top of page
  • Writer's picturePasta Grammar

How to Make Authentic Limoncello | Homemade Limoncello Recipe PLUS Some Delicious Alternatives

Store bought limoncello, even in Italy, is rarely as good as it is when homemade. The overly-sweetened liqueur found in restaurants is mostly for tourists, while the home kitchen version is stronger and uses a lot less sugar (although still plenty, which really makes you wonder how the former is made). It’s a very simple drink to make, but before we begin it’s important to address why you might want to try one of the alternatives we’ve listed below…

How to Make Authentic Limoncello | Homemade Limoncello Recipe

Why You Might Not Want to Make Limoncello

Because limoncello is made with a highly concentrated tincture using just the outer lemon rind, Italians consider it non-negotiable that the lemons must be completely pesticide free. Store bought organic lemons are definitely not guaranteed to be free of pesticides because there are many organic-approved chemicals that are used and will primarily affect the rind, which is exactly what we’ll be using.

You’re free to make your own decision, of course, but we urge you to only use lemons that come from a trusted, local source where you can be sure that no pesticides were used. If you don’t have a homegrown lemon source, consider trying…

Limoncello Alternatives

The basic process of making limoncello can be applied to other produce, not just lemons. You can really get creative with fruit, herbs and ingredients like coffee. After the limoncello recipe we’ll give a few examples with slightly tweaked ingredient amounts based on our own experimentation.

For each example, the process is exactly the same. Only the ingredients and infusion times change, all of which will be listed below.

Watch the Pasta Grammar video:


Makes: About 2 liters

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 10 large lemons

  • 4 ¼ cups (1 L) grain alcohol (~95% alcohol)

  • 3 ⅛ cups (750 ml) water

  • 2 ½ cups (500 g) granulated sugar

Carefully peel the yellow lemon zest from all 10 lemons with a sharp paring knife, taking care to avoid peeling any of the white pith. If you do get some pith, you can scrape it off the peel with the edge of the knife. Place the lemon peels into a large, sealable jar and fill it with the grain alcohol. Shake to evenly mix the peels and liquid.

Store the jar in a cool, dark place for 25 days. Every 1 or 2 days, give the jar a shake.

After 25 days, combine the water and sugar in a pot and heat over medium/low heat, stirring frequently until the sugar is dissolved. Let the syrup cool to room temperature. Strain the lemon-flavored alcohol into the syrup and stir together.

Using a funnel, transfer the limoncello into sealable bottles and store in a cool, dark place for a month to let the alcohol flavor mellow. It’s now ready to enjoy! Keep it in the freezer and serve ice cold.


Limoncello Alternative #1: Coffee


  • 14 ounces (400 g) coffee beans, roughly crushed in a mortar and pestle

  • 4 ¼ cups (1 L) grain alcohol (~95% alcohol)

  • 5 ½ cups (1.3 L) water

  • 5 cups (1 kg) granulated sugar

Infusion Time: 7 days

Limoncello Alternative #2: Ginger


  • 11 ounces (320 g) peeled ginger, sliced

  • 4 ¼ cups (1 L) grain alcohol (~95% alcohol)

  • 3 ⅛ cups (750 ml) water

  • 2 ½ cups (500 g) granulated sugar

Infusion Time: 20 days

Limoncello Alternative #3: Basil


  • 5.5 ounces (160 g) fresh basil leaves

  • 4 ¼ cups (1 L) grain alcohol (~95% alcohol)

  • 4 ¼ cups (1 L) water

  • 3 cups (600 g) granulated sugar

Infusion Time: 3 to 4 days

8,274 views12 comments


4 days ago

I made the ginger batch with Everclear, this is the only grain alcohol available in Pennsylvania, it is 75.5%. The flavor is foul because of this, I did not change any of the directions to accommodate for the percentage change. The problem is that Everclear smells and tastes disgusting to me, even though it’s supposed to be pure grain alcohol. I was going to give this as gifts but I don’t think anyone will like it.

Does the 95% have a better smell/taste or something?

I’ll be going back to my usual way of making this liquor using vodka.


Clark benson
Clark benson
6 days ago

Uniforms contribute to the professional appearance of a team. They signify discipline, organization, and a serious approach to the sport. When players wear a uniform, it reflects their commitment to the team and the sport, which can be inspiring for both the players and their supporters. This professional customize sport uniforms is important for building a team’s reputation and gaining respect from opponents and fans alike.


Lori Sidwell
Lori Sidwell
Jun 27

What about this?


Gene Johnson
Gene Johnson
Jun 15

Regarding pesticides, etc. on lemon peels, you shouldn't worry too much. After all, the alcohol you infuse them with is a well-known poison, much worse than the miniscule amount of other substances you might ingest! In addition, limoncello is usually enjoyed in small amounts in a communal setting so no one person is going to get that much of any unwanted substance. Make it and enjoy! That being said, thanks for the other ideas. I'm making the basil one right now.

If you can't get 95% alcohol (here in NC the highest we can get is 151 proof), reduce the amount of water in the sugar solution to get the same final proof. Water can dissolve a lot more suga…


Jun 13

I like what I see it is very interesting, please if you are willing will you email me the ingrediencies, I thank you and i ask God to 💕 and bless you and your family

bottom of page