Does It Pay to Wait? Testing Giada’s Recipe

A new post, can you believe it?! Many apologies for my sloth, friends. I have a few reviews collected but I haven’t been posting them in a timely fashion at all. I’ve been busy working on other sites, but it’s no excuse!

My latest idea was to test a few of the recipes out on the web that are very popular and see how they compare to my own. I started with a recipe on the Food Network by Giada De Laurentiis. Check it out and you’ll see all the specs that I usually post here. Since the recipe doesn’t specify, I employed my own best practices and used organic lemons and 100-proof vodka.

I’m testing a few things here. One is just what Giada’s recipe tastes like versus my own. A second is peeling versus zesting. She recommends peeling and I usually zest. A third is the infusion time, she recommends 4 days and I usually do a minimum of 30 days.

Without further ado, here are the results. The peeling was a painful process. I’m meticulous about not getting any pith and you have to be serious samurai to peel lemons quickly without getting any pith. It took me a long time. There are people who claim peeling is the ONLY way to make limoncello because it produces a product with more flavor and clarity. I’ll concede the clarity point. Zesting produces a much cloudier limoncello. If you peel you’ll get a nice clear limoncello right away. It’s also easier to filter. However, I don’t think it positively impacts the lemon flavor you get and if you let zested limoncello rest long enough, it becomes clear eventually.

The finished limoncello had a nice medium yellow color, but the aroma was weak and it was hard to detect the lemon scent. The flavor was also pretty weak, it tasted like a lemon drop but had a character more akin to simple syrup than limoncello. It was extremely smooth with no real alcohol heat. I would describe this as limoncello for those who don’t really like alcohol. It had a very sweet, easy-to-like flavor so I understand why the recipe is popular (nothing to do with Giada I’m sure…). I prefer a stronger lemon character and a stronger liquor in general. Those are certainly preferences though.

In all, this is a good recipe for someone wanting to give limoncello as a gift. You can make it quickly vs. my recipe and it produces a clear, attractive limoncello that most people who don’t usually drink limoncello may like. It’s not a batch that I would personally be proud of but it’s definitely interesting that you can make a semi-decent limoncello in 4 days.


  1. Dave says

    If the recipe isn’t lemony enough, why not just add more lemon peels?

    In fact, have you experimented with, say, 50% more lemon in your own recipe? Would that wreck it – too lemony?

    I have my first-ever batch going – thirty days in – haven’t added the syrup yet, looking so much forward to the finished product! Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  2. Ben says

    Oh, I could try to fix it but I wanted to test it exactly as instructed in her recipe. I think a longer infusion time and/or stronger liquor would fix the lack of lemon flavor. More peels would probably do it as well.

  3. Stephen Evans says

    I tried her recipe and it was okay at best. I wasn’t sure what proof alcohol to use either. I used my everclear and diluted it. I also zested lemons instead of peeled because I read this site. I followed her 4 day steep and sugar ratios. I ran it through the permanent filter. There was a lot of crap all over the bottles. Not as well filtered as your recipe. You really need need the coffee filters. Also not as great of a lemon taste. It also had a “hot” alcohol taste. Not a big fan of her recipe. I also tried Alton Browns at

    I think it was better than hers but your recipe is still the best. I am going to stick to your recipe. I haven’t filtered the everclear with carbon yet but the next one I will.

  4. Bill DeFelice says

    I found this site and thought I would take your recipe and try it. I did do things a bit differnetly though. I can’t get grain in PA so I had to go with 100 proof Stoli. I filtered it 8x through the Brita. I zested 20 lemons and used (2) 750 ml bottles of the Stoli. I let it sit for 60 days. I then filtered the zets out. I used the permanent wire mesh coffee filter first, then a paper towel, then I filtered 7 times through a regular coffee filter. I used distilled water for the simple syrup. Added equal parts simple syrup to the now filtered lemon infused vodka. Then filtered the whole thing once through the Brita. I then let that sit for another 60 days.

    Holy Crap! This stuff went down like water. I have a large family of Italians and we drink Limoncello for special occasions all the time. EVERYONE has commented on how good this is, everyone who has tried it is amazed. It really is dangerous because it goes down so smoothly you don’t realize your getting hammered in the process.

    Thank you. I am on my second batch and my Christmas list is already full!!

  5. Chris says

    Ok I’m now addicted to limoncello after I tasted it the first time on a cruise. I loved it. It came to us as a shot, It was smooth went down easy. Wasn’t real lemony though. But the alcohol was a hint in it. Which I liked best. I don’t like strong alcohol after taste or burn. I recently decided to make our first batch and in the meantime of waiting on our lemony goodness to steep. We bought a bottle of Caravella. WOW! Was I surprised. It burned my throat. My face instantly flashed a red rash which I’ve never experienced before in my life. Is this just s bad bottle or are they all like this? I wish now I would have asked Carnival what brand they used and if they mixed it with something before pouring it in a shot glass. Are they all like this? Very strong alcohol flavor and heat? We started ours with everclear I’m hoping I didn’t ruin a batch. Any suggestions will be appreciated. Thanks

  6. Ben says

    I’ve had some really strong shots but I’ve never had that reaction. I’ve also never had a commercial limoncello that was really strong, they are usually south of 30%. I wonder if it wasn’t some other ingredient, as commercial brands can have dyes to which you could be allergic. If yours comes out too strong you could add simple syrup, I’d suggest you use the calculator and target 24%.

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