How to Make Limoncello

5 Ingredients or Less, Art of the Cocktail, DIY, Make, Sicily

This post comes to us courtesy of food writer and editor James Schend, blogger at Dairy Freed

 

First created on the island of Capri, this smooth, refreshing and deceptively strong liqueur was quickly adopted by Sicily and other citrus-growing regions of Italy a little over a century ago. Limoncello is often served chilled as an after-dinner digestivo, but is quickly becoming popular with bartenders and mixologists around the world as an ingredient in cocktails.

 

I’ll admit, there are many recipes for limoncello that are faster to make, and trust me, I’ve tried a lot of them. What I’ve learned from a lot of testing is that time and patience will give you an extremely refined and smooth liqueur. In fact, I have had a couple of bottles tucked away for over a year now that just seem to get better and better.

 

Since limoncello is made solely from the skin of the lemons, the end result is surprisingly sweet with a strong lemon flavor. Traditionally made with lemons, you’ll find almost any citrus fruit will work. My personal favorite is pink grapefruit, but oranges, tangerines and especially blood oranges make exceptional variations. When I tried a lime version I found it a little too bitter on its own but fantastic when added to cocktails, like mojitos or vodka tonics.

 

151 proof alcohol is sometimes difficult to find, but ask your local liquor store owner. The two stores in my neighborhood carry it but don’t have it out on the shelves. The first time I asked for it I was questioned why I wanted something so strong. In order to buy it I ended up promising a sample when it was done. Three months later I got the seal of approval from the shop owner.

 

Limoncello

 

18 large organic lemons

1 (750 ml) bottle 151 proof alcohol, such as Everclear

1 (750 ml) bottle 80 proof vodka

4 cups sugar

3 cups water

 

Wash and dry the lemons. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the yellow skin, taking care to not include any white pith, as this will make it bitter. Place lemon skins in a glass gallon-size jar and add the 151 proof alcohol and vodka. Cover tightly and place in a cool, dark place. Gently stir every 7 days. After 5 weeks remove one of the peels and bend it; if it snaps in two then proceed with the recipe. If it still bends without breaking, continue aging for a week or more until the peel does snap in two.

 

In a large saucepan, combine sugar and water and cook over medium-high heat just until the sugar dissolves. Do not allow mixture to boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

 

Gently remove the peels from the alcohol with a slotted spoon or a pair of tongs, trying to keep pieces intact; discard peels. Pour mixture through three layers of cheesecloth into a clean bowl. Then strain mixture through coffee filters. This will take a fair amount of time to strain the entire mixture and you’ll need a number of filters.

 

After straining, combine the alcohol and sugar solution and stir to combine. Cover and place mixture in a cool, dark location for at least 6 weeks.

 

Filter mixture once more through fine-textured coffee filters before pouring into smaller bottles. Seal completely and continue to store in a cool, dark place until ready to serve.

 

About the author: A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, James Schend’s culinary career began when he won his first cooking contest at 8 years old. He’s gone on to write and develop recipes for national magazines and culinary websites. His own blog Dairy Freed focuses on the challenges of dairy-free cooking.

114 comments about “How to Make Limoncello

  1. Christina

    I have to admit, I’ve only ever tried the limoncello I bought on the island of Capri, and it was delicious. But I will now have to try this for myself! It’s a hot day in So. Cal so this would be perfect!

    Christina

    Reply
  2. Adam

    On my first trip to Palermo to visit family I was served this by my aunt who had made it herself. This sounds very, very close to how she made it, except she used what we would call moonshine. And you’re right, it does need to age a LONG time but it’s so worth it!!!!!

    Thanks!

    Reply
  3. MizEllie

    I had limoncello for the first time while visiting friends in Scotland. It was a wonderful after dinner drink…and I was hooked! I am going to try this out…!! Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  4. Friday Evening Jam Session |

    1. Scott Simpson

      James,
      Thanks for the quick reply. I think the thing with Meyer lemons is that their skins are so thin that its difficult to zest without getting some of the pith which can make the Lemoncello bitter. I purchased a new vegetable peeler when I started and the skins came off beautifully do I don’t think that will pose a problem. I’ve heard the grapefruit is delicious and can’t wait to try some. I’m documenting my progress on Instagram – sscooter – if you want to check it out.
      Thanks again.
      Scott

      Reply
  5. Caryl S

    The recipe mentions that it “will take a fair amount of time to strain the entire mixture and you’ll need a number of filters”. What are we looking for during the filtering process? How will we know that we have filtered enough?

    Reply
  6. James

    Hi Caryl S,

    To answer your question about the filtering process, you should only need to filter it once through the coffee filters. It will just take a little time to get all the limoncello through the filters. Plus you’ll want to keep switching them out or they will get clogged. The final liquor won’t be clear but kind of cloudy. You’re trying to filter out any small pieces of zest and other impurities.

