My Basic Limoncello Recipe: The Control Group for Experimentation

Standard Limoncello Recipe

There are many limoncello recipes available on the internet but since I’m engaged in a pseudo-scientific endeavor here, it makes sense to publish my basic recipe. Wanna hear it? Here it go:

Limoncello ingredients:

  • Two (2) 750ml bottles of pure grain alcohol, so 1.5L of alcohol
  • The zest of 17 lemons (in one test it worked out to ~50 grams of zest, but that’s highly dependent on how you zest)
  • 3.5 cups of white sugar
  • 5 cups of filtered water

Limoncello recipe instructions:

  1. Zest the lemons, put the zest in a glass one-gallon jar with the alcohol and let it sit for 45 days.
  2. Mix the sugar and water in a pot and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
  3. Let the mixture sit until completely cool and then mix with the alcohol and lemon infusion.
  4. Let that mixture sit for 45 days.
  5. Filter the mixture 4 times using #4 coffee filters.
  6. Bottle the liquid and put it in the freezer.

That’s the short, basic version. There’s a lot more to it though and it would be wise of you to check the long-form recipe for all the gory details.

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(18) comments

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romalue keith August 5, 2018

I just found your site. Very informative!

I was wondering if I could halve the recipe as I do not want that much limoncello.



Ben August 10, 2018

Sure you can.

Elayne December 11, 2018

As winemaker and competitor, I am always looking for new recipes. Personally, I have never made Limoncello but I have drank it… thoroughly enjoy it & am looking forward to further newsletters.

Audrey Waldrop December 18, 2018

Hello! I started a batch about 2 years ago, messed up the recipe somehow and wound up with not enough flavor or sweetness. I kept it and in the meantime I have added zest whenever I make lemonade and let it rest. Today I filtered it, it has a nice texture, lemony, but needs more sweetness. What do you recommend?

Ben January 6, 2019

Just add some simple syrup until the sweetness is right. There’s no harm in that.

Victoria January 10, 2019

Hi! Love the new look of your site! I wanted to share that we made many batches of your limoncello for our wedding favors and welcome cocktail in 2016, and it was AMAZING. We’re currently making a batch with blood oranges from our garden, and I’m thinking of doing the simple syrup with the juice of the oranges so we can get some of that gorgeous color in there. Any thoughts on that? Wondering if we should stick with 5 cups juice and 3.5 cups sugar, if we should decrease some of the sugar, or if we should do a ratio of water/juice with the sugar…? Thank you in advance!

Ben January 11, 2019

This is a little tough, what I’d do is experiment with it to get the proportions right. The big change is that you’ll need far less sugar because OJ has a lot of sugar in it already. However, as a starting point there are roughly 215 grams in a US cup of sugar and there are 34 grams of sugar in 12 ounces of OJ (both things I just learned by Googling so you may want to cross check).

Beth January 26, 2019

In the longer limoncello recipe, the instructions say to filter the lemon infusion BEFORE adding the simple syrup. In the standard recipe you say to add the simple syrup to the infusion. Which is the best way?

Jerry January 28, 2019

I made some limoncello before finding your great website. In my last batch I put too much water in it so the limoncello is not as thick as I like it. It tastes fine, but I wanted to know if you have any suggestions to thicken it?

Ben February 1, 2019

Sorry, I’ll fix that. Filter the infusion before adding the syrup.

Ben February 1, 2019

The sugar and the cold temperature are what makes it thick. If you’re serving it near freezing already, then adding sugar is the way to do that. If you like the flavor though, I’d worry less about the consistency because fixing it will make it sweeter.

Tim February 16, 2019

I screwed up – I filtered and added simple syrup all one day, rather than syrup>6 wks >filter and bottle. So the zests only sat in the alcohol for 6 wks instead of 12 wks. Any ideas on how to rescue the batch?

Ben February 26, 2019

I don’t know that there’s much to do about that but it may not matter much to you. I’d test it out and see.

Kat March 13, 2019

Hi Ben,
Was wondering if you have ever made cello with limes? If so, how may limes did you use and how was the flavor?

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