The Best Limoncello Recipes

It’s summertime in California and all I crave right now is air conditioning and ice. There couldn’t be a better time to have a huge batch of homemade Italian Limoncello in your freezer and spend the rest of the summer drinking it. The liquor is a sweet, thick syrup, perfect for making refreshing cocktails with a kick that can knock you over – or out – after just one glass.

I had an English Midsummer’s Dinner Party recently and decided to test out my Limoncello recipe on a bunch of friends. It was a super warm night so we dined outside and sipped the refreshing Italian aperitif while the final touches were being made to dinner. I mixed the Limoncello with lemon vodka, rosemary and fresh lime juice, poured it over a LOT of crushed ice and topped it up with sparkling water.

After I’d drunk about half my glass, I had a somewhat-hazy revelation that involved topping everyone’s drink with Prosecco – just to make sure the entire group was slurring by dinner. And it worked: the perfect decoy for anyone nervous about their cooking skills. The drink is so refreshing and sweet that its impossible to put down while its main ingredient, 190 proof Everclear, remains fully disguised. That is…until you realize you’re not slurping lemonade and maybe you should have resisted the urge to keep drinking more.

I made my huge batch of Limoncello using a recipe from this brilliant site, illustrated with step-by-step photos catered to the challenged-recipe-followers like myself:

I used evaporated cane sugar instead of regular bleached granules and huge organic lemons specially delivered from my friend’s pollution-free tree in Malibu.

Limoncello di Lucia



My lemon peel and Everclear before the fermenting process

  • 750 ml bottle of grain alcohol (I used Everclear)
  • 7 or 8 large lemons (make sure they’re organic and not sprayed, you’re using the peel!)
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar


  • Wash the lemons thoroughly – scrub them clean of all residue.
  • Using a peeler, take off the skins being careful not to get any of the white lemon “pith” onto your peelings or it will add bitterness to your Limoncello.
  • Put the peels into a large, open-mouth jar with the alcohol and seal the lid tightly. Put the date on the bottle.
  • Put the jar in a cool, dry place for one week – once a day, shake the contents well to remix everything. You’ll notice the color of the liquid changing to yellow and the color of the lemon peels fading.
  • One week later, dissolve the sugar completely in water by heating it on the stove. Then cool the sugar-water mixture to room temperature.

    Residue Lemon Peel

    Residue lemon peel

  • Strain the lemon peels out of the alcohol and then mix the alcohol with the sugar-water. Usually the color of the alcohol changes from clear yellow to cloudy yellow when it’s combined with the sugar-water.
  • Pour the mixture into bottles which can be sealed tightly and store them in the freezer. If the Limoncello is kept “frozen” until serving it becomes thick and syrupy.

Once the Limoncello is good to go, there is an abundance of delectable delights you can make with it.

The Amalfi Cocktail

* 1-1/2 ounces citrus vodka
* 1/2 ounce Limoncello
* 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
* 2 sprigs lemon thyme
(Created by Ektoras Binikos, Aureole Restaurant, New York City)

Limoncello-Thyme Frozen Yogurt


1/3 litre of Limoncello (or as desired – the more Limoncello you add, the runnier and more alcoholic the texture will be)

1/3 cup maple syrup or agave

3 teaspoons fresh lemon or lime juice (I prefer lime as it’s less tart and more flavorful)

A handful of fresh lemon-thyme

1 lemon’s worth of rind grated (use organic lemons)

A pinch of salt

3 cups plain Greek yogurt or more if you prefer it less sweet (low fat or full fat optional)

2 egg whites (optional)


Blended lemon rind

Blended lemon rind

Chop or blend the grated lemon rind into small pieces and remove the leaves from the lemon-thyme sprigs. In a stainless steel saucepan, add both ingredients to the lemon/lime juice, sweetener of your choice (preferably maple syrup or agave), a pinch of salt and a cup of water. Cook over medium heat and stir until the lemon rind and lemon-thyme are well infused into the mix. If you prefer completely smooth frozen yogurt, you don’t have to chop up the lemon rind or de-leaf the lemon thyme sprigs. Instead you can simmer the rind and the sprigs whole until they are well infused in the liquid, and then strain the syrup using a sieve.
Simmer the syrup, lemon rind, lemon thyme and a pinch of salt

Simmer the syrup, lemon rind, lemon thyme and a pinch of salt

Wait for the syrup to cool and then mix in the Greek yogurt. I quickly blended the ingredients but not too much as I like to retain the slightly chunky texture. Place this in the fridge or freezer for half an hour or until cold.

Beat the egg white until stiff peaks form, gently fold into the yogurt mixture, and place in the ice cream maker along with the Limoncello, as per the ice-cream maker instructions.

Keep the frozen yogurt in an airtight container and try to consume within 3 days, although, if frozen, it will last much longer.

WARNING: Don’t forget how alcoholic this is. I got completely drunk before the batch even made it to the ice cream maker, only to discover the main compartment was missing…. And so I ate more.


4 Responses

  1. I’ve never used evaporated cane sugar, what do you think is the benefit of using that over white sugar?

  2. Wait…How much limoncello do you include in your frozen yogurt? And, when? It doesn’t say.

    • Oh woops. I use half a bottle. Or about a quarter of a litre but play it by ear. The more you use the less the yogurt freezes.

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