How to make Lemoncillo (Italian Lemon drink with vodka)

capcrnch Jan 8, 2008 Food
This is a family recipe for Lemoncillo. Lemoncillo is an Italian drink that takes lemon zest and vodka (or everclear) and combines the two for an amazing cocktail!

Make Limoncello (Lemon Chello)


1500ml vodka or everclear
4 cups sugar
5 cups water
15 lemons (washed and cleaned)
1-gallon glass jar

In our case, we use Absolut Vodka. We like the taste and the bottles are cool. HA!
You can use cheaper vodka if you want, but we’re loyal to Absolut.

1500ml is a Costco sized bottle. You can obviously use 2 750ml bottles if that’s easier.


Empty all but a ¼ cup of vodka into your glass jar.

Zest all 15 lemons.
Zesting is a process where you “peel” the lemon skin. You’re only going after the outer skin, nothing more. You can pick up a zesting tool at Meijer, Target or any other store that sells kitchen utensils. You drag the tool across the skin and you’ll get the zest you see in the bowl.
Be careful not to dig too deep into the lemon. If you go too deep, you get too much of the pith and that’s no good for your mix.
This is about 4 lemons worth of zesting…

This is about 10 lemons worth of zesting…

Put the zest into your glass jar, which should already have vodka sitting in it.

Remember that 1/4 cup of vodka we left in the bottle? Well go ahead and pour that into the bowl your rinds were in. Swirl it around a little and then pour it into the glass jar. The reason you do this is to ensure you get all the lemon oil that the rinds left behind. The oil is the magic to the limoncello, so you dont want to lose any!

We’re going to let this sit for 1 week. I recommend clearing a small spot in your closet and putting this in there. The even temperature and lack of sunlight will help the vodka and lemon oils do their lovemaking thing.

After the week, we’re going to finish our batch.
Bring the 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the sugar and remove from the heat.
Stir until it has all dissolved.
Cover it up and let it cool to room temp.

Strain the vodka mix into your saucepan and stir into the sugar concoction. The rinds can now be thrown away, they wont do us any good now.
Stir the contents of your saucepan for about 1 minute, then pour from the saucepan back into the glass jar.

Store the glass jar for at least 1 more week.

Keep in mind...
The longer you let it sit, the better it will be in the long run.
Usually we store ours for 1 week, add the sugar mix, and then store it for 3 more weeks.
At the 3-week mark, we pour from the large jar into smaller glass bottles.
We then store the smaller, more manageable bottles in the freezer or give some to friends.

Make sure your storage jars have either a cork seal or a rubber stopper. Its important to keep what’s inside the jar in and what’s outside of the jar out!

You can drink your Limoncello straight, add to champagne or mix it with another drink of your choice..

Its light enough to drink straight. It doesn’t have a harsh “alcohol taste”… It’s smooth and sweet.

It's a super easy thing to make and its SO good and worthwhile when its done.


What did you think of this tutorial?
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23 CommentsAdd a Comment
Connie on Aug 19, 2020
My bottles in the freezer, froze up. Why? I used Vodka in mine, I find the Everclear is too strong. I now store my bottles in the wine cooler.
David Hansen on Mar 23, 2018
Don’t throw away the leftovers lemon skins they can be used for flavouring things like cooking chicken etc.
MItch on May 24, 2017
I made this befor but with 190 proof, way to strong , but good
juju on Oct 29, 2015
was wondering if you could use citron(lemon flavored vodka)? also I have lots of empty 50ml bottles of absolute...will that work when I transfer to make gifts?
Kristina on Mar 5, 2015
Do the bottled jars have to be frozen?
Isago on Sep 7, 2013
But where do I get little bottles with a cork or rubber stopper - preferably decorative bottles - so that I can make nice gifts of this delectable drink?
sherry on Dec 27, 2018
I buy a six-pack of Grolsch beer. It's cheaper AND if get to drink the beer. :}
Lora on Jan 17, 2018
I found cute ones at Dollar Store and Hobby Lobby
Tina on Dec 3, 2013
I get mine at Specialty Bottle company great bottles at a reasonable price!
Lesa newberry on Mar 30, 2013
yes...going to make then add to a lemon drop..
Italiano on Jan 28, 2012
Btw it's called LIMONCELLO.
Theresa Clements on Jan 21, 2012
I use Meyers lemons, and make triple batches. The process usually takes about 3 months to get the best flavor. After that I freeze it in bottles in the freezer. It is so good!
sherry on Dec 27, 2018
Someone gave me a shopping bag of Myers. They don't have the oil that Persian lemons do. I left it in the vodka for 6 months. Not bad, but timid.
frank m on Dec 1, 2011
I have zest and everclear 190 proof, sitting in glass jug for 4 weeks. ???? I cut the everclear with 4 cups of water to bring down proof. How much water is to be boiled,and how much sugar is now needed.
Scott on Oct 2, 2010
I went to a family get together and my uncle made this stuff and it was just the greatest thing ive ever tasted
Deborah Nelson on Jul 20, 2010
. I don’t drink alcohol but the recipe sound great I would like to make it for friends and I may try a little myself I'm crazy about lemons
Lisa on Mar 29, 2010
It's been a week & I'm ready for the next step! The ingredients list says 5 cups of sugar but the instructions say bring 6 cups of sugar to a boil, which is it?
Crystal on Sep 16, 2010
The instructions say bring 6 cups of water to a boil and add the sugar!
erin on Feb 7, 2015
i think she meant to say water. it says 5 cups of water in the ingredients but 6 cups in the instructions.
Rick S on Mar 3, 2010
Very detailed. Excellent instructions. not too much and great recipe!
Littlepurpleroom on Feb 20, 2010
I bought a bottle today for the first time to treat myself. Cost 21.00 US. I will make this. We brew our own stout and make wine. I did make cranberry liquor about 20 years ago pretty much like you made this and it was the best. Thanks for bring back that memory and this recipe. Wonder how it would be with meyer lemons....
hippy k on Nov 29, 2009
sounds yummy will try
Leann on Aug 30, 2009
good job, think I'll try it!
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  • Last Updated : Jan 8, 2008