    Good luck!
    James

    Reply
  7. Chris

    Why do you mix 151 and vodka? Most recipes I have seen just call for the 151. Does the vodka balance out the 151? Most of do the Italians use this mixture of alcohol. Thanks.

    Reply
  8. James Schend Post author

    Hi Chris,

    I like to use a combination of 151 and vodka to bring the alcohol level to a good level. 151 by itself is just too strong for my taste and all vodka doesn’t have the body. I’ve tried a number of combinations and I think this gives a well rounded flavor, strength and body.

    Reply
  9. LMB

    I love that this healthy, happy recipe includes healthy, happy organic ingredients (hmmmm: wonder if they make organic Everclear?).

    The only ingredient I might have trouble tracking down is patience. But you’ve inspired me to give it a try. Thanks, James!

    Reply
  10. James

    LMB, I know you can muster the patience to make this. Do what I do and just stick it in the back of a closet. The one I’m really waiting to try is a Tangerine and Vanilla Bean version. It’s starting to smell like an Orange Julius, did you ever have those?

    Reply
  11. Rafael

    James, How would the recipe for a orange Limoncello go? Simply adding organic orange peels instead of lemon? This recipe looks phenomenal definitely going to try it!
    Thanks!

    Reply
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  13. James Schend

    Hi Rafael,

    You can use almost any citrus fruit. I’ve tried it with oranges, limes, grapefruits, blood oranges and tangerines. Hands down, my favorite so far has been the grapefruit, with lemon being a very close second. The blood orange was delicious and was a beautiful pink color.

    The lime didn’t work as well as I had hoped. It turned out too bitter and strong to be drunk on its own. However, it was really nice mixed into vodka tonics though.

    Let me know what you try! I’d love to hear how you like it and what you made!

    James

    Reply
  14. James

    Hi Lee,

    To make the grapefruit version I would use at least 6 large but it won’t hurt to use more if you have them. The more you use, the more intense the flavor.

    Let me know how you like it!

    James

    Reply
  15. Jeff

    I tried some of this stuff for the first time this weekend and I loved it. The bartender told us how she makes it and this sounds very close. Since I didnt’ have anything to take notes with I’ll try it with this recipe. I was wondering though, have you tried this using a mixture of different fruit skins? How you think this would be if you made this with ginger or a ginger lemon combination?

    Reply
  16. James

    Hi Jeff,

    I think ginger would be a great addition to it but I’d be a little careful because ginger is pretty strong and can overpower the lemon flavor. If I was making it, I’d infuse the simple syrup with ginger and strain it out before adding it to the alcohol. That way you can control the amount of ginger flavor a lot easier.

    Good luck and I’d love to hear how it turns out!

    James

    Reply
  17. KathyPittaluga

    using organic sugar darkened the lemoncello to an unpleasant brownish color! Why organic sugar? This is a batch I cannot give away as it looks bad!

    Reply
  18. James

    Hi Kathy,

    I’m very sorry to hear about the color change of your limoncello. I have never had that happen with the organic sugar I’ve used. I’d love to check that out so can you tell me what brand you used?

    In the meantime, I’m going to request they remove the word organic from the recipe just as a precaution.

    Thanks!
    James

    Reply
  19. Craig S

    I am getting ready to add the water and sugar mixture to my limoncello but my question is about how long the peels should stay in the alcohol mixture. I have seen on other web sites that the peels should be left in after adding the sugar and water and removed prior to the final filtering process but you say to remove them before adding the sugar and water. Any advice on this?

    Reply
  20. James

    Hi Craig,

    I would suggest removing the peels before you add the sugar mixture. When I’ve left them in before I’ve found the end result to be cloudier since the peels start to breakdown a little more when the sugar is added.

    Plus, if you’ve left them in the alcohol for 6+ weeks, all the flavor should have been extracted so you’re not adding any more flavor from this point.

    James

    Reply
  21. Kim

    Looking for the perfect limoncello recipe and I think this is it. James, thank you so much for responding to questions — that’s a rare occurrence on a business based blog!

    Reply
  22. James

    Hi Kim,

    Having tried a lot of different recipes over the years and tweaking many different recipes, I think this is one of the best tasting versions I’ve ever made. Although it’s not quick, it is simple and tastes great.

    It’s my pleasure to answer any questions people have. If you try this and have any questions, just post them here and I’ll try to answer them as soon as I can.

