Italian Limoncello Recipe

Make this Italian limoncello recipe for yourself, for a special occasion, or even to give as a gift. A great homemade limoncello recipe is well worth knowing because this lemon-infused alcohol is an excellent way to finish dinner, especially if you’ve enjoyed delicious Italian recipes. You can combine it with other ingredients to make limoncello cocktails or pour a splash over lemon sorbet.

A chilled bottle of homemade Italian limoncello on a table with a poured glass and fresh lemons.

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You only need 4 ingredients to make homemade limoncello, all of which are easy to find. It takes a few weeks to make but your patience will definitely be rewarded when you taste it!

A poured glass of a homemade Italian limoncello recipe.

Why You’ll Love This

Fresh flavor:  Homemade limoncello boasts a wonderfully fresh taste. If you’re a fan of lemon flavor drinks, wait until you can taste the limoncello you made yourself. You’ll feel like you’re soaking up the sun on the Amalfi coast.
Simple: You don’t need lots of different ingredients because homemade limoncello only calls for 4 basic ingredients (namely vodka, water, lemon peels, and sugar), and preparing homemade limoncello is a straightforward process.
Great gift: Homemade limoncello makes a wonderful gift, especially when presented in a cute bottle with a ribbon or other decoration on the bottle. It works out economical to make, and everyone will love that you know how to make limoncello and decided to share it with them!

Overhead view of making limoncello with lemon peel.

Homemade Limoncello Ingredients

You will need fresh lemons to make limoncello, along with vodka, sugar, and water. Since there are so few ingredients, it makes sense to choose the best quality lemons and the best quality vodka to make it.

The ingredients for an Italian limoncello recipe.

How to Make It

For more detailed instructions with weights and measurements, jump to the printable recipe card.

Prepare the lemons: Wash the lemons and remove the lemon peels, then put them in a jar.
Add the vodka and infuse: Pour the vodka over the lemon zest in the jar and let it infuse for 1 to 3 weeks.
Prepare the simple syrup: Bring the granulated sugar and water to a boil in a pan, and let the simple syrup boil for a couple of minutes until completely dissolved before taking it off the heat.
Remove the lemon zest: Take the lemon peels out of the vodka and discard them. It’s best to strain the limoncello recipe mixture to remove all traces of the lemon zest.
Add the simple syrup to the limoncello recipe: Stir the cooled simple syrup into the lemon-infused alcohol, then divide the homemade limoncello recipe between several jars or cute bottles (here).

Making limoncello at home.
A chilled bottle of DIY limoncello.

Substitutions and Variations

You can choose from different brands of vodka and different varieties of lemons, experimenting with your own homemade limoncello recipe as much as you like.

A poured glass and bottle of homemade limoncello.

For a stronger lemon flavor, let the lemon peels infuse in the vodka for three or even four weeks, or for a milder one, give it one week.

Making authentic Italian limoncello at home.

In the same vein, you can tweak the sweetness. Liquor store limoncello tends to be very sweet but you can adjust the amount of simple syrup when you make limoncello yourself, adding less or adding more, as you prefer.

Pouring a glass of classic Italian limoncello.

What to Serve with Homemade Limoncello

Unless you’re planning to polish off the whole limoncello recipe yourself, it’s great to share with friends, perhaps also offering some snacks like jalapeno popcorn or antipasto skewers. You can also use it in other recipes like this Lemon Lavender Vodka, limoncello panna cotta or these Limoncello Italian wedding cookies.

Two glasses of homemade limoncello.

How to Store Your Homemade Limoncello Recipe

Store:  Keep homemade limoncello at room temperature or in the refrigerator, depending on whether you prefer to drink limoncello chilled or not.
Freeze:  Although some people keep high-proof alcohol in the freezer so it stays very cold, deep freezing alcohol with a high sugar syrup content isn’t recommended, as that component can freeze while the alcohol content doesn’t, meaning it will separate and degrade. So, don’t keep limoncello in the freezer.

A chilled bottle of authentic Italian limoncello.

Italian Limoncello Recipe FAQs

What kind of lemons are best for making homemade limoncello?

There are lots of types of lemons to choose from, so which type is best for making homemade limoncello? If you’re wondering whether to choose organic lemons, organic Meyer lemons, Sorrento lemons, or another kind, the good news is you can use whichever you want.

It’s best to choose organic lemons because you’ll be using lemon zest or lemon peels, and you don’t want lemon peel with chemicals on it.

What colour should the finished homemade limoncello recipe be?

This depends on the type of vodka you use, as well as the peeled lemons and their lemon juice-to-oil ratio. Homemade limoncello ranges from pale to dark yellow, so if it’s pale in colour that doesn’t mean you’ve gone wrong making limoncello or that it’s not ready to drink.

A bottle and two glasses of limoncello.
A bottle of limoncello and fresh lemons.

Italian Limoncello Recipe

Bottle of homemade limoncello.

Italian Limoncello Recipe

5 from 40 votes
Course: Drink
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: cocktail
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 24
Calories: 275kcal
Author: Bella Bucchiotti
This homemade limoncello recipe is the perfect balance of sweet and tart, made with fresh lemon zest, sugar, and high-quality vodka.
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  • 15 lemons large, organic
  • 1300 Milliliter vodka 80 or 100 proof
  • 800 grams sugar
  • 1200 Milliliter water


  • Wash and peel the lemons, being careful to avoid as much of the white pith as possible. Place the peels into a large, airtight, sealable jar.
  • Add the vodka to the jar, close the jar and gently shake. Place the jar in a cool dark place for at least 7 days up to 21 days to let the peels infuse. Gently shake the jar occasionally during that time.
  • After the 7 to 21 days that you have let the peels infuse, make the simple syrup by combining the sugar and water into a pot. Bring the sugar water to a boil, stirring frequently. Let the mixture boil for 1 to 2 minutes then remove from heat and cool completely.
  • While the syrup is cooling, strain the lemon peels out of the vodka and discard the peels. Pour the vodka into the jar.
  • When the syrup has cooled, combine the syrup with the vodka, and stir well. Pour the limoncello into airtight, sealable bottles.
  • Store the limoncello in the refrigerator or your refrigerator’s freezer (not a deep freezer). Serve chilled.


Calories: 275kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.3g | Saturated Fat: 0.03g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 94mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 15IU | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 0.4mg
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The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.

This authentic Italian limoncello recipe proves that homemade limoncello is best. Rather than store-bought limoncello, you can easily prepare your own tasty limoncello with just four ingredients. It is great on its own or as an ingredient in other recipes like this lemon lavender cocktail.

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Bella Bucchiotti

Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for recipes, dogs, sustainability, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.

Bella Bucchiotti is a freelance food, travel, and lifestyle writer for MSN and the Associated Press Wire.


Welcome to xoxoBella! You will find delicious recipes, travel inspiration and all the things that Bella loves.

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Recipe Rating

  1. Monica Momma of 3 wrote:

    5 stars
    This came out so good, too good!!! I had friends over (to watch The Bachelorette, don’t judge us lol) and we managed to drink the whole lot. It’s so fresh and tangy.

    Posted 10.24.23 Reply