Limoncello Recipe

Yield: Approximately 16 servings


  • 12 very fresh lemons, ideally wax-free and organic
  • 750 ml bottle vodka
  • ⅓ cup or more simple syrup

Make the Limoncello in two steps:

Step 1:
Grate the zest of the lemons very finely. As you grate, try to avoid grating the albedo—the white, pithy part of the rind. 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 the grated zest to the funnel and pour just enough vodka into the funnel to wash the grated zest into the bottle. Repeat this—washing a little bit of 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 some other implement with a long narrow handle). Stopper the bottle tightly and put it in a cool, dark place, where it will rest for three weeks.

Step 2:
After three weeks have passed, take the bottle from its hiding place. Line a sieve with several layers of cheesecloth and set it atop a large, spouted measuring cup. 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 does not seem sweet enough to you, add more simple syrup—a teaspoonful at a time, tasting after each addition—until the desired sweetness is achieved.

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