Lemon Zest

How to Make Limoncello

I typed up a post on my website a week or so ago called “10 Home Made Christmas Food Gift Ideas“. In it I’d included a good few recipes for alcohol (crabapple liquer, for example), but omitted to include limoncello; it’s not something I’d even thought to make before.

It turns out via numerous recipes posted to Twitter and the like recently that limoncello is really easy to make at home. The process for doing so is very similar to sloe gin; simply infuse lemon zest in alcohol for a period of time before adding sugar syrup (note that in the case of sloe gin, the sugar is added directly to the alcohol along with the fruit – I suspect this would work fine with limoncello, too).

Lemon Zest

There’s so many different methods for making limoncello out there but the differences all seem minor. One of the common notes though is to use a quite high (>50% abv) alcohol content; something easier said than done here in the UK where all alcohol seems to be limited to 40% maximum. The reason for this is that the sugar syrup dilutes the alchohol, resulting in a drink somewhat weaker than the neat spirit.

Luckily for me I was on holiday in Poland last week so picked up a bottle of rectified spirit at 95% abv in a local supermarket. Unluckily, it was confiscated at the airport by some customs officials (who are probably now drunk), stating that the alcohol content was higher than permitted. I ended up buying a bottle of somewhat weaker 50% abv vodka in duty free – I was not a happy bunny!

Most limoncello in the shops looks to be between 30% and 50% ABV, so my recipe below compensates for that by adjusting the amount of water in the sugar syrup accordingly; I suggest you do the same to end up with the desired alcohol content. The theory is pretty simple; most recipes call for 50/50 mix of sugar syrup and spirit (vodka in this case), meaning the finished alcohol content will be half of what you started with. Simply adjust the water content according to your neat spirit ABV.

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Recipe: Limoncello Recipe

Summary: Limoncello is so easy to make you’ll be astounded. It’s delicious served ice-cold as an after dinner drink.


  • 1 Litre Vodka / Spirit
  • Zest of 4 Lemons (as little pith as possible)
  • 750g Sugar
  • 650ml Water


  1. Begin by placing the lemon zest in a kilner jar or similar. Pour over the vodka and leave for 1 week.
  2. Place your sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Allow to cool for a few minutes before mixing with the vodka.
  4. Leave for 3 more weeks then strain (to remove the lemon zest) into bottles.

Cooking time: 5 minute(s)

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