    James

    Reply
  23. Scott Simpson

    Hi James,
    This is my first attempt to make lemoncello. I have a batch of organic meyer lemon peels harvested from my trees soaking in 750 ml of Everclear only…..I’m almost to the simple syrup stage. I like your comments on the vodka mixture improving the overall results. Do you think it would negatively impact the outcome if I were to add the vodka at this point? If not, should I let the peels rest a little longer after the vodka is added? I’ve heard mixed opinions as to using meyer lemons, but I was careful not to get any pith in the process.
    thanks!!!!!
    Scott

    Reply
  24. James

    Hi Scott,

    I’d go ahead and add the vodka now, i don’t see why it would harm anything at this point. In fact, it may help the lemon peels to not fall apart, but that’s only a hunch.

    What have you heard negatively about using Meyer lemons? I love the flavor and found they worked beautifully here.

    James

    Reply
  25. Jessica

    about how much does each batch make? my fiance and I are both Italian and want to try to make this for wedding favors

    Reply
  26. James

    Thanks Scott, I’ll definitely check it out!

    Jessica, I’ve never measured the end result but just looking at the amounts you should get around 12 cups of finished limoncello.

    James

    Reply
  27. Janet

    Hi James, if I cannot get Everclear and use only vodka, should I change the amount of simple syrup? I am also using meyer lemons, but look forward to trying other citrus.

    Reply
  28. James

    Hi Janet,

    Great question. If it was me, I wouldn’t cut down the amount of simple syrup. I think it’s a pretty good sweetness level. As you can guess, the alcohol content will be much lower in your version but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    But that’s not to say you can’t give it a try. If you want to cut the syrup, I’d start by eliminating maybe 1/3 of it and taste it and adjust from there.

    I’d love to hear what you did.

    James

    Reply
    1. janet

      So I have made 3 versions, one lemon, one grapefruit and one with kumquats. they are all very tasty. with one i did add too much syrup, so i have to watch that next time. Even using only vodka, plenty strong for me. Very good. I left them about 6 or 7 weeks before straining and adding the syrup. Guests love them and are very impressed that they are home made.

      Reply
      1. James

        Glad to hear you liked it. Grapefruit is my all-time favorite for this. I just finished up a batch made with tangerines. I split it in half and added a few vanilla beans to one half and it reminds me of an Orange Julius with a kick.

        So now the question is what are you going to start brewing so it’s ready for the holidays. If you start now it will be ready to drink by Thanksgiving.

        James

        Reply
        1. janet

          I like your idea of the vanilla beans. I will try that, but i have to wait til next spring as the tangerines in our garden are finished for the season. But perhaps more grapefruit would be good. the first batch of lemon used were meyer, so i will try the lisbon next.

          Reply
  29. Kristy

    Hi James,

    I’ve been resting my first batch (made with Meyer lemon peels) now for about 8 weeks. I’m not getting the peel to snap cleanly yet. It will break, but still stay connected at the bottom. Just let it chill out some more or should I move on to the next stage? Thanks so much for your thorough article/recipe! It’s been a fun process so far and a great use for our bountiful lemon harvest this winter!

    Reply
  30. James

    Hi Kristy,

    After 8 weeks you’ve probably extracted all of the flavor from the peels. It should be a nice yellow color and smell wonderful.

    However, if you’re in no rush, I might let it go for another week. It’s not going to harm it by leaving it another week or two.

    I try to sound like the bastion of patience, but honestly, I’d be straining it out and moving on. :-)

    James

    Reply
  31. Andrea

    I made a batch with meyer lemons and let the peels sit in the everclear/vodka mixture for 8 weeks. I strained the peels several times and added the simple syrup but the color is a really yellow/orange color and not a pretty pale yellow like the picture here. Is that because I used meyer lemons? Thanks!

    Reply
  32. James

    Hi Andrea,

    Meyer lemons tend to be a little darker yellow than other lemons so its natural the alcohol will be a little darker. It should still taste fantastic though.

    James

    Reply
  33. Kimberly

    Hello, you mention placing the mixture in a cool, dark place. Could this mean refrigeration or something else?

    Thanks so much,
    Kimberly

    Reply
    1. James

      Hi Kimberly,

      I just put mine in the basement. You don’t need to refrigerate it. When I lived in a small apartment I put it in the back of my closet.

      James

      Reply
  34. rachele

    I wanted to ask about the sugar to water ratio in your recipe. I’ve looked at many limoncello recipes and the amount used varies widely. Could you tell me how you arrived at what you recommend? Thanks, rachele

    Reply
    1. James

      Hi Rachele,

      The ratio of sugar to water is totally up to the indivual depending on how sweet, alcholoic or tart you want it. I’ve tried varying it and this was the ratio I preferred. You can easily adjust it for your taste though.

      James

      Reply
      1. rachele

        Hi James,
        Thanks for replying. I wanted to ask then, how you would describe the final “taste” is with your recipe, meaning would you describe it as tart, sweet, etc.
        Thanks,
        Rachele

        Reply
        1. James

          I wouldn’t call it tart. There is too much sugar. It’s definitely sweet but not sickeningly so. I’ve had some that were very thick and sugary and had the consistency of a syrup.

