It's easy to make homemade Limoncello...all you need are four ingredients and time. Intensely lemony and sweet, a little goes a long way!
The beauty of writing a blog about scotch (and other whisky reviews) and scones (and other yummy baked goods) is that the two subjects generally don’t intersect, so I can write about double the topics.
And while I’ve made food using alcohol as a flavoring, I haven’t made and written about making a flavored liqueur…that is, until now.
Vodka made better
I've had the pleasure of catering my older daughter’s bridal shower, and with an Italian themed menu it seemed appropriate to serve homemade Limoncello.
I had tasted limoncello in Italian restaurants and had assumed that it was some fancy imported liqueur.
While researching the aforementioned bridal shower menu, imagine my surprise when I learned that Limoncello is just lemon-infused vodka sweetened with simple syrup. “Hooray!” I thought, ”I CAN MAKE IT!”
(So...how is it done?) Glad you asked!
What is Limoncello?
While the “brown” spirits don’t really lend themselves to doctoring up (why alter perfection?), vodka practically screams for flavoring.
In the B.S.S. times (i.e. Before Scotch and Scones), I’ve made pineapple vodka (a version of the Stoli Doli from Capitol Grille steakhouse), grapefruit vodka (that was surprisingly wonderful), and even cucumber vodka (not my favorite, but my older daughter liked it).
Infusing vodka simply is a matter of letting that flavoring item steep in the vodka for about 2 weeks, then drain and, voilà, you have flavored vodka.
That's all there is to a Limoncello recipe...it's just sweetened infused vodka!
How to make Limoncello from scratch
A homemade Limoncello recipe is pretty simple.
The hardest part is probably zesting the lemons. Well, that, and waiting 2 weeks before I could try it!
Step 1: Infuse the vodka with lemon peels
Cut the peel off the lemons, being careful to remove any of the white part (the pith). That's bitter, and you don't want it in your drink.
Add the peels to a sealable jar and pour the vodka over it. Then let it sit in a cool, dark place.
Shake the jar every couple of days to stir up the liquid.
You can see over the course of 2 weeks how the color of the vodka gets stronger. It's all that essence of lemon seeping in!
Step 2: Drain the liquid
After the infusion has gone on for 2 weeks, it's only a matter of straining out the lemon peels.
Step 3: Stir in simple syrup
After all the lemon peel is strained out, stir in a simple sugar syrup.
That's all there is to it!
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions that you might have...
Stored in airtight bottles in the refrigerator, it should last for up to 3 months.
Generally speaking, Limoncello is drunk chilled and straight (i.e. no ice) in a small shot glass. Limoncello is potent (it's just sweetened vodka, after all), so a 2-oz serving is plenty.
The strength of the Limoncello varies based on the proof of the vodka and the sugar content. On average, assume that the alcohol content is between about 25% and 30%ABV.
Simple to make, delightful to sip
This lovely Limoncello liqueur is light, sweet, intensely lemony, and quite refreshing.
My older daughter likened it to the sweet flavor of lemonheads candy (after the sour taste fades).
How's that for tasting notes!
Serving my homemade Limoncello at the bridal shower was so special. And, the lovely yellow color was a bright compliment to this wonderful event.
It is a revelation to learn how easy it was to make this tasty lemon liqueur.
Make a batch and see for yourself!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Recipes using lemons
Want lemony goodness in your life? Try some of these citrus recipes!
Recipes with lemons...
Drinks featuring lemons...
Easy Homemade Limoncello liqueur
For the base
- 6 lemons, see Recipe Notes
- 1 bottle vodka, or another grain alcohol, see Recipe Notes
For the simple syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Make the base: Wash the lemons and remove the zest with a peeler, avoiding the white part (pith). Cut away any pith that ends up on the peels if you cut too deeply.
- Place the zest in a quart mason jar and pour over the vodka. Seal the jar tightly and give it a good shake. Let it sit for 1 to 2 weeks, shaking daily. The longer it sits, the more flavor you'll get from the zest...when the peels lose color, the infusion is ready.
- Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer, squeezing the zest to get all the liquid out.
- Make the simple syrup: Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves completely, stirring occasionally. Cool the syrup to room temperature.
- Add the syrup to the limoncello base. A little warm syrup makes a nice cloudy limoncello.
- Using a funnel, pour the liqueur into a sealable glass bottle.
- You can store the limoncello in the freezer in warmer area (like on the door). Alternatively, keep chilled in the refrigerator. Longer aging means more intense flavors.
- Serve chilled and enjoy!