Homemade Italian limoncello

When I went to Sorrento, Italy, I had never heard of this sweet aromatic lemon liquor. My first initial thought after my first taste was unusual, I didn’t know if I liked it or not. After I sipped a little more of the drink that I had got from the hotel bar and after a few more tastes, it grew on me. I and Sadie went down to the local town and saw this liquor everywhere.

It turns out that Sorrento was quite famous for this drink. I went into a shop where they had bottles and bottles of the stuff, and it was all home-brewed, when I got it back home I tasted it, and wow, it was divine. Back at home, I brought some more from a local off-license, upon tasting it, it was simply not the same, it was extremely sweet, and had little to no aroma from the lemons and so with disappointment, I decided that I would have a go at making it myself.

Before you start, you need to bear in mind that for the best results it will take up to 3 weeks before it will be ready to drink. This recipe will make approximately 1 litre of authentic limoncello if you would like to make more or less simply half or double the ingredients and adjust it to your personal preference. The better quality ingredients you use, the better the flavour and quality the liquor will be.


  • 5 lemons (preferably organic unwaxed)
  • Vodka (500ml)
  • Water (500ml)
  • Caster sugar (200g)


You will need to start by either zesting all of your lemons or peeling them with a peeler. This must be done carefully to ensure that no white pith is attached as it will make your liquor bitter in taste. You are only going to need to lemons skin which is why it should be organic and unwaxed to avoid putting unnecessary chemical residues into your final product. 

Once you have peeled all of your lemons, place the peelings into a jar or a pot with a lid add the 500 ml of vodka and cover for 1 week, this will get the aroma from the lemons infused into the alcohol. You may want to use the lemons juice for something else because after you have removed the skin it will not keep for very long, so when life gives you lemons, make some simple lemonade!

After the week is up you can make your simple syrup. Place 500 ml of water and 200 g of caster sugar to a saucepan and bring to a boil for 15 minutes, once it has cooled to room temperature stir your vodka mixture into the syrup.

Strain it all into glass bottles, seal the bottle/s with a lid or cork and then let it age for 2 weeks at room temperature. After the 2 weeks up, place the liqueur into the freezer, once it is ice cold serve. You can drink it as a shot or in a small glass!

Italian limoncello recipe (video)

Limoncello (FAQ)

How does authentic limoncello taste?

A pure perfect blend between sweetness, warming from the vodka and aromatic from the lemons. This recipe is much better than the imports and is way up there with authentic Limoncello from Sorrento.

Can I make Limoncello with other fruits?

The same recipe above can be adjusted to make many variations using the fruit, vegetable or herb of your choice. I have morello cherries growing each year on my cherry tree and whilst some get plump, tasting sweet and delicious some do not.

They remain sour which is still a lovely fruit if that's what you're into, I do enjoy a sour cherry occasionally however I have found that I can use the mixture of sweet and sour cherries to make this decadent liqueur. It tastes similar to Limoncello but with less aroma and more sweetness, taking on the flavour of the juicy fruit. I didn't make it too a recipe but by eye using the number of cherries from the harvest.

I soaked a large handful of fresh cherries in 50ml of vodka. 1 week later mixed it with a simple syrup made from 50ml water and 20g sugar. Bon appetite!

Next up: Uses for Italian Limoncello.


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