Recipe: Limoncello, the Nectar of the Gods

It's time to bottle up some southern Italian sunshine.

By: Tina Palma

Limoncello is a lemon-flavored liqueur that has its origins in the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento and the Island of Capri.

It has been a longtime favorite of our family and many other Italians.

When I visited Italy, I fell in love with Capri and all its beauty, and being surrounded by citrus, I had to purchase a bottle of limoncello and bring it home!

Monte Solaro, Capri, Italy.

Being enamored by this eye-popping sweet liqueur, I decided to distill some of my own “liquid sunshine.”

I did a little research, compiled my ingredients, sorted through my instructions, fine-tuned all the timing, and set out on my “Capri” mixology journey!

I hope you give it a try, and if you ever get a chance to visit Capri, you must go to the Grotta Azzurra—it will be a memory of sheer delight, reminiscent to only heaven!

Blue grotto (Grotta Azzurra) in Capri, Italy.


Limoncello Ingredients

  • 10-12 organically grown lemons
  • 1-2 baking soda (for rinsing lemons)
  • 1 liter grain alcohol (vodka or grappa). The higher the proof, the better the results; grappa is a grape-based pomace brandy of Italian origin that contains 35 to 60 percent alcohol.

Simple Syrup

  • 8 ½ cups filtered water
  • 1 ½ cups sugar (extra fine granules)


Lemon Skin Marinate

  1. Soak lemons in warm water and add 1 to 2 tsp. of baking soda to remove any wax and dirt.
  2. Wipe lemons dry. and let air dry for a bit.
  3. Using a potato peeler, remove the outermost yellow peel from each lemon. Make sure not to pick up the bitter white pith, it will have an adverse effect on the end result of the limoncello.
  4. Place peeled lemons in a plastic bag and refrigerate them for another time.
  5. Drop lemon peels into large 32 oz. wide mouth mason jar. Pour the alcohol over the peels, turn the jar upside down to ensure all peels are coated, then place right-side up.
  6. Put the jar in a cool dry place to allow the oil from the lemon peels to infuse into the alcohol for, at least, 1 week. Shake the jar every 2 days to ensure all the oils from the peels are extracted.

Limoncello/Simple Syrup Instructions for Completion

  1. After 1 to 2 weeks (just use your own judgment, it may need a little more time for the lemon peels to marinate.)
  2. Fill a saucepan with 8½ cups of filtered water. Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce heat
  3. Measure out the 1½ cups of sugar; you are going to add the sugar to the simmering water, stirring as you add it and it will slowly dissolve to become simple syrup. Set aside to completely cool.
  4. Remove the lemon peels from the jar and discard.
  5. Now you are going to filter the liqueur with either coffee filters or a mesh filter.
  6. Mix the limoncello with the cooled simple syrup; blending them together; stirring to be sure it’s completely combined.
  7. With a narrow funnel placed in a decorative jar, pour the limoncello in and cork for future gift-giving or for the approaching summer season.
  8. You want to keep it in the refrigerator or the freezer. Shake or stir the bottle prior to opening as the simple syrup and alcohol sometimes separate.
  9. Click here for more of Tina’s recipes.


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