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Homemade Limoncello

This delightful after-dinner drink is easy to prepare, makes great gifts and can provide a welcome spark of freshness year-round as an after-dinner drink or dessert accompaniment. Should you prefer it sweeter, just add a bit more sugar, and note that higher proof alcohol will yield a more concentrated flavor.


  • 7 lemons (Sorrento variety if available)
  • 1 qt (1 l) unflavored grain alcohol* (highest proof available)
  • 3 C (700 g) sugar
  • 1 qt (1 l) water


Peel only the yellow part of the lemon in long strips; be careful not to include the white part, as it can make the liqueur bitter. Place peel and alcohol into a 2-qt (2-l) covered jar, and leave at room temperature to infuse at least 2 or up to 7 days. The higher proof the alcohol, the faster and more concentrated the infusion. When the infusion has sufficient lemon flavor (taste to test), strain it through a cheesecloth; set aside. In a saucepan, combine sugar and water and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly until sugar is completely dissolved; cool to room temperature. Combine syrup and alcohol infusion, stirring well to combine. Store limoncello in sealed glass bottles; it is now ready to drink. This liqueur will keep for one to two years in a cool place like a pantry; or keep it refrigerated or in the freezer (the high alcohol content will keep it from freezing); serve chilled in small aperitif glasses after a meal or with dessert.

  • Prep time: about 1 hour
  • Cook time: 2-7 days
  • Makes 32 servings.  

*If you cannot find grain alcohol, vodka can be substituted