15 medium lemons
2 750-milliliter bottles of 100-proof vodka
2 cups water
2 cups sugar

Microplane grater or vegetable peeler
1 one-gallon glass (Mason) jar
Bottles for storing finished liqueur

Soak the lemons in warm water for ten minutes to clean, then wipe dry with a towel. Use the grater or vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the lemons, being careful to avoid the bitter white pith. Set the zested lemons aside for use in another recipe.

Place the zest in the Mason jar and add one bottle of vodka. Seal tightly, label with today’s date and the words “First Stage.” Store in a cupboard and allow the mixture to steep for ten to forty days. The longer it steeps, the better it will taste.

After ten to forty days, strain the mixture through a double layer of cheesecloth into a large bowl, gently pressing the zest to extract all the flavored liquid. (You may need to strain more than once to remove all the zest.) Add the second bottle of vodka.

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved and the liquid is clear. Remove from heat.

Once cooled, add the syrup to the vodka mixture. Use a funnel to pour the liqueur back into the Mason jar. Have another, smaller jar on hand in case of overflow. Label the jar with today’s date or the date it will be ready to serve, and the words “Second Stage.” Return to the cupboard for ten to forty days.

When the limoncello is ready, store it in the freezer so it is always chilled before serving.


  1. Limoncello makes a terrific hostess gift. Save attractive empty liquor, olive oil, vanilla, or vinegar bottles for storing limoncello. Sterilize before use and keep in the freezer. Use ribbons and labels to personalize.
  2. Save the juice from the zested lemons for use in another recipe. Freeze in small quantities, or use ice cube trays for small portions. Transfer to plastic zip bag and freeze for up to four months.
  3. Use limoncello to enhance other beverages, like lemonade and lemon-drop martinis.
  4. For a treat, drizzle limoncello over cake or ice cream.

3 Responses

  1. Jane Kippley

    Hi Sarah,
    Thank you for your Limoncello recipe. We spent 3 weeks in Italy and fell in love with the country and it’s food and beverages. We had Limoncello often as it seems to be a staple after dinner beverage. They referred to it as a digestive? We are going to try the recipe with a group of friends.
    I am wondering if Tony has plans to do a pizza class in the future? I would love to learn how to make a pizza the Italian way.

    1. Sarah Nasello

      Hi Jane,

      Thank you so much for your comments – we fell in love with limoncello after traveling in Italy, too! Yes, they call it a “digestivo” or digestive, here, as it is meant to help you digest your meal. We have had great success with this recipe. We usually let it steep for at least 40 days, but I have had good results even at 14 days for each step.

      Funny you should ask about pizza classes. We do not currently have plans to offer a pizza class, but we were just talking last weekend about designating homemade pizza as one of our winter projects. We’re going to play around with different flours to find the one we like best, and I”m sure we will document our progress/success/failures as we go along.

      Are you on our e-mailing list? IF not, I would be happy to add you, as we usually announce our classes via newsletter, as well as on our Facebook page and here on the blog. You can also subscribe to the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top of the sidebar on our homepage.

      Three weeks in Italy sounds heavenly right now – we haven’t been back since 2003, but hope to get to Sicily to visit family this summer.

      Thanks again and have a great weekend!


  2. PamelaM

    Thanks Sarah! I love Limoncello and some years I will get into a massive Liqueur making summer. I missed it this past summer and I am out of everything. These are the best gifts and have me searching antique shops for bottles all year. I am keeping this recipe for sure!

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