How to Make Homemade Limoncello, the Perfect Summer Night's Drink

Ah, limoncello. There’s nothing like sipping a glass on a hot summer night to make you feel like you’re basking away in Italy. The good news is you don’t have to actually go to Italy to enjoy it. (Though we wouldn’t say no to that trip!)

Follow this recipe to make your own batch, but make sure you’ve planned in advance — limoncello needs to steep for a total of at least 40 days. Once it’s nice and zesty though, it can last for years. That is, if you don’t drink it too fast!


Yield: Seven 1-liter bottles


  • 15 lemons
  • 2 bottles of Everclear or 190-proof grain alcohol, each 750 ml
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • Water
  • Instructions

    1. Peel the Lemons

    Scrub the lemons in warm water and pat dry. Peel the lemons with a vegetable peeler, capturing the yellow peel only. Be careful not to include the white pith, which would give the limoncello a bitter flavor.

    2. Let ‘Em Steep (For a Looooong Time)

    Place the lemon peels in a gallon glass jar. Pour in 1 bottle of the alcohol, and push down the lemon peels with a wooden spoon to completely submerge them in the liquid. Tightly secure the lid and set the jar in a cool, dark place to steep for 20 to 40 days.

    3. Make Sugar Syrup

    Once your first steeping period is over, it’s time to add the sugar syrup. In a saucepan, combine sugar and 7½ cups water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 7 to 10 minutes, then remove the syrup from the heat and let it cool.

    4. Complete the Mix and Steep

    When the syrup is completely cool, add it to the jar of lemon peels and alcohol. Pour in the second bottle of alcohol abd stir. Tightly secure the lid and return the jar to a cool, dark place to steep for an additional 20 to 40 days. Over time, the liquid will absorb the lemon and turn bright yellow.

    5. Strain and Add Water

    Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer or coffee filter into a large bowl. Add 2 cups water to the limoncello. This will cause the liquid to turn cloudy and take on a pale yellow color. Let it rest for a moment so that any remaining sediment will fall to the bottom.

    6. Bottle It Up

    Using a funnel, ladle the limoncello into your desired bottles, leaving a ½” space at the top. Wipe the rims clean, secure the lids and label. Store the limoncello in a cool, dark place, or in the freezer so it’s always ready to serve icy cold.

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    13 Responses to “How to Make Homemade Limoncello, the Perfect Summer Night's Drink”

    1. Pamela

      Be careful with using everclear! It’s extremely powerful. I’ve been making limoncello for years and find that vodka has a high enough alcohol proof and is more readily available.

    2. Dana Riotte

      Love it

    3. Catherine Laird

      I've never had Lemoncello, but I love anything Lemon, and after reading the ingredients, I'm looking forward to trying it.

    4. Christine

      Look forward to making this cuz I love DIY even tho’ we have wonderful distilleries her in NW Michigan who make delicious limoncello.

    5. Matrix

      BTW, don't waste the lemon zest when you are done! Let it dry thoroughly and put in air tight container. You can grind it finely if desired. Add to muffins or other quick breads.

    6. Matrix

      Be sure to use the lemon juice in your limoncello! As far as when to add it, IDK. I make it overnight with zest in a whip siphon with alcohol. Also honey can be used as the sweetener. This is how it started in Italy. I make a simple syrup of 2 cups sugar to 1 cup boiling water. Let it cool. Also good to add to cocktails, iced tea, or add flavoring (lemon, maple, almond, or vanilla) to use as pancake syrup.

    7. Bonnie Brukman

      It’s better with vodka

    8. Amelia B

      Grain alcohol sounds like the stuff that makes a person blind. Where do you even get that stuff?

    9. Ricardo Thompson

      I will Definitely be trying this one

    10. Jelyca

      Is there a way to make a non-alcohol version of limoncello?