          The nice thing about this recipe is you can reduce the sugar in the initial addition and after 6 weeks taste it and add more if you want.

          How do you like yours?

          James

          Reply
          1. rachele

            I lean more towards tart. Would you recommend using the same ratio, just adding less? Thanks, rachele

          2. James

            Rachele, the thing about limoncello is since you’re not actually using any of the juice it’s not going to be tart. You could adjust the sugar syrup to make it less sweet but it’s not going to make it more tart. – James

  35. Cindie

    Well, since being in Sorrento, Positano and Capri Italy, where we first tasted and brought home BOTTLES and BOTTLES of Limoncello, I have wanted to somehow find or recapture the taste of those from the Amalfi Coast. This recipe is it! I have been macerating my spirits and lemon peel for just over 8 weeks, and taste tested this past weekend…can you say super DELISH? Although I do believe this batch could be “done” I’m going to allow it to macerate a bit more before filtering and adding the simple syrup. Can not wait!

    Reply
    1. James

      Hi Cindie,

      I’m so glad to hear that it is close to what you tasted in Italy. I’ve been making this for a number of years, with all sorts of different varieties of citrus, and they’re all great. I’m also glad to hear you’re letting it continue to mellow. It really does get smoother and better tasting with age. I found a bottle in the back of my pantry that had been there over 18 months and it was fantastic.

      I’d love to hear how you like it after it’s done.
      James

      Reply
  36. Mary

    James,
    How did the tangerine-vanilla batch turn out? Have you tried adding mint or lavender to the limoncello and if adding fresh herbs, did you add at the sugar addition? Thank you!
    Regards,
    M.L.

    Reply
    1. James

      Hi Mary,

      The Tangerine/Vanilla is still resting in the basement but it smells fantastic. It reminds me of the Orange Julius’ you used to get in the malls.

      I’ve thought about adding some herbs but I’d be very careful doing it. Start out very small. I’d add them to the simple syrup so you can control the strength better.

      I’ve tried making a lemon-lavender and it came out VERY STRONG. It reminded me of perfume or potpourri, something you don’t necessarily want to drink. I’m not discouraged, I’ll definitely try it again, but cut the amount to 25% of what I originally used. I ended up using that overpowering batch to mix with champagne, sparkling water or club soda during the hot summer months. It ended up being a great cocktail mixer.

      James

      Reply
  37. Sue LeBeau

    Hi James,

    My husband and I are super excited about this recipe and are in week 3 since adding the simple syrup step. So excited to actually taste the finished product. One question; my husband thinks he needs to stir it. I tell him to just leave it alone but he is worried because the top has a slight ‘white layer’- maybe just the sugar. I did let it all dissolve thoroughly in the hot water before adding. Anyway, should we stir or just let it sit for the remaining 3 weeks? Thank so much for sharing this recipe!

    S.L.

    Reply
    1. James

      Hi, SL,
      I get that as well and I just leave it. It gets strained out with the final straining. It’s never been a problem before and I don’t think it will be a problem with yours either.
      After I add the sugar mixture I just let it sit for at least 6 weeks. I don’t stir it at all. If you want to I don’t see any harm, but I also don’t see any benefit from it either.
      Let me know how it turns out!
      James

      Reply
  38. James

    Hi, SL,

    I get that as well and I just leave it. It gets strained out with the final straining. It’s never been a problem before and I don’t think it will be a problem with yours either.

    After I add the sugar mixture I just let it sit for at least 6 weeks. I don’t stir it at all. If you want to I don’t see any harm, but I also don’t see any benefit from it either.

    Let me know how it turns out!
    James

    Reply
  39. Carol Broadwell

    Hello James, I have been reading Limoncello receipes for days and everyone of them are a little different. I felt a relief come over me after reading your page. Your receipe sounds great. Since I live in California, I have been reading that Everclear 151 proof grain Vodka is illeagal to purchase here. Can you please give me an alternative Vodka to use? I am excited to make Limoncello for Christmas. Thank you for your response.

    Reply
    1. James

      Hi Carol,

      I’m so glad you found my recipe. I’ve tinkered with the recipe until I thought it was the most authentic and tastiest i could make. Please give it a try and let me know what you think.

      The last time I checked you can purchase 151 proof Everclear in California. I believe what is illegal in a number of states is 190 proof Everclear. The 151 proof is not the easiest to find and a lot of retailers will keep it in the back and you have to ask for it. I get it at my small local liquor store.

      However, if you can’t find it you can use an equal amount of vodka. I would see about finding a higher proof vodka though to keep the alcohol level close to this version. It will be fine if you can’t find that but just note the finished product won’t be quite as potent.

      I’d love to hear what you think of it!

