Limoncello Recipe: How to Make This Refreshing Lemon Cocktail

Limoncello recipe

Yield: About 16 servings


  • 12 very fresh lemons, ideally without wax and organic
  • 750ml bottle of vodka
  • ⅓ cup or more simple syrup

Make the Limoncello in two steps:

Step 1:
Finely grate the lemon zest. As you grate, try to avoid grating the albedo, the chewy white part of the crust. If your grated zest contains too much albedo, the Limoncello will be bitter.

Place a funnel in the mouth of a 1 liter bottle. Transfer about a tablespoon of grated peel into the funnel and pour just enough vodka into the funnel to wash the grated peel into the bottle. Repeat this – washing some grated zest into the bottle with as little vodka as possible – until all the zest and vodka are in the bottle. This procedure probably won’t work perfectly, so you may need to force some of the zest through the funnel using the handle of a bar spoon (or another tool with a long, narrow handle). Cap the bottle tightly and place it in a cool, dark place, where it will rest for three weeks.

2nd step:
After three weeks, take the bottle out of its hiding place. Line a sieve with several layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large measuring cup with a pour spout. Carefully pour the contents of the bottle through the cheesecloth-lined sieve into the measuring cup. Add ⅓ cup simple syrup to the liquid in the measuring cup and stir. Taste the mixture. If it doesn’t seem sweet enough, add more simple syrup – one teaspoon at a time, tasting after each addition – until desired sweetness is achieved.

Rinse the bottle thoroughly (no bits of lemon zest should remain inside). Pour the Limoncello into the clean bottle and cap it tightly. Limoncello is best served chilled, so store the bottle in the freezer, where the limoncello will stay fresh indefinitely.