are not good at math, that’s a savings of $80 per gallon.  I was very surprised how incredibly good the limoncello tasted.  It tasted completely identical to the ones in Italy, and it’s so rewarding to make your own at home.


  • 20 Organic Lemons – You must use organic, because regular lemons are coated with wax.  Wax = bad taste.IMG_4229
  • 1.75 liter of grain alcohol – I used Everclear 151 proof.
  • 2 One Gallon Mason Jars with lids.
  • 1 Gallon Spring Water
  • 9 Cups of White Sugar


  • Zest the lemons. (Make sure to use a Microplane Zester.)  Be sure only to zest the yellow part, not the white part underneath.  The white part will make the limoncello very bitter.IMG_4239
  • Pour the grain alcohol into a sterilized 1 gallon mason jar.  To sterilize, wash with bleach or use the sanitize setting on your dishwasher.
  • Add the lemon zest to the grain alcohol.  In order to get a good seal, I’d recommend using a little plastic wrap under the lid before screwing it on.  Shake well.IMG_4246
  • Now, store in a dark place for 3-4 weeks.  Twice a day, take the limoncello mixture and shake well.  Not sure if this does anything, but it is fun.
  • After 4 weeks, strain the limoncello mixture into the other sterilized mason jar.  You can use cheesecloth if you’d like.  I just used a fine metal strainer.
  • In a metal pot, take 9 cups of spring water and add 9 cups of sugar.  Heat and stir to make a simple sugar until sugar is dissolved.
  • Allow simple sugar to cool to room temperature.
  • Add simple sugar to limoncello and fill to the 1 gallon mark.  If my calculations are correct, this will make the limoncello about 68.5 proof or 34.3% alcohol.  Watch as the limoncello turns neon yellow.IMG_4435
  • Add lid and shake.
  • Pour into sterilized storage bottles.
  • Chill in freezer and serve.