      Thanks,
      James

      Reply
      1. Carol Broadwell

        Hi James,
        Well I found all the needed ingredients for your Limoncello recipe. Then I purchased 4 gallon size pickle jars and filled them half full with vodka and my home grown lemon peels. I placed the jugs in the basement and 2 months, then strained it and added the simple syrup and let them sit for another 2 months. I purchased 16 tall long neck clear bottles with red corks at Cost Plus. These bottles were actually made in Italy. I created a colorful red and yellow label for the bottles. When I filled the bottles, they looked amazing and the taste was so smooth. I love it and can’t wait to give it as gifts. I am always looking for something different and your Limoncello was perfect. Thank you so much.
        Merry Christmas
        Carol

        Reply
        1. James

          I’m so happy you like it Carol. Hopefully everyone you give it to will appreciate the time and care you took in making it.

          Now you’ll have to try a few other flavors. Lemon is great but my all-time favorite is grapefruit. Whenever I drink that I get into trouble because I drink too much of it.

          Merry Christmas to you!
          James

          Reply
  40. Mike Gunter

    Hi James, I have been enjoying your Q&A for weeks now an just entered my second week with Meyer lemons for my lemoncello. I use 151 & ever clear , it’s easy to find in Texas. I see where several different things have been added to acquire the taste you prefer , what about more lemon juice from other lemons or the zest to affect the taste. I would check the taste after day 36 , and if not lemony enough for my wife , then add more lemon juice. Is this something you think would be ok to try. I have an Italian friend that makes his own so I’ve got to get it right . Thanks

    Reply
    1. James

      Hi Mike,

      I’m glad you’re giving this a try. I hope you and your wife enjoy the finished product.

      What you’ll probably find by using Meyer lemons is the flavor is a little more mild and “softer” than regular lemons. I’ve had limoncello made with Meyer’s and it’s really delicious but not as lemony as this version.

      If your wife likes a more lemony flavor I’d add more lemon peels to it but I wouldn’t add the juice. One of the characteristics of limoncello is that it’s not sour at all. Only the flavor of the lemons should be present, not the acid, which is why only lemon peels are used.

      I’d love to hear how you like the finished drink.

      James

      Reply
  41. James

    Hi Mike,

    I’m glad you’re giving this a try. I hope you and your wife enjoy the finished product.

    What you’ll probably find by using Meyer lemons is the flavor is a little more mild and “softer” than regular lemons. I’ve had limoncello made with Meyer’s and it’s really delicious but not as lemony as this version.

    If your wife likes a more lemony flavor I’d add more lemon peels to it but I wouldn’t add the juice. One of the characteristics of limoncello is that it’s not sour at all. Only the flavor of the lemons should be present, not the acid, which is why only lemon peels are used.

    I’d love to hear how you like the finished drink.

    James

    Reply
  42. Kathy Franklin

    What about using Moonshine to make limoncello? Any reason not to?

    Reply
    1. James

      Hi Kathy,

      My father actually had some moonshine and we made a batch using it and it turned out great. There are a few good moonshines on the market today so if you can get one of those give it a try. I won’t even comment about moonshine gotten elsewhere. :-)

      I’d love to hear how you like it.

      James

      Reply
    1. James

      Hi Donna,

      I haven’t been to Australia yet so I can say for certain if Everclear is available but a few internet searches have alluded that it’s not, at least not labeled as such. However, I did see a store called Dan Murphy’s sells a Polish spirit called Spirytus that is supposed to be about 190 proof alcohol. This is much stronger than Everclear which is around 150 proof. So if you’re able to get that and want to give it a try I’d cut back on the amount of that by about 25% and increase the vodka by 25% and that should get your final proof around what this recipe ends up with.

      Good luck and let me know if you can find it!
      James

      Reply
  43. Nicole

    Hi!,

    I loved the article and would like to use the recipe for my cousin’s upcoming wedding favor. We need to make 7 gallons! Should I just multiply your recipe or is there a better way to create such a large amount.

    Thanks!,
    Nicole

    Reply
    1. James

      Hi Nicole,

      Wow, now that is big task you have ahead of you. Fortunately, this should be fairly easy, maybe a little time consuming.

      This recipe will make 11 to 12 cups. In order to get a minimum of 7 gallons (112 cups) I’d make this recipe a minimum of 10 times, maybe 11 just to be sure you’ll have enough. Plus, I don’t think you’ll mind having leftovers, since they’ll keep indefinitely.

      Good luck!
      James

      Reply
    2. James

      Hi Nicole,

      I’m curious to know how things are going? Did you end up making the limoncello for the wedding? If so, how’s it going? You should be close to straining it if you started after you posted this.

      James

      Reply
  44. Kyle

    What proof would you estimate the final mixture comes to? I’m going to try making this today and just watned an idea…Also, how much syrup do you get from mixing 4 cups water and 3 cups sugar?

