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Sunday, April 21, 2013

How to Make Limoncello (Lemon Flavoured Vodka)

Making Homemade Italian-style Limoncello

Whoa Nelly!  This lemon flavoured vodka is delicate, sweet and totally lipsmackingly good.  You're going to want to keep a large jar of this on hand in your fridge to impress your dinner guests, or maybe just hide it in the back of the fridge for yourself...

 I first had Limoncello in Bologna, Italy, a few days before my now-husband proposed (he proposed on a park bench in a garden in Venice, clever boy). Naturally it brings back good memories.  When I asked about it, I was told that anyone can make it themselves with only 4 ingredients:

Vodka, lemons, sugar and water! 

Limoncello is commonly served as a digestif in Italy, and in fancy restaurants, so it does make for a lovely end to a dinner party, or a sweet nightcap ;)  

The first time I tried making this, I got a fairly decent bottle of vodka, but some people also say you can use cheap vodka or even Everclear.  It doesn't really matter all that much, I don't think, because you won't really taste the alcohol in the end.  

For those of you wondering if vodka is gluten free, check out my recipe for a Gluten Free Ginger and Orange Blossom Water Cocktail for the debate on GF vodka.

While limoncello is usually really expensive in a restaurant, it's remarkably easy and cheap to make.  The only difficult part of it is having the patience to wait long enough for the lemons to steep!


3 lemons (organic are best)
3 cups vodka
3/4 c brown sugar (again, organic is best)
1.5 cups water


1. Scrub your lemons with water and, if available, a mushroom or veggie brush (this is why organic is best, you don't want your vodka soaking up pesticides for a few weeks).  Using a veggie peeler, thinly peel the lemons, careful to avoid getting any of the white pith.

Lemon peels for limoncello

2.  Dump your peels into a large jar and pour your vodka over it. Let steep in a cupboard or on the counter for 12 days - 4 weeks (the longer the better).

Yep.  This is the hard part.  Just wait.  It's worth it.  

Lemon and orange peels after 4 weeks of steeping

3. When your vodka has reached a nice dark yellow colour, prepare your syrup.  In a small saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil, stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat and let cool. 

4. Strain the vodka to remove the peels.  Mix together the lemon vodka and the syrup and chill.

In the next few days I'll try to put together a post with some suggestions on what you can do with those leftover peel-less lemons!  I also tried this with orange peels, as you can see above, and that turned out amazing, too!  And that only needed to steep 4 days before it had developed amazing flavour! 

Have you ever made flavoured vodka?  What flavour would you like to try?

This post has been shared on the following great sites: Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, Musings of a Housewife, The Weekly Creative, Gluten Free Wednesdays, Wheat-Free Wednesday, Foodie Friday, Gluten Free Fridays, Whole Foods Fridays, Farm Girl Blog Fest,      


  1. This would be fun to try! I'm not really a drinker, but it does sounds really good. Thanks for sharing this interesting!!

    1. I'm not much of a drinker, either, but you know what they say "When in Rome..." or in this case, Bologna ;) It's usually served in teeny tiny glasses, about 1 shot worth, so you're not really meant to drink a whole lot of it.

  2. This sounds amazing, and so easy!

  3. Yum! Do any lemons work? I've heard good things about Meyer.

    1. I'm sure Meyer would be fine. I've just used the organic ones my store carries so I don't have to scrub the as much ;)

  4. Like the Italy/Bo connection! Definitely use organic not waxed lemons. Tip-Italians keep their limoncello in the freezer :-)

    1. Thanks for the tip! I keep mine in the fridge to chill, but the freezer would make it nice and cold :)

  5. You can try with tangerines peels


    1. That would be wonderful, thanks for sharing! I've done it with orange peels, too, but I haven't tried tangerines.

  6. Yes, PLEASE!!! Pinned this to my Summer Recipes board!

  7. We have made infused vodka before and love it. We use a huge container, I never thought of putting it into ball jars. Duh! Perfect now I can make a smaller jar! YUMMMM Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! :)

    Be sure to stop by to see who the winner of our So Lucky GF Basket is! We are ALSO having a fantastic giveaway this week to kick off Celiac Awareness month! :)

    Cindy from

  8. I love limoncello! I have been wanting to try this for a while - and it looks so simple. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I made Limoncello with organic lemons this past winter in AZ. It has a brown residue on the bottom. Do you think it's still safe to drink??

    1. Hi kn, I've never had that happen before, although I have had some thin, yellowish substance that is just residue from the lemon peels. I think it depends on a couple of factors - has it always been there or is this a new development, is it refrigerated and how does it smell?

      Vodka is a strong preservative, as is the sugar and vodka is also antibacterial so it's hard to imagine that anything could grow in it. If it's been kept chilled and it smells good, personally I'd probably strain it and go for it, but it depends on your comfort level!


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