Limoncello, Updated

January 15, 2018  •  Beverages,

I’ve posted on this site before about making limoncello, that classic Italian digestivo you are served after a meal in so many restaurants in Italy. But I’ve struggled over the years to find the perfect blend. Sometimes the mixture comes out too sweet, sometimes it doesn’t have enough alcohol so it freezes, but not this year. This year I finally mastered it! I painstakingly approached the process this time, even taking out a calculator and testing combinations in the freezer before I finalized the ratios. What I came up with is what I tell friends is my best batch yet – sweet enough, but not cloying, able to be stored in the freezer without solidifying, and downright delightful after a meal.The process hasn’t changed – start with soaking lemon peels in Everclear (grain alcohol) for 5-7 days first. I like using Evercleafr because it works more quickly to extract the lemon extracts and seems to do a better job of it that vodka. Don’t worry about the alcohol content – that’s adjusted later with the addition of the simple syrup.After the essential oils have been extracted from the peels (you’ll know it’s done because the peels turn white and crunch hard), you strain out the flavored Everclear. I put the mixture into large mason jars because I was sampling ratios, but you can do it all in one batch and then bottle for storage or gifting. Just be sure to measure how much flavored Everclear you have as you want to add 2 part sugar water to 1 part Everclear (meaning for every cup of flavored Everclear, you add 2 cups of the simple syrup).I LOVE this stuff and hope you do too!

Limoncello, Updated
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12 pints
  • 16 very large lemons (or 24 small), peeled of just the outer yellow skin
  • 4 pints Everclear (grain alcohol)
  • 16 cups water
  • 8 cups sugar
  1. Combine the lemon peels with the Everclear in one or more covered containers, making sure the peels are fully submerged in the alcohol. Put in a cool, dark place and let sit for 5-7 days.
  2. Strain the liquid and discard the peels.
  3. Combine the water and sugar in a large pot and heat until the sugar dissolves. Let cool (refrigerate to speed the process) and then combine 16 cups of the simple syrup with the flavored Everclear, discarding extra simple syrup (see Note).
  4. Let mixture come to room temperature before bottling in bottles or mason jars, leaving a little headspace in the bottles or jars. (If you bottle it chilled, it can expand at room temperature and cause the bottle to crack or explode.)
I like the ratio of 2 parts simple syrup to alcohol, so you might have more simple syrup than you need. If you'd like your limoncello to have less alcohol, just add more simple syrup but be aware it will likely freeze if you try to store it in the freezer.



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