    Reply
    1. James

      Hi Kyle,

      It’s a pretty potent drink and while I don’t know the exact proof of the finished product, I estimate it to be somewhere between 70 and 80 proof.

      You should get approximately 61/2 cups of syrup after it simmers.

      Good luck and if you have any questions just stop back here and ask,
      James

      Reply
      1. Kyle

        Okay, thanks. I asked because I am going to be using a restaurant-ordered premade simple syrup.

        Reply
  45. maria

    Once the limoncello has been bottled, what recommendations do you have for storage (best conditions and shelf life). Also, I have read sources stating that it can be placed in freezer for storage…or at the very least 1-2 hours prior to serving. I welcome your thoughts.

    Reply
    1. James

      After I’ve bottled it, I usually keep one in the freezer at all times and the rest I store on a shelf in my basement where it’s cool and dark.

      As for how long you can store it, I have one bottle that’s over two years old and it just keeps getting smoother. Since it’s so high in alcohol and sugar, I don’t think it will spoil, so I wouldn’t worry about that. Just keep it in a place where the light is low and it’s fairly cool and you should be fine.

      Reply
  46. Kimberly

    Thanks for answering my question! One more if you don’t mind. I also made the Pompelmocello which surprisingly is almost the same color as the Limoncello. This may just be vanity, but do you think it would be okay to add a drop of red food coloring to make it a tad more pink? I plan to give both side by side as Christmas gifts and would love to have a little more contrast. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. James

      I think that would be just fine, just take care to not overdue it or it will look like you’ve added food coloring. Start out with one drop and see how that works. I’d err on the conservative side and go with a very pale pink since all the color was supposed to come from the peels.

      How did you like the flavor of the Pompelmocello?

      Reply
  47. Mezio

    James,
    I am Italian and I am excited to be trying your recipe. I do have a quick question…I mistakingly bought 190 proof everclear and 100 proof vodka. I am worried that this will be too strong in the end. Could I cut the alcohol content when adding the sugar/water mixture just by adding more water to the ratio and keeping the sugar the same? Thanks for your insight. Oh and I used gynormous home grown lemons that i have no idea what kind they are.

    Reply
    1. James

      Hi Mezio,
      I have tried making it with 100 proof and it was strong, but I wouldn’t say it was too strong. If I were you, I would go ahead and make the recipe as is. After its completed I’d taste it and see if it’s too strong. You can always dilute it with a little more water at that point. Also, you will have more control of the final product this way instead of guessing how much more to add halfway through the process.
      Good luck and let me know how you like it,
      Jame

      Reply
  48. Nancy Babcock & Robert Alberts

    Hi James. We love this! Thank you for the great recipe, which we followed to the letter. We’ll do it again soon. Just an idle question — what is the proof of this limoncello? Almost too tasty!

    Reply
    1. James

      I’m glad you like it. I’ve been making this for years and have loved every batch. I’m not 100% sure what the final proof would be but doing some rough calculations, it should be somewhere around 60 proof. Enjoy!

      Reply
  49. Kelli Straub

    I just bottled my first batch today; I started it back on July 25th so have been very excited to see how it tastes. Unfortunately, although drinkable, it seems to lack some depth of lemon flavor. What suggestions do you have for my next batch? I followed the above instructions and used organic lemons. I appreciate any thoughts you have to enhance the lemon flavor next time.

    Reply
    1. James

      Hi Kelli,

      Sorry to hear you weren’t thrilled with the results. A lot depends on the lemons and the size. Sometimes they are smaller or older and will be less potent. Next time you could try using more of them to get a real big punch of flavor.

      James

      Reply
  50. Kimberly

    The pompelmocello was wonderful! Very subtle, but distinct difference. Great suggestion. Now I am hooked! I was just reading a book where they mention black currant vodka. Any idea on how to make this?

    Reply
    1. James

      That’s great to hear Kimberly! Grapefruit is my favorite. I need to start another batch, thanks for the reminder.

      I haven’t made black currant vodka before but I did see this recipe which looks really good.
      http://www.withaglass.com/?p=5811

      Good luck and I’m glad you liked it!
      James

      Reply
  51. How to Make Limoncello – My Heavenly Days

  52. Monica

    Hi James,

    Just reading this now. Planning on making this recipe with Meyer Lemons. Should I change the (simple syrup) sugar water ratio from this recipe, since Meyer’s tend to be sweeter than say Eureka lemons? I don’t care for limoncello to be too sweet. Recommendations greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    1. James

      Hi Monica,

      I’ve tried it with Meyer lemons and you’re right, they are sweeter than regular lemons. I also found the flavor to be a bit lacking when I did it. What I would recommend is using more Meyer lemons, if you have them. If you have enough, I would increase by at least half if not more.

