If you have lemons, you can make Limoncello.

Homemade Limoncello
Photo: Aubrie Pick
Stand Time:
30 days 10 hrs
Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
30 days 10 hrs
16 to 20
4 1/2 cups

Limoncello is a classic summertime drink synonymous with the Amalfi coast, where citrus (and relaxation time) are famously abundant. While making a perfect Limoncello requires a little foresight — you'll want to set aside at least a month of steeping time — the result is a refreshing, brightly colored drink that’s perfect for enjoying as an aperitif, or in place of dessert during those sweltering, oven-free days of summer.

This limoncello recipe comes from New York City’s Italian hotspot Don Angie, which you may know for its iconic rolled lasagna, or towering chrysanthemum salad. While many limoncello recipes (as well as other ‘cellos, which can be made with grapefruits, tangerines, or oranges) call for fruit zest that is steeped in alcohol, strained, and mixed with simple syrup, this balanced take also adds in fruit juice to balance out some excess sweetness that can make the drink overpowering or cloying for some. 

To make limoncello, you’ll need a high-proof grain alcohol — vodka works especially well — which helps extract that tart, slightly sweet lemon flavor from the citrus. If Meyer lemons are in season, you can use them to make for an especially sweet variation of the drink. For a creamy, indulgent riff that walks the line between lemon posset and limoncello, add ¾ of a cup of heavy cream and stir well. 

Once you've made a batch of limoncello, you can store it in the freezer indefinitely. We're big fans of decanting into smaller bottles and enjoying in the chillier months, when summer seems impossibly far away. –– Oset Babür-Winter


  • 1 1/2 cups 190-proof neutral grain alcohol or neutral spirit, such as Everclear

  • 1/2 cup grated citrus from 15 small lemons

  • 2/3 cup lemon juice

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste


  1. In a 32-ounce glass jar, combine alcohol and lemon zest. Seal tightly and let steep at room temperature, in a cool, dry place for at least 1 month.

  2. In a small saucepan, combine citrus juice, 2 cups of water, sugar, salt, and vanilla paste. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and stir until sugar is melted.

  3. Strain liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Add chilled sugar syrup and stir well to combine. Funnel into a bottle and store in the freezer.

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