      When you’re getting ready to add the simple syrup, I’d suggest cutting the sugar by a cup or cup and a half but still keep the same amount of water. You can always add more sugar if it’s not sweet enough.

      Good luck and let me know how it turns out for you!
      James

      Reply
  53. Gordon

    Hi James

    Very interesting discussion.

    I will keep in mind your recommendations for using Meyer lemons with your recipe.

    I cannot find alcohol stronger than 75° Vodka here in NZ. Obviously if I used this straight in your recipe it would be a lot weaker. If I reduced the amount of added water to make the syrup I would increase the alcohol content.

    Theoretically I would need to remove 800mls of water from the recipe to match yours. As there is only 750mls of added water this obviously won’t work. What about either:
    (1) Make the syrup as strong as possible – sugar :water 2:1 or stronger. I don’t know how strong you can go with the sugar and still have a solution.

    (2) Dissolve the sugar in some of the alcohol lemon zest mix or keep some of the alcohol back when first adding the zest and hence eliminate the need to add any water.

    What do you think?

    Gordon

    Reply
  54. Gordon

    Hi James

    I should have stated that I need to add 2.3l of my 75° vodka to approximately match your 750mls of 151° + 750mls of 80° + 750mls water.

    Gordon

    Reply
    1. James

      Hi Gordon,

      I would try backing off on the water as much as possible. You can dissolve about 400 grams of sugar in 200 ml of water. Any more than that and the sugar won’t fully dissolve. However, you could use superfine (or quick dissolving) sugar and just pour whatever doesn’t dissolve into the alcohol mixture. After 6 weeks of additional resting it should dissolve.

      Another option that came to mind that might be worth a try, if you’re game, is to replace some of the water with vodka. The danger here is it could ignite when heating so you’ll need to be very careful and keep an eye on it. I would do a 50-50 mix of water and vodka and then heat it very gently until the sugar dissolves. You don’t want to bring it to a boil, just enough to get it warm to help the sugar melt. Alcohol starts to burn off at around 75 degrees C (165 F) so you’ll want to keep it under that.

      The last option would be to add the superfine sugar directly to the alcohol mixture after it’s strained. I’m not sure how that would work but in theory it could work.

      Good luck and I’d love to hear what you ended up doing,
      James

      Reply
  55. Lynn

    I just added the simple syrup to my pompelmocello. When I started the vodka and Everclear mixture I used 190 proof Everclear because that was all I could find at my local Total Wine store. Just a sampling of the completed mixture seemed really strong. Would you recommend adding another full batch of simple syrup? Or is there something else I can do to “tone down” the alcohol?

    Reply
    1. James

      Hi Lynn,

      Yes, I think you would have a batch that would hover around 80 proof instead of around 55 – 58 proof. That’s just a little strong, at least for me.

      I wouldn’t add another batch of simple syrup as that would make it very sweet. One option would be to add just some water. That would cut the alcohol level but not add any more sweetness. The only thing with that is you’ll also dilute the lemon flavor. To counter that, I’d probably add another cup of water and then add some more lemon peels for a few weeks.

      Good luck and I hope you like the flavor of it!
      James

      Reply
      1. Lynn

        Hi again James, I am now going to make a batch of orange with vanilla. I wondered how many vanilla beans you would recommend adding?

        Reply
        1. James

          Hi Lynn,

          How did you make out with the first batch?

          When I’ve made the Orange-Vanilla I added two split vanilla beans after I strained out the peels. So add the simple syrup and then pop in the vanilla beans. After 6 weeks, I gave the container a good shake to make sure I got all the vanilla bean seeds out before I removed them. I also didn’t strain it the final time since I wanted to keep the vanilla bean flecks. it’s a little cloudier than normal but everyone loves to see the black flecks. They will sink to the bottom of the bottle so be sure to shake it up before pouring.

          James

          Reply
          1. Lynn

            James, I just finished bottling my first batch of pompelmocello with 190 proof Everclear and vodka. I have to tell you that I didn’t following your advice because I’d already thrown the grapefruit rind out and I didn’t have any more grapefruit. (I didn’t use store-bought grapefruit, I used grapefruit from a friends tree). I was really afraid that adding water would dilute the grapefruit flavor, so I left it. BOY, is it strong! It is really too strong to sip on its own. But, the good news is that it tastes really good mixed with club soda. So, all is not lost! :) My second batch is limoncello. I used the 190 proof Everclear and vodka in that one too. I hadn’t yet removed the rinds, so I added two cups of water to the mixture of alcohol and rinds and I’m letting it sit for a couple more weeks before I add the simple syrup. I’ll let you know how it turns out. I do know that I won’t be using the 190 proof Everclear again!! Thanks for all your advice! I really appreciate that you respond to my questions!

          2. Lynn Montiel

            Hi James,
            I just finished bottling my first batch of pompelmocello last weekend. I did not follow your advice about adding water to it because I’d already taken the rinds out of the alcohol mixture and I didn’t have any more of the grapefruit I used initially. I got my grapefruit from a friend and I didn’t want to use store bought grapefruit. So I just added the simple syrup and hoped for the best. WHEW! It is really strong! But, all is not lost. If we mix it with club soda, it’s fabulous! I have a batch of limoncello that I started a few weeks after the pompelmocello and I used the same combination of alcohol: 750 ml of vodka and 750 ml of 190 proof Everclear. The limoncello was ready for simple syrup this past weekend. Since my experience with this combination was not so good, I added 2 cups of water to the lemon rinds and the alcohol and put it back to sit for a couple more weeks. I’ve learned from my mistakes… I won’t be using the higher proof Everclear again! I’ll be sure to let you know how the finished limoncello turns out. Thanks for your replies!

  56. James

    The grapefruit with the sparkling water sounds like a fantastic summertime drink Lynn. Honestly, grapefruit is my all-time favorite.

    Good luck with the next batch!

    Reply
  57. Sarah

    Can I use 190 proof Everclear? If not, can I dilute 190 proof Everclear with water so that it is more like 151 proof? Wd so much appreciate your thoughts?

    Reply
    1. James

      Hi Sarah,

      I would recommend adding water to the 190 proof Everclear to cut it’s strength. If you look at the comments right above yours you’ll see someone who did use 190 proof and found it way too strong. I would suggest using 2 cups of 190 proof and 1 cup of water to replace the 750ml bottle of 151 Everclear.

      Good luck!
      James

      Reply
  58. Karen

    I just made my first batch and I’m a bit disappointed that it’s not more lemony. I may have had too much vodka for the amount of lemons used. Is there anything I can do to increase the lemony flavor? I already added the simple syrup.

    Reply
    1. James

      Hi Karen,

      What you can try is adding more lemon peels and letting it sit. I’m not sure though how the sugar will react with them. Another option would be to pack a bunch of lemon peels into a small amount of vodka, let it sit for 6 weeks and then add that. It will make the final drink a little stronger but it should also be a little more lemony.

      James

      Reply
  59. Matt

    Hi James

    I stumbled upon this site a couple of months ago and was interested in trying to make your recipe. Like many before, in my area i could only find the 190 proof. I made one batch using the 190 proof and a month later took a ride to the next state over and bought a bottle of the 151 proof that you recommended. The first batch came out way to strong.

    I just bottled the second batch and am very happy with the outcome. The only issue i have is that the second batch seems to be alittle light on the lemon flavor. So, i’m guessing the next batch i make will include more lemons in the initial stage.

    Any other suggestions on how to increase the overall lemon flavor on any future batches?
    Maybe a certain type of lemon? Or more lemons?

    Reply
    1. James

      Hi Matt,

      I have seen a number of people that could only purchase 190 proof so I’m working on a batch using that to see what I can do to help tame it a little bit.

      As for the increased lemon flavor, more lemon peels will certainly help with that. I would stay away from Meyer lemons as they are more subtle in flavor than regular commercial lemons. I also scrub my lemons before using them to make sure there is no wax or anything on the lemon that could inhibit the transfer of oils to the alcohol.

      Good luck and stay tuned for the results of my 190 test. I just started it last week so it’s going to take a little while.

      James

      Reply
  60. Alana

    I just finished my first batch of limoncello and a batch of grapefruit. The both taste amazing and I will definitely be making some more as it is disappearing very quickly. I do have a question though, mine came out clear with just a tint of yellow instead of “milky” like in the picture. Did I do something wrong?

    Reply
    1. James

      Hi Alana,

      I’m glad you liked them. Grapefruit is my all-time favorite.

      Not turning “milky” will happen from time to time. When you add the simple syrup to the alcohol mixture and it turns cloudy, this is called the louche (or Ouzo) effect. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouzo_effect
      It has to do with the amount of essential oils that came out of the citrus zest. If you didn’t get enough then the mixture will remain clear.

      There are a number of reasons why you wouldn’t get enough extracted oils, starting with the fruit themselves. They may not have had a lot to begin with so you couldn’t extract a lot. Or it could be the amount of time they sat in the alcohol wasn’t long enough.

      Did you use 151 proof and 80 proof vodka? Sometimes if a lower proof is used you won’t get the correct extraction.

      In any case, I’ve made a number of batches that didn’t turn cloudy but they still tasted great so I wouldn’t worry about it right now. If you’d like to try another batch, you could go up on the amount of zest, which should do the trick.

      James

      Reply
  61. Susan

    I have bottled the lemoncello and wondered if I can make it somewhat more sweet after bottling? It is a bit strong! I goofed somewhere along the line but don’t want to waste all that I have bottled. Thank you.

    Reply

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